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Fitness Theory and Practice. CrossFit's rationale & foundations. Who is fit? What is fitness?

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Old 11-10-2008, 09:13 PM   #1
Justin Shipley
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*not deconditioned, but PRECONDITIONED clients*

A small cry for help here...

Most of my clients have had some exposure in the dim distant past to some sort of sport, hobby, play, or physical exertion, and so calling upon those neural pathways and muscle memories and movement patterns, while challenging sometimes, is not impossible.

But in the last couple of months i have gained two clients, one a 19 year old young man and the other a housewife and mother in her early forties, who are presenting huge challenges.
Clearly, they have NEVER done ANYTHING!
Appealing to rusty or half forgotten movement patterns and memories is pointless as they were never established in the first place, and the frustration on both sides due to the verbal and physical cues that work for most everybody else NOT working for these two is a big stumbling block in the way of serious progress.

I've been implementing, or attempting to implement, the beginners SV ladder found in the CF journal, and have been adhering to the principle of strong grounding in the basics before anything more complex is added, but sh*t, when squatting results in total spinal flexion followed by collapse to the floor time after time due to a complete breakdown in the brain signal/ muscle movement sequence, whaddya do?

The guy has such severe kyphosis as to be one step short of a hunchback, no glutes, equally non existent hamstring function, and any attempt to make him 'stand up straight' results in a pitiful charade that looks as if he were trying to emulate the posture of the winged lady on the hood of a Rolls Royce.

The lady is 40lb overweight in that soft doughy fashion but minus ANY muscle at all underneath, compounded by the fact that no amount of efffort can bring her body to comply with what's being demanded of it, movement-wise.

I have clients in their seventies with eveything stacked against them, physically; arthritis, smashed shoulders, knee reconstructions, lifetimes of incorrect or inefficient movement patterns, breast reconstructions, one leg shorter than the other, blah blah blah...And often more than one of these ailments in the one individual! But they perform and respond to training miles better than my two 'preconditioned clients'.

Seriously, these two have nothing wrong with them on paper, but their abilities, or lack of them, plus their inability to respond to basic cueing, places them on a par with bedridden or crippled individuals, while i have been given car crash victims to rehab that have responded better, in contrast.

So please, does anyone have a tried-and-true tested formula, just a simple easy one with basic hit-the-nail-everytime cues, that i can apply to these clients?

We are all of us bored and frustrated with trying things as basic as-
AMRAP in 10 mins
1 pullup
2 pushups
3 squats
when the aforementioned factors are preventing even a basic squat or pushup or even any variety of assisted pullup to occur.

I can almost see the sense in the approach of my fellow trainers at the gym who put a client on a crosstrainer for 45 mins while they go and get a coffee and check e-mails....
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Old 11-10-2008, 09:35 PM   #2
Damon Stewart
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Re: *not deconditioned, but PRECONDITIONED clients*

I've dealt with the same or worse. Air squats while holding on to a rubber band hung from a pullup bar are good. Lots of ab-mat situps and hip extensions. Get them deadlifting light weights asap. Assisted BW exercises.
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Old 11-10-2008, 09:44 PM   #3
Leigh Costain
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Re: *not deconditioned, but PRECONDITIONED clients*

Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin Shipley View Post
We are all of us bored and frustrated with trying things as basic as-
AMRAP in 10 mins
1 pullup
2 pushups
3 squats
when the aforementioned factors are preventing even a basic squat or pushup or even any variety of assisted pullup to occur.

I can almost see the sense in the approach of my fellow trainers at the gym who put a client on a crosstrainer for 45 mins while they go and get a coffee and check e-mails....
Well, I'm not a certified CF trainer, but I have some experience training these populations. First, it sounds like both your clients have very limited flexibility. Spend some time working on this after you get them warm.

For the movements above, well, duh. Of course an untrained person won't be able to do these. For pull ups, start with body rows. Start them at as high an angle as they need to be to get the full range of motion (chest through the rings).

Push ups, if no variation on the floor works go to the wall. Work on keeping the body rigid.

Squats, have them go as far down as they can without losing form. This may be a quarter squat. Next week it will be better. These modifications should be intuitive, just back off the range of motion or load until they improve. Lots of encouragement is in order as is an eagle eye for form. Improvements will come. Also, don't do the same movements every time. Add overhead work, lunges, wall ball with light balls and less than full squats, etc.

