A Quick Coaching Rant

May 26, 2011 Category Coaching, IFAST, Uncategorized.

“Exercise X is hard to coach.”

“I don’t have time to coach Exercise Y.”

It’s strange – the more I read about coaching, the less actual coaching seems to be going on!

Depending on what websites, blogs or forums you frequent, any of the following could be on the list:

  • Back squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Olympic lifts
  • Bench pressing
  • Overhead pressing
  • Bent-over rows
  • And a host of other exericses.

Take a moment and review that list.

Doesn’t that list constitute a TON of fantastic exercises, that can help virtually anyone achieve their goals?

I don’t care if you want to build muscle, lose fat, or get stronger, those exercises are basic, foundational movement patterns.

Why aren’t we coaching them more, versus less?

Now don’t get me wrong – I’ve been doing this long enough to be pragmatic in my approach. Most people aren’t going to start off, Day 1, performing back squats, bent-over rows, and heavy conventional deadlifts.

But over time, using an intelligent progression, and while working to address any dysfunctions they might have, doesn’t it make sense to get them to a point where they could do these exercises if they choose to do so?

Rather than simply ranting, let’s figure out why some people say this.  There are a few issues here, if you ask me:

  1. The goal of the trainer is simply to maximize cash. Load up as many people as you can per session, pick the lowest common denominator exercise, and have at it. I’m not here to judge – I’m simply noting that this is how some people choose to do business, putting their bottom line in front of the well-being of their clients.
  2. The coach/trainer at hand simply can’t effectively coach the exercise, or doesn’t have the coaching toolbox necessary to make it look good. After all, if you don’t have the skill set to coach the Olympic lifts, you’re going to find reasons to not include them, right?
  3. The coach/trainer doesn’t believe that this is an appropriate exercise, or doesn’t feel it’s appropriate from a cost:benefit ratio. Of course this is the great debate – what’s a great and fantastic exercise for one client is Kryptonite for another.
  4. The coach/trainer is flat-out lazy. And yes, I have seen this plenty of times. Why actually work? I’d rather tell you about my weekend and discuss the last episode of Oprah.

So when it comes down to it, it’s not that you don’t have time – you have the same amount of time that any of us do. Think about the deeper-seeded reasons you choose not to use a lift, versus simply using time as an excuse.

But please, stop saying that coaching a specific exercise is too difficult.

Are certain exercises more challenging to coach than others? Sure.

Are certain exercises beyond the scope of what certain clients need? Absolutely.

But with time and dedication, it’s amazing what your clients and athletes can do if you take the time and effort to actually coach them.

Stay strong and coach well


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