When you’re designing workouts for your clients, it’s easy to fall into a rut and build the same, generic exercise plans over and over again. However, this may prevent your clients from reaching their goals. To design truly effective workouts, personal trainers must understand their clients’ starting level of health; their needs, wants and goals; and how to adjust their exercises to help them achieve those goals.

In this blog, we’ll outline our approach to designing effective workouts based on the truths of Applied Functional Science®, and the Certification in Applied Functional Science (CAFS).

Understand Your Clients’ Needs and Goals

Having a comprehensive intake form is one of the best ways to set yourself, and your client, up for success. Many movement professionals rush through the intake and assessment process. But when you carefully consider your clients’ answers and function, you’ll get a helpful baseline of where your client is at and what they need to progress.

You also need to learn a lot about their objectives, so you can build a personalized exercise plan. For example, if you know they need to be able to go up and down the stairs without pain, and they also want to play soccer with their children, you can identify common movements, and design a program that helps them with what they need (to go up and down the stairs) and what they want (to play soccer). In this scenario, a version of a reach or a lunge is common to both soccer and traversing the stairs, and you can use that commonality to build a workout that helps them do both activities.

Use the 10 Observational Essentials to Personalize Workouts on the Fly

When you use Applied Functional Science (AFS) to assess your clients, you’ll focus on the 10 Observational Essentials of movement.

  • Action
  • Environment (where the action is taking place)
  • Position
  • Driver
  • Direction
  • Height (vertical displacement)
  • Distance (horizontal displacement)
  • Load
  • Rate (speed)
  • Duration (amount)

These fundamental variables and components make up every human action and movement. By adjusting the factors in the 10 Observational Essentials, you can create an environment that mimics the activities they want to achieve (like playing soccer in the yard), increases the difficulty of the exercise (for example, by adding an incline), or modifies an exercise to accommodate pain.

There Are No Bad Exercises, Just Incorrect Applications

At Gray Institute®, we believe there are no “bad” exercises. However, some activities might not be right for your client based on their abilities, health, and pain levels. This is why the 10 Observational Essentials are so critical; when you understand these variables, you can design dynamic workouts that precisely meet your clients’ needs.

Combine Your Program Design and Client Assessment

We recommend combining your program design and client assessment into one system. People are constantly changing, and your program should too. A static program denies their reality, instead of meeting them where they are and progressing forward as a team.

Program design and assessment are a constant, dynamic, interconnected process. Before every session, you should check in with your client to see how they’re doing on that day, and modify your plan based on their current status.

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Up Your Workout Game With CAFS From Gray Institute®

At Gray Institute, we know that when you treat every client as a unique individual, you’re training them for success. Using the proven principles of Applied Functional Science, our Certification in Applied Functional Science (CAFS) gives you the tools you need to assess your clients’ progress, identify dysfunction, and create individualized training programs that set them up for success.

Unlike other approaches, which focus on theory over function, Applied Functional Science embraces the truths of human movement and implements research from a wide variety of scientific fields, including physics, biology, and psychology. To learn more about how CAFS can help you build more effective workouts for your clients, don’t hesitate to reach out to us! We love connecting with movement practitioners from around the country and world, and are excited to get to know you.