This lesson is brought to you by Faction Mentor Wes “ShoDub” Showalter. He chats us up on how to keep programs from becoming mundane but still progressive and covers explaining programming choices to clients. The jist?–educate your clients. 


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As coaches, we are human, and can occasionally become bored or stagnant with our programming. Whether it be one on one sessions or small group training, sometimes we (us and clients) can become in ruts. We find a variation of a movement we believe in or have been digging lately and program it into our clientele programs. Even the most veteran coach can get in a mundane of straight sets or something similar and become bored with the exercise selection we are coaching. I am not just here to list off ways to making things a little more so spicy in regards to our programming, but for the sake of fuck it i’m going to right now ; clusters, negatives, ladders, density, 1.5, drop sets, complexes, tempo, partial reps, fixed fixed, variable fixed, and there are dozens more.


You don’t always have to have a minutely detailed rationale behind adding variety to a movement but you should always have something behind it, can be as simple as “Hey Donna Jean, the last phase of your program we did straight sets of BB bench with 4 x 6 and you got stronger, now we’re going to do cluster sets and do 4 x 2 / 2 / 2 with 30 seconds rest between each set of 2 because we can go heavier this way and I think we should see how this could affect your strength” .

Notice how you can get the point across with Donna Jean without giving her some huge exercise physiology explanation with flow charts and what not. The reality is most clients don’t even want to know the nitty gritty details behind why we program shit the way we do, they are just happy that we took the time to give them a rational but more importantly that we HAVE a rationale behind why we do what we do. Giving a client the rationale behind anything shows them that we have taken time to design a program to help them get better. Even if I have a client with an attitude of “Just tell me what to do that’s why I pay you” or some shit like that, I still take a second to explain “We are now going to integrate X into the program because X, Y, and Z” I just give them the bullet points, because even if they won’t admit it, it makes them feel appreciated and shows that we give a shit about them and how we spend our time with them.

I won’t go into  detail of categorizing clientele but every coach has the ones who constantly want to know the WHY behind each and everything they do, so taking a few seconds and explaining your rationale behind what variation of a movement you have decided to implement can help take away some of those questions, if not all of them. Consistently educating clients on what is going on around them and they will love you for it, or get annoyed as hell. Working in a group training environment this can help out as well, because your season veterans tend to enjoy spitting knowledge on the fresh fish who may be confused or perplexed by certain movements.


One thing that goes without say, is making sure that your client has mastered the basic movement before you progress, so as to not throw them into something they are not prepared for and make them feel like an asshole. Example ; Donna Jean has been training for 6 weeks now and has confidence in her goblet squat, we now introduce something like a pause squat and explain to her why. Assuming the weight, volume, and coaching is appropriate Donna Jean should be totally fine with some paused goblet squats, and while introducing a new variation, and in so a stimulus, she still maintains that sense of confidence in the movement.

It’s not just about throwing in different variations of the basics for shit sake but about making sure you do it with purpose and explain said purpose to Donna Jean. Looking back into old programs of our coaching toolbox for some spice can also re-educate us on certain variations we may need to dust off in regards to our coaching. Once you have established the purpose and made sure the outside variables are appropriate, they can still have that sense of confidence in themselves and furthermore even more so trust in YOU there coach.

In 2010, two dudes Chris and Todd, started the business that would eventually become Strength Faction.

You know how they say the rest is history? Well, it’s not.

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