Only Dead Fish Go with the Flow: Stop falling for the “one-size-fits-all” BS

“People need to quit looking for the easy way out and GET TO WORK.” -Dave Tate

I don`t believe “going with the flow” has ever been a strong suit of mine…in fact, I don`t believe i strictly fit the mold of powerlifter or bodybuilder either.

My training is a hybrid baby of the two; incorporating compound powerlifting movements (bench, squat, deadlift) accompanied by muscle isolating bodybuilding exercises that target the specific muscle group I am looking to grow (*cough* shoulders *cough*). All of this is programmed around progressive overload, cycles rotating variations of the movements, and heavy a$$ weight. Some days I get fancy and add bands or chains to stuff, but you wont ever see me suspended from a pull-up bar doing a squat/jump combo or whatever the latest IG post shames the next gym go-er for doing. I`m not about that #gymlyfe.

For a while now, I have sat back and watched the endless Facebook, Twitter, IG, (insert other forms of social media) posts on exercising, workouts and online fitness coaches looking to sell you their next bundle for ripped abs, ammunition arms and buns of steel. Problem is, they send this exact program to every single person that signs up. exact. same. program. Along with the exact same macros and meal plan they gave 300 other people of different height, weight, gender and activity..cause one-size-fits-all, am I right?

Wrong. Just, so much wrong.

I won`t bore you with my life story, but I was an athlete for 10 years, competed in volleyball, basketball, track and field, I competed in collegiate track for 4 years, interned and trained with some of the best powerlifting and strength & conditioning coaches in the world, competed multiple times raw in powerlifitng meets, competed in both natural & NPC figure competitions, and currently personally train and coach high school track and field…I hate to be the bearer of truth, but one size does NOT fit all goals.If you use the same workout/training for every single one of your clients, you need to rethink your science and why you’re a coach in the first place. If your idea of easy business is to sell every person that signs up for your “Bootcamp,” “Fitcamp,” “Summershred” the same workouts/training plan & macros/meal plans without taking in to consideration their age, gender, experience, injuries (past & current), goals, dietary & physical needs, then people like you make me shake my head.

My opinion shouldn`t matter to you, but I believe in providing everyone with a strength base. You need it; in your core, legs, back, hips, glutes, etc. A strong body foundation holds you up and holds you together in one piece. It`s crucial for us to be functional humans, its crucial for warding off injuries, and longevity in whatever active lifestyle variation we choose to pursue. And if mobility, technique, and strength allow it, I will make every effort to teach each of my clients & athletes how to squat, bench and deadlift in some way, shape or form. Whether it is with a dumbbell, a barbell or bodyweight; we get it done. Strength is important, 10 years old or 90 years old. Never sacrifice strength. Period.

Secondly, I train to the person and to the goal. I say the person mainly because I work within a large spectrum of people. For my older clients, we prioritize mobility and functional movement because most of them just want to get out of bed and move about their day with ease. My athletes focus on training their weaknesses, building up their strengths, conditioning the energy system(s) that they use in sport, and making sure we stick to the basics. Narrow down to a realistic set of goals, focus on the ONE priority, and then write up a realistic plan on how to get there, but be sure to continually adjust your sails as you progress. My main point here is that Kae, my 80 year old client will not be performing the same exercises as my 28 year old client, Brendan. Preacher curls are not functional or even remotely necessary to increase the quality of life for Kae. Therefore, they will not be in her programming. Sorry Kae, no massive biceps for you.

Lastly, not taking into consideration the limitations for each client can significantly hinder their progress. If a client has an obvious habit of squatting knock-kneed, then prescribing them heavy barbell squats and leg press right off the bat to “fix” the problem is a combo of disaster. Not only will it NOT “fix” the problem, it will actually make the problem worse. Your client will continue to test the limits of their knee ligaments until they either strain a muscle or completely tear their knee…now even sitting down to go to the bathroom will be a very difficult and excruciating experience. Way to go, Coach. The better plan of action would be to start your client with exercises that strengthen the inner and outer thigh, even out the imbalances of their quad to hamstring strength, and then strengthen the glutes. Slowly introduce the technique of the squat once they can sit and stand without their knees ramming into one another like bumper cars. Once they master that, use a PVC pipe on their back, then a lightly weighted bar, a heavier weighted bar until they can work efficiently and correctly with a barbell. Same goes for box jumps, benching, deadlifting, etc. If your client is a newbie, teach them slowly and give them exercises they can do without pain, work on range of motion with bodyweight, use bands to decrease joint load, but know when to shut it down. These types of individuals have no idea what they are doing, how their bodies work, and what the difference between actual pain and muscle burn pain is. Your job is to help them gain an understanding of basic movement, work on technique and to feel better. If you have a more experienced lifter, give them what they can chew, maybe a little more, and then allow them some time to chew on it and swallow. They might have bad habits that need cleaned up, or a better direction than what they were given previously. Assess, and then redirect, and always be reinforcing good technique habits.  If you have an extremely advanced client, make sure to hit the basics, but have fun with it. You can try new things with these individuals, but make sure to continually be working on their weaknesses and keeping the core movements in there.

Being a coach is a privilege, not a right. Being knowledgeable about working out and understanding the human body, its anatomy and physiology, and how to properly place demands on it to effectively gain strength, are two very different things. Not to mention, both will provide different approaches. One derives itself from “this is how I do it,” and the other derives itself from science, trail and error, and results. And results show that one size has never fit all, nor will it ever. So stop looking for the easy way out to getting your clients strong and successful. Strength is built on a firm, solid foundation from the ground up, let your work mirror that mindset, and your clients’ results be the testament of its truth.

 

 

 

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