6 Things You Do That Your Clients Hate

6 thing you do that your clients hateIt’s funny, over the years you start to accumulate several thoughts on a subject that one can only do through experience.  The old saying “if only I knew then what I knew now” is certainly true.  I often laugh at some of the things I did and say to my clients when I was less experienced.  We were having this discussion with our students at Champion the other day, and I consider this a normal part of your career advancement.

In addition to reflecting on your own personal practice, I think there is also a lot to learn about from your clients when they tell you their past experiences with other professionals.

I tend to see a lot of clients that have tried other health care and fitness professionals and for whatever reason find themselves with me after not achieved the results that they wanted.  In my experience, this is often due to a few reasons:

  1. They didn’t listen
  2. They didn’t connect
  3. They didn’t put in the time


Notice how none of these things are “clinical” in nature.  Sure, I see my fair share of clients that were not diagnosed well or treated properly, but in all reality, I’m not perfect either.  But I listen, connect, and put in the time.  This allows my the luxury of being able to call an audible with my clients when I feel we may have started down the wrong path.  They trust me.  If they didn’t trust me, they’d move on to the next clinician.

How about these two comments I received recently from clients about their past experiences with other professionals.

  • “All my therapist did was tell me what I was doing wrong.  I know what I am doing wrong, that’s why I went to therapy.”
  • “I left my last therapist and always felt bad about myself.  They made me feel bad about myself.”


For the young clinicians (and I guess the more experienced one’s too!), I want to share some of the things I have picked up over the years that clients hate.  Remember, you need to connect in order to do you best with your clients.  Learn from my mistakes and errors and avoid these 6 things you do that your clients hate!


Stare at Your Device

I can’t think of a worse way to start off your experience with a healthcare professional than having them stare at their computer and typing while asking you a series of questions.  Not a great way to connect and help your client feel like your are compassionate about them, rather than just trying to finish your “task” of their evaluation.  I still take notes briefly when pencil and paper and do my documentation afterwards.  Sure, it takes more time out of my day, but it’s the right thing to do.

This also goes for staring at your phone their whole session.  You could be responding to a highly urgent and work-related email, but realize your clients will just assume your are posting pics of your kittens on Facebook.  Excuse yourself and respond to an urgent message if you must, but don’t do it right in front of your client.  This looks like they are not important to you at the moment.  Otherwise, keep your phone in your pocket.

I’m not sure if the Apple Watch is going to help us here or hurt us, we’ll see!

Your client needs to feel like they are the most important person in the world to you during their session.


Don’t Listen to Them

Your first interaction with someone is really important for several reasons.  Obviously you need to determine where to start with your client, but it’s also the most critical interaction to development a connection.

This starts with letting them talk.  You want to hear their story.  Some will want to get right to the point, while others will want to elaborate.  Let this happen.  Don’t interrupt if you can, and let them lead the discussion.

As I get more experience, the subjective portion of my exam could really only last 30 seconds for me to have enough information to start looking at the client.  However, I have learned that a big part of connecting with your clients is listening to your client.  You need to provide the platform for them to share what they want with you.


Force Feed What You Want Instead of What They Want

It’s not about you.  Starting with this simple concept is a great start.

As an example, perhaps a client comes to you and says “kinesiology tape really makes me feel better.”  How do you think they’ll respond when you say, “Your shoulder pain is coming from signals in your brain, kinesiology tape won’t help that and doesn’t really do anything.”  Ummm, probably poorly.

You said that kinesiology tape “doesn’t do anything” and they said it “really helps.”  That sounds like conflict, not connecting, to me.

In all honesty, we don’t know as much as we think we do about the human body.  I have no problem providing a treatment, such as kinesiology tape, if there will be no harm, no long term consequence, and there is no definitive research saying it is ineffective.  Obviously, if scientific evidence is available to completely say something is ineffective that changes the topic.

Don’t get me wrong, I will do what I want to do with that client, but may also try some kinesiology tape as well.  Perhaps that makes my treatments even more effective.

Another great example in the fitness world is the focus on movement and corrective exercises.  I think this is great, but don’t lose focus.  If someone comes to you for fat loss and all you talk about is how poor they move and how you want to fix their asymmetrical 1 on the FMS straight leg raise, you are forcing what you want on the client, and not focusing on what they want.  They don’t give care at all about what their straight leg raise looks like.

