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Measuring for Success!

We have previously blogged about the importance of measuring your food for portion control. While food measuring is very important to keep diets and macros in check, measuring is important in other ways.

Client Goals

Every person at the gym has a goal or reason to be at the gym – especially if they are investing in a personal trainer or coach. For all clients and trainers gym goals are important because goals shape client programming. If clients do not provide a goal or reason for working with a trainer, they have no units of measure to work towards. Without units of measure, the tangibility of a trainers program is nonexistent.

Losing Weight

When it comes to establishing goals, the most common client goal is weight loss. This is probably the easiest goal to track – clients either lose weight or they don’t. Right? Not quite. Just because weight loss is the main reason many people workout, it doesn’t mean it’s the easiest to measure. While the majority of the US is morbidly obese, most of those people unfortunately are not at a gym. So how do you measure weight loss for a client with nominal weight loss goals? Take body measurements using calipers or a measuring tape. While the scale might not be extremely helpful for small weight loss goals, taking various body measurements will help. 

Leaning Out or Getting Toned

For clients indicating they want to lean out or get toned body measurements will help, but might not be enough. For clients only seeing subtle changes in body measurements, other methods of progress or improvements can be used. For example, tracking increases in weights or improvements in ranges of motion can be used. If a client is looking for improved cardiovascular or endurance, establish monthly exercises for the client to perform, such as a timed run or timed push ups. Document the results and share the changes with the client.

Making Gains

For clients simply wanting to lift more weight and gain muscle, progress or success will be reflected in the amount of weight they move in the various exercises. If clients feel as though they are plateauing or progressing too slowly, tracking their progress over time is most helpful.

When to Measure

Measuring client progress will vary depending on the client goal. For weight loss clients, monthly measurements (scale weight and body measurements) are recommended. This gives the clients enough time to show changes and also establishes a pattern for accountability.

For clients with less noticeable goals, such as leaning out or gaining muscle, monthly body measurements could be used. If body measurements are not the chosen unit of measure, progress reports every 2-3 months showing weight increases can help. Alternatively, using predetermined exercises, such as a timed run for endurance or joint measurements for flexibility changes can be used.

If you are interested in becoming a certified personal trainer or would like to partner with PFTA Austin to help educate personal trainers, we would love to hear from you!

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AustinCertified Personal TrainingPowerliftingWeightlifting

Powerlifting or Weightlifting

When joining a gym and determining a goal or focus, how do you decide what you want to pursue? While both lifting styles are demanding on the body, they are very different in movements, purpose, and preparation.

Bench press

Powerlifting for Overall Body Strength

If you use weights at a gym, there is a good chance you are familiar with the big three powerlifting exercises of bench, squats, and deadlifts. While you might not actually lay on a bench and press a bar up or stand in a rack with a bar across your shoulders and squat downwards, you probably do a variation of these exercises. 

  • Bench press: In the bench, the lifter lowers the weight to the chest and then presses it back up. The bench press can be done with a bar, dumbbells, or bands. This exercise helps develops upper body strength and an alternative is push ups.
  • Back squats: For the back squat, the lifter places the bar across the top of the back, lowers towards the ground, and then drives back up. Squats can be performed with weight on the front, overhead, or at the waist. Barbells, dumbbells, and various machines, such as the belt squat can be used. The squat is great for core and hip activation as well as lower body strength. Alternatives include box squats, body weight, and air squats.
  • Deadlifts: For deadlifts, the lifter lifts a loaded barbell or bar off the ground to the level of the hips and then lowers it back to the ground. Deadlifts are a great posterior exercise that can be performed with bars, dumbbells, and bands. Alternative exercises include hip thrusters and kettlebell swings.

Powerlifting exercises are very muscle power focused. These exercises are easily adaptable to accommodate or adapt to individual needs. For example, if someone is weak in the hips or glutes, a box squat can help. Alternatively, if someone is weak on one side, these exercises can be modified to single leg or arm to isolate and strengthen. If someone is very strong using two legs or hands, these exercise can easily shift to one leg or arm to challenge stability.

Jerk press

Weightlifting for Strength and Flexibility

Weight, or Olympic, lifting includes many lower body-focused exercises. While the lower body does the bulk of work, a weightlifter also requires a strong core and shoulder complex. The common exercises in weightlifting include:

  • Snatch: For the snatch, the lifter takes the barbell from the floor to an overhead position in a single motion. This exercise involves power from the ground, through the feet, and all the way through the body. The ankles, knees, and hips start flexed, are quickly extended, and then flexed again. The elbows stay fairly straight, while the shoulder, or rotator cuff, is the joint action (shoulder extension and abduction) that takes the weights from the floor to over the lifters head. While there aren’t alternative exercises for the snatch, it involves the snatch deadlift, rows/high pulls, and overhead squats.
  • Clean: For the clean, the lifter moves the barbell from the floor to a racked position across the deltoids, without resting fully on the clavicles. Similar to the snatch, the ankles, knees, and hips start flexed, are quickly extended, and then flexed again. The wrists and elbows start extended and then flex as the bar settles across the deltoids. The shoulder, or rotator cuff, is the joint action that takes the weights (extension) from the floor to rest (flexion) on the delta. While there aren’t alternative exercises for the clean, it involves the traditional deadlift, rows/high pulls, and front squats.
  • Clean and Jerk: For the clean and jerk, the lifter moves the barbell from the floor to a racked position across the deltoids, without resting fully on the clavicles and then presses the bar overhead. In addition to the joint actions involved in the clean alone, the jerk adds shoulder abduction as the lifter presses the bar overhead. The military press, traditional deadlifts, high pulls, and front squats are used to build this exercise.

While all of these exercises might not sound overly difficult, every joint from the wrist to the ankle is used, with a high amount of force pushed through the body. As mentioned above, preparing the body for these types of lifts requires lifters to complete powerlifting exercises including front squats, snatch deadlifts, and military presses.

Supporting Both Styles

Regardless of which lifting path you choose, do not neglect your joints! Additional exercises, such as external shoulder rotation with bands or light weight shoulder movements can benefit all powerlifting and weightlifting exercises. Air squats are great for warming up the hips and lower body, while lateral lunges warm up the knees and stretch the hip joints laterally.

45 degree front raises

If you are interested in becoming a certified personal trainer or would like to partner with PFTA Austin to help educate personal trainers, we would love to hear from you!

Read more