(Editors' Note: This sponsored article is part of Club Industry's report, "The Changing World of Personal Training." To download this free report, go here.)
Within sports, a lot of focus is given to strength and conditioning to improve performance and prevent injury. This is now filtering down to informed consumers, who increasingly want to train like an athlete, even if they are not aiming for competitive success. These clients want to see measurable performance gains rather than just going through the motions in each training session.
This trend presents an opportunity for personal trainers who are prepared to develop their strength coaching and programming skills.
What Are Clients Looking For?
Clients have a number of motivations for focusing on strength:
1. Sports. A client who competes outside of the gym will want to enhance their performance and decrease their injury risk.
2. Body recomposition. The importance of strength work for fat loss is well understood. Strength training can succeed where cardio and fad diets have failed. Gaining muscle leads to an increased metabolic rate and can be achieved through short, intense workouts rather than long, boring cardio sessions.
3. General health. Governments now advise that everyone should do regular strength training, which has particular benefits as clients get older. It prevents loss of bone mineral density and helps to prevent fall injuries.
Savvy clients realize that they will achieve their goal more quickly with the advice and guidance of specialists. Personal trainers are well placed to take advantage of this demand, if they are prepared to develop their knowledge and skills.
What Is Involved?
Clients get two main benefits from working with a strength coach: technique and programming. Technique coaching is obviously best delivered in face-to-face sessions, but an increasing number of coaches are delivering programming online, enabling them to service more clients.
The main challenge for the strength coach is to program the right mix of exercises for each client to ensure they address their weaknesses, make progress and ultimately reach their goals. Programs need to be individualized rather than generic.
The barbell is one of the fundamental pieces of equipment for strength training. It can be loaded precisely to a wide range of weights, which is important because it provides individualization, progression and decreased risk of injury.
Compound barbell exercises, which use multiple joints to complete the movement, should form the core of strength training. They target the biggest muscles while also requiring the whole body to be engaged. The squat, bench press and deadlift all fit the bill and are easy to learn. For those who want a more technical challenge or want to develop explosive power, the snatch and the clean and jerk from weightlifting are staples.
All of the barbell movements have variations that can be used to suit the needs of individual clients. For example, a mobility restriction may require a less challenging version. Alternatively, a particular training goal may be best addressed by focusing on something specific.
Dumbbells and kettlebells enable unilateral (one-sided) work to be done, which can be valuable for addressing strength imbalances and developing better core strength and stability.
Knowing how to select and coach the right exercises for each client is what distinguishes a true strength coach and gives them a competitive advantage.
How to Become an Effective Strength Coach
1. Learn the Big Five. The competition movements from powerlifting and weightlifting (squat, bench, deadlift, snatch and the clean and jerk) provide the basis for a wealth of variations that you can use to adapt to each client’s individual needs.
2. Seek education. You need to gain all of the knowledge that you can in order to teach and correct technique, program efficiently and ensure your clients achieve their goals. Never stop learning.
3. Focus on technique. Often, your job as a coach will be to use proper loading progressions to ensure clients are moving correctly before moving onto more challenging weights. A good technique base will pay dividends later, ensuring they can steadily and safely make progress.
4. Ensure progression. Your clients should always be moving forward, whether that is improving technique, lifting more weight or performing more reps.
5. Think long term. Although beginners can make fast progress, as a client’s strength improves, you will need to plan further and further ahead. Build lasting relationships if you want to see them reach their full potential.
Eleiko offers complete strength solutions and helps club operators capitalize on the opportunities presented by the growing demand for strength and performance training.