And more to the point, are they not progressing or are they getting injuries? If they are showing signs of over training, then you need to step in. I don’t know exactly what is happening so it is hard for me to advise more. But I adjust my clients programs with the guidance of their recovery markers. I ask questions like, “how are you sleeping?”, “how is your energy during the day?”, etc. And I keep a close eye on their stats, heart rate, repiratory rate, performance factors, etc.
Trainers need to educate clients as to why they are doing what they are doing. The parameters of intensity, duration and frequency are used to bring about a particular outcome. Exceeding the program design parameters will reduce the results that are obtained. Just as insufficient rest will reduce results. Being able to communicate with the client is often the barrier to success and safety. Working on communication skills is always a good use of any instructors time.
Most of my clients are “A” personality women – managers/etc at work and mothers – they are constantly running/moving and multi-tasking, so when I’m saying “slow down” they think they aren’t working as hard, and it translates (in their mind) to “under-achievement”. Getting these particular clients to take a “day-off” is a herculean effort at times.
Keys I’ve found that work (with my clients);
1. Trust/Validation/Return to Focus – there’s a way to say “Listen to me, I’m your Trainer” that gets the client’s buy-in when you slow them down (people don’t care how much you know until you show how much you care). Understanding that regardless of how long you have been working with a client – when they are constantly being told to work harder/faster/etc (in most areas of their lives) there’s a battle in the mind that can over-rule common sense in the body. I consistently remind my clients that this is “personal” training and we’re doing what’s right for her body.
2. Keep them busy; as previously commented – mixing it up definitely helps! I throw in little “surprise” exercises – and change up the program regularly, especially when they “think” they know what’s next. The benefits for muscle confusion are great (of course), and the need to learn a new “flow” or way to do an exercise keeps them mentally stimulated and connected. The fact that they “slowed down” to learn the new exercise/move never occurs to them.
3. Cardio bursts are the bomb! 3-5 min burns or intervals can silence the “push me harder” chant. It soon turns into “recovery is over already? really?”
It depends on the person and their goals. For example, if I train a client with a very low fitness level (a beginner) I always tell them to go easy in the beginning until they build up their strength and stamina so they won’t get injured. But when I train some of my tactical operators I know these guys are going to push themselves because it’s what they do and how they think, so my job then is to make sure they are executing the exercises and the movements in a safe manner so they won’t get injured. I agree with you that it can be frustrating when this happens, but our job as fitness professionals is to ensure the safety of those who we are training and teach them the correct way of exercising.
The answer should be simple. If the client is pushing themselves TOO hard during sessions, then they are pushing themselves outside the perameters of benefit of the session. You tell them that they are to obey your instruction, as it is being given in order to provide them with the most effective route to accomplishing their goals. Define your role in the relationship as TRAINER and not babysitter. Now, doing this with tact and grace however, is another topic all together.