Making the jump from personal training to small group training can be daunting. How do you preserve the one-on-one attention and individualized programming while reaping the benefits of more energy, more camaraderie, and more clients through the door?
It’s not easy, but as a coach at Cressey Sports Performance, I’ve had the opportunity to coach plenty of small group training sessions with CSP Strength Camps director George Kalantzis, where I’ve learned the nuances of coaching multiple clients in a fast-paced environment.
Successfully applying the attention to detail of personal training to the small group training business model begins exactly where each workout begins: the warm-up.
The warm-up sets the tone for every training session, and this article will discuss how to design and implement an effective warm-up in a small group setting.
Why Warm Up?
From addressing imbalances, to reducing the chance of injury, to firing up clients to kick ass and take names, the warm-up serves many purposes. But believe it or not, there are still tons of trainers out there who either gloss over their clients’ warm-ups or, even worse, skip them altogether.
A proper warm-up should do a few things:
- Increase core temperature
- Mobilize certain joints
- Stabilize certain joints
- Fire up the nervous system
- Groove the movement patterns to be used in the workout
You can’t do all this with a few haphazard arms swings and hamstring stretches, but it shouldn’t take 30 minutes either. It’s entirely possible to accomplish these goals with a 10-minute warm-up that’s fun, productive, and easy to coach.
Don’t be that coach who sticks a client on the treadmill for 10 minutes and calls it a warm-up. Clients should demand more in a one-on-one setting, and such laziness certainly won’t fly in small group training. With anywhere from a half-dozen to 20 people exercising at once, you need a well-organized warm-up that’s quick to implement and easy to progress or regress for each client.
1. Here’s an article from Eric Cressey outlining 15 Mobility Mistakes (click to open in a new window)
Hip Mobility MontageSit too much?Tight hips will straight up mess you up. Before your next workout, go through this montage from PTDC coach Dean Somerset.Reserve your spot for this free course specifically for personal trainers –> www.personaltrainerebooks.comUse Facebook to get more clients with high-integrity (i.e. non-spammy) techniques–> https://www.theptdc.com/personal-trainer-facebook-marketing/************This video is property of Somerset Fitness & Marketing, LLC and is used with permission. Learn More about Dean Somerset at www.deansomerset.com and subscribe to him on YouTube at www.theptdc.com/deanyoutube
Posted by Personal Trainer Development Center on Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Small group training sacrifices some of the individualized programming that comes with personal training. That’s just a fact of life. But do most people need individualized warm-ups?
Editor’s Note: A few more examples of mobility drills from thePTDC’s Facebook page.
Must Try Mobility WarmupGet the most from your warmup by incorporating as many joints at once as possible.The High Performance Handbook from Eric Cressey is still on sale for $50 off. Get it at:–> www.theptdc.com/high-performance/ (aff link)========This video is property of Eric Cressey and is used with permission.
Posted by Personal Trainer Development Center on Wednesday, April 1, 2015
A Drill to Help Fix Up Your Busted ShouldersBack to wall shoulder flexion is a great drill to cue proper movement in the shoulder joint.This video is taken straight from the 200+ video library in the High Performance Handbook, on sale right now from Eric Cressey. Get it at:–> www.theptdc.com/high-performance/===========This video is property of Eric Cressey and is used with permission.
Posted by Personal Trainer Development Center on Friday, April 3, 2015
Highly specific goals (e.g. squat 500 pounds or recover from hip replacement surgery) require specific warm-ups, but people with more general goals (e.g. lose weight, gain muscle or move better) can benefit from a general warm-up where specificity isn’t paramount.
That said, small group training is for healthy, pain-free clients. If you have a client who is in pain, they need to be assessed individually. Set up a time to assess that client or refer out to another professional who can resolve the client’s problem.
How many times have you trained a client who wouldn’t benefit from doing hip or shoulder mobility drills? Someone too strong to bother with core activation? There’s seldom wisdom in a shotgun approach, but warming up group training clients is a rare scenario where generalization trumps specificity.
