My coaching framework.

In some areas of my life, I can be really pretty slap dash! Ask my close friends and they will testify to that! But not everything I do is me just busking it. There is a reason why I coach people the way I do, why I ask them the things I do and why I progress them from one thing to another. Regardless of the person I am coaching, I use a coaching framework to help them improve their abilities and performance.

Yes, believe it or not, I actually have a coaching framework! This helps me coach people to become better than they were. Here goes…

I coach people with a wide range of abilities. In my Get Moving classes, we have people with long term medical conditions and serious mobility limitations.

Regardless of whether I’m coaching Get Moving clients with chronic medical conditions or limited mobility, everyday people for personal training or aspiring athletes, I aim to use the same framework on them all…

The big picture.

The big picture - Assess, train, re-assess.
The big picture – Assess, train, re-assess.

First the big overview. This is done over a long timescale.

  1. Assess. Assess current abilities, levels, strengths and weaknesses. Set a benchmark to work from and decide what needs to improve first.
  2. Training. Using the results from the assessment, design a training programme to improve the aspects that needed work.
  3. Re-assess. After a period of training, re-assess to see what effect the training has had.

So that is the big picture. Zooming in a bit, we have…

3 progressive stages.

Move better, move harder, move faster.
Move better, move harder, move faster.

Within the training block mentioned above, there are 3 progressive stages I try to take people through.

  1. Move better – coach the quality of the move, the technique and minimise potentially dodgy compensations.
  2. Move heavier – coach them to be able to make these good quality movements under a progressively greater load or resistance.
  3. Move faster – coach them to be able to make these good quality movements at progressively greater speeds.

Of course, these 3 stages are relative. I wouldn’t expect the same levels from a fit 20 year old and an unconditioned person 3 times their age. But I will still want to help them move the best, strongest and fastest they can, within their own limitations.

Also, move better, heavier and faster is the order I want to coach them too. There is no point adding resistance/load to a rubbish move. It will likely just end in injury. There is no point doing a rubbish move at speed if you don’t have the strength to control the acceleration/deceleration.

Each of the stages above build on one another, with each stage laying the foundations for the next. That is not to say that people cannot move onto the next stage until they have perfected the previous one (remember, perfection does not exist and it is futile hoping to achieve it). And once you move onto a new stage, it is a big mistake to think that you have completed the previous one and you don’t ever go back to it.

Instead, I tend to think of repeatedly cycling through these 3 stages, making gradual improvements and making things more difficult when I can, or easier when I need. And on that subject, here are some common ways I use to make things easier or more difficult, depending on what is needed…

Progressions and regressions.

How easy/difficult should an exercise be for people? The phrase I use is:

It should be difficult, but do-able.

Ancient wise proverb.

By that, I mean:

  • If it is so difficult you can’t do it properly, it’s clearly too difficult. Regress the exercise and make it easier.
  • If it is not difficult at all, it’s clearly too easy. Progress the exercise and make it harder.
  • If it is difficult/challenging to do, but you succeed and can do it properly…well done! That’s your level! Carry on!

So how do we regress/progress the exercises to easier/harder versions? There are thousands of possible exercises and millions of possible variations available out there. And how do we know which ones are easier/harder?

I use the following table to give me a good idea. Now be aware, this table does not work 100% of the time. As with everything in life, there are always going to be exceptions. But I have found the following table to be a very good rule of thumb that will get me in the right ballpark at least. And from there, I can experiment and see how the person I’m coaching finds it and take it from there.

Exercise progressions and regressions
Exercise progressions and regressions
Regressions (easier)Progressions (harder)
Lighter weightHeavier weight
Slower speedFaster speed
Lower volume of sets/repsHigher volume of sets/reps
Lower frequency (do it fewer times/week)Higher frequency (do it more times/week)
PredictableUnpredictable
SimpleComplex
StableUnstable
More restLess rest

Examples.

So lets take a look at some of the above and find some examples to play with…

Lighter/heavier

For example, if you are doing a back squat, adding weight will make it harder and you will need to work more. Taking weight off the bar will make it easier.

Slower/faster

This one can really be an exception if you are not careful. For example, running faster is definitely harder than running slower. But doing pressups slower is more difficult than doing them at speed.

Lower/higher volume

With everything else being the same, the more sets/reps you do in a workout, the more demanding that workout tends to be.

Lower/higher frequency

With all else being the same, the more workouts you complete in a week, the more difficult that weekend tends to be.

Predictable/unpredictable

This especially applies to sporting situations. You start learning basic drills or set pieces in a very structured and predictable fashion. But by adding extra people, random instructions or extra variables (eg bouncing balls etc) you make it more difficult.

Simple/complex

For example, you can make a simple run from point A to B harder by making the route more complicated with twists, turns and changes of direction.

Stable/unstable

My favourite example of making something less stable and more difficult is going from pressups on the floor to pressups in gym rings or stability balls.

More/less rest

To make things harder, reduce the rest time you have between sets.

In conclusion…

So this is the coaching framework I try to work within most of the time. But I try to never forget one of the golden rules…there is always an exception to everything! So I use this framework as a guide, but I am happy to switch tracks and work outside the framework if and when the need arises. Be flexible in your thinking!

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