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Health. Ego. Performance. Uncovering "Why" Your Client’s Train

coach crossfit mindset rehab professional training Mar 07, 2022

If you’ve been in the training game for a while, you’ve probably experienced all three of these categories as you navigated your fitness journey. The beauty of this process is it makes us extremely relatable to our clients.

Uncovering and understanding the “why” our clients train and make decisions in the gym can be pivotal in the process of helping them break cycles of stagnation or even training with pain.

Clients typically make training decisions based on one of these three categories: Health, Ego, or Performance. Our job as coaches is to help them understand what decisions they are making and if those decisions contribute to their long-term goal. It’s okay to occasionally train for ego, but it is not sustainable, we can dive deeper to uncover the why, and help them break the cycle if they’re looking to work with us and create lasting change.

With every decision comes hidden cost and sacrifices, this remains true in life and in the gym.

When clients are training for health, they’re sacrificing both ego and performance.

When clients are training for performance, they’re sacrificing both ego and health.

When clients are training for ego, they sacrifice both health and performance. This one stings…

Most people SAY they are training for health but when we start to audit their training practices, we actually find out that they’re making ego-based decisions. The goal here is to reorient the client in alignment with what their true goals are.

Let’s looks at some examples:

Your client walks into the gym and sees the workout is 5 x 5 Back Squat at 8/10 RPE. The rate of perceived exertion (RPE) here means, when you’re done with each set, you should have about 2 reps left in the tank.

Here’s how the 3 training types vary:

The Client Training for Ego - Seeing the weights reported from the earlier classes, the Ego Client looks to move the most weight for the day and get on the leaderboard. Instead of hitting 8/10 RPE, this person sets a max effort attempt at 10/10 RPE even though a max attempt is scheduled for next week. The attempt was performed with poor technique, but the score was the most important outcome characteristic.

The Client Training for Performance – Training specifically for competition and understanding progressive overload is key, the Performance Client hits the first four sets at 8/10 RPE as described. The final set is performed just over at 8.5/10 RPE, but the reps felt and looked great.

The Client Training for Health - Understanding that yesterday’s workout left Health Client more sore than normal, they share this with the coach who recommends lowering the RPE to 7/10 for the day. They complete all the reps without issue and leave the gym feeling refreshed, energized, and accomplished.

Some points for consideration here:

The goal isn’t to get everyone to train for health. The goal is to get your clients to understand how the decisions they are making are contributing to their situation. If our clients are stuck in a painful training loop, the first step to change is acknowledgement of contributing factors!

As coaches and rehab pros, we can start to pry deeper into our knowledge bank with clients. The more context we can gather to paint the picture the better! Start having these convos and asking what is the “why” for decision making and you will quickly set yourself apart from the rest of the playing field!

Interested in learning how to apply this to your clients?

Click here to find out how!