All too often, people drop out of health clubs because they can’t see where they are going on their personal fitness journey, and as a result, never feel like they are getting anywhere. Without a road map, the trip is costly, frustrating and usually ends in cessation of the workouts and ultimately cancellation of the health club membership.
With my clients, I have found that goal setting is a great retention tool. Because most of our clients want to feel like they are accomplishing something and making progress, treadmill-training programs are a great window for success. As the client progresses through each level, he/she can see themselves getting stronger. And as your client gets stronger, you can adjust the protocol to increase the intensity.
Research has shown that some of the most effective workouts involve interval training. We’re all aware of the benefits of overload on the body for strength and endurance gains. And, we know that a well-rounded program involving power, endurance, strength, agility, coordination, balance and flexibility will offer our clients the best quality of life. All of this information opens the door to a variety of training programs. As a fitness professional, I want the time my clients spend with me to be valuable, beneficial and rewarding.
Using the treadmill for training lends a lot of room for diversity and creativity. Most treadmills come with different workout profiles such as intervals, hills, random and personal training profiles. However, most of our clients are not “treadmill savvy” enough to find their way through all of the different programs installed in the treadmill software. Even worse, is the fact that most clients do not even know that there are elevation keys available to vary the grade of the treadmill. As the client’s trainer, I can design a program tailored to the needs of my clients. This program is something a client can do on their own after proper instruction, or something I can coach them through during a one-on-one or group session.
Using the treadmill-interval-training programs to take clients to new levels of fitness through a safe progression offers clients a variety of benefits. First, it breaks up the monotony of his/her current program and brings a new challenge. The design of the program keeps clients focused on the next “task” at hand rather than the clock. Second, it shocks the body, thereby breaking through plateaus that he/she may be experiencing. Third, due to the variance in the program, the body is consistently overloading the heart and lungs, thereby increasing endurance of the heart and lungs (Plus the endless list of other benefits that comes with cardiovascular training!).
Pro Series Treadmill
I usually take the time to write a customized program for clients so they can take it with them and see tangible, visual progression. It also gives the clients clear guidelines when I am not there to coach them. Depending on the participant’s physical limitations and fitness level, you can customize the program as the client progresses. The participant may not be able to complete the entire original program, but again, this offers a goal for your clients to attain. Once your client has “mastered” the current program, he/she can move on to the next level. A sample program may look something like the following:
Treadmill Interval Training Program - Phase I
- Warm up 5 min 3.0 mph 0% incline
- MPH Incline Time
- 3.0 5% 3 min
- 3.5 5% 2 min
- 3.5 10% 5 min
- 4.0 0% 3 min
- 4.0 5% 2 min
- 4.5 0% 3 min
- 4.5 8% 2 min
- 5.0 0% 3 min
- 5.0 5% 2 min
- Total time 30 min
For several reasons, it is key to run through this program with your client the first couple of times. The importance of feeling successful with any new challenge for our clients creates a sense of security and personal accomplishment. Additionally, it may be necessary to “tweak” the program initially and find the balance between not enough and too much. The perfect balance will inspire your client to work toward the completion of the program without feeling discouraged about the level of difficulty.
A good coach will be able to motivate their client to push past where they think they can go without the client even realizing what is happening. Often times I participate in the workout with my clients to actually “feel” where they are physically and monitor what they are experiencing personally. But sometimes we overestimate our client’s ability because we compare it to our own.
Another option is to use a stopwatch or the clock and alter the program each minute or so while standing right next to your client. This offers you, the trainer a lot of information about where your client is that particular day and how his/her body responds to this kind of training. Obviously, the intensity and duration of the drills will vary depending on how your client reacts to each segment.
- Warm up
- Workout progression
- Minute one easy jog
- Minute two jog up a hill 5% incline
- Minute three recovery
- Minute four sprint for one minute 70% effort
- Minute five recovery
- Minute six jog/walk up a hill 10% incline
- Minute seven recovery
- Minute eight jog/walk up a hill 15% incline
- Minute nine recovery
- Minute ten sprint for one minute 80% effort
- Minute eleven recovery
- Minute twelve jog at 5% incline
- Minute thirteen jog at 8% incline
- Minute fourteen recovery
- Minute fifteen sprint for one minute 85% effort
- Minute sixteen recovery
- Minute seventeen recovery
- Minute eighteen jog at 3% incline
- Minute nineteen jog at 5% incline
- Minute twenty jog at 8% incline
- End with a five-minute cool down.
You will notice that because each minute alters the workout dramatically, your clients is getting the benefit of an interval training-program. The body has to work hard to return to homeostasis and the workload is progressively harder continually overloading the body. Additionally, caloric expenditure is high and the lung capacity is challenged.
During the workout, a good coach should also answer the questions, how long does the client need to perform the exercise (duration), how hard does the client need to work (intensity) and what should the exercise feel like. This gives the client a clear and direct roadmap for success.
Using motivational disassociation drills is another great technique to keep the client focused on the goal rather than focusing on discomfort. Have your client visualize his/her best friend running beside them. Or have them imagine being in the front of a pack of runners or trying to beat their last one-minute interval distance by a few yards.
You can also have them set a personal goal before the workout (i.e. 10% harder than they did during the last session or to get rid of the snickers bar they ate for lunch that day). Another visual is to have your client think of someone that represents courage in their life and then focus on that person throughout each drill. Bringing your client back to these images will help motivate him/her to push through their own mental limitations. My clients usually find that they are much stronger than they initially thought they were and because of that their personal satisfaction is elevated.
A good trainer/client relationship requires trust, good coaching, understanding the client’s current fitness level and the ability to be a motivator. Using the treadmill interval-training program is one way to provide a successful and rewarding experience for your client while increasing retention, satisfaction and making fitness fun.