Through lockdown (sorry to keep saying the dreaded word!) I've been studying my Level 4 Strength & Conditioning Qualification... not only has it provided me with new ways of training and programme planning, but also new ways of thinking. One thing that has really stuck with me however, is the above phrase that has been used throughout the course - both for my own training and for planning my clients training. Athletes from any sporting background - novice, intermediate or advanced - should "Earn the Right To Progress".
A strength and conditioning (S&C) coach works more specifically with clients that want to steadily progress through a training programme with the opportunity of longevity in their training life, and whilst thinking about injury reduction. Personal trainers help you to get on track and provide helpful training tips. Keep in mind that all S&C coaches will have progressed their own way from gym instructor to personal trainer first, before becoming an S&C coach. This qualification allows us to better understand how to progress and regress clients and athletes of different levels in a suitable way, whilst working on all-round fitness and being creative in the ways in which we help you train.
"So what does that mean for me?"
Personal trainers and coaches don't want you to become easily injured (of course), but earning the right to progress within your training is about replicating movements that we need in everyday life and making them stronger through repetitive practice... feel like we're always making you squat? Think about the way you stand up or sit down from a chair. Performing a plank with dumbbell row in your session? We're not being mean... we're actually helping you to build core strength across the abdominals and lower back, whilst trying to reverse the tight back and shoulders feeling from regularly sitting at a desk for work.
When starting with a new client, I have them perform a series of exercises in order to look at their posture and technique. If I feel they are competent then I may ask them to progress - for example, if they can successfully perform a lunge, then we may try lunge jumps. Similarly, if they feel a lunge is a difficult move to perform or are very wobbly on their feet, then we regress back to split squats.I sometimes even regress a long-term client back slightly when we increase the weights that they are using, just to focus in on technique once more.
Essentially, we're talking about the age-old quote "don't run before you can walk". It's true! There are occasions when coaches feel that a client can test the waters to progress a certain move, and may regress them again in the same session. It isn't because we don't think you're not capable but because we want to ensure that you understand the movement too. Progress comes from practice and we want you to be able to move as effectively as possible, for as long as possible into old age.You could be a seasoned athlete at competition level, or you could be a complete novice just looking to maintain fitness; either way, movement efficiency and safety is key throughout your training, so ensure that you progressively "earn the right to progress".