Here’s a bit about customised exercise programs, and how I come up with mine after starting everyone with pretty much the same basic routine. I’m going to talk about the reasons for having a custom program, and the difference between a true customised program and just a random assortment of exercises masquerading as one.
As usual, it’s too long for a single entry, so check back tomorrow for part two where I also talk a bit about the difference between going to a Personal Trainer for a “program”, vs a “work out”.
I must have given out more exercise programs in the past few weeks than… well, I don’t know what. Lots of programs though with all my lovely new personal training clients and other members at the Fitness Centre in Latrobe Valley where I’ve started working.
It got me thinking about programs and in particular about customising exercise programs to suit different individuals (clients) with different needs. Everyone is a little bit different. We have different goals, and different ability levels. Therefore, a competent trainer should be able to custom tailor an exercise program specifically to meet the needs of each client. Right? Good!
Here’s the thing though. Although we have different goals, different ability levels, and different needs; there will be common elements that are the best way to address all of these factors. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say the MAIN elements of the program will be consistent from one person to the next, it is only the finer details that need to be customised or fine tuned.
For this reason, I devised my Introduction To Resistance Training Program, which I now start all of my personal training clients and gym members off with. This is the basic frame work that will evolve into a very comprehensive, highly customised exercise program for each client.
Lets talk first about the common goals of most exercise programs.
Clients may need to lose a lot of weight, or just a little. They may need to gain weight, or maintain weight while improving body composition. Other clients are happy with their weight and body composition but want to improve their strength, or posture. The specific goals vary but there are goals within the goals which are common. Funnily enough this is the stuff that I don’t really talk so much about anymore, but I’ll make an exception this one time.
I tend to only talk about how we are going to achieve the client’s expressed goals, but at the same time I am thinking about things like functional fitness, posture and so on. What I mean by functional fitness is, for example, a person should be able to squat to the ground to pick something up. This is what us fitness industry professionals (hahah) refer to as a Natural Human Movement, something we’d be doing lots of if we were wild humans in our natural habitat, but (in many cases) have lost the ability to do due to modern lifestyles. Anyway, I digress.
If a client has some imbalance that prevents them from being able to squat to the ground, it’s easy enough for me to just put them on the leg press machine and work legs that way. In fact, I’m going to stick them on the leg press machine regardless, because I want them moving some great big weights up and down! But if I don’t also address whatever the issue is, and help them progress towards being able to squat in a natural motion, then I don’t think I’m really doing my job. And then of course once they are able to squat, I’m going to put a bloody great heavy barbell on their shoulders!
So, that’s a really good example of what I’m talking about. Shoulder posture is another very common one too. Even pelvic and lower back posture is quite a common one that needs to be addressed.
So when we talk about customising a program, these are the issues that we are addressing with our custom choices of exercises. I was explaining to someone the other day, training a client who doesn’t have any of these issues is about the easiest thing in the world for me! The tricky part is when you notice something and think “hmm, why is that happening? How can I fix that? What do I need to stretch, and what do I need to strengthen? What’s the best exercise, or do I have to invent one?”
More about Preparing Customised Exercise Programs in part two!