Thursday, November 1, 2012

Self-Limiting Exercises

I don't see most of my clients enough; if it were up to me, everyone would train with me 3 days per week and have a fourth day of exercise that was programmed by me. I don't think this way because I'd make more money this way; I think this way because it would get the best results for my clients.

just because
Programming extra days for clients is always a little tricky. If I see someone once per week, and try to program 3 days of exercise on their own, you're damned tootin' that most of it won't get done. Same for clients I see twice a week, if I plan on them doing two lifts on their own I would expect most of it to not get done, or to get done improperly.

This is not to say that my clients are dumb (they certainly are not) or that I'm a bad trainer (I'm the Man), it's simply suggesting that clients will often forget the right way to do things, or something else will come up. Most people get a trainer so that they can be held accountable for their workouts; if they're suddenly expected to do something on their own, many will fail to do it. Simple human nature. 

Armed with this knowledge, I like to give clients exercises to do on their own that will provide them with an appropriate training stimulus with very little room for error. The exercises that I choose for the are often self-limiting exercises; that is, exercises that they will simply be unable to do if they do them improperly. 

Why do I do this? So I can help ensure that they will be getting a good training effect without me watching them, while decreasing their risk of hurting themselves! Here are some suggestions.

Front Squat: One of the "safer" squat variations; the front squat won't allow the client to squat anymore than they can while maintaining a very erect torso. If the client leans too far forward while front squatting, they'll simply dump the bar. No big deal!

Overhead Squat: To be honest, not an exercise I do with very many clients. Most simply don't have the mobility to make me comfortable prescribing this lift. However, it is very much a self-limiting exercise. Once you get to your "breaking point" with this lift, it's a wrap. There's very little room to grind out any reps with the overhead squat.

Kettlebell Bottoms-Up Press: This great overhead press variation does double duty as a grip strength exercise as well as a vertical push. Because of the grip requirement, the intensity (weight) of this exercise will be significantly lower than a conventional overhead press; which is a good thing. An exercise that uses a lower weight with the same level of difficulty decreases a clients ability to hurt themselves. Boom goes the dynamite!

Loaded Carries: I love prescribing loaded carries for clients to do on their own for several reasons. The first is the endless variations I can prescribe; they never get old. The second is the metabolic challenge that a good set of carries provides. Third is their efficacy; it's just a good fucking lift. Lastly is that the ability to hurt yourself doing loaded carries is really low. This is an exercise that is fully grip-dependent; once your grip goes, you're dunzo.

If you can't get your clients to train with you 3-4 days a week, but still need to get the a training effect when they work out on their own, try one some of these exercises. They'll get in a good session and will have to be really creative about ways to hurt themselves.

Have a great day and go lift something heavy!

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