Guest post from Mike Wunsch of Results Fitness
Results Fitness is known for its systems. Our coaching algorithm, or thought process, is absolutely one of them. There are a few things to consider when coaching someone. One of them is what to do if and when an exercise doesn’t look right. We have outlined a self-questionnaire that our coaches must ask themselves when watching an exercise. Here is what we ask ourselves when coaching:
1. Is this acceptable? – Is whatever movement the person is doing correct? Does this move meet acceptable standards? Is it safe? Would I be proud to show the move on YouTube? Or more importantly, would this pass in a court of law? Whatever the move, it must meet certain criteria. For example, is the range of motion acceptable? Is the tempo of the move acceptable? Is the posture acceptable? These are some of the questions to ask yourself when coaching.
2. Identify the BIGGEST problem. What is the most important thing to look for in an exercise? Let’s use a kettlebell swing as an example. What is the number one thing a coach should be “on the lookout” for? We look at the lumbar spine first. The most important thing for a swing is for the lumbar spine to be in good position. Once we know the lumbar spine is in good position, we can then look at other things such as finish position, and sequencing of the hips and knees. We make sure to “put the biggest fires out”. If the lumbar spine is not in good position, I don’t care what the hips are doing. Lumbar spine takes precedence. I encourage you to have your biggest identifiers systemized for each exercise.
3. What do you do to fix it first? What are the first words that come out of your mouth when attempting to fix a movement? What do you say? Do you have a script? The first thing to do when an exercise isn’t acceptable is to cue the person to do it right. This can be a simple two-second fix for a lot of people. Model the move for them and give them an externally based cue with an analogy to help them remember the cue and exercise. That’s always the first step, a simple cue. The next step is to lower the load.
4. What to do if that doesn’t work? What do you do if your cue doesn’t work? What do you do if you have lowered the load and it is still unacceptable? We regress the exercise. We may, at this point, even have to change the exercise. We keep the pattern the same but regress the level of complexity. Let us imagine a front squat not being executed to acceptable standards. We have cued them, lowered the load, and it still doesn’t look right. What do we do? Typically, we will regress to a goblet squat in order for the person to meet acceptable standards. Each one of your exercises should have a “go to” regression. Always be prepared for “What if this doesn’t work?” Remember, you may have to ditch the exercise altogether at times and return to the drawing board.
5. How do you regress it? Cueing is the first “regression” and, as previously mentioned, lowering the load comes second. Systemize how you are going to regress all of your exercises. Have your “go to” regressions in a script fashion. Set how you are going to regress exercises before the moment comes up. An example may be using a dowel on a plank exercise to give them feedback. I may see the plank not being done right, so I can cue them to be straight, raise the plank, and use the dowel for a posture check.
The main point is to preemptively have your systems in place. Every exercise, stretch, mobility drill, etc., should have this thought process applied to it. Every single component of the workout should be systemized in this fashion. So be prepared to ask yourself, “Is this acceptable?” If it is, move on. If it isn’t, be prepared to identify what may cause injury. Have cues, teaching aids, and regressions in place.
Remember, if you need more details on how to set up your own system of program design, our Results Fitness University Mastery of Program Design Seminar is coming up on July 9th & 10th. Our Early Bird Discount expires this week! I hope to see you all there.
Dedicated to Your Success,
Co-Head of Program Design at Results Fitness