Generally speaking, we all know that exercise is beneficial. As long as the exercise doesn’t cause injury, there are very few exercises which should be avoided. Whilst this is the case, we have limited time to train with our clients and should be making the best use of this time. There are a few guidelines that we can follow, to ensure that we are getting the most out of resistance training sessions.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT EXERCISE
Firstly, it is key that the muscle we want to work is the limiting factor, or the first muscle to get tired and fail. For instance, you may ask a client to perform an overhead squat. If their shoulders tire before their legs and they cannot complete the set, you may want to look at different options to ensure that they are effectively training the target muscle.
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Secondly, for the best results, tension should be kept on the muscle through the full range of movement to increase muscle fibre recruitment. This can be achieved by making small adjustments to regular exercises to get the most out of them, although you may have to slightly decrease the weight they are lifting. Here are two examples:
Sit Up: Rather than allowing your client to sit up until they are vertical, stop them just before, so that they are unable to rest between reps.
Bicep Curl: Instead of letting your client rest at the bottom of a bicep curl, try using the cable machine. Have them face away from it and do their curls, maintaining tension at the bottom of each rep.
MUSCLE GROUP TRAINING FREQUENCY
Finally, whilst it is good to split up muscle groups when you train, it often means that they are only trained once per week. For untrained individuals this is not an issue as neural adaptations, improving technique and an increase in muscle memory means that they are still likely to see improvements. Once someone is more experienced, hypertrophy becomes more important when looking to increase strength. For this reason, slightly more experienced clients should be working each muscle group more than once per week to see the best results.
If a client has a busy schedule, has limited time to train or doesn’t work with their Personal Trainer several times a week, you should look to increase the number of muscle groups which are worked each session. If you feel that they are not able to spend long enough focussing on a particular muscle group during a session, it may be worth considering an increase in intensity.
A DIFFERENT TAKE ON REST
To give us time to recover and adapt, rest is key. Whilst this is the case, this doesn’t mean that our client has to be sedentary or even that they should be avoiding the gym completely. Think more about how much rest each muscle group has had and less about when their last session was. When planning sessions, be clever by working each muscle group at least twice per week and giving it time to rest. Similarly, be clever about the structure of your sessions. You have limited time with your client, so think about how this time can best be spent to get the desired results.
About the author: Matt Hancock, Sports Scientist.
Matt is a Sports Scientist, Strength and Conditioning Coach and Co-Founder of the UKPTA. He is currently working alongside England Rugby and completing a PhD in Injury Epidemiology and Performance Analysis. To find out more about Matt, visit our about us page.