Again, I think you should work on that movement pattern.  But that can’t be the focus of the program.  It has to meet their goals first.  Sure, we sneak our goals into our programs too, but be careful here.


Tell Them Everything That is Wrong with Them and Nothing That is Right

I think we all get carried away sometimes with finding “deficits” during our assessments and evaluations.  That is normal.  But we need to be careful with how we present this to our clients.

Some people will focus too much on the little things, while others will seem just feel bad about themselves.

Every client should leave your facility feeling better, more optimistic, and in a good mood.  You want to be one of the best parts of your clients’ days.

I’ve actually talked about this in the past in an article on The Dale Carnegie Approach to Assessments.


Talk Over Their Head

As you can see, communication and people skills are pretty valuable in our professions.  Another area that I often see as being an issues is not bringing the discussion to your client’s level.

Just like you should be trying to match your clients’ energy levels, I also try to bring my discussion to their level as well.

Students and young clinicians are often guilty of this for a few of reasons:

  1. They are used to talked scientifically to justify what they are doing to their professors
  2. They haven’t accumulated that database of analogies we all use on our heads
  3. Unfortunately, they are a little too egotistical and trying to impress the person with how much they know

Confusing someone and talking over their head is not going to impress someone.  Some people like to hear all the detailed scientific things, while others just shut you out.  You need to feel this out and adjust.  However, your ability to convey your points and messages in a manner that connects with each person will impress them.

I use several different tools to accomplish this based on how I feel the conversation is going, but my go-to methods are:

  1. Using pictures and videos during my evaluation
  2. Using analogies to compare a complicated point to one they understand.  Car analogies work well!  Things like, “it’s like driving with your wheels out of alignment, eventually your tires are going to wear down unevenly.”
  3. Using a whiteboard to express thoughts.  This doesn’t always just mean drawing a picture.  I also often write and make lists.  Some people are more visual learners.  You can usually tell when they whip out their phone to take a pic of the whiteboard when you are done!

They key is to give them the science but don’t stop there, back it up with something they can understand.


Criticize Their Other Healthcare Professionals and Past Experience

I’m surprised at how common this point is in our professions.  I have many clients that have commented on how other professionals they have worked with in the past just criticize everyone else they have and had worked with in the past.  Like a personal training putting down their physical therapist or their physical therapist putting down their chiropractor, as a couple of examples.  Realize that your client has probably built up a lot of trust and respect over the years for the other people they are working with, which have not currently built up.

Not only does this make the person feel bad about their past choices (see above), but it’s also very transparent that you are just slamming someone else to try to make yourself look good.

I have a general rule of thumb that I developed over the years after seeing many “prestigious” people commit this error – Don’t make others look bad to make yourself look better.  It may work in the short term, but always catches up to you.

Yes, you are a genius when you have the power of hindsight.  Everything is clearer in retrospect.  Be respectful of their other people your client is seeing and has seen, you aren’t always right.


In reality, I probably could have listed another dozen, but these are a great start.  Avoid these 6 things that you do that your clients hate and focus on connecting, listening, and putting in the time to maximize your own effectiveness in helping people achieve their goals.




7 Habits of Highly Effective Rehab and Fitness Professionals

The latest Inner Circle webinar recording on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Rehab and Fitness Professionals.

7 Habits of Highly Effective Rehab and Fitness Professionals

7 Habits of Highly Effective Rehab and Fitness ProfessionalsI’m always getting questions from young professionals (and older ones too!) about what they can do to get ahead in our profession.  It’s one thing to simply want to get ahead and another to actually make daily habits designed to help you get there.  It takes effort.  Here are what I consider 7 of the habits that I see many of the top rehab and fitness pros stick to in their lives to get ahead.

The Power of 1%

Today’s post is a guest post from a good friend of mine Pat Rigsby.  Pat is a fitness business genius and has helped us enormously at Champion PT and Performance.  This article really resonated with me, as I am a big believer of constantly tweaking my systems.  This goes for all my “systems” – my manual therapy system, my corrective exercise system, my program design system, and even all my business systems.  I’m constantly trying to improve myself everyday, and this article really put it in perspective for me.  If you aren’t trying to get 1% better today, you are falling behind.

The Power of 1%

The Power of 1%One of the biggest differentiators between the great business and the average ones is that the great ones keep improving.  They kept evolving their training system and making it 1% better, over and over.

