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Novelty vs Consistent Progression

There are a million and one reasons why people seek out personal trainers, yet I can almost guarantee that every time I sit down for a consultation with a prospective client I will ALWAYS hear one familiar reason as to why they are there. What is that all too familiar sentence? “I get bored in the gym.”

Now this notion of being bored doing the same exercises has varying levels of degree. As I follow up with the question, “What is an example of a typical workout you might do in the gym?'', I have the true novice lifters that relay the only three or four exercises they know of (enough said, I get it. I would get bored only doing three or four isolation exercises too), while the high school and collegiate athletes that I work with come in and rattle off 20-30 exercises they shuffle through on a regular basis.

While the novice lifter vs. the collegiate athlete may sound like they are on opposite sides of the spectrum, the question for the trainer remains the same. Knowing that boredom in exercise routine is an issue, do you provide novel exercises on a regular basis to keep the client interested and consistent, or do you start your programming with the tried and true movements that research has found time and time again to build the most muscle, stability, and bone density?

The answer………. BOTH! But over time and in proper sequencing.

So how do you get your clients to buy-in to the fact that there needs to be some sort of consistency on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis? Educate them! Any good trainer will always have a reason for doing what they are doing with a client. If you are reading this and working with a trainer, I STRONGLY encourage you to regularly ask your trainer why you are performing the movements you are. Not to test your trainers knowledge, but to educate yourself. I find that informing your clients as to the “why” helps with focus and application. Put yourself in the shoes of someone seeking out a trainer with a specific goal in mind, let’s keep it simple and say they want to lose 10 pounds. Do you think they will put more effort into their squats if you just assign the movement and say squats will help you lose weight, ready, go? Or, will you elicit more effort and motivation to perform the movement by explaining that the squat is a full body compound movement that targets some of the biggest muscles in the body (glutes, quads and hamstring), and that the more you force these large muscles to contract, repair and rebuild, the more calories your body will burn. The more calories you burn, the more weight you will lose (given that caloric intake does not change, of course).

This explanation as to “why” does so much more than just educate your clients. It informs them that there is a plan, and that while multiple workouts may look very similar if not exactly the same for a few weeks, it is for a particular purpose, and that purpose is so that future, more difficult movements can be performed. I find so often that it isn’t truly boredom that so many people suffer from, it is lack of intention. Am I just doing this movement to do this movement, or am I doing it to benefit me in the long run? Will this help me reach my goal?

While novelty in the gym can be fun and not boring for some, doing different movements every single session means there is no progression in movement form, volume, or adaptation. How can you expect someone to be able to perform a Bird Dog Row if they haven’t ingrained what the proper elbow path is for a dumbbell row. How will they have the necessary core strength to maintain a parallel hip position if they haven't spent time progressing a plank, or a compound movement that requires core engagement, like a squat? How can the client perform proper alternating lunges if they don’t know the proper stance to be pressing up from? If they haven’t ingrained the upright posture, vertical front shin, and forefoot pressure of the back foot from doing multiple split squat repetitions, they won’t be able to too.

Remember, people seek trainers for the same reason they seek professional plumbers and electricians, because they don’t have the knowledge or background to successfully do the job themselves. As trainers it is our job to educate and create a plan of action that will lead to them successfully reaching their goals.

How do they reach those goals? Consistency! Consistency in the gym is what they want, consistency in a movement is what they need! This does not mean every workout should always be the same, but make sure you are allowing your clients the necessary time to properly progress so that they can successfully move on to a new movement in their next mesocycle. Allow them to progress to novelty.

Cody Goyette

Form First Fitness

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