As a personal trainer, you no doubt have a wide range of clients, each with their own specific physical challenges and personal goals when it comes to training. Having said this, there are certain exercises every person needs to be able to carry out to optimise the benefits of their workout, such as stretches.
Stretching may not be the most scintillating part of working out, but is important for a well-rounded fitness routine, especially in conjunction with strength and cardio work. Incorporating stretching into each client’s workout schedule will help:
- Improve flexibility
- Reduce tightness, and
- Ensure workouts are more efficient and safer.
Ultimately, loose and stretched muscles are less restricted, which allows a wider range of motion and a greater ability to do exercise – and do it properly. This means less potential for injury also.
Luckily, improving a client’s flexibility and mobility isn’t difficult – it just takes a little time, and an awareness of their unique abilities. Here are the four main types of clients you will encounter and the stretches suitable for them to do.
Personal training stretches for different clients
Client 1: A casual exerciser, who doesn’t do much exercise that requires much flexibility
As long as your client does a short aerobic exercise, such as a quick jog or light jaunt on a rowing machine, they will be fine. Just before working out, this type of dynamic warm-up will increase the body’s temperature, offering sufficient preparation. This will dilate blood vessels and allow more flow into the muscles to prepare them to work.
Action: Start a slow aerobic activity, upping the intensity over the course of five to 10 minutes. Then kick things into high gear.
Client 2: A casual exerciser, who wants to increase their flexibility
Like Client 1, a light warm-up is advised, with the addition of static stretching.
Action: Hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat them two to four times as a cool-down phase.
Client 3: Fairly serious about a regular exercise routine and keen to optimise their workouts
The bottom line is the body temperature still needs to be raised, but it can be done in any number of ways. Though not unanimous, most evidence suggests that dynamic stretching, not static, is the better way to go. Static stretches can decrease muscular output, and though that might only matter for people lifting heavy weights, it’s probably not what anyone is going for at the beginning of their workout.
If your client is feeling tight, suggest rolling them out with a foam roller and doing some active stretching on those areas. It is always possible to build something more sports-specific into the beginning of a workout routine. For example, walking or running at a pace which is slower if they are going for a long run, or starting off their strength training circuit with lighter weights or bodyweight exercises and build up from there.
Action: So no static stretching at the beginning. Then introduce light aerobic activity for a few minutes to get the blood moving, after which dynamic stretches on tight muscles (with or without a foam roller). Cool down with stretches and/or another foam rolling session.
Client 4: An elite athlete
Static movements reduce muscle strength by 5.5%, whereas dynamic stretching increases it by 2%. These are incredibly small numbers that may not don’t matter at all to the recreational athlete. However, they’re enough that if you’re seriously involved in sports of some kind, you will need to pay attention.
Stretching is best performed after a workout, but some people prefer to do their stretches beforehand with a foam roller as an essential part of their warm-up routine.
Action: Find a short series of dynamic stretches, like walking lunges or bear crawls. Make it a habit of doing stretches before the workout, but after a bit of aerobic exercise. Proper mobility is important, but you don’t want to risk reducing your client’s peak power by stretching their hamstrings. Do that afterwards.
Want to learn more about stretching as well as other forms of fitness? Trifocus Fitness Academy’s Personal Training Diploma is just the qualification to help you to do this! For more information, follow this link.