Sports conditioning is a popular service offered by personal trainers. For the trainer it is often an expression of their own athleticism and it can open up a dynamic and fun market for their business. As in any training, it is essential to have a strong framework and good foundation for success, which are both dependent upon careful progression of a simple 4-step plan:
If you break this formula, you are likely to break your client too!
- Restore Flexibility
- Strengthen, and consider the need for
- Power development
FIRST, Restore Flexibility.
Muscles are dynamic joint stabilizers; if they are imbalanced it is impossible to restore optimal structural stability and consequently any athlete is more likely to suffer musculoskeletal injury. General overall stretching routines, while all too common, do not balance the body. They will take a body that was tight and imbalanced and create a looser, imbalanced body! Imagine the body like a bicycle wheel; if some spokes are too tight and others relatively too loose, you cannot straighten the wheel by loosen (stretching) them all, nor by tighten them all - which equates to exercising them in this analogy. You must first assess your client for common imbalances and tight muscles. Then stretch only the tight muscles. You will not only restore balance to the body, you will have effectively begun to restore overall posture and joint stability, preparing the way for the next phase: stability training.
Joint stability depends on numerous factors, including:
The first phase of your stability training is an individualized stretching program as stated above. The next phase requires that you assess the individual's joint stability. The core is essential for joint stability because if the core is unstable, the extremities must be unstable, yet most people try and stabilize shoulders, knees and hips without also addressing core stability.
- Mental health
- Visceral and hormonal health
- Musculoskeletal patency
- Postural awareness
- Movement skill
- Effective rehabilitation of past injuries
Stability training must include local muscles that cross the joint of concern, as well as global muscles that influence the target joint(s). Let's use the rotator cuff of the shoulder as an example. The rotator cuff muscles must be exercised appropriately, but regardless of how good a job you do there, your results will be short term at best if there are any problems with larger, more global muscles such as the pectoralis group, latissimus dorsi or scapulo-humeral muscles. Because some muscles like the lats and the psoas bridge the spine and an extremity, any condition negatively affecting the spine, pelvic girdle or upper or lower extremities must be addressed! Swiss ball exercises such as the Supine Lateral Ball Roll and Forward Ball Roll are excellent for improving core stability.
While machines are popular, they do not address functional movement patterns. To produce effective strengthening, I teach Primal Pattern® conditioning. There are 7 Primal Pattern movements:
By performing a needs analysis for each client, you can determine which Primal Pattern® movements are most important. For example, if your client's goal is to play better golf, your focus should be strengthening them to optimal levels in the gait pattern, twist pattern and bend pattern, which are the Primal Pattern® movements most essential to golf performance.
- Twisting (rotational movements such as single arm pushing or pulling)
- Gait (there are three derivations: walking, jogging and sprinting)
Once you know the Primal Pattern® movements needed for any sports environment and you've effectively stretched, stabilized and strengthened, you can safely perform power training exercises. These are typically Primal Pattern® movements performed at speeds mimicking the environmental demands. While power training is very popular because it is fun to do (thing most exercises used in "Boot Camp"-style programs) very few of the people doing it are adequately prepared because they have not followed the 4-step progression shown here. The result is an increased likelihood of injury during power training exercises by poorly prepared people trying to condition for sports!
By following the simple formula: Flexibility ? Stability ? Strength ? Power, your client has optimal opportunity to perform at their best with minimal chances of injury! That's what they pay you for plus it's great fun to offer a good service too. For a hands-on opportunity to learn more about this approach to training, check out the pre-convention session Equal, But Not the Same taught by a CHEK Faculty presenter at both the upcoming Philly and Californian Manias.
- How To Eat, Move and Be Healthy! by Paul Chek. C.H.E.K Institute 2004. Includes a stretch testing chart with 20 common stretches
- Scientific Back Training DVD correspondence course by Paul Chek. C.H.E.K Institute 1995-2007. Includes assessments and exercises for spinal stability and integrated strength.
- Scientific Core Conditioning DVD correspondence course by Paul Chek. C.H.E.K Institute 1998-2007. Includes assessments and exercises for core stability, integrated strength and power development
- Swiss Ball Training DVD correspondence course by Paul Chek. C.H.E.K Institute 1998-2007. A comprehensive library of Swiss ball exercises.
- Advanced Swiss Ball For Rehabilitation DVD correspondence course by Paul Chek. C.H.E.K Institute 2001-2007. Advanced assessment techniques using Swiss balls.
- Advanced Program Design DVD correspondence course by Paul Chek. C.H.E.K Institute 1999-2007. How to perform a needs analysis.
Internationally acclaimed speaker, consultant and Holistic Health Practitioner Paul Chek, draws upon over twenty-six years of experience in corrective exercise, high performance conditioning and integrative lifestyle management. Author of six books, over 60 DVDs and numerous correspondence courses and seminars, he has also developed four Advanced Training Programs for professional development in the health and fitness industry. Paul is the founder of the C.H.E.K Institute, based in San Diego, CA which specializes in Corrective Holistic Exercise Kinesiology (www.chekinstitute.com). He is also the creator of the P~P~S Success Mastery Program (www.ppssuccess.com).