LISTEN: Table Talk Podcast Clip — Dave Tate Exposes Fitness Hacks

TAGS: fitness hacks, Table Talk Podcast, beginners

COACH columnistAre you a coach training complete beginners? Are they very young or getting into it as the first time as an adult? Are you a coach fighting against a perspective formed only on media and the misconceptions that they've been told?

First things first, you need to understand your client's perspective. Why are they coming to you? Have their parents or coaches told them they need to start training with you? No matter the reason, you need to understand what they currently expect from you and possibly shift expectations towards something that aligns with your ideals. Even if you both compromise significantly, you need to agree on what their training and results may look like right away. So far they’ve been sold quick tips, six-pack secrets, and training hacks that promise to add slabs of muscle to their frame while simultaneously dropping them to two percent body fat. You will need to educate them that this is all bullshit. Even worse, everyone else that your words are competing against are saying that all these secrets do exist! It’s a leap of faith to get them to believe that everyone else in the world is lying. Otherwise, you have to promise these same quick hacks, and in a couple of months, they’ll realize you were full of shit and move on to the next trainer. You need them to trust in a very long term plan that will last the rest of their life.

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Mistake #1: Not understanding your client’s perspective.

Part of establishing trust with them will lie in the workouts you will do. Fortunately, a very fresh lifter will make gains doing almost anything, so you can compromise here so that they aren’t immediately turned off from training by an incongruency between what you want them to do and what they expect to do. One, two, or three times a week, they will make very similar amounts of beginner games. No fitness hack or even steroid has ever beat the power of beginner gains. Later on down the road, you can start tuning in what you think is more ideal, but keep your eyes on the prize. Get them focusing on adding weight to compound lifts, improving their form, and increasing the focus they bring into each session. Educate them as you go, and then it will be an easy sell when they need to do things like up their frequency. This education should make your client more independent as you go. If they are the ones who actually know what is important in their training, they may not rely 100 percent on your guidance, but they will recommend you to anyone who ever asks.

Mistake #2: Stop trying to achieve perfect technique on day one.

If you actually fix one thing at a time, after six months they will have perfect technique. If they are totally new to exercising you are trying to fix dozens of exercises they’ve never done before. If you started a new sport and your coach expected you to be able to run 20 plays perfectly in the first two weeks you’d be driven insane. If you’re already totally overwhelming them with exercises, the second you start talking about nutrition or recovery they’re going to be totally lost. Communication isn’t about getting them to understand what you say, but getting yourself to understand how they are already thinking. Speak their language and have reasonable expectations for their motivation. A lot of beginners or intermediates will be highly optimistic about their current motivation and strength levels. They will want to lift seven times a week and base their training around hitting their next milestone rather than where their abilities currently lie. You have to ignore that and trust the gains as they come. Everyone else out there is trying to make their buck by overcomplicating things.

If you are actually the curious beginner or intermediate reading this, the best thing for your progress is the proper training environment. A team of people who want to help each other get stronger will be more effective than anyone rolling solo. Find people who can share experience, answer questions, and keep an eye on your form and overall training. They can watch your attitudes, your focus, what you have been neglecting, or overemphasizing. They can pass on everything they’ve learned so you don’t have to live it all yourself to understand it. This all leads to the most important factor in your training: Understanding yourself better. Even if you have a coach, you need to learn to autoregulate your training. You need to learn when certain exercises need to be replaced or dropped, weights need to be changed, and sets and reps modified on the fly. If a coach isn’t helping you learn this as you go, they are failing to improve your long term progress. Most importantly, you’ve now shifted the blame out of your own hands and into theirs. If you aren’t doing these things yourself, it can be easy to blame the coach instead of realizing you should have been doing this for yourself.

Text By Mason Nowak

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