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Your initial client will very likely be a beginner—a first-time lifter working with a first-time trainer. A great workout for a novice would probably last 30 to 40 minutes. That’s all the time you’d need for a warm-up and one or two sets of six to eight basic exercises. But most gyms sell your time in one-hour increments. Which means, before you’ve even started, you have a lot of time to fill. That’s why you should start that first session with a series of questions, based on what you know from the health history questionnaire your gym had the client fill out.

Let’s say the client noted that his knees feel pretty good, and he’s never had a back problem. But there was a shoulder injury a few years ago that required surgery. Some follow-up questions:

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Just be cautious with movements like squats and chest presses. Because the range of motion is novel for a non-lifter, too much load or volume will likely make them sore the next few days. Giving your client excruciating DOMS is a bad look for a first-time trainer.

 

What if the gym is too crowded for the workout I designed?

This is the second-most annoying problem you’ll encounter. I’ve learned to keep my head on a swivel, monitoring the next couple of stations I plan to use and then adjusting the client’s workout in my head if I don’t think I’ll have the space or equipment I need.

Even then, I never know when someone will plop down on the leg press or grab the only available cable station just when we’re about to use it

It’s not just the sequence of exercises that’s affected. It’s the entire program. A good workout typically begins with the most complex and challenging exercises, like squats and hip hinges, and then continues to the ones that require the least focus and coordination

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