5 Strength Training Hacks for Faster Results with Your Clients
5 Strength Training Hacks
Strength is the often forgotten about quality in many training programs that aren’t athlete specific. Especially in fat loss programs!
The first thing that most coaches and trainees default to when programming for fat loss is metabolic conditioning or high rep training. The problem with leaving out strength in your fat loss programs is in the potential loss of lean mass a client may suffer.
Programming in at least 1-2 days of lower volume strength work for your clients can do wonders for their fat loss results.
These hacks are also great for your clients that just want to get stronger. Chasing PRs in the basic lifts or their variations is a great way to keep clients engaged and having fun with their training.
Here are 5 strength training hacks that I have learned from my own training and clients that will help you get the most out of your strength-training program.
Strength Training Hack #1
Mobility and recovery are critical aspects of a strength training program and making progress. I wish someone would have forced me to take more time to focus on my mobility and recovery when I was younger. I am paying for it now and I wouldn’t wish that on any client.
You will likely run across the client that has the “pain is weakness” leaving the body mentality that will push through pain and may never even let on that something is wrong with them.
It is your job as the coach to be able to identify that and figure out a way to improve your clients’ mobility. A great way to do that is to hide it in the program.
Unless a client is already in pain or a limitation is keeping them from doing something they want to do they will lack any motivation to perform correctives, mobility work or do any type of stretching. They want to get in and get after it!
Keeping your mobility work to key areas in your training programs is a big part of getting your clients to buy in and actually do it. Run a team warm up and including lots of mobility work, crawling and activation drills in the warm up so that they are working on it as they prepare for the training session.
The goal for the mobility warm up is to get have them ready to train in 5-15 minutes.
Here is an example lower body warm up you can do with your clients in just 10 minutes.
Lower Body Warm Up
Foam Roll areas you are working on today or that you worked on the previous day. Spend 20-30s on each area.
- Hip Flexor Mobility x 8 each side
- Ankle Mobility x 10 each side
- Adductor Rock Backs x 8 each side
- Bird Dog x 5 each side
- Tall Kneeling Get Ups x 5 each leg
- OH Squat w/ Broom Stick or PVC Pipe x 5
- Monster Band Walks x 10 each
- Cook Hip Lift x 8 each
- Lateral Low Shifting Squat x 5 each side
- Inchworm x 5
- Three Point Lunge and Reach x 5 each
- Walking Single Leg RDL x 5 each
- Jumping Jacks x 20
- Skip x 8-10 steps each leg
This can be done in under 10 minutes once you teach your clients how to perform each movement and make it a staple in their workouts. Not only will you spend time focusing on movements that give a big bang for your mobility buck but you will get them prepared to start their training session.
You can also use the popular filler to increase the amount of mobility work that your clients perform each session. Simply add in non-competing mobility or corrective movements during the rest periods.
For example you may focus on t-spine extensions during rest periods of squats.
- Squat x 5 reps
- Rest of 90s
- During rest complete T-Spine Extensions x 8
This not only keeps them focused but it will get in a lot of mobility work volume during the training session.
Strength Training Hack #2
The overhead press has been left out of many programs in the past few years because of the concern of shoulder health issues.
These concerns are valid for a lot of the people we work with but you can’t eliminate a movement from your arsenal all together if it might benefit the clients that are prepared for the movement.
By all means, if a client presents shoulder issues or mobility issues that concern you eliminate the overhead press from their program until you can either correct the issues or all together as needed. But, for those that are ready get them pressing!
Pressing overhead is one of the best overall movements you can do if your body is ready and prepared. It activates both the posterior shoulder, core and when done right even involves the lower body to produce stability.
To minimize the volume of overhead pressing if you are concerned about shoulder health you can rotate this in every other week cycling between two pressing movements.
When programming overhead pressing variations favor slightly higher rep schemes to keep clients from overdoing it and going to failure on the lifts, which places them at the highest risk. Typically you will be working in the 5-8 rep range for strength and even going down to a 3 rep max.
Variations of overhead pressing including military presses, push presses, dumbbell presses and even handstand push ups. These can all be cycled into a program to keep things fresh.
