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Prescriptive training

What do I mean by prescriptive training?

One could argue that all training plans compiled by a gym instructor or a personal trainer are prescriptive.  After all, the instructor or personal trainer is taught to talk to the client to understand their goals and objectives.  Only after that conversation can a plan be created.

Let’s look, as I like to do, at the definition of prescriptive:

Relating to the imposition or enforcement of a rule or method.

That seems excessive in the context of training however I would suggest that a personal trainer’s role is to recommend and enforce a method of training, I shall explain my thinking.

What makes it prescriptive?

For the most part starting to train, or deciding to make healthy choices are significant steps and lifestyle changes.  Making the choice is hard enough.  Potentially driven by factors that, unless changed, could be detrimental to long term health.

How would one expect, therefore, to go from virtually no activity to a full-blown plan, or enlist a trainer to help recover from an injury, or simply want to move better and it not be prescriptive.  I believe an effective prescription for training can only be written once the following are understood:

  1. The client’s motives for change. Something is driving it, simply acting on ‘lose weight’, ‘gain muscle’ is not enough
  2. The client’s activity history. How long has it really been since the client was fully mobile?
  3. The client’s health history, and potentially that of their parents and siblings. It may be that a parent with a heart condition has prompted number 1 on this list
  4. The client’s motivation for change. Real motivation and real change.  Because real change take time
  5. The client’s movement. If a trainer does not assess how the client moves, in both range and competency, it’s highly likely that the prescription will be ineffective.  Worse a client may get injured through trying to load them up with too much too soon

Seems a bit much!

It’s in a personal trainer’s gift to delve, that’s why its personal.  Only when it gets personal can the trainer truly help and create the correct course of ‘treatment’ to get the client to where they need to be.

Only fully understanding all the above can the personal trainer establish a method of training to satisfactorily achieve the outcomes the client has requested.  The prescription, correctly written, may not immediately be an exhausting, fat burning or muscle building plan but one that considers improving functional movement and any dysfunction that may exist.  This, in my opinion, is critical to building a solid base on which to improve and steadily achieve the ultimate objective.

I’m a passionate Personal Trainer and I am passionate about doing it right.  If you are passionate about making a substainable change then we could be a great team.

Andrew