Someone who looks at their sales system or their assessment system may say “that doesn’t look that different from what I do.”  But again – the great ones keep improving things, 1% at a time.

And if you look at their businesses, all the things that they do from their Initial Consultation to their Referral Systems to their Training System don’t necessarily look like something you’ve never seen before…they just do them all a little bit better than most everyone else.

That’s why the best businesses succeed…they take what works, they plug it into their businesses and they ‘plus it’ over and over…improving each component by 1% time and time again.  And when it’s all said and done you have a business that has maybe 20 different components which are each 10-20% better (at minimum) than the competition.  But because of the compound effect, this doesn’t make their business 10-20% better.  Because every piece works synergistically with the others their improvement actually multiplies the improvement of the other areas.

It’s the difference between 100 clients and 400.  The difference between $150,000 a year and $750,000.

If that seems hard to believe, here’s how a 20% increase compounded changes things, illustrated another way:

  • 10 X 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 = 10,000,000,000
  • 12 x 12 x 12 x 12 x 12 x 12 x 12 x 12 x 12 x 12 = 61,917,364,224

12 is only 20% bigger than 10, but compounded the difference is HUGE.

So how can you put this into action?

Model Success

That’s what you’re doing by reading this, so you’re already off to a good start.  The best business owners I know may have invented a few things from scratch, but most of the components of their businesses were things that they learned from other successful fitness pros and businesses that they adapted, improved and made their own.

So study what’s working.  Borrow from successful businesses.  Model their success.


We all see dozens of good ideas…in products, at events, in Mastermind Meetings. But I’d guess most people actually implement about 2% of what they learn. The best businesses are living, breathing pictures of implementation.  All the things people say they’re going to implement – the best ones actually do.

Remember – It’s not what you know.  It’s what you do.  You can say you’re a relationship business, but if you drop the ball over and over – you’re not.  You can say you’re all about referrals, but if you don’t have referral systems in place that are working – you’re not.

The best implement. So should you.


‘Plussing’ is a Walt Disney term for continually improving and it should be a regular part of your vocabulary.  You may learn a referral system from someone and implement it, but you shouldn’t settle for it ‘as is.’  You should always be looking ways to make it a little more effective.  We often talk about getting 1% better.  This is getting 1% better in action.  Improving your referral reward or the way you ask.  Improving your internal language.  Improving your training system.  1% at a time.  This ‘plussing’ will eventually give you that 10-20% edge in every area that the best business owners have.

So that’s it.  Your ‘all too simple’ way to build a powerhouse business.  So put it into action and reap the same rewards that the industry’s best business have reaped.

Get Started Today, 1% At A Time

fitness business blueprint[Note from Mike] Here is your first step towards 1%.  When I was just starting Champion PT and Performance, I sought out as much information as possible to assure I started in the right direction.  I’m not a fan of making rookie mistakes when I can learn from the mistakes of others.  One of the best resources I discovered was the Fitness Business Blueprint by Pat Rigsby, Eric Cressey, and Mike Robertson.  Even if you aren’t starting a “fitness” business, this is a great resource for physical therapy business.  It is very comprehensive.  It covers everything you need to start a successful business with things like:

  • How Eric Cressey performs his assessments to build his programs
  • How Mike Robertson designs his programs, sessions, and staff meetings
  • How Pat Rigsby identifies his ideal clients and gets them in the door

I asked Pat if he could offer anything special to my readers on this product so they could benefit as much as I did and they responded with a huge discount!  I love being able to help my readers get access to things like this at such a discounted price.  The program is normally $299.95 but they are offering my readers ONLY a special price of $99.95 if you use the link below:

About Pat Rigsby

Pat RigbsyPat Rigsby is the CEO and Co-Owner of the several of the most prominent brands in the fitness industry including the Fitness Consulting Group, Fitness Revolution, Athletic Revolution and the International Youth Conditioning Association. Along with partner Nick Berry and an incredible Team, Pat has helped Fitness Revolution develop into the fastest growing training based franchise in the world and Athletic Revolution develop into the fastest growing youth fitness and sports performance based franchise. Together they have also led the Fitness Consulting Group to becoming the world’s leading business coaching and development organization for fitness professionals and establish the International Youth Conditioning Association as the world’s leading educational organization on the topic of youth fitness & sports performance.

