You may not know this, but one of the fitness industry’s currently well-known and loved practices is actually very under-researched – at least until now.
OK…I don’t if everyone would love that…
Thanks to Bret Contreras for breaking down the most recent foam rolling research HERE. As far as the literature goes, here are the main takeaways on the use of foam rolling:
On cardiovascular health: Arterial stiffness seems to decrease acutely after foam rolling, so regular self-myofascial release with a foam roller may be a useful tool for improving cardiovascular health in the general population.
On performance: Foam rolling prior to working out has shown no DIRECT beneficial effects on performance and should not be done under the belief that it will lead to the ability to increase volume or intensity in a training session.
On range of motion: Foam rolling DOES, however, significantly improve range of motion without the detrimental effects on power output that we’ve seen with stretching prior to working out – so in this sense, it may be viewed as performance-enhancing.
No real surprises here. Granted, we have a lot more work to do in the lab regarding foam rolling. But the cart is well ahead of the horse in that we see very positive effects in real-world practice with the use of foam rolling. Release of unwanted tissue tension helps us feel and move better, and I don’t think we really need a study to tell us that improving movement can at least help prevent injury and therefore indirectly improve performance in the long-run by allowing us to train longer and harder pain-free.
We’ve been talking a lot with our students lately about the importance of accepting responsibility for clients’ lack of compliance to their exercise programs. John Berardi, in particular, has made it a point to really emphasize this in his ‘The Compliance Solution’ video series.
As trainers, it’s sometimes easy to get frustrated and blame clients for their own fate when they just don’t do what they’re supposed to do to reach their goals. But we need to remember that it isn’t only our job to write exercise programs; it’s our job to effectively implement them as well. If our clients aren’t doing what we ask, we need to change the program. After all, a great program on paper still won’t produce results if the person for whom it’s written doesn’t do it. And as trainers, right after “do no harm,” our oath is supposed to be “produce results.”
The fitness industry lost a legend over the weekend: Mr. Joseph Weider passed away at age 93.
Most of you who have been in gyms over the years probably recognize the name ‘Weider’ from some of the equipment:
Many of you also know that Joe Weider founded several fitness magazines, including Muscle & Fitness, Flex, Men’s Fitness and Shape. Having written for two of those four mags myself (and having worked as an editor for four others), Joe Weider’s name has been a pretty big one throughout my career.
Although Mr. Weider was also known for pushing pseudoscience and supplements… he also founded the International Federation of Body Builders (IFBB). Not too many people know this, but I actually used to be a judge for the sport (though for a different and natural organization). Needless to say, without Joe Weider, my career path would probably have been very different.
So thank you, Mr. Weider, for your contributions to fitness, and may you rest in peace.
One of the difficulties many new trainers face is figuring out how to select the most appropriate exercises for a given person’s goals and contraindications while still creating a progressive program. And given all the different fitness modalities we now have available for training, it’s no wonder there’s so much confusion. Without a solid understanding of biomechanics and kinesiology, and the ability to think critically about how a given piece of equipment or technique variation changes these things, selecting exercises becomes a crap shoot.
There are a lot of ways personal training is like college – some good, and some not so good.
First and unfortunately, there are a lot of clowns in this unregulated industry, which means just about everyone can get in the door somewhere…
That’s reason #1. BUT, it only means there’s a greater demand for continued education as you’re forced to compete with more people, many of whom are more qualified than you – and this brings us to reason #2:
Last week, PTontheNET ran a great interview with Tom Purvis, a 30-year educator in the fitness industry. I highly encourage you to read the full article, but here are some of Tom’s take-home points – and 5 reasons you need to up your education if you want to succeed as a personal trainer:
1. You have to be worth it. The personal training field may be growing at a rate of 24% per year, but that doesn’t mean people will pay for lesser service. On the contrary, the more trainers there are to choose from, the pickier clients can be. As Tom says, “If people want to be successful in personal training, they need to give their clients several things: 100% of their attention, customized exercises that are specific to joint integrity and specific to a joint’s active range of motion, and muscular tension-generating capabilities.” Well, this takes a foundation of knowledge that only comes through education. The days are gone when personal trainers can get away with just counting reps and yelling.
Given that we coach exercise, it’s been WAY too long since we’ve featured an exercise on here!
The other day I was reviewing some videos to add to our staff education program; one of them was Nick Tumminello’s Joint Friendly Strength Training (reviewed HERE). I’ve always really liked Nick’s stuff, and I particularly like these DVDs because he approaches foundational movements with a “how to tweak to work AROUND the injury (not rehab it)” stance – which, after all, is the job of the fitness coach or personal trainer. We aren’t physical therapists and most of our clients want to work hard without pain. One of the exercises he features is the sled pull:
Nick makes the good point that this exercise is especially great for training the lower body in people with both knee AND back limitations because it requires minimal flexion at the knee and allows for a vertical trunk position. Moreover, the movement itself is simply closed-chain terminal knee extension – often prescribed in rehabilitation programs following knee injuries to improve patella tracking – and when using the handles versus a harness, the challenge of resisting being pulled into spinal flexion is removed. For these reasons, the exercise can be loaded and trained safely in place of squat and deadlift variations to increase strength, OR loaded to a lesser degree and done fast for conditioning in place of higher-impact activities like running. If you’ve never used a sled, swing by FocusNYC and give it a try!
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