Yesterday, I was talking to a physical therapist at a local hospital about my training programs. He asked if I simply run everyone through a workout without considering their medical/injury background. I laughed, and actually felt a little insulted. But, I quickly remembered that I do work in an industry where anyone can be a personal trainer (you just need to pay a couple hundred dollars and pass an internet multiple choice test) and much personal training is simply "making people work, sweat, and hurt (i.e. The Biggest Loser). So, in hindsight, he was very smart to ask that question.
I have this same issue when perspective clients contact me. So, I have adapted a show-me policy. I encourage prospective clients to come in and undergo a short (30-minute) assessment. From the results of this assessment, I can provide personalized feedback (good and bad), show how I would like to see them correct their deficits/techniques and explain how I would implement their training program. Most importantly, I try to show them that the training is all about improving them! My job is not simply to make them workout because they have eaten too much over the weekend. I want to help them restore joint function, develop perfect technique, get stronger, improve movement efficiency, increase their conditioning level and teach them about proper nutrition and recovery.
Although the programs are personalized (based on background and assessment), the training for just about everyone (there are always exceptions) is comprised of four parts:
1. Mobilization: Each training session starts with a series of exercises and techniques (self-myofascial release) to prepare the body for more vigorous exercises. The goal is to activate muscles, increase joint range of motion, increase blood flow and body temperature, and prepare you mentally for your training session.
2. Strength/Power Development: Strength, the ability to stabilize multiple joints, full-body tension, and increasing the rate of force development are all essential to any exercise, athletic, or even daily activity. I teach clients to "practice" these exercises, as a large component of strength is neurological.
3. Metabolic Conditioning: Also known as work capacity training. Clients learn to "manage fatigue" and develop supporting systems such as cardiovascular and respiratory capacity.
4. Recovery: This is the often-overlooked part of training. However, it is vital to your success. Recovery continues from the end of one workout to the beginning of the next. It includes a variety of modalities to help your body recover from the high-intensity training, including: more self-myofascial release, static stretching, easy mobility exercises, low-intensity exercises, nutrition, and sleep.