The word’s largest free collaborative blog for personal trainers. We’re Dedicated to Improving the Perception of the Industry, and Your Success. Join thousands of fans on Facebook, because that many trainers can’t be wrong.

DON'T push your clients: Rest-based personal training

by Jonathan Goodman | Follow on Twitter

While motivation is necessary, Jill Coleman offers an intelligent alternative to the push and shove method.

medium_7174500681
Share This

The following is a guest post by Jill Coleman.

Personal trainers cringe at shows like the biggest loser and military style trainers who drive their clients to the ground. While motivation is necessary, Jill offers an intelligent alternative to the push and shove method.

[Enter Jill]

“You have one more in you!”

“Don’t stop, don’t give up, keep going!!”

Clients are NOT motivated by pushing.

Enter Rest-based Training (RBT).  It’s a training principle developed by Jade and Keoni Teta, ND CSCS of Metabolic Effect.

It’s the opposite of boot camp-style, militant training techniques where trainers tell clients.

It’s the opposite of ‘The Biggest Loser,’ where celebrity trainers get in the face of obese clients and yell, scream and tear them down in an attempt to “inspire” them into health. (Editors note: The Biggest Loser isn’t what you think it is. Read this article to see what really happens on the show)

What is RBT?

Rest-based Training is a coaching technique that uses positive affirmation to motivate clients, but not in a rah-rah sort of way.

Instead, RBT offers clients autonomy in their workouts by allowing them to rest whenever they need — the client decides when and for how long they rest.

Instead of using structured rest periods, the trainer says, “Push hard, but rest whenever you need it.”

This is an important message because:

1) When people are given control, they feel safe to push themselves.

Instead of the trainer dictating their effort, they take full control of it and are assured that they can rest whenever, if gets to be too much. You’d think clients work less hard, but actually the opposite is true. Clients push harder when they are in control of their rest.

2) This boosts intensity. If I told you to go sprint as hard as you could for 5 miles, what would you do? You’d pace, of course. What if I asked you to sprint as hard as you could for 50 meters? You’d push a lot harder because you can see the rest; it’s in sight.

This is an important motivational technique for trainers. This is why we don’t tell clients when there’s still 50 minutes left in a 60-minute session and we don’t count down from 60 seconds. We count down for 10 seconds, for example. When clients know they can rest any time, they push harder. Always.

3) The more someone rests, the harder they can push. We think that intensity drives rest, but it’s actually the other way around. Rest drives effort. If a client rests, they are more likely to push harder on the next round.

This is why we don’t tell our clients to sprint 100 meters and then tell them to immediately sprint another 100 meters. We want them to rest sufficiently in order to be able to push at the same high intensity again. Rest comes first, then effort.

Rest based personal trainer

Don’t storm trooper your clients

The Psychology of Rest

RBT is based on motivational psychology and how people respond to different situations. Clients feel discouraged when trainers employ pushing strategies. Only a small portion of clients like to be told they can do better or that they are not working hard enough. Clients respond to positive affirmation, and do more of what gets affirmed.

 “Push until you can’t, rest until you can.” –Metabolic Effect

A Safer Workout

Because clients are in control of their rest period, this is one of the safest techniques out there. The client knows their exertion way better than a trainer ever could. Giving the control over to them makes the workout incredibly safe, even though their effort may be more. It’s the trainer’s job to help the client understand their body and navigate their rest by encouraging them to rest, frequently.

In Rest-based Training, we employ the following 4 motivational techniques:

Rest: We actually encourage our clients to rest, whenever they need it, whether it’s between sets, between reps or between circuits. They can rest at rep #4 of 12. When they rest, we congratulate it by saying, “That’s the way to rest! Great job! Get back into it when you’re ready.” They rest for as long as they need to and get back in to finish reps 5 through 12. This subtle feedback enhances their intensity overtime. Guaranteed.

Extrinsic motivation: We use motivational techniques like changing up the exercise, tempo changes, range of motion changes, etc, as well as constant banter to get our clients to focus outside, on what they are doing, rather than inside, on what they are feeling (pain, burning, etc). This subtly gets them to push harder.

Self-determined: The frequency and duration of rest is 100% determined by the client. We don’t do this to be nice or to make the workout easier—we do this to push intensity. When they have control over their rest, they innately push harder.

When they rest, we congratulate it, and then further affirm the intensity that got them to the point of resting by saying, “That’s the way to push out those reps! That’s the way to stay heavy!” And then we tell them to get back into the workout when they’re ready. Even if they rest for a longer time than we deem is necessary, they will learn over time how to regulate their exertion and their rests.

Time-sensitive: Because there is no structured rest given, these workouts tend to be shorter. And also because the intensity is greater with this way of training, 20-30 minutes is usually the max length. This approach is ideal for a fat loss/metabolic-type workout. For other goals like strength or power, more rest is warranted, but for the 90% of clients who want body change, RBT works beautifully.

See RBT in action!

Want to learn more about how to use Rest-Based Training and Metabolic Effect in your own workouts and with your clients? Find out more here! 

Jill Coleman personal trainerQuestions? Contact Jill Coleman!






Have you ever let a client determine their own rest? What do you notice and would you implement this method of training? 

Also, be sure  to “like” thePTDC’s Facebook page and check out what we’re all about.

photo credits: ✪nebcat✪ , bobsfever

If you’re interested in submitting a guest post please check out the contribution page.

About the Author
Jonathan Goodman

As the creator and head coach of thePTDC, I'd have to say that this thing is pretty awesome. If you're interested in my book, it's called Ignite the Fire. Feel free to come hang out on my Facebook page where I talk explore the perfect balance between fitness, business, and living an awesome and fulfilling life.