A group training warm-up should have a generalized template that can be individualized based on a client’s needs. Start by targeting each major joint or muscle group based on the general need for mobility or stability in that area.
Then, arm yourself with the right progressions or regressions to use if an individual client’s needs don’t match those of the group.
For example, through research and experience, we know the general warm-up needs for the following body parts:
|Thoracic spineHipsAnkles||ShouldersElbowsLumbar spineKnees||GlutesAbdominalsRotator cuff|
This chart closely resembles the joint-by-joint approach popularized by Gray Cook, and these observations hold true for the majority of clients. A group training warm-up template should include the following:
- Foam rolling
- Positional breathing
- Core/Glute activation
- Hip mobility
- Shoulder/thoracic spine mobility
- Squat/hip hinge patterning
- Multi-planar movement drills
- Nervous system excitation
Just like a musician practices scales and chords before rehearsing songs before a show, clients should move from general to specific in their warm-up.
Breathing drills bring the client back toward a neutral posture and reduce tension in chronically stiff muscles.
Core and glute activation drills establish a stable base around which to move, while mobility drills get the extremities ready for full ranges of motion.
Finally, movement patterning greases the groove of the main lifts and nervous system excitation gets the mind and body synched up for action.
Here’s a time saving tip: encourage clients to get to each session early and foam roll on their own.
Editor’s note: Mike Robertson was kind enough to gift his self-mysofascial release book to readers of thePTDC. I used this for years to help teach and give handouts to clients. You can download it here:
This crosses the first item off your the list, allows for much-needed socializing and leaves you with seven items to address in the warm-up instead of eight.
Each item can easily be covered in 60 seconds, giving you an all-encompassing warm-up that lasts under 10 minutes. Any shorter and you’re probably missing something, while any longer and you’re cutting into valuable training time.
Progressions and Regressions
Almost every warm-up category can be performed in one of several positions:
- Supine (lying on your back)
- Quadruped (on your hands and knees/feet)
- Half kneeling (lunge position)
- Tall kneeling (both knees on the ground)
Typically, an exercise gets more challenging as you go from supine to moving, so if an exercise is too hard or too easy for a client, look toward the appropriate end of the spectrum when selecting your progression or regression.
Each warm-up category caters to a certain position (i.e. breathing drills almost always work best in supine, while squat and hip hinge drills are usually done standing), but be prepared to know variations for each position when you need to regress or progress a client.
Check out the following sample warm-up, plus a progression and regression of each drill. Click on each category link for video examples of each exercise.
|Positional Breathing||All Fours Belly Lift||Quadruped Plank w/ Alternating Hand Lift||Supine Belly Breathing|
|Core Activation||Dead Bugs||Bird Dogs||Prone Bridge|
|Glute Activation||Glute Bridge||Glute Bridge March||Glute Bridge Iso Hold|
|Hip Mobility||Kneeling Glute Mobs||Groiners||Kneeling Hip Flexor Mobs|
|Shoulder Mobility||Quadruped Extension/Rotation||Bent Over T-Spine Rotation||Quadruped Extension/Rotation (hand across shoulder)|
|Squat Patterning||Squat to Stand||Squat to Stand w/ Reach||Squat w/ Counterbalance|
|Multi-Planar Movement||Spiderman Lunges||Walking Spiderman with Hip Lift and Overhead Reach||Walking Lunges|
|Nervous System Excitation||Vertical Jump||Single Leg Jump w/ Stick||Med Ball Slam|
It’s easy to see how this warm-up progresses from supine to quadruped to kneeling to standing to moving. This creates a natural flow and keeps your clients from having to get up and down repeatedly, which, if burpees are any indication, makes them fussy.
Building a Better Warm-up
Use this template with your small group-training clients for safer, more efficient workouts. You’ll spend less time stumbling through warm-ups and more time actually exercising, leading to better results and happier clients.
15 Common Mobility Mistakes – Eric Cressey