The last thing the internet needs is another "fitness" blog. It seems everyone has a blog or newsletter, some good, most less good. My intention isn't to draw attention to myself or my services, (it's also not, not my intention) but rather to:
1) Answer some of the questions that come up regularly working with my clients or speaking with other coaches.
2) Refine my writing and have my thoughts challenged.
I dug through another blog recently (a blog talking about another blog, we're off to a rough start) about the importance of seeking out criticism and it really resonated with me. It helps that it was from someone I have a tremendous respect for both as a professional and as a person, but I think everyone could use a little constructive criticism. Anyway, that's why I'm writing this and why you're reading this.
So here we go.
With the number of exercises and equipment available it can be difficult to figure out what the hell we should be doing for ourselves and for our clients. For me it boils down to one pretty easy to follow idea that Joe Defranco summed up nicely:
"What will get my client the desired training effect in the shortest amount of time with the lowest chance of them fucking it up?"
When Coach Joe D said it, it was in reference to explosive strength development and the use or lack of use of Olympic lifting. It seems pretty self explanatory, but I'll elaborate on this.
Anytime you're working with somebody, you should have an idea of what their goal is. Surely they aren't just going to the gym because they don't have anything better to do. In my experience it's a combination of 3:
1) Health related goals (rehabbing an injury, being in better shape, losing excess weight)
2) Performance/sports related goals
3) Looking good naked (gaining muscle, leaning out, "toning")
These goals inform you of the training effect that they're after. From here you should have an idea of what kind of training methods you intend to use with them in order to get from point A to B.
The next part, and sometimes the part that leaves a little bit to be desired is the "fucking it up" factor. I firmly believe there are no bad exercises, only as Dr. Andreo Spina states "the wrong exercises for the wrong people at the wrong time" (total Dreism). Even so, some exercises tend to be more risky than others.
If I have someone whose main goal is to look better, then I feel less compelled to load them up with a heavy back squat or a straight bar deadlift. That doesn't mean we're not squatting and deadlifting, because they're certainly beneficial for that person as well, but maybe we do a goblet squat and a trap bar deadlift instead. These exercises are significantly easier to learn for the majority of people and in general provide less risk. Now that being said, if someone's goal is to back squat 500lbs in a full powerlifting meet, then yes, we're squatting, and at some point we're going to need to load up the bar.
Obviously there are more things to consider when designing a training program (mobility restrictions, training age, biological age, preferences etc.), but this idea has stuck for me and I think it's a good thing to keep in mind. Make it goal oriented, make it as simple as possible while remaining effective and try to make it fun.