But I'm a little concerned with your tone. These populations are extremely rewarding to work with, but they take patience. If you don't have it, then stick with the more able populations, nothing wrong with that. Remember, it should be fun.
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Old 11-11-2008, 02:32 AM   #4
Brandon Oto
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Re: *not deconditioned, but PRECONDITIONED clients*

Rip likes the leg press to build them up to an air squat.
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Old 11-11-2008, 03:54 AM   #5
Chris Scott
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Re: *not deconditioned, but PRECONDITIONED clients*

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brandon Oto View Post
Rip likes the leg press to build them up to an air squat.
I'm confused. Do you have a dry sense of humor, or did I just stumble into an alternate universe?
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Old 11-11-2008, 04:37 AM   #6
Gerhard Lavin
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Re: *not deconditioned, but PRECONDITIONED clients*

Chris it's the same universe just one where no exercise is the work of Satan but a tool to be utilized at the right moment.

Rip's comment (WFS) on leg press

Justin rather than look at what they can't do find what they can and work from there. You also need to work on making the sessions fun. At this point all these people need is to be introduced to the basics of physicality.

Work on balance, play "games" etc. Also get to to set a goal however small. Walk a fun run, learn to rollerblade, anything.

My wife has worked with clients like this. Very challenging especially initially but very rewarding to see the results.
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Old 11-11-2008, 05:13 AM   #7
Sara Fleming
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Re: *not deconditioned, but PRECONDITIONED clients*

Leigh hit the nail on the head.

I'd like to add that one of the biggest challenges to training someone like this in addition to lack of flexibility is the inability to engage the core. I've had clients who were strong and flexible, but could not engage the core whatsoever, even when doing isolated ab work and medicine ball exercises. These were usually women who hadn't exercised in years and who had 2 or more children. Core engagement is something we don't even think about, but is so very important for most funtional exercises. Without it, they have no balance, no connection between their upper and lower extremities (read coordination), and no power.

One exercise I like to do to teach them how to engage the core and learn to respond to my cues is to have them do C's against the wall. I have them stand against the wall with an athletic stance or partial squat. You can place a physio ball behind their back to allow them to support their back while keeping their hips back. Over the count 5-10, I ask them to simultaneously curl their torso forward (to form a C) and pull their belly button towards their spine. They must then slowly return to a straight torso while still engaging the core. This is pretty hard work for someone not used to doing it and its very good for teaching the core engagement cue. For them, it is also a legitimate exercise. I advance it by having them combine it with a squat (again, the physio ball behind the back helps support the back so they can focus on the core and the squat) or incorporate some medicine ball twists or up and down movements to start strengthening the entire core.

Good luck. Lots of praise works well too.
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Old 11-11-2008, 06:07 AM   #8
Veronica Davis
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Re: *not deconditioned, but PRECONDITIONED clients*

Hey Justin,

I have a client that is completely awkward in most movements and lacks coordination. Just the way he is... Like Leigh said you really have to attack it with a positive attitude and while it's a challenge it allows you to be more creative. And most important BE ENCOURAGING. It's just as frustrating to them. Your clients will read your body language, so stay upbeat.
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Old 11-11-2008, 06:10 AM   #9
Justin Shipley
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Re: *not deconditioned, but PRECONDITIONED clients*

take no offence from my tone, i just enjoy livening up a potentially dry topic with some turns of phrase...

Fear not, praise gushes from me in liberal quantities, just the same as for the firebreathers...in fact about ten times more, as my firebreathers respond to prompting other than praise

Sara Fleming, you are describing my lady client 100% with the core non-activation thing. Thankyou for the advice and i will apply it immediately.

Leigh Costain, already doing 90% of what you suggest and more besides, and upon re-reading my OP i agree; i don't like my tone either, and it is absolutely clear that i have spent more effort in expressing my frustration than explaining what has already been achieved-

-in the past seven weeks the young guy has lost over 9kg, plays squash twice weekly, can now squat close to 1/2 way, plus much much more-

-similar progress in BF loss and mobility and strength gains in my lady client

but i will emphasise again my frustration at the inability of the traditional cues, demonstrations, threats, bribes,etc, to elicit a result. Sara hit the nail on the head- that's the sort of thing i'm looking for, that type of body-consciousness/awareness raising exercise that then bridges the gap between what i'm telling them to do, and them actually achieving it.

Thanks guys and keep 'em coming
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Old 11-12-2008, 06:44 AM   #10
Veronica Davis
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Re: *not deconditioned, but PRECONDITIONED clients*

Hey Justin... if your clients are comfortable with you touching them, one trick that works with my awkward client is if I touch him on the muscle I want him to engage (with the exception of glutes... I don't need to be written up for that... LMAO). For example, I had him doing DLs last night. I first show him proper starting form and had him hold that for 10 seconds, while I put my hand on his hamstrings. I told him to focus on the muscle that my hand was touching. I kept my hand there while he was doing DLs. The boy was deadlifting with pretty decent form by the end of the night.

I do this with all my clients that have trouble engaging a muscle. Just always ask for permission to touch them first.
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Last edited by Veronica Davis : 11-12-2008 at 06:47 AM.
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