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PROPER TRAINING INTENSITY - TRAINERS BEWARE
by Gregory Ladd, President
I have often seen so-called certified trainers putting overweight clients through torturous high intensity (HIT) workouts that would cause a well trained NFL linebacker to vomit.
The absurdity and inappropriateness of this military-type training for anyone but boot camp inductees and professional football players is apparent to everyone in the gym except the trainer. A client will voice her misgivings about the painful intensity level only to have her plea fall on deaf ears. It's the trainer's way or the highway.
Most recently a twenty-ish girl who was about fifty-pounds overweight was witnessed under a squat rack crushed down under an overloaded bar. Heavy squats are a pure bodybuilding movement that provide no value as a weight loss aid whatsoever. I cringed as the trainer, (whom I dubbed heart attack) proceeded to the flat bench where he forced the girl to awkwardly step up onto it while holding a twenty five pound plate in each hand. Her face looked like a thermometer ready to pop. I seriously wondered if I would be called to testify about her cardiovascular accident. Thankfully, she was OK, but she never returned to the gym, nor is she likely to ever again if she believes that such measures are required for to reach her weight loss goals. They are not, by the way.
I was surprised that the upscale club, which is part of a regional northeastern chain, would allow its staff to injure their customers in such a way. This trainer could have been charged with battery because the level of care required for this woman was clearly not met. The trainer and club could be held civilly and criminally liable if she had been seriously injured or worse.
HIT is only for extreme athletes and bodybuilders, not keep fitters or the weight loss set. Weight reducing women always require light weights and longer duration sets, a high volume, low intensity system providing great results and a very low probability of injury. When you are training your clients, do not think that working them like they are contestants on "The Biggest Loser" is correct just because it's on TV. That's all for show. The real life training environment must be carefully controlled by you, the trainer, and exercise must be precisely applied to achieve the weight loss goals of your clients safely and effectively.
You can utilize role models as your guide to correct training themes even if you have not already learned correct training techniques from the AMFPT Personal Trainer certification course. By modeling lean athletes and their methods you can determine that high volume, long duration competitors like marathon runners are lean and not bulky. Extrapolating that idea into a workable regimen to help your customers lose weight would mean you are instructing them to perform long, light sets for very high repetitions, mimicking distance runners.
Wrestlers and NFL players are massive and train super-heavy and explosively, choosing short sprints and massive weights as weapons of choice. Analyzing their training we can know that extreme weights and brief training sessions are the rule for muscle mass gains, not weight loss.
This is not the only instance of wrong methods exhibited by trainers at this club. I have consistently seen another PFT (I call him cardiac arrest) forcing an elderly man to jump with a weight on his shoulders, twist awkwardly with heavy weights held at arms length, heave a too heavy weighted ball, jump sideways over a bench, etc., in a routine that can only be described as confusing.
This fitness tech is surrounded by millions of dollars worth of state of the art exercise equipment, but has determined that an old man who wants to shape up a little will receive much greater benefit from the vast wisdom and superior know how of his glorious trainer rather than that all that poor state of the art machinery. I say this with tongue in cheek. When you have the pleasure of bringing a client into the midst of a wonderful club like that and then neglect to utilize any of the technology around you, you have done an injustice to that client. When you have decided to train the toning client like he was an athlete, again you have not served his best interests.
Trainer beware - training your clients is customer service. You have a duty to provide a minimum quality of care for them, which means you must not hurt anyone because of improper training methods. It demonstrates incompetence at best and criminal malfeasance if taken to the extreme. There is an exact system for training any client who comes to you and very seldom does it involve HIT training.
One day a trainee at one of these clubs is going to drop dead from a heart attack because an uneducated trainer pushed him or her too hard. Don't be that person! My condolences to the family of the decedent. I hope the gym has a good insurance policy.
The bottom line is that if you see someone training a client inappropriately, take them aside quietly and tell them about the AMFPT Certification course. Make sure to hand them a copy of this article.
To fulfill your continuing education obligation send an email along with your name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org including the title of this article.