Pat is the author of the only book on the topic of Fitness Business ever to reach #1 Bestseller status, The Little Black Book of Fitness Business Success. He’s also authored or co-authored several other best selling books, is a popular public speaker on the topics of business and marketing and writes the most widely read newsletter on the business of fitness in the industry, reaching over 60,000 fitness professionals.  Learn more about Pat Rigsby here.

5 Things We Can All Learn from Derek Jeter

5 Things We Can All Learn From Derek JeterGrowing up in Boston as a Red Sox fan, I never thought I’d be writing an article about Derek Jeter (we all know that Nomah is bettah than Jettah…).  I think that working in Major League Baseball for so many years and having the opportunity to work with players from every Major League team has made me a bigger fan of the game in general.  (Photo Credit)

Perhaps I’ve lost some of the magic, but I’m just as much of a Yankees fan as I am a fan of the Red Sox and a fan of every other MLB team. 

I’m a fan of an excellent performance.  I’m a fan watching young players blossom.  I’m a fan of watching the game played the right way.  I’m a fan of the players I work with and help become better.  I’m a fan of the game, so I’m a fan of Derek Jeter.

5 Things We Can All Learn from Derek Jeter

As Jeter says his farewell to baseball, it made me think about what we can all learn from his amazing career.  Here are 5 things about Derek Jeter that stand out to me.


There is a big difference between willpower and discipline.  Chris Brogan speaks about this well in his latest book The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth.  People often ask me how I have the time or willpower to contribute to my website, make more programs, own a physical therapy and performance center, and still somehow have a life and family.

As Chris says, it has nothing to do with willpower, it’s all discipline.  Chris says:

“Willpower is when you want to do something different and force yourself to do what you believe is the better choice.”  Discipline is actually working hard to REPEAT the task that you know will make you better.

Do you think Jeter took a lot of days off from batting practice?  Do you think Jeter had donuts for breakfast every morning?  You think Jeter showed up late to the park and was unprepared for the game?


I get it, there are a lot of conflicting interests in this world.  Discipline is crafting your long term vision of what you want out of your life and then making decisions based on this vision.


Honestly, what good is discipline with out consistency?  I would say the two things that impressed me most about Jeter’s career were his discipline and his consistency.

Take a look at Jeter’s career stats over at

Notice a trend here?  There are really no significant dips and jumps in his performance.  Sure there are some years that are better than others, but that is one heck of a consistent career.

To illustrate this, lets compare his rookie year of 1996 to 2012:

  • 1996 – 157 games, .314 batting average, 104 runs, 10 home runs, 78 RBIs, and 14 steals
  • 2012 – 159 games, .316 batting average, 99 runs, 15 home runs, 58 RBIs, and 9 steals

Pretty impressive to be that consistent over 20 years and 2700 games. 

Consistency breads dependability and trust.  We are developing a systemized approach to our model of integrated physical therapy, fitness, and sports performance at Champion Physical Therapy and Performance.  Why?  So we can build a reliable service to our clients with repeatable and predictable results.

Want to get ahead in life?  Focus on consistency.

Lead By Example (Positively)

There are many different kinds of leaders in this world.  There are the loud and vocal leaders, the motivators, the “pump up the crowd” kind of people.  The ones that want the attention and lead to gain the spotlight.  The manic-depressive crowd.

There are also the quite and consistent leaders that lead by example.

Leading isn’t necessarily a good thing, there are many examples of “negative” leaders.  People that are captivating and engaging and actually set the WRONG example!  Like it or not, these are leaders. 

But luckily there are also the “positive” leaders.  The leaders that set the example, that push others just by being so disciplined and consistent. 

In the long run, I’ll take the type of leaders like Jeter, the positive leaders that consistently lead by example.  To me, this is as much educating and motivating, as it is leading.  This is what young professionals need to learn.

And don’t forget, this applies to anyone.  You can lead others in any direction, meaning you do not have to be in a position of authority to be a leader.  John Maxwell has an excellent book on this call The 360 Degree Leader

Don’t Rock the Boat

One of the most interesting things about Jeter to me is how neutral he has stayed on everything throughout his career.  While I’m sure he had plenty of opinions, it’s usually not in anyone’s best interest to blurt them out every night on SportsCenter.

Many of the “guru’s” on the internet should really take this one to heart.  Unfortunately controversy sells.  However, realize we are all probably going to change our opinions and adjust our thought process based on past experiences and knowledge gained.

