To weigh or not to weigh? Tis the question indeed

I used to think that a scale was a pretty evil piece of technology because people would obsess over a number instead of enjoy the experience or focus on the changes they were making in their lifestyle habits, but I have since become aware of other factors which lead me to reconsider my stance.


Sure this can happen, but its our job as coaches to help our clients see that a number isn’t everything. As I have learned slowly but surely, a little interpersonal skill does wonders!

Anyways here’s why my mind has changed:

1) I need objective feedback – A number tells me if a client is making progress in fat loss or muscle gain. If I’m not re-assessing, how do I know if both my program and client are on the right track? As you probably guessed, I can’t know under those circumstances; I’m just guessing. ‘Nuff said.

2) I need objective feedback OFTEN – Yes this warrants its own point. This point is based on accountability. If I weigh my client once a month, technically they can haphazardly follow my advice for the first 3 weeks then put some effort on the last week or weekend (or just fast on that last weekend) since they know weigh-in day is coming. Even if scale weight is down in this case, I haven’t done anything to ensure long term fat loss success. What this point comes down to is fighting human nature, which is such a large part of any body composition transformation goal.

3) It tells me what adjustments to make AND the magnitude of these adjustments – If the client is paying me to help him or her lose fat, is the scale going up or down since the last measurement? How much has it gone up or down?

Its not enough to know whether a client is progressing or regressing relative to their training goals, I also want to know how much they are regressing or progressing. For example, a high school athlete is trying to gain 20 pounds of muscle over an off-season, and one week I find they put on 5 pounds. Physiologically you can’t build muscle that fast, so we’re getting some added fat gain. At 5 total pounds, this would be more fat gain than I’d be happy with, especially since I don’t want this type of weight gain to become a habit. So even though the scale is moving in the desired direction with this individual, there are still adjustments that need to be made. If I’m not weighing this individual (or using some other body comp assessment), then chances are I notice they look a little bigger and think I am doing a wonderful job training him or her — the devils in the details.

Another example is a client who wants to lose fat. There’s a difference in the recommendation I would make if he or she gained 1 pound in a week versus 5 pounds.

Bottom line is that I have learned that a scale can be useful in a training program simply because I have changed my thinking about it as a tool.  I still don’t want my clients becoming fixated on a certain number, but their are other benefits to regular weigh-ins which I believe play a larger role in my system for delivering results.

Anyways enjoy your Monday, and I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday parties going on right now! Definitely a fun time of year!!


2009 Mistake #1

December 9, 2009

With it being down to the last month of 2009, I’ve started (early) with planning things for how I want to improve my career moving into next year. Strange thing has been that I’ve never really thought like this before since I’m NOT a new years resolution-type person. I think the difference has been that I have gained some perspective in many areas. And as a result of seeing where I’ve made good progress, I’ve also been able to see some of my main areas of improvement which I think should be next on my radar.

The one that really stands out is networking.

Its funny because I look back to the start of this year: In February I went to my first continuing education event, and looking back I realize just how “green behind the ears” I was there. As much as I tried, my introverted nature still managed to creep up even though I managed to make some good contacts and have some good coversations. I came back feeling like I had accomplished a little, but not as much as I wanted. Another question I has upon my return was, “Now what?” — I wasn’t geographically close to many of those I’d like to network with, so how I could I prove to them that they should let me in on their inner circle? (hint = foreshadowing)

Needless to say I quickly got discouraged because my efforts weren’t working, and this discouragement lasted until probably 3 or 4 weeks ago — just shortly after I began my new job where I was virtually out on my own. Since that light switch went on in my brain, I’ve been motivated to make progress in this area in the next year — but the “I-want-everything-now” generation member that I am felt like why shouldn’t I just get a head start on 2010 in late 2009, so here I am. Here’s the thing though: I’ve stopped looking at networking as I have to prove myself to leapfrog over someone else to be worthy of networking with others. (Yes, this statement reaks of past insecurities, self-esteem-type issues). What else is strange to me is that I didn’t have to consciously change my mindset when I started realizing this; it just sort of happened naturally.

From many professionals I’ve heard of the abundance vs scarcity mindset, and what I realized was in the past I had a scarcity mindset when it came to networking: If I network with someone, that means someone else can’t be in their network. Or: I have to prove I’m smarter than someone they already know, to start getting into that person’s network. What it was was me putting myself before everything else and thinking that someone had to lose for me to “win” — no wonder it didn’t work, I think I sound like a jerk while writing this!! Of course, I’m very happy that I have seen the error of my ways and have been surprised with the little effort it took to adopt an abundance mindset instead.

Since I’ve changed my viewpoint, I have really enjoyed the process of starting to get to know people in my field. Even though its over the internet, I consider it a start — I’m no longer trying to hit that networking home run the first time I contact someone. Also, my approach is now focused on the other person. So instead of trying to sound as smart as I possibly can in the hopes of scoring enough brownie-points, my efforts have been about trying to add some benefit to the person I’m contacting: whether it is appreciating a job they did or how something they wrote helped me re-think a part of my program, etc. At the end of the day I now have something that is allowing me to enjoy this process rather than be overwhelmed by it. Though I wish I could’ve realized this even earlier in my career, I am happy that I’ve come to this realization now rather than later as it has given me one more challenge and one more thing to look forward to in the coming year!! CB

Show and Do

December 3, 2009

This was one of the nuggets of gold dropped on the forums! I know I’ve written about keep excerise coaching simple, but I was still talking to much! Mike Boyle is the one that enlightened me (and many of the young strengthcoach members) with this idea.

