4 Exercises YOU Must Include in Your Group Training Programs
By Mike Robertson
As someone who has trained clients for 15 years, I know the first and foremost goal most have is aesthetics.
They want to drop a few pounds, put on a little muscle, or simply look great naked.
And I get that.
But when it comes to training my clients, I always put a premium on how they move and feel first.
Because I know that if I can get them moving and feeling better, they’ll want to do more.
And when they feel great and want to do more? That’s when the physique-changing magic happens!
When it comes to training clients in a large group setting, I’m all about bang-for-my-buck. I want to choose the right exercise for the client in front of me, not simply stick to the workout because that’s what I have written down.
As such, here are four exercises that work exceedingly well in a group environment.
Plate and Goblet Squatting
I’m a big believer that everyone should squat.
But with that being said, just because everyone should squat doesn’t mean we have to put a barbell on their back and load up the plates!
The goblet squat is a fantastic exercise because you can teach someone to squat safely and efficiently in a matter of minutes. It’s one of my go-to moves in both a small and large group setting.
However, sometimes even the goblet squat is too much. And in that case, I switch to a plate or reaching squat instead.
The reaching squat shifts your clients’ center of gravity back, allowing them to groove their squat pattern far more easily than standard squatting progressions..
When plate squatting, simply think about reaching “long” in between your shoulder blades, and then simply sitting down versus back.
One key element of both the plate and goblet squat is to feel your whole foot the entire time. Most have a tendency to shift too far forward or back, ending up entirely on their toes or on their heels.
When feeling the entire foot, you can teach your clients to push when they squat, which is a true game-changer for most.
Ah yes – the tried and true push-up.
Most think of this simply as an upper body pressing exercise, or something to fill in the gaps when you can’t bench press.
But in my world, a push-up goes much further than that. A push-up not only allows us to build the upper body (and specifically, the serratus anterior), but it also ties together the upper and lower bodies.
Too often these days, we train our bodies like a collection of pieces and parts. Isolate this, feel that – when instead, we need to get everything moving and shaking better together.
For push-ups, try a few simple hacks to get even more out of this awesome exercise:
- Start by reaching long at the start/finish of the movement. Think about opening up the muscles in between your shoulder blades, or reaching with the muscles on the side of your rib cage.
- When reaching long, inhale into your upper back, and then exhale to get your abs turned on.
- Perform an entire repetition, keeping the back of your head, upper back and buttocks in a straight line.
It doesn’t sound hard, but a well-executed push-up is not only challenging, but a thing of beauty.
Every client I train has a push-up variation in their programing, because I feel they’re one of the most important exercises we can do for both performance and health.
Supine Arm Bar with Hip Flexion and Screwdriver
Unfortunately, not every client comes to us with a clean bill of health., and one of the most common injuries we see nowadays are shoulder issues.
While we always make it our job to address the underlying dysfunction, having a shoulder injury doesn’t mean we simply do nothing with the shoulders!
The supine arm bar with hip flexion and screwdriver is an awesome exercise because it improves shoulder stability, core stability, and hip mobility all in one.
When doing this exercise, think about exhaling fully and getting the abs turned on. You should be reaching slightly through the arm and hand with the ‘bell, and then actively pull the knee towards the chest.
Once you maximally flex the hip, hold this position and s-l-o-w-l-y internally and externally rotate the shoulder. This is not a race! Own the movement and do it right.
Again, this exercise is great if your clients aren’t able to do some of the big bang upper body exercises, as it addresses some of the root causes and will get them back in the game ASAP!
Wall Press Abs
Last but not least, we have core training.
I’m a big believer in core stability, and I feel most of our clients need a ton more of it!
I typically start clients with a dead bug variation with a band, but sometimes the number of bands themselves becomes an issue.
In this case, wall press abs are an awesome core exercise that you can have clients do virtually anywhere.
Lie on the ground with your head near a wall. Press into the wall, and then exhale fully to turn on the abs.
From this position, simply reach long through the working leg, thinking about pressing through the heel at the midpoint. At no point should your clients feel this in the back, or have their back extend.
While this exercise may look incredibly simple at first glance, I can assure you your client’s will feel this in all the right places!
A critical factor for success in a large-group environment is choosing the right exercise.
Use a few of the exercises I’ve listed above to make your coaching that much more successful going forward!
All the best
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