Don’t be that person that is so definitive in their thought process AND doesn’t mind telling the world about it!  Have an open mind and try to avoid rocking the boat, it always comes back to haunt you!

When you are so vocal about something, you start to focus on defending your stance instead of keeping an open mind.

Treat Everyone the Right Way

One of the sentiments within baseball is that Jeter is a “good guy.”  I’ve had the opportunity to meet Jeter several times.  I’ve seen him walk into the training room of an All-Star game just to introduce himself and say hello to the staff.  Not everyone does that, in fact most don’t.

Baseball has a funny way of changing people.  The players have everything in the world given to them and are treated as rock stars at all times.  Imagine arriving at a hotel at 4:00 AM and having a line of people asking for your autograph as you get off the bus!  It’s hard to stay grounded.

Treating people the right way is the corner stone of any relationship.  You are not a better human or person in this world because you can hit a fastball, or because you have accumulated $275 million dollars over your baseball career.  These may be extreme examples, but it applies to us all.


As we move on today as the first official day in the last 20 years that Derek Jeter is not a professional baseball player, keep these 5 principles in mind.  Yankee fan or not, there are plenty of things we can all learn from Jeter’s amazing career.

One Step Back to Take Two Steps Forward

Lately, I’ve found myself using a certain phrase with many of my clients to emphasize a point I’m trying to make, “sometimes you need to take one step back to take two steps forward.”  I specifically emphasize that this is a lot different than the phrase “two steps forward, one step back,” which often has a negative connotation.

Perhaps it’s our always-on, go-go-go, society that we live in now that wants nothing but progress, but this concept has many meanings to both myself and my clients.  Here are a few ways I incorporate this concept into my training, rehabilitation, and even personal development.


Fitness and Performance Training

As fitness trends continue to evolve and fads come and go, there are always two common complaints that I hear from people in regard to their training programs:

  • I’m not making progress
  • I’m breaking down

Either of these two complaints is enough for me to consider that you may need to take a step back.  These tend to occur when your programming is not individualized based on your own specific needs and goals or when your always focused on “emptying the tank” every session.

workout exhaustion

Assuming you have a well-design strength or performance training program, the error tends to occur by always focusing on pushing the limits and not allowing your body to recover.  If you are training to failure or competing at fitness every day, you have to be conscious of the fact that eventually this breaks down your body.  This is normal, required to make progress, and advantageous, at least when used correctly.  (photo credit)

However, to continue to make long lasting gains and avoid wearing and tearing on your joints and muscles, you need to incorporate some sort of deloading into your programming.  I won’t go deep into the concept of deloading, as other people that are smarter than I am have said it well before.  Here is a great article by Tony Gentilcore on why and how he incorporates deloading into his programming, for example.

When do you need to unload?  It varies based on your training experience, intensity, and frequency.  Rather than standardize a deload period, I have a simple criteria to determine if you need a deload week – are you plateauing your progress or are you breaking down?  Simple.

But realize that deloading does not mean resting.  Our deload periods at Champion take advantage of the time and work on enhancing efficiency and cleaning up movement patterns.

Also note, this concept applies to sports performance training.  If you are 12 years old and long tossing in October to enhance your pitching velocity for next April, you really need to get better advice from someone that understands the concepts of periodization.


Injury Rehabilitation

I’m a big fan of “regen days.”  Often times during injury rehabilitation, people are trying to get back as soon as possible.  For the highly motivated person, like the professional athlete, they often feel like they have to get after the rehab program every day to get back as fast as possible.  I have actually found that this often SLOWS the process down!

As an example, in professional baseball, we play everyday.  Maybe we have 2 or 3 days off a month.  Sunday is usually a day game and getaway day, meaning that we need wake up early, pack our bags, check out of the hotel, play the game, then travel to another city.  I was always a fan of taking Sundays off from rehab in professional baseball, and I was often looked at like I had two heads.

I seriously doubt we are going to make any significant gains on a Sunday morning waking up at 7:00 AM and rehabbing when last night’s game ended at 11:00 PM and you were in bed at 2:00 AM.  We just crushed it all week in rehab, it’s time for a break.  Get some good sleep and take the day off – both physically AND mentally!

