How Shaun Set An Achievable Training Goal For Himself
PG Setting An Achievable Training Goal Client Stories: Shaun
Shaun, 29 year old working for an educational charity and being desk bound all day, joined Performance Ground and achieved his training goal of building a baseline of general health and fitness while recovering from a severe foot injury and improving his self-esteem in less than 10 months. He then struggled however, to decide on what to aim for next. He just couldn’t define his next goal until our expert coaches guided him and helped him understand that he was able to listen to and understand instruction easily, adhere to advice instantly and replicate demonstrations coherently.
Now that we had the mechanical and physiological foundations in place, we could begin to build the complexity, volume and intensity of these fundamental movement patterns. Shaun had all the necessary pre-requisites and he really enjoyed learning these movements. As a result, he decided that he wanted to learn Olympic lifting while continuing working on his general health and fitness.
Shaun has now built an extraordinarily high level of tissue tolerance and strength relative to his body weight while finding his training sessions fun and discovering the new for him world of Olympic lifting.
THE VIDEO: How Shaun Set An Achievable Training Goal For Himself
After achieving his one and only training goal, Shaun had achieved everything that he had set out to do at Performance Ground. No matter how much the coaches probed about a potential goal for Shaun, he could never give a definitive answer about what he wanted. All Shaun knew was that he absolutely adored the coaches and the facility and would do whatever was recommended for him in order to develop and all around baseline level of health and fitness. So, what do you do with a client that does not know what they want for themselves? You do some research!
Fitness is defined as “the ability to meet the demands of your environment”. Thus, in order to help Shaun develop a baseline level of health and fitness, we had to look at his environment. Working in an office building in Central London for an educational charity, a consequence of Shaun’s job is that he spends the majority of his time desk bound during working hours. Some unfortunate side effects associated with desk bound jobs include: “thoracic weakness, trunk weakness, atrophies of the leg muscles and an underactive posterior chain”.
The road to setting an achievable training goal and developing a realistic plan of action
Based on the potential side effects of his job, the logical prescription for Shaun in terms of exercise to ensure he remained “fit” and capable for the job revolved around was:
1) Bilateral (dual limb) knee hinge movements such as back squats, to ensure healthy knee joints when getting up and sitting down in his chair and to maximize the strength development in his legs to prevent atrophy.
2) Bilateral hip hinge movements such as deadlifts to ensure that his posterior muscles such as his glutes, lower back and hamstrings remain active and engaged on a daily basis.
3) Bilateral upper body push movements such as bench press to ensure that his trunk remained strong and stable in order to support load such as supporting himself upright in his chair.
4) Bilateral upper body pull movements such as pull-ups in order to encourage thoracic spine extension and therefore, ensure the appropriate musculature surrounding the thoracic spine is used and developed, helping to prevent thoracic weakness and potential kyphosis.
In addition to these fundamental bilateral strength exercises, Shaun’s program was supplemented with unilateral (single limb) strength work also. The purpose of this was to address imbalances and strength discrepancies between limbs, identified from Shaun’s movement screen, which he completed when he first signed up to Performance Ground. This continued to support the idea of a broad and inclusive level of health and fitness by ironing out his own underlying physiological issues as well as combating the physical attributes associated with working in a desk bound job.
After spending a significant period of time laying the foundations of strength across the fundamental movement patterns, helping Shaun to attain a level of functional strength relative to satisfying the needs of his work and day-to-day life, it was quite clear that Shaun was a very quick learner. He was able to listen to and understand instruction easily, adhere to advice instantly and replicate demonstrations coherently. Subsequently, now that we had the mechanical and physiological foundations in place, we could begin to build the complexity, volume and intensity of these fundamental movement patterns throughout his tenure as a client at Performance Ground.
Consequently, Shaun now requires additional stimuli to continue adapting and increasing his robustness to exercise but also to keep him engaged with training. This brings us to his current program. Due to the combination of his ability to learn quickly and his physiological adaptations, we have begun to introduce the Olympic lifts into his training. Whilst extremely technical and most would argue that there is no need to introduce these into a general health and fitness program, Shaun has all the necessary pre-requisites as highlighted and he really enjoys learning these movements. He has fun performing even the most basic derivatives of the Olympic lifts, which is an important aspect of any program for anyone without a clear goal.
Furthermore, whilst his tissues have developed an extremely high tolerance to exercise, this tolerance was specific to the modality of resistance training. Thus, to continue to stress his tissues and improve their efficiency, we have now added aerobic conditioning circuits at the end of each of his sessions. This has allowed him to continue to build his capacity to complete work without incurring as much muscle damage as he would with extra resistance training. As a result, he can turn up to work everyday without any side effects such as muscle soreness, which could inhibit him from performing in his job role.
Now, over a year down the line of consistent training and adherence to his individualized program, 4 times a week, Shaun has built an extraordinarily high level of tissue tolerance and strength relative to his body weight. His progress in his current program includes but is not limited to an increase in his front squat by 36% to 95kg for reps, barbell overhead press by 20% to 38.5kg for reps, wide grip pull-ups from bodyweight plus 2.5kg to bodyweight plus 10kg and an increase in his bent over row by 50% to 60kg for reps. Moreover, Shaun has just hit a new personal best deadlift of 140kg for 4 reps (just shy of double his bodyweight) and a personal best bench press of 60kg for 3 reps.
Shaun has achieved things that he never thought possible, all without a clear goal in mind. This just goes to show that whether you have a clear goal or not, you can still accomplish more than you thought possible and have fun whilst doing it!