He said that most people get bored and/or confused if you explain — besides most are visual learners anyways! Common sense after he says it of course!

The gist is that a good demonstration will work very well — at least better than words. I’ve been focusing on making my explanations as simple and minimal as possible since last summer, but like I always say: I love simple! (as long as its effective). And this idea of “show and do” is just more simple and based on some notable coaches’ feedback, more effective than my previous approach. In the week since I learned this, I’ve been trying it out with my clients and so far I’m a believer! There appeared to be fewer looks of confusion and less frustration from the clients resulting from misunderstanding or not comprehending the explanation.

Have a great weekend everyone!!


I hope everyonehas a great weekend! Here’s is part 4 of my updates which I started posting about last week.

4. Manly title eh?! (That’s why I get paid the big bucks btw) In talking with a couple of my new clients, they’ve mentioned that they are pleasantly surprised that they get a challenging workout in without much equipment or fancy exercises. To me this is music to my ears. Plain and simple I don’t think many people need to worry about advanced set/rep schemes, exercises, or excessive volume. Taking that a step further, I think people EARN the more advanced stuff. If you’ve been training for some time, and have made considerable progress feel free to play around with some more advanced methods, but don’t apply for graduation when you’re in first year.

The basics have worked for a long time, and though they aren’t all better than more recent innovations, many are. I for one love simplicity. In terms of exercise: push, pull, and do something for legs and core. Simple. (Coach Boyle credits Mrs. Patrick Ward with saying that, and though I’ve never met her, smart smart lady). Even though its a very simple take on program design, some good effort will yield excellent results.  I believe Dan John, a noted high school strength coach in the States, said that the oldest form of fitness is picking something off the ground and lifting it up overhead. Simple and basic…and effective. The basics may be considered “old-fashioned”, but if they work, they work.

That’s the end of my updates series, so you all can breathe a sigh of relief HA!


3. Glad “you” asked :) My own training has been going super for the past 8 weeks since I got out of my rut and started up again (I know, super embarassing). Fortunately in these last 8 weeks, I’ve even been able to surpass some strength I attained in the past — gotta love muscle memory!! Basically what I’ve been doing is starting up with a basic template for these two months, slowly inserting things to create a more athletically-based program rather than a typical “lifting” program. Again, this is just how I prefer to train. One of the key things I’ve been working on is to keep exercise progressions going; pretty much 3 weeks with a movement, master it, and progress it. Now I’m not going to get into progressions and how long and whens the right time to switch and who laid a finger on my Butterfinger, just that in the past I feel that I have stayed with things a little too long in the hopes of reaching a certain strength level. Alright folks, three blogs in three days, makes for one hungry me!! Thanks for reading!


Back for more of the updates? Enjoy!! And as always if you have any thoughts to add, I’d love to hear them!

2. This goes along with my new job. Basically many fitness professionals much smarter than I are putting out products, articles, podcasts, etc to help educate other trainers. Currently much of this is focussed on training athletes or running fitness bootcamps/circuit training (at least most of what my inbox is bombarded with). Because I no longer work with athletes currently and I don’t run bootcamps or have access to much equipment, I’ve had to think more critically about these experts’ ideas. Instead of just trying something out because it seems like a good idea, I now also look at the idea from a logistical standpoint: Where do new exercises fit into my clients’ abilities? Do I have the necessary equipment/space/time? Can I modify an idea to make it work for my clients WITHOUT losing the idea’s effectiveness?

The point being that every time I ingest information in the hopes of making me a better trainer/coach, it can make me better at what I do and the service I provide based on whether I decide to use it or not. Because no trainers’ situations and clients are exactly the same, this not only requires critical thinking of the idea itself, but also the logistics of getting it to blend into an already successful system.


Since I’ve been AWOL on this blog lately, I’ll keep it to a “random thoughts” type of post since quite a few things have been going on. Hopefully this will also kick my ass a little so that I keep up a little more regular presence here.

1. Regarding the new job, I’m in my 3rd week of duty, and so far so good. Hmmm what have I learned??? I’ve learned that personal training has been enjoyable, in fact the way I see it, each session I have the ability to work on my coaching the same way I would if I was working with athletes. Sure some training goals and focuses might be different, but its still an interpersonal service at the end of the day.

More about my new job?? I’ve realized I need to develop a system of training. I knew this already, but now that I have to create my own to get results, it is something I need to do. Now I don’t mean that I’m going to develop my system of training over the next month or so and never touch it again; what I mean is that I hate playing “exercise selection roulette” when  designing programs. How will you know something works/doesn’t work if you never program things the same way twice? A sample size of one doesn’t allow for much confidence in the results. This past Saturday I took my first step and starting typing things out on my computer. What I found was something that is a lot more difficult than it seems, and that as a result it could take more time than anticipated.

Still want more?? One thing I’ve found is that my clients don’t want to just rest for x amount of time because they aren’t that fatigued. Keep in mind my clients haven’t worked out for varying lengths of time, so I’m starting with the basics. That said, I think intensity (referring to weight lifted) has a lot to do with fatigue. Anyways, this has meant my problem is that I want my clients to rest and not rush through a program, while my clients don’t feel the need to rest and not rush through the program. Hmmm, a toughie!! Fillers to the rescue!! My solution was to make use of rest time so that I get the clients to actually give their muscle groups some rest between tri-sets. This was accomplished by attacking either mobility or flexibility for 30-60 seconds then continuing along. So far, the clients feel like they are doing something during the rest and therefore enjoying that they are not paying me to standing around for a percentage of the hour. Win-win in my opinion.

Until the next rainy day,