When you are training a client 2-3 times a week, how do you find the right balance between a structured and predictable program vs. a new challenging workout every time. I want my clients to make measurable progress, but I also want to keep my clients guessing and teaching them new things. Clients want to see progress, but that often involves a lot of repetition with certain exercises, but if you are always doing the same thing, your are not really doing a good job of challenging your clients. Any tips?
Yves, there needs to be a measure of structure if one is going to achieve their goals.
This is in line with the SAID principle. Imagine if a person who is training for a specific sport did not have structure–let’s say a sprinter. There needs to be a measure of predictability if one has a specific goal.
One has to also take into consideration the individual’s learning curve. It may mean that you have to linger in a certain program until the individual has learned how to execute the movements effectively. The individual may be new to exercise and may need to hang out in “predictable/structured” program before you can mix things up.
Hope this helps.
Great question. Will be looking forward for more answers too!
What I do is I keep one day for guessing when I teach my client how to perform some new moves, use new equipment. And two other days we are doing predictable routine. I still vary but I don’t give completely new exercises during these two days.
During this one ‘unpredictable’ day I might keep some parts of the routine as usual – like warm up or abs work, but 30 min out of the training will be completely new.
But it doesn’t work with everyone though. I have few clients who are uncoordinated or have very stressful work and they prefer to keep it simple and don’t mind to do same things all the time (with certain progression). So I think this is very individual. But if you feel like your clients wouldn’t mind to vary the training don’t give them all at once. start slowly especially if you are using new equipment that requires a bit of time to get used to (like TRX or kettle bell for example).
Hi Yves. I agree with Joanne in that if a client is fairly new to training, or simply to training with me, I like to have a certain amount of structure and repetition so that they begin to understand the basics.
That being said however, a lot depends on the type of training that I’m doing as well. For example, if I’m working with one of my athletes, repetition and progression via repetition is a MUST. Certain sports performance skills such as proper deceleration only comes from repetition and building a sound foundation of the basics. Even when I’m repeating certain skill, exercises and drills, I ALWAYS introduce new things for my clients (both athletes and non-athletes) in EVERY training session. My clients look forward to this “surprise” each session and I’m careful to plan those new exercises as a way to build on what they are currently learning through repetition. A good example of what I mean is let’s say I am working on learning the basics of deceleration training with a girl athlete, I may at the end of training play a game of tag with her (lots of agility, cutting, stopping and deceleration training/reinforcement going on there, all in the disguise of a game).
I hope that this helps.
You have a lot of great answers here, Yves. To add to what’s already here, I sometimes mix things up by either swapping equipment or changing the position the client is working in. This helps them feel like they’re doing a totally new routine although I can measure their progress based on their previous rep/set numbers. It also lowers their risk of injury since they’re familiar with the body position & cues on the motion. For example, if someone is familiar with a barbell bench press, I can either swap out the barbell for dumbells or have them try a standing band press. If they’ve been doing a lat pulldown I’ll have them try pullups or a bent over (sometimes alternating) band pull in the same plane of motion. Obviously there are new considerations with new equipment- most people need less weight to fatigue with dumbells than they do with a barbell- but I think it’s worth it to keep the client engaged. I’ve also cycled routines- Workout 1 & 2 one week, Workout 3 & 4 the next, then 1 & 3, then 2&4. It’s repetitive yet less predictable than doing them in the same order every week. Thanks for the question and good luck!
My structure depends on the needs of the client regardless of how many times a week I see them.
I always mix things up
From a psychological point of view, once our client starts getting bored, it’s very difficult to get them going again
Keep them “guessing” by adding new options each time.
It can be as simple as putting a ball toss in between the cardio segment. But always have fresh ideas