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The 10 Commandments of Training and Coaching

The following is a list of the 10 most important commandments for a personal trainer, group fitness instructor, or strength and conditioning coach to follow everyday.   Follow these commandments and you will find yourself becoming the coach or trainer you want to become.  They are in order starting with the most important:

  I.     Thou shall do no harm- Without a doubt, “Do not harm” is the most important commandment you will see on this list.  Your #1 priority and responsibility as a trainer or coach is to ensure your clients’ safety while they work with you.  Your client comes to you and trusts you to keep them safe while they’re with you, and it is your duty to live up to that trust.  If a client gets injured under your direction, YOU are at fault.  It’s not the client’s fault.   So from exercise selection to spotting technique, always focus on safety first and foremost.

 II.     Thou shall reduce the risk of injury- This may sound like another way to phrase commandment #1, but in fact it takes it a step further. While “Do No Harm” refers to your clients’ safety while they’re with you, Commandment #2 refers to their risk of injury outside of the gym.  Whether you’re training elite athletes, middle-aged professionals, or senior citizens, your first performance-related goal is to reduce their risk of injury outside of the gym, whether it’s on the playing field, at work, or around the house.  There’s no such thing as injury prevention, but we can certainly reduce their risk of injury by improving mobility and stability throughout the body.

 III.     Thou shall motivate your clients- Motivate. Inspire. Connect. Pump Up.  However you want to say it…as the trainer or coach YOU set the energy for the session.  If you’re dragging your feet through the workout, what do you think your client is going to do?  There are hundreds and probably thousands of qualified trainers all around you who would love to take on your clientele.  Give your clients a reason to keep coming to you. 

 IV.     Thou shall be attentive- Martin Rooney of Training For Warriors always says “Your most important client is the person you’re working with RIGHT NOW.” And he’s 100% correct.  When somebody is paying you X amount of dollars for a half hour or an hour of your time, there is NOBODY more important to you during that hour.  Give them 100% of your attention and energy and they will keep coming back.

 V.     Thou shall make progress- It may seem odd that this one is all the way down at #5.  Most trainers and coaches who are first starting out would put this one at #1, but the more you work with people, the more you realize that you must have the first 4 in order to get to #5.  An injured client doesn’t improve.  They don’t get stronger, they don’t lose body fat, they don’t improve their quality of life, and they definitely don’t improve their performance on the field.  The same can be said for an unmotivated client.  So you can see why Commandments 1-4 have to precede #5.  This is the reason we all got into this business-to make people better.

 VI.     Educate thyself- Whether you have a degree in an exercise-related field, or you have every certification on the planet, your learning process is NEVER over.  The best coaches and trainers in the world are the ones who are life-long learners.  It’s impossible to know enough in this ever-changing field.  Make a point to read/study/watch something with new information for 20 minutes everyday.  You’ll be shocked to see how much you learn in a week, a month, and a year.

 VII.     Thou shall be a professional- Connecting with and inspiring your clients is critically important to your success as a coach, but it’s equally as important to find the fine line of being a mentor and being a buddy.  This is especially true when working with young people.  Joking around is fine, but keeping the conversation professional is an absolute must and it’s your duty to set a good example for your clients.  There’s a time to chat, and there’s a time to get down to work.  It’s very important to know when and how to flip that switch.

VIII.     Shou shall be on time- This is an extension of Commandment #7, but I’ve seen this be an issue so many times in the past I thought it deserved special mention.  As a trainer, you must ALWAYS be on time and in fact you should arrive at least 15 minutes before your client does.  When your client is walking into the gym, you want to be ready for them, not running around setting things up.  Get to the gym early, write up your programs and get the gym set up so that as soon as your client walks in, you’re ready to go.

 IX.     Thou shall workout thyself (getting sick of these “thou and thy’s yet?)- It’s probably surprising to many to see this so far down on the list as well.  Keeping yourself in good shape is an important part of your day.  Along with getting your clients better and improving your abilities as a coach (through experience and education) it is important to keep yourself in good condition.  Since coaching and learning take up the majority of your day, find a way to squeeze in some good tough workouts in a short period of time everyday. 

 X.     Thou shall take care of thyself- To go along with acting professional and working out on your own, it’s important to take care of yourself in other ways as well.  You should always look presentable.  That doesn’t mean you need a shirt and tie to coach, but you should always be clean shaven, showered, etc.  You should also always be standing up straight, in your “ready to go” stance.  No slumped shoulders, no leaning on equipment, etc.  Your clients will pick up on EVERYTHING you do—from the tone of your voice to the way you stand, and therefore everything you do must convey positive, exciting energy.

 There you have it.  Follow these commandments and you will instantly see the difference in how your clients approach their sessions and what you both get out of it.

 Adam Reeder

Yesterday, I explained the core muscles’ general responsibility to stabilize the spine in all directions. I then showed you one of the most basic core stabilization exercises, the forearm plank.

By all means, you can improve your core strength by a great deal by performing forearm planks.  However, there is a way to take your core training to a whole new level, and the results are not only rock hard abs, but an improved posture, enhanced athletic performance, and a reduced risk of injury.  The first thing you must understand in order to develop a dynamic core is what the phrase “dynamic core” actually means.  In this case, the word dynamic refers to the ability of the core to react to varying levels of force at any given time.  Take for example a football lineman.  When a defensive tackle rushes for the quarterback, he gets usually gets blocked by an offensive lineman:

The defensive player’s core muscles, more than any other muscles in his body, must react EXTREMELY quickly to the offensive player hitting him.  His muscles do not have time to contract in a slow and controlled motion like you see in a sit-up or crunch.  The core musculature must react in a flash to whatever varying degree of force is placed on them.  For this reason, traditional abdominal exercises such as sit-ups or crunches are extremely ineffective at developing a sports-specfic core.

So, if you can’t use crunches or sit-ups or other traditional ab exercises, what can you do to make your core reactive and dynamic?

The perfect solution to this problem: Resistance bands.

As a band gets stretched, it’s resistance gets progressively harder.  This is different from almost all other types of resistance, such as free weights, body weights, machines, etc.  By using a band as resistance, we are altering the force placed on the body based on how far the band is stretched.  Lately, I have been experimenting with a TON of different exercises that use bands to get the core dynamically reacting to the resistance placed on it. There are a few things I love about these exercises:

-They’re all extremely sport-specific

-They’re performed standing, which is specific to sports and life in general

-They allow for strengthening of other areas of the body while strengthening the core

Here is the first video in the “Developing a Dynamic Core” series- Let me know what you think!