When a client pays for a service they expect to get results. These results depend greatly upon both the trainer and trainee of course; a tug-of-war of give and take. In order to ensure that clients are pleased with what they are purchasing (personal training) there are three essential components in a personal training program. The three components that personal trainers must be mindful of when designing a program includes: overloading, variation, and specificity.
This is perhaps the most important of the three principles. It is the most basic and foundational step. The human body is highly adaptive and will only continue to grow and improve when it is challenged correctly. The basic concept of overloading is to never stay stagnant and to continue improving physically somehow. This can be done in various forms such as having clients lift heavier weights, taking fewer breaks in between sets, or even getting a new personal record on their three mile time on the treadmill. Using progressive overloading in order to get clients the fastest results without causing injuries or being able to motivate and getting clients to realize why it is needed is an art within itself. It isn’t easy persuading people to push past their comfort levels both physically and mentally.
I like to approach this principal with careful consideration whenever applying it to my programs. Let me start out by saying that I am a firm believer that the more physically adept an individual is the better they will be at training others to get to the same athletic ability. It is very difficult to take someone somewhere you have never been. However, there are exceptions with some who are able to train themselves through hard work but are unable to transfer the knowledge. With that being said, if you look into the training programs of some of the strongest people in the world they do very few exercises and excel at them rather than doing a vast amount of exercises and being mediocre at them. I introduce new exercises when I feel that they will improve my clients’ primary lifts and overall fitness level. I don’t introduce new exercises to keep clients from being bored unless the boredom will cause them to stop striving for better health; in which case neither of us wins. I pay close attention to whether the exercise I introduced will be beneficial or not because adding a new exercise “just because” could potentially hinder progress instead of the other way around (which is another topic of its own). While I do try to keep things interesting for my clients so that they enjoy the training as well, my number one concern will always be progress.
This is another very crucial principal to be aware of as a personal trainer training clients. Using your professional opinion as a trainer you must look at their final long-term goal and truly understand what will make them happy versus what is realistic and will help them get there. You should be asking your clients questions such as: Ideally how would you like to look? Are you competing in any sports? Are you training for a race? Are there any health issues you’re trying to overcome? These questions are very important because your clients are coming to you with specific goals in mind and not for your own personal “idea” of what they should strive for. With that being said, as a professional you should also suggest and make proper recommendations based on your knowledge and teach them what being health really is (not just what the media portrays). Because most clients do have limited knowledge of fitness they are counting on you for help. For example, a 65 year old client seeks strength training as their primary goal. However, you feel that the primary focus should be flexibility since it will improve their quality of life faster than building strength only; you need to voice your opinion. If someone is planning to do a 10mile race then you need to help improve their cardio capacity as well as leg strength for muscular stamina in the later miles. The same goes for a slim woman coming in and wanting to lose 15 pounds thinking it will give her the “toned body” she is looking for. Rather than allowing her to simply reach an unhealthy weight the program should consist of building strength and losing body fat so that she could reach her ideal body. This is where your professional knowledge comes in when explaining to her that the number on the scale is not as important as the number of your body fat percentage. While you do help her reach her long-term goal of a slimmer, more toned body you also help inform her of how to properly go about it.
We all have the same 24 hours in a day, and if you have one hour to be at the gym you better make that hour count.