Personal Trainer - Try Something Better Than Stretching™ With Your Clients!

Surveys show clients like to be stretched by their Personal Trainer.

65% of clients said it was what they “most looked forward to” at the end of their workout. The volume of personal training sales increased dramatically when stretching was made a mandatory component of the exercise program at a top gym chain in New York City.

This seems to create a dilemma. Your clients want to be stretched. However, because you are a highly educated professional who stays current with recent scientific research pertaining to exercise and fitness,

you know that stretching is not good for your clients.

So what do you do? Do you give them what they want, at the risk of injury? Or, do you deny them what they want, at the risk of losing them?

Consider a doctor. “Doctor, I only want the fun drugs that make me feel good, even though they’re bad for me.” This is obviously an extreme example, but you get the point. Fortunately, it’s not really a dilemma. There is a better solution.

To illustrate, let’s look at an example in weight training:

The Upright Row was a popular body building exercise a couple decades ago. It was touted as the "ultimate shoulder exercise" by many bodybuilders because it worked so many muscles in the shoulder girdle at once. This awesome exercise had the potential to hypertrophy:

  • all three heads of the Deltoids

  • all the fibers of the Trapezius (via resisted scapular upward rotation)

  • the Rhomboids

  • the Infraspinatus and Teres minor!

Wow! Cool!

Fifteen years ago the Personal Training industry only analyzed exercises from a perspective of greater muscle building.

Concepts such as bio-mechanics and analyzing the tolerances of articulating joint surfaces were completely alien to even the most educated trainers. Of course today even the most remedial Personal Trainer certifications recommend against using Upright Rows.

Today we know that performing glenohumeral abduction with internal rotation under load is extremely likely to impinge the Supraspinatus tendon and Sub-acromial bursa. We also know that if there is enough load to induce muscular hypertrophy in large muscle groups such as the Deltoids and Trapezius that it would be an excessive and inappropriate load for the Infraspinatus and Teres minor (the external rotators of the rotator cuff). In addition, such load would also place a dangerous amount of stress on the Radial collateral ligament and other delicate components of the wrist.

As the personal training industry matured, professionals have learned to design individual-specific programs that utilize a goal-oriented, risk vs. benefit analysis. In the above example risk exceeds benefit; so the appropriate choice would be to find alternative exercises that will achieve the benefits without the risks. In this example, because of conflicting benefits, (i.e. hypertrophy of large muscle groups vs. integrity of smaller stabilizing muscles) it is necessary to use multiple, more refined exercises to achieve the various benefits of the Upright Row.

Using the same system of analysis, let's identify the desired benefits of stretching. What is it about stretching that your clients look forward to so much? Are they so excited about (slowly and laboriously) increasing their range of motion? Not likely. More likely is that they enjoy:

  • the fact that they get to stop working out and just lay there and be passive

  • the stress reduction associated with passivity

  • that feel-good sensation of the stretch

  • being physically touched

Therefore, it is the nurturing environment of the stretching that your clients most enjoy!!

So what is the solution?

As a caring and conscientious trainer, you can provide the above benefits with positive and appropriate exercises.

1. As in the body building example, we will use multiple, more refined exercises to achieve the identified benefits.

2. To address the need for physical contact (being touched), one option is the use of manual resistance exercises. These have the additional benefit that resistance can be immediately increased or decreased, depending upon the individual client and circumstance. Manual resistance exercises also feel good on the muscle and improve rapport between a client and his/her Personal Trainer.

3. Stress reduction can be intentionally addressed at the end of the workout with meditative-like breathing and/or visualization exercises.

The point we are making here is that as a personal trainer, you have the knowledge and tools to create the desired environment for your client, without relying on the archaic practice of passive stretching!

The Better Than Stretching Workout™

is just one more amazing tool that you will have in your arsenal, when faced with stretching-addicted, "stretch-me-or-lose-me" clients! As an exercise routine, it:

  • increases joint range of motion (flexibility) faster and with longer-lasting results than passive stretching ever could.

  • simultaneously improves stability in the newly acquired range of motion, while increasing strength and neuromuscular communication.

  • utilizes our good friend manual resistance in a unique combination of asymmetrical/multi-axial loading, and graded intensity isometric exercises, to achieve gamma biasing.

It will add even more magic to your workouts, your paycheck, and your success as a Personal Trainer!

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