We've all done it, I'm certainly no exception to this here. We see this really cool shiny new exercise or drill and just have to use it. No matter what the cost is we have to take it and use it so we can make things "fun". It's worse when a client sees it and says why can't I be doing this?
When we see a fun new exercise, it tends to be someone's new favorite thing. Immediately it has to be either in their program or worse a coach applies it to clients that have no business doing that exercise.
Programming is never as complicated as it seems to be. I'm confident many of my clients could lay down a decent program if they were put to the task. Don't get me wrong they would more than likely throw something in there they saw on an infomercial, but for the most part it wouldn't be detrimental to them.
Here's a few do's an don'ts that have helped me along the way:
1. Basics win out most of the time when programming for someone the first time. No ridiculous looking exercise off of a certain home workout program will ever beat out the basics of push, pull, squat, hinge and carry. Throw in some unilateral exercise for both upper and lower, a few solid core exercises and you are set.
2. Progress exercise variations slowly (appropriately). The next phase of a program doesn't need to have drastic changes. You can keep the same big money exercise(s) for more than 4 weeks at a time, it will only help in mastering the movements. 4 weeks is the bare minimum it MIGHT take to master a movement, I'd say 8 is the standard. Having someone stay on trap bar deadlift for 2-3 phases in a row will not slow their progress. Even reverting back to a regression a couple months in a row is perfectly OK, it won't end the world, go ahead try it....SEE.
3. Stemming off of number 2. When you see a new exercise/drill; whether it's off an infomercial, random youtube channel or off a popular strength coach's blog. Do yourself a favor and make sure it's applied to the right people and places (if at all). Not EVERYONE needs to do this shiny new movement, especially if they haven't mastered the basics, or worse they have pain in some of the basics. At the very least try the exercise yourself first and then you can start to figure out who it is appropriate for.
4. Sometimes it's necessary to swallow your pride and put an exercise or two in the program a client would like, even if you don't like it yourself. After all if the client absolutely hates their program and has 0 desire to ever do it, what kind of results are they going to get from 0 workouts? Then who do you think they point the finger at? It's certainly not going to be themselves, it's our job to make sure they have a doable and effective program. Even if it means letting them have their cake and eat it too, so to speak. As long as it's something appropriate for them and won't cause injury, go for it and have a blast.
Recap of do's and don'ts; keep it simple, master movement before progressing, stifle your urge to try the shiny new object on clients, and let the clients have a little fun.
That's what I got for today everyone, go out there and get after it!
Jarrod Dyke, CSCS