How Difficult was that Exercise?
“On a scale ranging from 1 to 10, how difficult was that exercise?”
That’s the most common question I ask throughout the day. From youth athletes looking to get stronger, to the athlete making the transition from high school to college, to the everyday man or woman just trying to improve their health in our fitness classes, that question will be always asked to help the person grow.
Like everything else in life, we have to want to challenge ourselves and step out of our comfort bubble in order to truly improve. It’s easy to just go through the motions and say we’ve done our work for the day, now give me the reward of becoming better. It just doesn’t work like that.
That’s why I find asking, “How difficult was that?” is a great tool. The question gives me and the client who completed the exercise perspective.
Was it too easy?
Was it too difficult?
Did they perceive the exercise, as easy but didn’t complete the exercise as cleanly as I wish they did?
Did they think it was super hard but in reality it looked great and easy?
Through the feedback I receive from that question I get to help the client move forward. Maybe we take the weight down a notch or modify the exercise. Maybe we go in the opposite direction and make it more difficult. It all depends on the circumstances and the needs of the client I’m working with.
For some, I need to take them down a notch, The quality of their movement isn’t where it should be and they’re not engaging the right muscles or structures of the body that we’re suppose to be targeting in a given exercise. A perfect example of this is almost any core exercise. Too often I see people flying through these exercises and not being mindful of what’s suppose to be moving or what’s suppose to be staying still. These clients need to be reminded about quality of movement. Otherwise they’re just wasting their time on an exercise or putting themselves at risk for an injury. You won’t get super chiseled abs just by completing a million reps of any core exercise if all your reps are done horribly.
For others, I need to push them a little bit more. Too many people are so deep into their routine that they almost go on autopilot. Yes, it’s great to show up to classes and be physically active for an hour of your day but wouldn’t it be better to be improving each time you did it? I’m not saying that I want to see people who normally squat 100 lbs suddenly try 200 lbs but I want and love to see people challenge themselves. Maybe instead of squatting 100 lbs, they try to squat 105 one class, then 110 the next. These tiny challenges will add up and that person’s squat will drastically improve. This same principle can be applied to all exercises. Challenge yourself in baby steps and you’ll improve every time. Over time you’ll be happy about where you are compared to where you were.
Everyone has his or her own needs and we here at Olympia Fitness and Performance recognize that. Some clients need to be slowed down and reminded of form while others need that extra push to challenge them a bit further. Both situations come with unique challenges that we welcome as coaches. It’s not easy at times to come to the gym and give 110% of your effort while keeping great form, but at the end of the day we as coaches will always try to get you to.
Next time you finish with an exercise ask yourself “How difficult was that?”. Be honest with yourself regarding form and how challenging the exercise really was. Through this method you can recognize if you can take an extra step in the right direction for improvement. Whether it’s fixing up your form or maybe making the exercise a bit harder, it’s taking a step out of your comfort zone which will help make a change for the better. At the end of the day you want to improve and by doing this you’ll always be improving and working on your health.
Brandon Brelsford is one of the trainers at Olympia Fitness and Performance. He graduated from Rhode Island College with a B.S. in Community Health and Wellness with a concentration in Wellness and Movement Studies. After graduating, Brandon obtained his CSCS (certified strength and conditioning specialist) from the NSCA. Brandon enjoys helping his clients realize what they’re truly capable of and enjoys seeing their growth in and out of the gym.