Performing these lifts standing will produce the best results as it becomes a total body lift. Have the client take a hip to should width stand with their feet pointing forward. Cue them to screw their feet into the ground to create a solid base of support and engage the lower body muscles. Squeezing their glutes tight and bracing their abs while pressing overhead will keep the lower back protected and ensure they are rigid throughout the entire movement.
When the press is completed with the elbows by the ears the posterior shoulder is activated. Think about pushing their head through the arms to complete the movement.
Many injuries occur in the eccentric portion of the lift so teaching the client to receive the weight back down to shoulder height is important. Doing the presses in a rack or from blocks where the client can drop the weight and reset allows the almost completely eliminate the eccentric portion of the lift.
For military presses it is even acceptable to have the client stop the lowering portion of the lift at their chin and being the next press. For a push press variation you want them to bring it back down to their shoulders.
Strength Training Hack #3
There are times when training intensity becomes a challenge for some clients. Getting strong is hard work and requires clients to step out of their comfort zone.
One of my favorite ways to increase the intensity and even volume of a program is to work a client up to a rep max and then have them perform back off sets.
Using this method of training allows the client to focus on one high intensity set working up to rep max for the particular lift but not have to worry about keeping that intensity for each set. As you work up to the rep max you will be getting in more volume for the client, the intensity can be high with the client knowing they have one all out set and then you get more volume in at a slightly reduced load which will help them get stronger.
For example you may have an client warm up to hit a 6 rep max (RM) on the back squat and then perform 3 more sets at 15-20% reduced load.
When using rep maxes in a program always encourage the client to leave a little in the tank, training to failure should not be the goal. Always keep a rep or two in the tank if possible.
So a warm up to hit a 225x6RM squat may look like this:
- 10x bar
- 6x 135
- 3x 185
- 1x 215
This allows the client to warm up properly without spending too much energy on tons of reps at lighter loads. They can focus on this all out set and then reduce the load by 15-20% to perform 3 more sets at that weight for 6 reps.
Strength Training Hack #4
Sled work is often thought of as only a conditioning tool. This is a missed opportunity to get your clients stronger without beating up their bodies.
Sled work has some unique benefits when it comes to developing strength. The focus on the eccentric portion of the movement and lack of eccentric load reduces recovery time needed between sessions which allows you to do more work with the clients while keeping them healthy and fresh.
The low eccentric component of sled work allows for faster recovery but another great benefit is the short learning curve for pushing, pulling or dragging a sled and the ability to train locomotion in different planes and various ways.
The best parameters for programming sled work into your strength program is using time or distance as your rep scheme. Typically for strength gains you are looking for somewhere between 20-40s of sled work depending on the load or 20-40 yards per set.
Sled work will develop single leg strength, reduce the need to place your clients under spinal compression in lifts like the deadlift and squat and develop great strength using locomotion.
Strength Training Hack #5
In a lot of training programs the pulling exercises are used solely as accessory work with very little focus on developing true strength through horizontal and vertical pulling movements.
Many pulling movements are challenging and difficult to perform. Not to mention it is way more fun to train the mirror muscles.
Creating competition and challenges for clients in various pulling movements can bring a much needed focus to them and create excitement around developing strength in these areas.
Here are a few ideas for you:
- Create a 3RM pull up record for clients and post it on a record board. This is a simple and easy way to measure success and promote pulling strength. Take the client’s bodyweight + external load from a dip belt or weight vest to calculate total weight.
- Hand over head pulling using a sled and a battle ropes is a great way to develop pulling, core and grip strength with clients. You can create races or relays with groups of clients to make it a fun challenge.
- Move pulling movements first in the program for a client and perform them when they are fresh. Doing rep maxes with DB rows is a great way to build strength.
- Farmer carries and all their variations should be staples in your programs. Not only will your clients be better conditioned, they will also develop strong supportive muscles in the upper back and core. The learning curve is short with carries and races, relays and challenges are simple, fun ways to get clients engaged
These strength training hacks will help prevent strength training from falling to the wayside in your clients programs, especially those that have a fat loss goal. Training for strength is a fun way to get clients engaged in the training process while they also work to accomplish other goals. Include just a few of these strength-training hacks to get better results for your clients. Your clients will have a blast training and thank you for it when they are hitting new PRs in the gym.
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