That’s just one example.  For the athlete that may be rehabbing daily, I often build my rehab programs with altering variables throughout the week depending on what phase of the program they are currently performing.  For example, I often do a three day split with my baseball players:

  • Day 1 – Strength based
  • Day 2 – Stability based
  • Day 3 – Regen

Again, “regen day” does not mean rest, but I can’t keep taxing the system every day.  During the early phases of rehab, perhaps the first month or two after Tommy John surgery, we don’t need this as the training stimulus is not high enough, but once you start incorporating more advanced exercises and eventually throwing, this concept becomes important.

I always tell my clients – take a step back and you’ll come back twice as ready to go.  By the end of the week, most of my clients are pretty beat down and ready for a nice weekend to recover.  On Monday morning, they are ready to roll again.  This is how you make big gains week-to-week in the rehab process.


Personal Development

studyingLastly, I use this concept all the time in my own personal development.  We’ve all probably been in a place where we felt that the programs we are writing or how we were coaching our athletes was perfect.  And I bet it was.  But it was only perfect for that single day.  As we continue to learn, grow, and develop, I push all of the team at Champion PT and Performance to challenge themselves.  I want them all to look back at a program they wrote several months or years ago and think “I would write that completely different now.”  (Photo credit)

That doesn’t mean that your program was poorly designed before, it means you have evolved your thought process and progressed yourself.

If you are writing the same programs all the time or can look back and your programs a year later are the same as last year, you are better than that.  Take a step back, challenge yourself intellectually, learn something, evolve, and take two giants steps forward.


Taking a step back to take two steps forward doesn’t have to be negative.  It’s still progress.  Consider these tips and incorporate theses concepts into your training, rehabilitation, and personal development.



The Minimum Viable Exercise

I was having a conversation recently with one of the big league baseball pitchers that I work with in the offseason that I thought would be worth sharing.  As we were working on his arm care program and laying out the start of his long toss program, we started to discuss how far he should attempt to throw.  In the past, he had only thrown to somewhere in the 120-180 foot range (kids, take note of this, you can make it to the big leagues by only throwing to 180 feet in the offseason…), but he had been hearing about all the trendy long toss programs that have you throw to 300+ feet.

My reply was a less than convincing, “it depends,” as I strongly feel the need to individualize each pitcher’s programs.  However, I casually reminded him that he threw pretty hard and was already in Major League Baseball.  Not just professional baseball, but he is actually a big leaguer.

“Sure, I throw hard, but what if I could throw harder,” was his response!  I agreed, but stated “OK, but at what consequence.”


The Minimum Viable Product

This led us to the concept of the “minimum viable product.”

Those in the business world have surely heard of the concept of the “minimum viable product.”  A minimum viable product is a product with the least amount of features that can be released.  Think of it as a bare bones product.  In the lean manufacturing business model, this minimum viable product approach has numerous advantages that center around the concept of assessing the product and making adjustments along the way rather than making a huge gamble and finding out you were off base. If you put all your eggs in one basket and the product fails, you are in trouble as you have put considerable time, energy, and money into this product.

minimum viable exercise

Wow, what a parallel between the business world and the rehab and performance world!  We both thrive on assessing and adjusting!  How many times have I said that before (many)!

In the business world this could be the difference between succeeding and going out of business.

In our world, this could be the difference between enhancing performance and creating an injury.


The Minimum Viable Exercise

This is where the “minimum viable exercise” comes into play.  A minimum viable exercises is an exercises that is the least intensive that still elicits the desired effect.  Ok, yes, I just made that up, but that is how I would define minimum viable exercise.

To enhance performance and minimize injury, select an exercise that is the least intensive that still elicits the desired training effect. [Click to Tweet]

Using long toss as the “exercise” example and velocity as our desired “effect,” I would want you to throw as far as you need to increase velocity, and no more.  It isn’t always a “more is better” approach.  I can’t help but think of the classic Jerry Seinfeld joke about maximum strength medications where he states “Give me the maximum strength.  Figure out what will kill me and then back it off a little bit.”

YouTube Preview Image

This concept also applies to throwing with weighted balls, but I would say applies even more to throwing all year round.  Many baseball coaches feel that taking time off from throwing in the offseason is a missed opportunity to improve, despite statistical research showing that injuries increased 5x by pitching for more than 8 months out of the year!  We are often times too far along towards the “maximum strength exercise” rather than the “minimum viable exercise.”

When it comes to our original discussion about long toss distance, there are two ways of implementing.  One would be to simply jump into a long toss program to 300+ feet with the hope of increasing velocity (and not getting injured).  The minimal viable exercise approach would slowly and gradually extend the distance and then reassess.

