If You Aren’t Assessing, You Are Guessing

Category: Trainer Tips

“If you aren’t assessing, you are guessing,” is one of my favourite coaching tips I’ve ever been given in my career as an adaptive fitness coach. 

Over the many years of being a coach in the fitness industry, I have discovered an ample amount of tools and exercises that I now use to help clients achieve better mobility; increased strength; reduced pain; enhanced lean muscle mass; improved endurance, power, and speed; and ultimately, be able to move and feel better.

But the truth is, these exercises aren’t worth anything if they aren’t prescribed for the right reasons.

I see it a lot; trainers stretching their client’s hamstrings at the end of the workout, even though the client clearly has more than enough mobility there and doesn’t need more stretching; or continually working on contracting a muscle that is already overactive. 

If the trainer had done a proper assessment beforehand with either of these situations, they would know that stretching their hamstrings or continually working an overactive muscle can create a more imbalanced joint and can actually create more risk for injury.

The cool thing about assessing is that there are many different modes depending on the client’s goal. Some ways that my team and I assess clients are by:

Ø  Checking their joint range of motion (such as shoulder joint or neck rotation)

Ø  Measuring their weight (using a scale)

Ø  Measuring their circumference (using tape measures around target areas such as belly or upper arm)

Ø  Measuring their speed or power (such as time to complete a 1000m SkiErg test or a ramp push for time)

Ø  Food journaling

Ø  Taking pictures (of posture alignment or weight distribution)

Keep in mind that my assessment tool of choice is chosen once I’ve had a nice sit-down chat with my client. Besides, there is no sense in taking someone’s belly circumference if they have a goal of improving their time in a 5k wheeling race! We must know what the goal is first before we figure out how to measure it through assessments.

If you were hired to fix a leaky roof, would you begin the repair by assuming where the leak is coming from? Or would you take the time to assess the roof and see where the damage is coming from first?  This same principle applies to fitness and movement assessment, regardless of what your goal may be and regardless of whether you have a coach or not. 

This short blog is to help guide you in finding the best modes of assessment for the goal you want to achieve.

If you are following your own exercise regime or are just starting your own program (try one of our workouts), how do you plan to measure your success? An easy way to start is by recognizing your goal.  What are you trying to change? Then from there ask yourself how you can measure it.

A few possible goals you could be aiming for: Maybe you’d like to decrease your body fat or improve your speed on the basketball court. You could work towards lowering your cholesterol or be able to dumbbell press 20lb dumbbells. The sky is the limit! 

Now ask yourself; how can I measure that goal? Is it a completion time? Is it an increase in lean body mass?

The more you can track and record your progress, the less guesswork there will be to see if your program is working. 

If you don’t see a change in your records after X amount of time, then you know that your program may need to get revamped or it possibly just needs a simple tweak.

If you are someone who is working with a coach or is wanting to please please PLEASE make sure that they do an assessment with you first. It doesn’t have to be the methods I gave as examples above, but there should be some measurable data accounted for within the first meeting or so.  

I will say that regardless of who you work out with, which program you follow, or what your current goal is; I highly recommend you start your own method of assessing yourself. Try some of the above methods that I listed in the bullet points. You can write it down, you can snap a photo, whatever it may be that will give you something to measure your progress over time- Because if you aren’t assessing, you are guessing.

To get help with a personalized assessment, please click here

Your coach,
Megan Williamson

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