What makes a successful Personal Trainer – Part One - Performance Training Academy

Knowledge – Anatomy & Physiology

We start our Personal Trainer course by teaching students Anatomy and Physiology. Understanding the fundamentals of each system of the human body is a must when it comes to delivering exercise to others. Unfortunately this knowledge is sometimes learnt and quickly forgotten.

Is it important to understand what muscles are utilised in a squat? Definitely. Would it matter if a trainer didn’t have any knowledge of energy systems when training an individual using high intense interval training? Of course.

The idea of writing this is to give those who are considering a career as a fitness professional an insight into what they are expected to learn, but also to hopefully ensure that for anyone who is already qualified that they continue to learn.

Here are just a few examples of the importance:

Energy Systems – A knowledgeable trainer will understand how to train a sedentary individual who is in their 50’s or 60’s using a range of energy systems in a periodised programme, just like they would for a fit and active 25 year old. It is a great tool to use to apply the correct and safe level of overload whilst keeping the training challenging yet enjoyable. An example of this would be using the Lactic Acid energy system – The sedentary, older client would be able to work in this system by simply doing intervals of walking up a challenging incline and then receiving the correct amount of active rest before the next interval commences. The younger, fitter client would be able to work at the same relevant intensity by doing intervals on a rowing machine, working as hard as they possibly could for 300m before their timed active rest.

What is important here is that a lot of individuals believe that the only way for a person to lose weight is by working their clients in the higher end energy systems of Lactic Acid and Phosphocreatine, yet both of these are extremely demanding on an untrained individual. Understanding how and when to use these systems within a periodised programme for any client is what must be learnt and correctly implemented.

Muscular Skeletal System – Having an understanding of the muscles and joints used in a squat is extremely important. A squat is not just an exercise that works your Quadriceps, it is one of the functional exercises that all individuals should be doing. This is an important exercise for clients who need to be stronger for a sport, or those that want to increase muscle mass, and for those who want to lose weight. But it is so important for those clients who lack functionality and may have lost the ability to stand up out of a chair with ease.

In terms of the Muscular Skeletal system it is imperative that a fitness professional understands the correct biomechanics for each movement and how it should be coached to different individuals, and how these moves should be programmed in the correct sequence. It is not always thinking about working only a main muscle group in a session such as chest, back, legs and then targeting these with mainly lying and seated exercises. All clients would benefit from being coached on the larger functional lifts such as Squats, Deadlifts, Cleans, Lunges, Overhead Press and so on…

A trainers knowledge of Anatomy and Physiology will also be key to ensuring their clients can rectify any postural deviations that lifestyle can cause. In my experience a lot of clients over the years have had issues of Kyphosis, rounded shoulders/stooped head, which can be brought upon by desk based jobs, hairdressing, poor posture, and it is even very coming in young lads who do too much bench and bicep work and not enough on the posterior chain of the Rhomboids, Trapezius etc. Having the knowledge in Anatomy and having the skill to spot these postural abnormalities is so beneficial to your clients in helping them to have better posture and essentially having better movement potential for a pain free every day life.

shutterstock_533570641All of our Anatomy and Physiology content as been created into bitesize course modules that have an amazing visual representation of each bodily system, which include:

  • The Muscular Skeletal System
  • Energy Systems
  • Neuro-Endocrine System
  • Cardiorespiratory System

Knowledge in all of these is a must, not just to pass the end of unit exams, but to apply to your clients for this year and every year of your career in the Health and Fitness Industry. If you have ever had your own issues and been told by a physiotherapist the importance of activating your Gluteals, or strengthening your lower back, or creating more range of movement in your shoulders, then I am sure that you have experienced the importance of learning from someone with in depth Anatomical knowledge.

Learn as much as you can about this fascinating topic. If you are one of our students and using our online modules be sure to make notes as you go through the video content, do extra research where necessary, and if you are really stuck then speak to a course tutor to help make sense of anything, no matter how trivial you feel it may be.

Knowledge is power, and it will be the difference between an average fitness professional and a great one.

The subject of knowledge will be continued in further blogs from me, it is not just about knowing your stuff in terms of Anatomy and Physiology. It is also vital to learn and continue to learn about nutrition, training protocols, programming, biomechanics, stress and lifestyle approaches and so much more. But that should not be a daunting thing, one reason why I have always loved working within the Health and Fitness industry is because you are always learning or re-learning and you are then empowering others with this knowledge. It is both inspiring and motivational and it will always continue to be so.

Author: Ashley Hough

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