Effective and Responsible Coaching

Hi everyone,

I've had a very busy last two weeks and last week, largely because of some technical issues, I even missed out on putting up an article. With the new job and everything else going on I hope that won't be a reoccurring thing, but I can't make any promises. Even though I'm strapped for time, I do have some pretty great ideas for articles but some will require some pretty deep research so they are literally sitting here on the back end in draft form, taunting me to finish them.

This being said, I really feel like I need to cover this topic today because it truly is very important. I've been wanting to write this for a while now but wasn't really sure how to approach it. I may possibly offend some professionals, criticising their practices. But I guess that comes with forming an opinion and speaking your mind. 

Like the title suggests, I want to cover reasons for why you, as someone who wants to regain health and wellbeing, improve athletic performance or step on stage for a body building comp should be doing your best to track down the right coach for you (for the purposes of the article 'coach' will refer to nutritionist, personal trainer, strength and conditioning coach etc... practitioners). A coach who will practice effective and responsible coaching, ensuring that your wellbeing is the number one priority.

I don't want this to be for clients only. I want this to also be a reminder to coaches, some of who do forget the responsibilities to their clients.

So. First off, lets look at food. Its generally said that 80% of loosing weight or tuning physical fitness is affected by food and nutrition. That may be debatable, but if we take that as gospel then we all should certainly agree that a coaches role when it comes to nutrition is to ensure that their athlete has been recommended adequate amounts for the task at hand. And generally speaking, we're looking at day to day life and at least an hour in the gym, 4 - 6 days a week. So, if our average base metabolic rate is somewhere in the range of 1800 - 2000 kcal a day and the coach is restricting far beyond those amounts, say down to 1000 kcals. This, over an extended period of time will damage the clients metabolism, annihilate athletic performance, and absolutely create a bad relationship with food from a psychological perspective.

Recently, I have seen a bigger push from past 'Women's Figure' competitors (for the uninitiated, thats a category in body building comps) to denounce poor coaching and the side effects of a bad preparatory diet. Some of these side effects may include; a broken metabolism, causing incredible weight gain in a short amount of time (regardless of what food is eaten), shut down of reproductive system, hormone imbalance and shut down of organs. Whats worse is that this is only a short list of things that can happen! A big problem is that a lot of young women are getting into these situations, not knowing any better and just going with what the coach has planned. 

If you are or you know someone who is dieting and are concerned with how much food the coach has prescribed, make sure that they have the qualifications to be doing such work. Not only is it dangerous, but it is severely irresponsible and should not be tolerated.  

If diet and nutrition makes up 80% of our success, then lets assume training makes up the remainder. Training obviously is as varied as diet is. If we are looking at someone who has been working an office job for the last 20 years and has put on a few kilos, we are most definitely not going to be giving that person the same program as someone that has been playing football for the last 5 years and is looking to get some more power behind him.  

The responsibility of a coach when it comes to training should be observing the clients limitations and looking at approaches to improve those barriers, so that the client can further progress. The client then should not only end up reaching their initial goal but eventually choose objectives to further pursue, once successful in their initial goals.

By understanding the clients limitations a coach should be able to find the right balance between pushing for development but abstaining from over working and risking injury to the client. Coaches that know and understand this well get the best results from their clients. 

This brings me to my final point. Rest.

Rest is one of the most important things that we need to do to get our health back. Particularly if we are training hard throughout the week. These days we never seem to stop. Always doing something and often "multi-tasking" (the correct term for what we do is actually known as "task switching") and if not that, we're probably in a rush to get something done to be somewhere else. So if we are in a constant push to get things done our only real time for rest is when we sleep.

On average we require 7 - 8 hours of sleep to get the full benefits and improve our recovery time from all of our hard work. We may get a full nights rest, but getting enough sleep is not enough. We must include at least one "off day" in our weekly routine. Doing this will help relax and recover the body from the week.

An "off day" does not strictly mean that you should not exercise, it's merely a lighter day that will give your body somewhat a break.  You can do some mobility and stretching work, foam rolling, tai chi, yoga. Any of these can be done on an off day and will more than likely do you some good. 

Your coach should be fully supportive of you having an off day, even when your a few weeks out from a comp. Pushing yourself too hard is going to increase cortisol, disrupt sleeping patterns and decrease your chance for success. 

If you're a coach, look after your clients and

If you're a client, make sure you have a good coach, that understands your goals and needs.