Did velocity go up?  Could you perform long tossing at that distance with proper mechanics?  Are there any signs that your body can not handle the stress observed at that distance?  Based on this information you can make an accurate adjustment before it is too late, either continue to progress, back down, or be content with your progress and maintain.

The flip side of this is the young athlete that I commonly see that broke down from jumping too fast and performing for the “maximum strength” exercise.  The fine line between risk and reward is razor thin at this point.

You can apply the minimum viable exercise to any aspect of rehabilitation, fitness, and performance training, not just baseball.  I’m just using this in the context of our conversation.  However, I think this minimum viable exercise concept is already being perform more than we may realize.  Imagine you are trying to increase your deadlift, you wouldn’t make a huge jump in weight and risk performing your lift with bad form or getting injured.  Rather, you would make smaller and more gradual gains, then assess and adjust.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying don’t push yourself.  Rather, push yourself but in an intelligent and systematic way.

Don’t get greedy and jump to the maximum strength exercise.  Build intelligent programs that assess and adjust on the way.  This is the minimum viable exercise.

The Most Important Aspect of Any Program

One of the most common questions I get from people when I am speaking at an event is typically something along the lines of “What do you think is the most important part of your XYZ program?”  You can substitute XYZ for just about any topic I am presenting on at the conference.  Here are a few common questions along this theme:

  • “What do you think is the most important part of your postoperative rehabilitation program following rotator cuff repair?”
  • “What do you think is the most important part of your baseball offseason training program?”
  • “What do you think is the most important part of your sport performance enhancement programs?”
  • “What do you think is the most important part of your Little League injury prevention program?”

Many years ago, I would have tried to come up with a specific response, but soon realized that the answer is almost always the same:

It Depends!

This is usually followed up with a look of disappointment from the person that asked the question!  I’ll then explain a few things that it may depend on, however, my message is usually the same.


The Most Important Aspect of Any Program

The most important aspect of any program is individualization.  If you want your programs to be the most effective, safe, and fast as possible, it has to be individualized.

There is nothing worse than having a generic “rotator cuff program,” a “patellofemoral program,” or “performance enhancement program” that you just throw at everyone.  You are destined for mediocre outcomes with this generic approach.

Individualization begins with an assessment process, but it is often more than just individualizing based on physical findings.


Individualization in Rehabilitation Programs

There are many variables that should be taken into consideration for each person rehabilitating from an injury or surgery.  Here is just a short list to get you to think:

  • Patient specific variables – age, health, smoking status, past medical history, activities, sport/work, response to injury, previous injuries, goals, motivation
  • Injury specific variables – structure, tissue, size, location, depth, severity, chronicity, concomitant injuries
  • Surgical specific variables – procedures, specific technique, concomitant procedures, philosophy of physician

This is a just a short list, but something to start the brainstorming process.  Each of these variables can and should alter the rehab program slightly.


Individualization in Fitness and Performance Training Programs

Individualization is just as important in fitness and performance training programs.  Here are just a few things to consider:

  • Fitness specific variables – age, health, past medical history, current fitness level, current physical and functional status, training age, activities, sport/work, previous injuries, goals, motivation, time to invest
  • Sport performance specific variables – All of the above plus – unique demands of sport, position, level of play, timing of training, inseason/offseason

Again, just a short list of variables to consider again, but these are all things that you should consider when individualizing any program.


Integrating an Individualized Program

Eric-Cressey-High-Performance-HandbookI was inspired to write this article because my friend Eric Cressey is releasing his new training program this week, The High Performance Handbook.  I had a chance to review the program and Eric did an awesome job developing a very comprehensive program, but also implement his individualized programs.  I really liked the way this program isn’t completely generic, but rather has the ability to be customized to the individual.

For the fitness and performance people, this program is a no-brainer as you get to see exactly how Eric programs a 4-month program for high performance athletes.

For the rehabilitation people, Eric’s High Performance Handbook is great option for athletes and others with a higher level training history to transition back from an injury after rehabilitation.  I’ll personally be incorporating the program with many of clients.

