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3 Principles of Personal Training

My role as a fitness professional and in personal training is to help you move better and guide you in smart exercise and training practice so that you can feel stronger and fulfill your fitness goals.  That means no mindless acts of exercise, silly fads, or doing things that will increase your chance of injury.

Every once in a while, I have someone come in looking for personal training that will beat them into the ground and have them dreading the next session.  Yes, I’ve literally been told this was someone’s goal.

Giving an ass-kicking is easy to do –  Take a kettlebell and complete 10 swings on the minute for 20 minutes and consider yourself served. However, that is not what I specialize in nor is it what most good personal trainers strive for.

Great coaches and personal trainers go through this phase of “killer” workouts and eventually figure out that most people don’t need to toss their cookies every time they enter the gym. They probably shouldn’t do that purposefully…ever. Personal training is more of an art that uses strength, skill, movement, mobility, psychology, compassion, coaching, cues, implements, etc as the tools for guiding someone towards success.

Personal training is more of an art that uses strength, skill, movement, mobility, psychology, compassion, coaching, cues, implements, etc as the tools for guiding someone towards success.

How do you do this? Essentially I am working under the following three principles:

1. Move well and move often

In general, random exercise on top of poor movement simply amplifies dysfunction and increases chance of injury. Doing burpees with weak abs is a recipe for a sore low back.  Squatting with poor ankle mobility leads to knee and hip issues. 

Working with a professional who can help you move well and correct major imbalances can be essential to helping you stay away from injury and continue to move often without pain.

We live in posture destroying environments, this leads to movement impairments. Then we train to achieve ABC goal but without addressing the impairment, we aggravate tissue and cause pain and inflammation.  In pursuit of a novel goal ( be it improved health or increased physical performance) we end up injured.

This cycle needs to stop. Once you are moving well, then you can move often and increase strength on top of a able body.

2. Assess, apply, assess

Assessing at the beginning gives you a baseline from where to start.  

This baseline should guide the application of exercise.  Bad shoulder mobility = limited upper body training, however most people don’t know they have bad shoulder mobility which impacts shoulder mechanics and leads to injuries like rotator cuff issues or shoulder impingements.

Exercises should be chosen based on the assessment and they should continue if they add to the progress.  For example, if you have poor shoulder mobility then a lat stretch exercise should be used to try and correct it.  And it should be continued if it continues to help, once the desired range of motion is achieved, then you should strengthen the movement.

Not everything has to be corrective exercise either.  This means that sometimes people just need to get stronger. So, a runner with a weak posterior chain may need to try deadlifts.  As long as they see the benefit from it and it adds to their strength, they can continue to do it so far as the coach feels comfortable progressing them. This is the second assess.  If things are getting better, continue the path, if they don’t then it’s time to change.

3. Strength is a skill

We know exercise is not ideal to help you burn fat and lose weight in the long term (read this).  But Strength training can help you become more resilient and capable so you can be more active in life.

Strength is a necessary skill for life-long fitness and athletic performance. It’s an essential component of overall wellness and quality of life.  Strong athletes are better than weak athletes. Grandma and grandpa need strength to continue with daily activities.  Adults and kids can maintain healthy bodies and movement patterns by practicing strength training.

Strength is a skill that can be developed and it takes discipline and knowledge. It should be looked as a skill to be developed and not something you do to burn calories or get jacked, although you can experience both!

Take these principles and apply them when you’re looking for a personal trainer, your next training session, or apply them to life.

Coach Jesus

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