We are living in the culture of the short cut, or perhaps, the culture of the least amount of effort, and strength coaching and personal training are not the exception. A large number of trainers believe that YouTube, or similar platforms, are the ultimate source of knowledge and from there they can get anything they can think of, and prescribe it to their clients. This can’t be further away from the truth and the ability to produce results.
One of the principles I teach the most in classes, is that if you are going to prescribe a training program, you have to try it first. I’ve been writing training programs for almost 20 years, and I have performed every single one of the programs I have prescribed. The reason being is that if I don’t experience it with my own body, how can I expect a result from it on a different person? How can I know if it is going to be effective, too hard, too easy, or even doable? As the saying goes, the paper – or in this case the software – can take anything.
I’m going to give two examples of real-life situations in order to provide a better understanding:
The first one is related to a posterior chain workout that I had to write for an athlete. As usual, I wrote the program and executed it. If I find it doable and results producing, then my trainers have to test it, and I judge the program from there putting together the results it produced on me, and on my trainers. When I performed that particular posterior chain workout for the first time, after the first super-set, I went to my computer to write down my numbers on the software. When I stood up from my chair, I said to myself “this program is making me accumulate a lot of lactate and fatigue, even from the first set…”. I executed the whole program, and that lactate, along with the fatigue levels were significantly higher than after the first set. Next day, I felt about 5 cm shorter, and the soreness was unbelievable, which would have been fine if it wouldn’t have lasted for 2 weeks! What did I do with that program? I deleted it from my computer and forgot about it. What would have been the consequences of providing that program to my athlete? Well, I would have had an athlete with an overtrained posterior chain, ruining the specific training for his sport for 2 weeks, and putting him at risk of injury. Definitely non-desirable results!
The other example happened just last week, while I was teaching the series of Program Design classes in Dubai. As an exercise for the class, we were working on a Metabolic Conditioning program. I provided the A Part, and the students had to provide the B part. The way we put it to test was executing the A Part in the gym, and checking if the B part was actually good or needed some adjustments. Obviously, the students knew the A Part before suggesting the B Part.
The A Part consisted of the following exercises: Squats, Deadlifts, Chins and Dips. We went to gym to perform the A part, and after doing only 60% of the sets, we had to stop the workout. The drop-off, quality and form of the exercises went to the garbage can.
When we got back to the classroom, I asked them if the B Part they suggested was a good recommendation. It looked good on the paper, but was it doable? Not really. What are the consequences of prescribing such workouts to a client? To make it simple, the chances of losing that client, whether because of overtraining, injury or vomiting for hours, are extremely high.
So, don’t be among trainers who think that they know a lot and that video channels or social media are the main sources of knowledge and training recommendations. Invest in proper education and If you didn’t try it, don’t prescribe it!