We rarely work the typical 9 to 5.
We don’t need to go to university to enter the profession.
For all these reasons, coaches and trainers generally receive the stinkeye and the short end of the stick in the corporate world. I can say it firsthand - the air of “when are you going to get a real job” permeates the high end streets of Toronto.
But may the almighty help you if you suck at that, too!
Listen, it’s true. Anyone who can sit through a weekend of terminology and then pass a test at the end is, on paper, a “personal trainer”. So we’ve already got that against us. But for those of us who want to be good, we realize that there’s more to it.
I’m not going to preach that every trainer out there needs to have years of education – I don’t believe that at all, and I’m no PhD. I’d say about 20 percent of the university kinesiology courses I attended had any direct carryover to the things I know and do now. But increasing your industry-specific knowledge is very important. That means continuing education courses, seminars, and reading!
We only contribute to the stereotype by going along with the masses in using commonly “accepted” techniques, cues, and training methods.
Now, you’ve seen several of my posts where I’m pissed off about something, and let the world know.
This one is no different.
Simply put, we have to remember that there’s research involved with everything. Doesn’t matter what industry you work in, or what field of education you pursue. Just like I said in past blogs, I feel too many people are afraid to ask “why?” to training rules that have infiltrated the system.
I’m sitting here on holiday Monday thinking about it all and typing whatever comes to mind. When a new client who’s got no experience with weight training comes to me and says “I heard you need to do more cardio if you want to focus on getting toned and losing weight”, part of me wants to smack them, but most of me gives them the benefit of the doubt. They don’t do this for a living.
There’s a long list of cues and “tips” that are used in the training community to keep clients on the safe side. The problem lies in the fact that some of these cues require progressions that many professionals in the industry aren’t willing to move towards. Here’s the thing – way back whenever, someone used a cue like “don’t let your knees pass your toes” when squatting, so that the trainee would ensure that they’re pushing their hips back and keeping their feet fully on the ground. The same trainer who said this – older and wiser though he may become – doesn’t focus on improving that client’s range of motion, structural balance, or mobility. Not because he’s got tapioca for brains, but more so because he just didn’t take the time to put in the research required. He didn’t ask ‘why’. His client is apparently doing “good squats”.
Basic logic would tell us that squatting and not letting the knees pass the toes would only allow us to bare load within a certain range. There’s a reason why our knees bend past 90 degrees. One thing people don’t seem to appreciate is that we only associate “baring load” with weight training and carrying heavy stuff. We’re baring load on our joints when we stand up and walk around, all day, every day. That’s what they’re made to do. That said, it’s important they’re strengthened through their full range of motion.
What normally happens next is that a trainee who’s been working with a trainer for a long time gets “stuck” squatting this way (I’m sticking with the squat example). They’ve spent so much time enforcing a poor movement pattern that they’ve gotten so tight and immobile in key areas that they can’t even dream of achieving a true desirable squat position. They basically need to relearn the entire primal movement pattern. See, this could have all been avoided if the coach was better at asking “why”.
I don’t even know where I’m going with this. I’m just tired of the cover-all statements that really have no focused argument. I heard squatting deep is ‘bad for your knees’. What the hell does this even mean? I’m not even going to go into the pelvic floor muscles, the VMO, nor the hip flexors and low back health that deep squats can promote. Instead I’m just going to defer to this picture:
I challenge the readers to find me 5 examples of healthy toddlers who aren’t capable of squatting ATG like this. They drop into a perfect, full depth squat every single time they have to pick something up off the floor. The above is the kind of squat technique coveted by every single Olympic lifter. The fact that little children are able to do this straight out of the womb attests to the fact that FULL SQUATS are, in fact, a primal movement pattern. The reason it’s so easy for them? Because they’re brand new. They possess the flexibility and mobility to drop into the full squat without counterstrain from tight or overtrained muscles. They haven’t developed any “weak links” yet. Again, there’s nothing wrong with telling a COMPLETE NOVICE to sit back like they’re about to “sit in a chair” and not let their knees pass their toes. That gives them an idea that squatting involves the full foot. But as soon as they “get it”, they have to work performance into the mix. The less you know, the worse off they are.
Me overhead squatting at 6’4” and 250. I’m no Olympic lifter, but I know squatting to 90 degrees just won’t cut it.
When the trainees finally learn how to squat correctly by a coach who’s got some marbles left, it almost always WILL hurt their knees starting out because of the tightness of their overloaded muscles, combined with the weakness of the posterior chain. You guessed it – from squatting so “safely” with their past coaches, or by themselves using the gym rat jargon in passing. By the time we get to them, their knees are usually in shambles to start, therefore perpetuating a cycle of psychological nonsense.
Oh, by the way – try walking straight up or straight down a flight of stairs without letting your knees pass your toes. Post it on youtube when you can, and I’ll send you money. Lots of it.
I can go on for days about this but you get the idea. We need to stop taking “blanket cues” that we learn in our very first entry level weekend style certification for 60 bucks as the gold standard, be all and end all of exercise instruction. There’s just more to it than that. There are all the other myths too – heavy lifting makes you bulky, cardio will help you burn the most fat, don’t bench below 90 degrees, deadlifts are bad for your back, and the Green Bay Packers aren’t winning Superbowl 47. They will always be around. Will you follow the masses and endorse the fiction? Or search for the fact?
All I know is that if I had 5 cents for every time I heard a trainer say “go below 90 degrees”…. I’d have a dime.« back to previous page