I recently completed a TRX training (future blog post) and near the end of the training one of my co-workers asked the instructor @CaseyStutzman if he used a particular exercise (known as a burpee within the suspension trainer). The specific exercise she was asking about is extremely demanding and requires a high level of strength, endurance, motor control and skill. It’s the type of exercise I would not even consider with most of the population I work with. As I was thinking in my head, “Not unless they have shown me they are capable”, I was happy to hear Casey say, “I make my clients earn that exercise.”
What a breath of fresh air. It is all too often that I see professionals trying to find exercises that are “hard” or “cool” but are not applying the basic exercise science principle of progression. They don’t start their clients or patients at the appropriate level of exercises – which includes them displaying perfect form – and then have them progress through a continuum of exercises before throwing them a highly challenging movement.
I have seen this so often I have developed a basic scale that I use for myself as well as for those who I am developing as future professionals. I encourage everyone to have their client “graduate” or “earn” the next level of challenge by demonstrating perfect form and the strength, ability, and confidence to advance to a new level of challenge.
Level I: non-weight bearing, no external weight or load; geared towards teaching moving patterns and building range of motion; focus on posture by engaging and stabilizing core (not just abs!)
Level II: partial or full-weight bearing with minimal external weight or load – possibly beginning to use body weight for some resistance; usually through a single plane of motion; build on posture and core stabilization and strengthening
Level III: full-weight bearing with the addition of some external weight or challenge; begin to move through more than one plane of motion possibly adding compound joint movements; continue to build and challenge hips, glutes, low back and other important core and posture muscles; possibly introduce some balance challenges
Level IV: full weight bearing with external weight or challenge; begin to progress balance challenges with full-body exercises that are functional (what I like to call practical) exercises that continue to build and challenge the core foundational muscles
Level V: for those who are pursuing a specific, more performance based skill set; these are usually full-body, multi-joint exercises that also have an element of improving things like speed, agility, flexibility, reaction time, etc.
I will leave you with a clip of an overview of what TRX is because in it you will see a clip of someone doing the very exercise my co-worker asked about (a burpee in the TRX suspension trainer). IT’S DREW BREES! I’m pretty sure he’s earned the right and demonstrated the ability to perform the exercise!