So, you have decided to work with a personal trainer, absolutely fantastic. It will allow you to have guidance, knowledge, advice, evidence-based programming a clear and effective pathway to achieve your goals. Right?
Well, apparently not always.
How many of you have either experienced or have been told, or overheard someone say:
“Oh, I had my first session with my personal trainer yesterday, I literally can’t move, I am so sore everywhere, everything hurts”
“I nearly threw up it was so hard”
‘I literally died”
This happens too often and it infuriates me!
Let me set the scene…
You arrive for your first session, you meet your coach and he asks you the health questions, you fill out forms, you speak about what you want to achieve through your training. More often than not, they already have a workout for you before they have even met you.
You start with a light little “warm up” on a bike, or treadmill while he stands next to you. You may do some light stretches or body weight movements and then you start your workout. And what follows is too often nothing short of an atrocity.
You do an array of ridiculous exercises from many many burpees, to box jumps to weighted exercises, maybe some back squats to bench press to some HIIT on the treadmill to battle ropes and everything in between bringing you to the point of complete fatigue and on the verge of throwing up.
All designed with no thought to your current ability, needs or situation. With the only goal of making you “work really hard” or to “see how hard you can work” or even better “to see your mental strength to see what you can handle” …..
All of that is absolute nonsense. If you go to a personal trainer for the first time and that sort of thing happens, or you are told to do these things, immediately walk out of the gym.
You may be thinking, what is wrong with that? I thought I was supposed to work hard and feel sore and ‘achey’ after my sessions. Wrong!
Box Jumps Are Not Cardio!
Doing things such as multiple box jumps in a first session (or more often than not in any session in my opinion) is a cardinal sin and a great example as to why a lot of these first personal training sessions are deeply flawed.
When jumping and landing the forces going through your body are huge. Studies have reported landing forces of between 3.3 and 6.8 times body weight….. now imagine that amount of force going through your body multiple times
Without proper instruction on how to jump or land on the ground let alone on to a box too high for you to jump on.
That force going through an untrained body multiple times after getting off the box incorrectly.
That amount of force and load going through an untrained body after 20 previous reps when you are fatigued and an already flawed technique when fresh let alone when tired. But I will rant about this in a future blog post!
Is that going to make you better? Is it going to fix that niggly shoulder issue you have had for years? Or how your back hurts when you sit down for too long or that you get tired walking up the stairs? No, it won’t.
Generally, people do not have sufficient mechanics, ability and experience to be exposed to these sort of sessions. So when there is a high volume of big body movements, performed over and over again with poor mechanics something at some point, maybe not in that first session, will give way and injury will occur. It may not even happen in a future session, it could happen in the supermarket simply picking up something from the bottom shelf.
Now, this article isn’t solely based on my opinion on the extremely poor use of box jumps within the fitness industry. I could easily write 100 pages on this issue. It just highlights my point, that too often the first session from a personal trainer is purely designed to have the client work as hard as possible, and have that feeling of being ‘tortured’ with total disregard to what the client actually needs, which often is a result of
- Society and then the general public expecting that from personal training sessions.
2. A poor education system is deeply flawed. (More on that in a later blog).
So what should happen?
The basis of the first session with a coach should solely be an assessment session. One where first and foremost a connection is made between the client and coach. Your background is explained, why you are there, injury history and current injuries, and what you want to achieve. Your posture should then be fully analysed, along with your current movement patterns. If you can’t squat with a safe movement pattern with no weight, in a controlled setting for a few reps why should you be doing multiple box jumps? It just doesn’t make sense!
Following a thorough movement analysis, corrective exercises such as specific stretches to correct overactive or tight areas and activations and base level strengthening exercises to correct weak and underachieve muscles should be prescribed and then the session should involve improving fundamental movement patterns such as:
And this should form the bases of your sessions, from which you progress slowly each phase with the corrective exercises progressing also, using an evidence-based approach.
If your coach can’t explain why you are doing an exercise and give you justification for that movement, you have an issue.
I would encourage everyone to ask these questions as this is your training and your journey and you should be receiving the best possible service.