Optimizing Client Programs Through Proper Exercise Scaling by Using the Movement Hierarchy

Optimizing Client Programs Through Proper Exercise Scaling by Using the Movement Hierarchy

As a new trainer, quite often you are excited to get a new client and get them on an amazing, kick butt program to help them reach their goals. However, as soon as you begin with a client, especially a new one, you discover that they cannot do a number of the exercises that you have programmed into their workouts. Quite often this is because we as trainers can do the movement, yet we forget that a new client probably does not have the strength or skill to complete it fully and in many cases even partially.

You may want them to squat, but they cannot get the movement figured out, or there is an issue preventing them from completing the movement correctly. Also, very often we may want them to do a pull-up, yet upon trying one the client cannot even begin to come close to pulling themselves up, and then you are left having to quickly figure out what to do to give them that great back workout you had planned.

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In order to be a GREAT trainer, you have to be able to understand the fitness levels of all potential clients, and be able to figure out exactly where the client is having issues, and how to scale the exercise to their current level. Quite often, during your certification course, the pro-trainer or course conductor will go over the movement, example a squat, as a whole, but not have the time to discuss all the levels of the squat skill that could be used until the client can perform a complete squat. What could really help is a fairly definitive scaling diagram to help you and your client choose the appropriate level of movement for their current skill status, and now we have one.

Below ASPATA has provided you for download, a very valuable “Movement Hierarchy” that will help you to choose what your client needs to help them reach the ultimate exercise goal, and it’s very easy to follow and use.

As an example lets look at one of the most challenging body weight movements that often gives trainers an issue, the basic Pull-Up.

  1. The first thing we do is we refer to the chart and look for “PullUp” which we can see is labeled under the category “Pull to Object”, meaning you are pulling your self towards an object, in this case the pullup bar.
  1. We know that our client cannot perform a full pullup as they do not have the strength yet to do it, so from this point we work our way in reverse up the chart, and we see a possible skill needed is the “Piked Ring PullUp. In this case, the client would hang below the rings in a piked position with feet on the floor. The client would then use all their strength to pull towards the rings and straighten out their hips and use their legs to spot them when needed.
  1. Now, if you try this an your client still does not have the strength to do this, and is perhaps using to much of their legs to get up, you would then regress to the basic “Ring Row”, where the client is simply lying back in a inverted plank position and pulling them selves more horizontally towards the rings. This of course requires much less strength then the vertical ring pullup from step 2.
  1. Now at this point you may realize that even this exercise is too much for the client, and you must teach them just to be able to engage the lats and scapula. This would be considered the most basic movements of the pullup, and in this case the client simply hangs from the bar, and learns to retract the scapula, and flex their lats causing just a slight pop up from the dead hang, fully extended position.

We hope that you download the Movement Hierarchy poster we have provided (designed by Pioneer Valley CrossFit), and start to use it with your clients, small group fitness classes or CrossFit classes today, and teach all your clients how to scale correctly for themselves and take the guesswork out of their workouts.

Download ASPATA SCALING (Right click and select “save as”)