I am assessing clients at all times. I watch their motion and stability in every exercise they perform.
The first thing that I have all clients “do” is to move through the foundation movements at all of their joints. I caution them to move slowly, stop if they feel pain or that the motion is not a good one for the joint. This takes very little time. Limits in any movement direct further investigation into their ROM/flexibility.
I take this a step further in resistance training. All resistance exercises are performed without resistance/weight first. I don’t ask someone to do a push up if I haven’t seen them move the arms in a manner that will be used for a push up. While 90% or more of clients will have no problem, I have found a number of clients that did. And finding out before they attempt a loading/unloading situation is always better than finding out after the attempt.
And extra attention needs to given to any issue that has been discovered during the course of training/assessments. If a joint or muscle/muscle group has had issues/injuries in the past, any movement involving that area should be done with that in mind.
This answer is not nearly as indepth as I would be with a student or client. There are many variables to every movement and every client. Assessment is ongoing, any exercise or movement can provide feedback on whether a client needs regression, reassessment, or more instruction.
My assessments are based upon the level of conditioning that the individual is in. If I can see that the client is weak in certain areas, it doesn’t make sense to assess the aspect of fitness that I know is deficient. When one does this it is discouraging.
As an example, why perform a 3-minute step test if you know the personal has low cardiorespiratory function.
I tend to assess progressively.
Thank you for your question.
I NEVER do FREE assessments, ever. My time is more valuable than that. I charge the full session rate for an assessment. I do offer a free consultation, but that is only 15-30 min long and a comprehensive assessment can take as long as 90 minutes without the questionnaire.
I used to offer all sorts of free things; assessments, basic program design, consultation, etc.. That was before I realized that my time and my worth as a trainer is more than a free value. Be careful with free offerings because it says something about the way you value yourself as a trainer.
As far as assessments go they are absolutely necessary for programming and also for motivation and client retention. Depending on who I am training and what the goal is I can do an assessment every week, every 3 weeks, every 6 weeks, or every 3 months. It really depends on the training system I am using.
If I am training a strength athlete and I run a westside barbell training methodology then every week there is an assessment for upper and lower body. If I am doing a block type periodization for an athlete then it can be every 3 -4 weeks or every 3 months. If I am working with a fat loss client then it can be performance testing every 6 – 12 weeks. It depends on the goals of the program and type of client.
The bottom line is clients need to see results and know that they are getting something for what they are paying for and you need to see if your program is working effectively, so testing is never a waste of time.