If you missed part one, you better go back and read that one first. It’s all about preparing Customised Personal Training Programs as you can see.
So far I talked a little bit about why I start everyone off with the same program, and what I’m looking for when I start modifying or customising it for each client. As I implied, the basic “introductory program” is designed to produce the foundations of fitness and functionality that we then build upon with a more advanced program. Rather I should say, the introductory program evolves into a more advanced program as we modify and add more exercises specific to the client’s individual requirements.
Outside of this though, the basics of a good program remain consistent regardless of the goal. The program has to be balanced, and we need to target (and exhaust) the large, major muscle groups with heavy compound movements, and then target smaller specific muscles with specific isolation exercises, often with less weight.
Simply put, we should be doing all of the following:
- Pushing, horizontally and vertically.
- Pulling, horizontally and vertically.
- Bending and extending at the knees.
- Bending and extending at the hips.
These are the “big four” that target the huge muscle groups in our chest, shoulders, back, butt and legs. We can take our choice of exercises for these movements, and make them harder or easier as the client requires.
Now… this is how I do things. I’m not saying that it’s the ONLY way to do things, but it’s one way that I happen to know works very well. Newly qualified trainers often are under the mistaken belief that they need to produce a unique program for every client right off the bat… which basically means they are just clutching at straws and the “program” is really just an assortment of exercises. Whenever I mentor new trainers I always advise them to develop their own approach to training that suits their target market, but to have a systematic approach to creating an actual program suited to the client’s needs. Starting out with the basic natural human movements is as good a place to start as any.
Going back to the muscle groups we’re targeting with those movements; did you notice that I left out arms, abs and core? Well… we would may add some secondary or accessory exercises to hit these spots, but they’re really of a secondary importance. Arms are going to be hit PLENTY with our pushing and pulling movements. Core should be activated on all exercises anyway, and in particular NEEDS to be activated while squatting or deadlifting, so that’s also covered already. Abs? Please. Abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym!
We’ll still train these parts (including abs!), but as I say, they’re not the huge muscle groups that we’re most concerned with hitting to produce a change in body composition. It makes sense right? Prioritising the huge muscle groups over the smaller ones, to produce better results? And yet… a lot of trainers are going to give you a program with bicep curls, crunches and planks, but nothing for chest or back! Oooh I probably just stepped on some toes! To be fair… it’s not entirely their fault. A lot of what they get taught in the courses and especially if they do their placement in a big box chain gym is mostly useless. I’ll write another blog about that some time soon!
It takes time to build a Customised Program, unless by “customised” you just mean “random selection of pointless exercises”, which lets face it is what a lot of exercise programs really are. You can’t just take one look at a human being and go “ok here are the 8 exercises that will solve all of your problems”. You need to start with the basics (push, pull, bend and extend) watch closely and address any imbalances that show up while performing these movements. Descend (make easier) and ascend (make more difficult) the exercises as required as well.
This is the true value of hiring a Personal Trainer, especially on an ongoing basis. It is one thing to simply be put through “a hard work out”, but great results in changing your body only come from following an actual program designed to produce those changes. I am becoming more and more focussed on delivering amazing results through ongoing programs, rather than just taking people for a workout. If you haven’t noticed, this is reflecting in my pricing structure which offers amazing value for people who purchase multiple sessions up front.