As a Trainer who has worked with the Top Professional Triathletes in the world, this can be a tough one to answer.
One very important point to make here is that Teaching clients that Rest is just as important in their programs as their workouts.
I teach them to be anabolic…building muscle…not catabolic.
I am also big on sending them evidence based research to back up my contentions.
Once a trainer has done that, along with great Biomechanics and program design and Progression and Overload, most clients get it!
It is tough for triathletes to feel they CAN take a day off…but with instruction…they get it!
I say to a Trainer who has an athlete who is over training to just take time to teach them these principles and in time they will adhere to your good advice!!
There’s always a tradeoff: Higher intensity requires lower frequency – and vice versa.
If a client is determined to do more, more, more, I HAVE to decrease the intensity (which I define as a percentage of maximal effort/1RM, NOT how much they sweat or “feel” like they’re working out.)
On the other hand, when clients are limited on time, intensity MUST go up.
Are you working with the client each session? If so, you can see what they’re doing and can tell if they aren’t performing well or are tired and you can dial them back and get them to take it easy. Keep an eye on progression, if they aren’t progressing then something needs to change. If the client is working out on their own, then educate them on the needs of proper recovery.
I yell at them!! lol
I explain to them before we even begin about the typical stages of a new clients excitement and how that leads to burnout and loss of motivation completely. A client needs to be educated on why starting slow is beneficial and its not just because of overtraining. What we do as trainers is help to start a healthy lifstyle meaning for “life” not just the next few weeks of months. It is a marathon not a sprint. Starting slow keeps that enthusiasm in the client so that they are always lookin forward to the next workout and not dreading it.
I make this very clear to all my clients before my first session and if they really want extra credit I give it to them as an option, but it is something that I planned out in accordance to my program for them. Most clients won’t do the extra credit, but if they do then you know exactly what they are doing.
I do my best to educate them. Let them know what is acceptable to feel (bit of muscle soreness, perhaps) and not acceptable (undue fatigue, inability to walk). There should be a structure to their program that shows them the value of rest (muscles need it, brains need it). For example, if a client was routinely coming to our sessions sore or tired from the weekend, I would have to be very direct and tell them that they simply can’t arrive in that condition since it takes away from what we can do, and that’s just a waste of their money and both our time.
Most people want their results yesterday. So, they need to know how crucial it is to give their body the time it needs to adapt. Too much, too soon, and they won’t be able to do anything for a long time (an injury could sideline them for weeks or months). Of course, that would be the worst irony for this group! I like to remind people that slow and steady is not for wimps. It’s the smart ones who continue to get stronger, feel more energized, and prepare for greater challenges.