Another critical principle to educate clients on is the principle of specificity. The fitness principle of specificity states that the body's adaptation or change in physical fitness is specific to the type of training undertaken. In other words, individuals only get more skillful at what they do and practice. As it pertains to strength training, it can be explained as individuals improve what they train for.
When I talk about the principle of specificity, I like to share a frequent question I get from members and clients, which is, “how do I get better at push-ups”? The answer is often to practice and do more push-ups since doing this specific exercise will help the body adapt to handle more repetitions and load for that exercise. Incorporating other pectoral strength movements can indeed help increase overall muscular endurance and strength.
However, to get better at a specific movement pattern or exercise, we need to practice and refine that movement pattern or exercise. For example, if a person wants to get better and adapt their body to run more, they need to run.
Fitness professionals need to educate those new to strength training on not skipping or eliminating what might be difficult for them. What is difficult for a person might be a telling sign that it is what he or she needs the most to get stronger.
As fitness professionals, it is vital to educate them on the importance of specifying doing what they want to get better within strength training. On that similar note, communicate the importance of not pushing through pain while doing what is difficult.
Rest & recovery
There is an ideal training duration length-tension relationship for our muscles. Muscles that are either too lengthened and stretched or too tight and strong can lead to physical pain and injuries.
That is why it is crucial to incorporate active recovery techniques, workouts, and rest days, like dynamic and passive flexibility, into a weekly strength training and fitness program. As fitness professionals, it is essential to educate new members and clients about the importance of rest and recovery in reaching their goals.
Make sure to educate on this topic to help reduce over-exercise and unnecessary injuries from overuse. Let new clients know that rest and recovery are where most physiological adaptations occur from strength training and are often the missing link in many fitness programs. It is essential to explain the relationship between rest and progress, and lack of rest and possible chance of injuries before it is too late.
On the rest and recovery topic, share what rest and recovery mean outside of just passive static stretches, dynamic mobility work, and foam rolling exercises. Rest and recovery also mean getting enough sleep and incorporating proper nutrition. Getting a decent night's rest of 7-9 hours each night is essential to help with the recovery process.
Additionally, taking a day off from strength training, using self-myofascial release, and making dynamic mobility and passive stretching a weekly priority are all important steps. In addition to sleep hygiene and exercise regeneration strategies, it is important to educate members and clients on the importance of nutrition and hydration while starting or enhancing a strength training program.
Nutrition & hydration
As a fitness expert, I recommend promoting nutrition and hydration strategies that will help all individuals (not just athletes) perform well in their day-to-day and their strength training workouts.
It is vital to educate new clients on hydration needs pre, during, and post-workout. There are strategies to help make these recommendations very specific to an individual. Still, for the sake of general guidance, one should drink at least 20 ounces about 60-90 minutes before a workout, approximately 4-6 ounces (four to six gulps) every 15 minutes during the workout, and approximately 16-24 ounces after a workout.
It is important to educate members on the importance of pre and post-workout fuel in regards to nutrition. It is within the scope of the fitness professional role to share the importance of eating a healthy meal at least 2 hours before a workout.
Furthermore, if they have not been able to eat a proper meal, explain how they could benefit from eating a healthy snack about 30 minutes before a strength training session. In addition to pre-workout, talk about what they need to do post-workout and help them jump-start the recovery process.
As a general rule of thumb, share with new clients that they should eat a healthy snack (with lean protein and complex carbohydrates) within a 30-45 minute window post-workout. They should also be made aware that the sooner they do this, the better it is for their body and recovery.
Help them understand the “why” behind all this information. Share about how getting enough protein aids tissue repair and that getting enough of the right type of carbohydrates can help maximize the recovery process and replace energy stores.
Overall, it is important to keep these educational tips in mind while working with new clients. This education is essential to build a long-term understanding of strength training best practices.