Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I Want Abs!

So I started teaching a new small group class at a local high school last week. As always, when doing a class, I asked for feedback from the members before, during and after the session. This gives me an opportunity to assess there knowledge level (how educated are their questions and comments?) as well as to probe about their individual goals.

One of the women was very interested in what we would be doing for ab work. The workout that day was a circuit of 8 bodyweight, kettlebell and dumbbell exercises. She was confused because there were no crunches, no bicycles and no swiss balls in sight. Each time, I explained to her that the deadlifts, kettlebell swings and push-ups we were doing were all great ab exercises, as well as full body fat burners. At the end of the class, she was still hung up on this point, so I talked to her for a little bit about planks, bird dogs and the dark side of lumbar spine flexion and extension under load. She seemed to be grasping these concepts and tracking with me through the conversation, but was still skeptical that what we were doing was going to give her the coveted six-pack she wanted.

At this point, I realized that debating the finer points of the latest research on spine health was not what she wanted to hear. (Damn the facts regarding functionality and health, make me look good!!) So I changed course. I took the conversation back to diet. This took all the responsibility off of me as the trainer, and placed it where it belonged in the first place, squarely on her shoulders. I told her that if she didn't clean up her diet, it didn't matter how many crunches she did, she'd never see her abs. At this point, she gave me a sour face, but acknowledged that she knew this to be true.

I then explained to her that if she cleaned up her diet and focused on performance related goals, like a 300 lb. deadlift and 16 kg kettlebell swing intervals, she had my personal, money back guarantee that she'd get the abs she wanted so badly.

I can't emphasize enough, that there are two pieces to our work here. If we train smart all the time, but neglect our nutrition, we will never reach our goals, whether they are performance or appearance related. If we eat right all the time, but are not thoughtful about matching our training programs to our individual goals, we are simply sabotaging ourselves.

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