The following is a guest post from Adam Tombelaine.
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INCREASING STRENGTH AND PERFORMANCE LEVELS in your clients requires far more than a “cutting edge” workout routine or magic peri-workout concoction. It requires a psychological investment, a focus on specific mechanics, and above all offering the right encouragement to push through uncertainty and potential self doubt.
In other words, to get your clients excelling — and in turn, shouting your praises from the rooftops — you must figure out how to push the right buttons at the right times. Here are some cues that I use.
Commit To It!
There’s always a little uncertainty within a client when they’re about to attempt a PR or advanced variation of a certain lift. This can creates a fight or flight scenario inside them, and it’s your responsibility to make sure your client remains firmly planted on the assertive side of the fence.
First, you have to fill them with confidence, and nothing does that better than a specific and positive affirmation. I like to use the cue “commit to it.“ It implants just one course of action in their brain — to nut up and get it!
Too often on big PR’s, I see trainers say things like “now remember keep you knees wide, stay tight, deep breath in, drive through the lift, pack your neck, look at the horizon, etc.” The result is the client is so stuck in the mechanical web you just weaved that they’ve lost sight of the most important objective — making the lift!
Keep Your Focus!
People today have the attention span of gerbils on methamphetamine. So when I prescribe sets of 15-25 reps for my clients, I typically start to see their focus fade at around rep 12 or so. And when focus fades, technique gets lazy, compensations spring up, muscles go slack, and possible injury occurs.
I ain’t having that, and it’s my job to keep the client engaged mentally for the remaining reps. That’s why something as simple as saying “keep your focus” mid-set can be incredibly effective in keeping the attention squarely fixed on the task at hand.
Here’s the scene: The client is finishing an intense 250 meter rowing interval. He’s already fatigued from the complex of kettlebell thrusters, suitcase lunges, and bent-over rows we just banged out.
I want him to keep going, to push through the pain threshold to where the coveted psychological and physiological benefits of intense exercise reside.
The first 100 meters go down without a problem but as we reach the 200 mark we hit the wall, and pace is about to suffer. It’s at this exact moment that I get in my client’s ear and yell, “50 meters baby, finish strong!”
This small yet powerful mantra never fails to breathe a second wind into even the most gassed client, and they typically pump out the last 50 meters and crush the full interval.
This helps them understand that surviving tough physical challenges is largely mental, and what’s keeping them from succeeding isn’t their body or their food choices but rather their minds, and how badly they want something.
Up to You!
The best thing about the right mental cue is that it significantly increases intention – and the intention to execute with razor sharp focus can be the difference between marked improvement and average performance.
Add these concepts to your toolbox and start communicating better with your clients.
Adam Tombelaine NSCA-CPT was introduced to the world of strength and conditioning at age 15 and almost immediately found a passion for understanding the ability to improve the body’s performance capabilities. He co-owns and operates BT Fitness in San Clemente, California.