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Trainer Tip: Using the ‘Sandwich Method’ in a Training Program

by Meaghan posted September 13, 2016

I was just talking to my students yesterday about just how much client psychology  can drive a program. Most trainers have at least one client who, for one reason or another, is resistant to certain exercises, training methods or modalities – and it’s usually the ones that they need the most that become barriers.

People might simply dislike an exercise (or type of training) – for example, I once had a client who would not do a cat-cow because she was afraid of cats… – but, more often than not, they are resistant to things that they just aren’t good at. Motivational interviewing is a technique that often works (more on that in a later post), but deep down, it’s usually a matter of confidence.

Enter the sandwich method strategy.


Most of us have heard of the sandwich method as pertains to communication – giving feedback, for example. You start with something positive – a compliment, say – then give the necessary criticism, and end with another positive. Well, this concept can be applied to training programs as well. For those clients who are really hard on themselves when they can’t get down a technique or are resistant to an exercise, try using the sandwich method via a tri-set:

A1: Something the client likes and/or is good at.

A2: Something the client needs but DOESN’T like or is NOT good at.

A3: Something else the client likes and/or is good at.

Layer on the positive feedback during the easy things that are well-executed and the difficult thing in the middle won’t seem so bad. This programming strategy has helped me greatly over the  years in building confidence with clients who lack self-efficacy. Give it a try and see how it goes!

Filed under: psychology and behavior change, tips for trainers

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