Friday, August 20, 2010

Here's where your trainer may be getting it wrong. Part I

So the other day, one of my new clients gave me the idea of writing a blog post on things your trainer may be doing wrong.  As I started getting into it, it started to become quite longer than what I prefer a blog post to be.  It became more of an article. So, I decided to break the post into three sections.  Here's the first part of what your trainer is probably getting wrong.

Proper Assesment

Every program should start off with a proper assessment. If you don't have a starting point, you'll never know when you've made progress.  At Nunn's Performance Training, we do a movement screen (overhead squat and single leg squat), bodyfat test (or circumference measurement), bodyweight measurement, and a nutritional and lifestyle analysis.  Most fitness centers will do a pretty good job of the bodyfat, bodyweight, and lifestyle analysis, but they neglect the movement screen part.  This is mainly do to ignorance on the trainers part.  They probably don't understand the process of the screen or what to do with what they find during the screen.  During the movement screen, the trainers responsibility is to identify movement dysfunction so they can put a proper plan in place to address this and minimize injury to the client.  When doing the screen, the trainer should be identifiing which movement patterns they will have to regress for the client.  It is important for the trainer to realize that our job is first and foremost to NOT INJURE PEOPLE!  If a client is injured, they cannot train.  If they cannot train, they cannot get results, and anyone in this business will tell you that getting results is where the money is.

Here's an example of what a trainer may find during the initial assessment:

Posterior Pelvic Tilt

Notice in this picture, the client presents a posterior pelvic tilt.  She may be asymptomatic at the time, but it doesn't mean that she won't be in the future.  When the hips tuck under like that, the ligaments in the lumbar spine are stretched and more likely to cause pain and injury (i.e. herniated disc and/or stenosis).  Initially, squatting would not be a good choice for someone who presents this. 

The posterior tilt is just one of the many things that can be found during the screen.


  1. Jason,

    That's an interesting post. Do you spend a full session doing a movement screen/assessment with a client, or is it something you fold into a first session that includes some training? If it's the former, how do you deal with client impatience? For example, "Sure, I've in anterior tilt and I've got wide discrepancies on the Thomas Test. When do I (drop a dress size/get bigger/lose weight/bench my bodyweight/etc.)?"

  2. Good point Peter. I try to address this in a couple different ways. First, I try to streamline the process as much as possible. The more tests you run, the more frustrated this person might become. I also make sure they have a full understanding as to why we are doing these. I also videotape the movement screen. I do this so I can show them what I see and what it means to them. I just use a little flip cam. You're right they probably don't care whether their psoas is tight or not. But, they may be interested in not having low back or hip pain. Explain to them the reason for doing this is for them to be able to move pain free, and, if they are in pain, they cannot exercise. If they cannot exercise, they cannot acheive those other goals. Make sense?

    Secondly, I will have them do some sort of workout. Usually it's some sort of bodyweight circuit. This will typically give them the impression that they've accomplished something. This way it's a win:win.