As a personal trainer, your ongoing quest for the "perfect program" never ends. This is the third part of a three-part series on how to build a foundation for your program design. Before we can discuss what acute variables your client should start with (sets, reps, tempo, and rest periods), we must first start with an understanding of what condition our client is starting with. Since the "typical" client of today is much different from the "typical" client of 30-40 years ago, their program design must be altered to fit their environment.
In our previous two articles on Postural Profile and Flexibility Profile, we discussed what to look for in static posture as well as multiple flexibility assessments to help determine your client’s muscular imbalances for appropriate program design. In this article we will use a very simple exercise that will take the information that we gained from the previous two profiles and bring them to life.
The objective of this exercise is to test total kinetic-chain neuromuscular efficiency, integrated-functional strength and dynamic flexibility. To begin the exercise
- Have the client place their feet shoulder-width apart with their arms straight over their head, with their elbows extended. They can hold something above their head such as a dowel rod, tubing or even a towel (The goal of having them place their arms overhead is to put their lats in a lengthened position, instead of seeing how strong they are with something held overhead).
- Instruct the client to slowly squat down to a position that is comfortable to them, if they are unsure of a squat position, a simple analogy of sitting down onto a chair will work well.
- Instruct them to squat under control, the desired repetitions 6-12 (as you become more experienced in noticing the deviations, you will probably see everything you were looking for in the first 5 repetitions, if this is new to you, you may have them perform more repetitions).
- Do not let the clients know what you are specifically looking for, as they will tend to try to "correct" themselves as they perform the desired repetitions.
- Make sure the client is comfortable with you either walking around them to see anterior, lateral and posterior views, or segment your repetitions to allow them to move into all three views. For example, 4 repetitions from the front, turn, 4 repetitions from the side, turn, last 4 repetitions from behind.
- In a "perfect training world" the client would wear shorts, a t-shirt and be in bare feet. The closer we can get our client to this environment, the better, but their comfort level is always a priority.
- Note any deviations from the checklist provided below, as this will allow you to see your client’s muscular imbalances as they move in front of you.
- Feet flatten (pronate) and externally rotate (turn out): May indicate tightness in soleus, gastrocnemius, peroneals, hamstring and piriformis and/or weakness in gluteus medius.
- Knees buckle inward: May indicate weak/inhibited gluteus maximus/medius, tight adductors and iliotibial band (IT band).
- Low back arches: May indicate tight iliopsoas and/or other hip flexors and latissimus dorsi, compensating for a weak core.
- Low back rounds: May indicate overactive external obliques, compensating for a weak core.
- Arms fall forward: May indicate tight latissimus dorsi and/or pectoralis major/minor and weak lower trapezius, rhomboids, teres minor and infraspinatus.
- Cervical spine: If it hyperextends, this may indicate overactive sternocleidomastoid and weak stabilizers.
*Remember: Do not try to micro-assess each particular joint - leave that for the professionals. Try to take in the entire picture when watching your client’s movement patterns. If you do not see something happen, then move on to the next step.
By utilizing your client’s static and dynamic posture, flexibility profiles and a movement such as the overhead squat, this will enable you, the trainer to create a true individualized training program for your client.
Click here for the Overhead Squat Profile Form.