Supervision and Verbal Messages Enhance Strength Training

by Shirley Archer, JD, MA on Oct 01, 2007

Mind-Body-Spirit News

Do you give your clients positive feedback as they work with you? Do you inform them of your particular job qualifications? If you answered yes, you are providing clients with information that boosts their self-confidence to succeed in training.

Verbal messages communicated to participants when performing a bench press led to improved performance, according to a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (2004; 18 [1], 26–29). Researchers divided 32 women into two groups. Each subject performed 10 reps of a bench press on a vertical bench press machine. Before subjects repeated this activity, they were given one of two messages. Both messages described the speaker’s strength training qualifications and experience, and both provided positive feedback on the exercise, but in one case the feedback was quite specific and in the other it was more general.

The investigators had hypothesized that women receiving specific feedback would perform better. Contrary to expectations, women in both groups performed better. The authors concluded that using a positive message to build confidence led to increased effort and improved performance. They recommended that trainers provide specific feedback on the amount of weight, number of repetitions and client’s ease of performance immediately after a lifter performs a set. In addition, they said, trainers should express belief in the lifter’s ability to do the exercise.

In another study, researchers found that athletes who trained under direct supervision made greater improvements in muscular strength and power than athletes who undertook the same program without supervision, according to the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (2004; 18 [2], 316–23). These studies demonstrate the value added to an exerciser by working with a trained fitness professional.

Fitness Journal, Volume 4, Issue 9

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© 2007 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA IDEA Author/Presenter

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, was the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA's mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author based in Los Angeles, California, and Zurich, Switzerland. Two of her books, The Walking Deck and The Strength and Toning Deck, are now featured as iPhone apps. Contact her at