The Assiduous Monster is the hardest working person in the gym. Here's what to do when they come in injured and are reluctant to take one step back in order to take two forward.
This type of client loves to “feel the burn” on every exercise, and he won’t stop until he’s given everything he has. He leaves the gym exhausted after every workout, and rarely misses a day of training.
A Real-Life Assiduous Monster
Alex had been using CrossFit, a high-intensity interval program, before he started training with me. He loved the feeling of exhaustion he got from those workouts, but his assessment revealed a number of muscular imbalances.
His hamstrings, hips, calves, and chest muscles were all tight; his lats and glutes had poor activation; and his core strength was almost non-existent. In short, Alex was prepped for disaster. Not saying that this is common amongst CrossFit programs, perhaps Alex had just been to an irresponsible one.
After going over the results of the assessment with Alex, I told him I wouldn’t train him unless we started with an anatomical adaption phase. This would force Alex to take a step back to ensure his safety moving forward. I also laid out my long-plan, which included plenty of high-intensity training when he was ready, and he agreed to the program.
It took 6 full weeks of daily foam rolling, dynamic stretching, and activation exercises to get his body back in order. I also took that time to re-teach him the squat, deadlift, pull-up, and push-up and gave him some nutrition advice.
After those 6 weeks, Alex and I talked again and I gave him my plan for moving forward. By that point, he understood that my job wasn’t just to push him as hard as possible, but to help him exercise with proper form so he could get the results he wanted.
I developed a list of 18 exercises that would make up our workouts. Each day would be different, but would include lots of high-intensity cardio throughout. I would teach him proper form for each exercise, choose the specific exercises for the next workout, and keep records of reps, weights, and rest periods for each exercise.
This plan gave Alex the variation and the challenge he wanted, but it also let me stay in charge of the workouts. Alex could work out as hard as he wanted, as long as he stayed within the parameters of the program. By training with me, he continued to progress and reach his goals.
Assiduous Monster Challenges
It’s difficult to convince Assiduous Monsters to slow down when needed. They feel like they’re not getting their money’s worth if you don’t bring them close to passing out every session. But going all out every workout may eventually lead to injury and in order for progression to happen, you have to program lighter days among the tough ones.
After years of training, the Assiduous Monster may also have bad form and minor injuries and imbalances that must be fixed. A thorough assessment will help you determine how to address these issues.
Assiduous Monster Solutions
These clients have usually participated in exercise programs before, but they probably weren’t well-rounded. They may have focused on strength training while ignoring mobility and cardio, for example. Assiduous Monsters may not see the value of a personal trainer, so your first step should be to educate them on the benefits of working with somebody who has the requisite knowledge and passion””namely, you.
A full assessment will reveal what the Assiduous Monster needs to work on, so be frank in telling him what needs to be done. By showing him his weak points, you’re giving him a challenge, and his personality will have him chomping at the bit to fix his imbalances.
You must take charge when working with Assiduous Monsters. Don’t let them dictate their workouts; you’re the trainer. Make sure they’re aware of why and how your plan is different from what they were doing before, and most of all, that they know how it’s going to help them.
If the Assiduous Monster refuses to change his ways after your attempts to educate him, you may want to encourage him to look elsewhere for a trainer. The short-term gain of training the Assiduous Monster is not worth hurting your reputation, or worse yet, a lawsuit if he gets hurt.