Here are a few reasons I am pumped up about the new program:

  • Includes 16-weeks of programming from Cressey, these are the same programs used at CP
  • Has a unique assessment to really customize the program for each individual.  This is impressive.
  • You get access to Cressey’s video library of over 200 exercises with Eric giving you his specific coaching cues.  Between this and seeing how Eric writes an individualized program, this is as much a learning resource as it is a training program.
  • I think you could use the program as a great transition from rehab to sports performance in an athlete.
  • The bonus nutrition program from Precision Nutrition’s Brian St. Pierre is a goldmine.  I would buy this section alone!
  • There are additional 3-month programs to follow after the initial 16 weeks designed specifically to help you dominate the squat, deadlift, and bench press.

Special Bonuses If You Buy Today!

Today is the official launch, and Eric has a special price this week only.   Eric is also giving away a bunch of prizes including an all-expenses paid trip to train at Cressey Performance, New Balance Minimus shoes, CP t-shirts, and more.  But, to be eligible for the prizes you need to purchase by the end of the day today (Tuesday).

Click here to learn more about the High Performance Handbook


The Dale Carnegie Approach to Assessments

We are often guilty of making a big mistake when we are performing assessments.  This applies to both rehabilitation and fitness specialists.

Imagine this scenario, your throat hurts so you go see your doctor.  Your doctor takes pride in being thorough and “getting to the root of your dysfunction.”  Over the course of the next 30-minutes you find out you have high blood pressure, are technically obese, maybe pre-diabetic, have psoriasis on your scalp, and maybe even a little athlete’s foot.

Your next question has to be, “but what about my throat?”  Your doctor responds, “Oh it’s nothing, probably a little post-nasal drip from seasonal allergies.”  Do you leave the doctor’s office happy that you don’t have strep throat or are you depressed that your throat is fine but that your health is a ticking time bomb?

Now I am obviously a fan of thoroughness and preventative medicine, however sometimes we are guilty of overloading our clients with everything that is “wrong” with them.  How many times do you think we do this in our professions?

How many times has a shoulder patient come to you and you find 40 things wrong with their arm, spine, and legs?  How many times has a fat loss client come to you and you are focused on their poor rotary stability and shoulder mobility?

The problem with these three scenarios is not your thoroughness or your findings from the assessments, it is with your delivery.  We recently were all guilty of this when we all discussed my article on assessing overhead arm elevation.  We found a lot of flaws but not a lot of positive findings!


The Dale Carnegie Approach to Assessments

dale carnegie approach to assessmentsI started to teach the concept of what I call the Dale Carnegie approach to assessments (If you don’t get the reference, you have some reading to do).  I mentioned this briefly during the lumbopelvic assessment I perform in my Functional Stability Training of the Lower Body program but wanted to expand on this topic.  (photo from Wikipedia)

Here are a couple of key principles of how I implement the Dale Carnegie approach to assessments.


Sandwich The Negatives with Positives

Next time you are assessing someone, try this simple task – start and end with something positive.  Try to avoid just bombarding your client with all their flaws, which is really easy to do.  Let’s be honest, we are trained to see the negatives, and you are probably really good at it, right?  Your assessment should not be about finding everything that is wrong with your client to show off your intelligence.  There need to be some positives as well.

What about someone who really has a lot of flaws?  In this case, perform your thorough assessment, take detailed notes, but try to limit what you share with your client to what is only needed to 1) help them reach their goal, and 2) allow you to perform your job as best as you can.

If you can’t find any positives (you really should…), compliment them on their haircut, new sneakers, or anything else, but find something!

I also try to explain that no one is perfect and talk about some of my own flaws.  This seems to relieve a little tension, but your client is still going to focus on themselves.  So try to give them some positive to shift their focus.


Arouse in the Other Person an Eager Want

A little earlier in this article we mentioned the fat loss client.  My friend Pat Rigsby and I were talking recently and he asked an interesting question, “Do you think someone who comes to you for fat loss really cares about their shoulder mobility?”  This was a pretty great thought.  I think we sometimes get a little caught up in what “we” want to do with our clients instead of what our clients want.

Again, this doesn’t mean to avoid assessing their shoulder mobility, but rather, talk in terms of your clients’ interests.  You need to connect the dots, as Ryan Ketchum likes to say, and help your client see how addressing your assessment findings are going to help them achieve their goals.

Taking this another step, don’t forget more classic Carnegie wisdom by using encouragement and praising any improvement.  This is important for each session and during re-evaluation periods.  If your clients are seeing gains in “their” goals and “your” assessment, they are going to make the correlation.


Next time you have a new client, try using my Dale Carnegie approach to assessments and see what happens – Let me know in the comments below!




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