"Movement is often forgotten as a component of fitness, performance, and durability”
- Chris Frankel, TRX Director of Human Performance
One of the key concepts of the TRX Functional Training System is the idea that movement is a “skill.” Just like mastering a language or learning how to drive a car, moving well requires the development of certain skills. To perform any movement requires the acquisition and progression of a certain pattern. Unfortunately in many environments, there is a presumption of base movement skill despite the fact that many people have had no formal teaching or have been instructed how to perform Foundational Movements incorrectly.
In the fitness world, many coaches and athletes have fully bought into the concept of doing as many reps as possible in a given set or over the course of a workout. Despite expert coaches like Brian Mackenzie from Power Speed Endurance introducing a skill-based alternative to quantity-first long distance training, many endurance athletes still believe they must be logging triple digit mileage to be competitive. And fitness trackers often exacerbate the issue, urging us to lift more weight, accumulate more steps, reps and vertical feet, and go harder for longer. Simply put, the fitness community still values quantity above quality. As a result, very little attention is paid to developing a baseline understanding of fundamental human positions and movements before trainers start layering on the additional demands of speed and load. This means that too few clients are proving their competence with static movements like the plank or slow and controlled bodyweight exercises such as push-ups before progressing to more dynamic variations that place a greater strain on their bodies. This often leads to resilience issues and injuries. As coaches and trainers, can get so caught up in doing more, more, more and going all-out that we rarely if ever pause to work on the development of sustainable skills. It’s only when a client breaks down that we realize that something might be wrong and even then, the focus is often on just treating the injury and not its root cause.
To help turn the tide, we’ve combined proven teaching methods with industry best practices to create a set of criteria for all TRX Foundational Movements, which will help you master the skills required to perform and teach them safely and sustainably regardless of what tool you have in your hands. Movement quality must come before movement quantity. This philosophy is at the heart of all TRX Training Courses. Before we start exploring the limits of fitness, performance, strength, endurance, power and other components of fitness and wellness, we must first get your clients moving well. As Functional Movement Screen co-creator Gray Cook rightly says, “Move well, then move often.”
One of the first steps is to recognize that movement is a skill you must practice. It’s not enough to simply tell someone how they should move and what they’re doing right or wrong. Clients need to be able to “see one, do one and teach one.” The ability to educate is honed by the discipline of teaching itself, which provides a valuable, two-way exchange that not only enriches your clients’ understanding and ability to act but also your own as an instructor. As such, both parties are continually learning and you’re better able to scale your coaching practice to clients of all ages and ability levels, in individual and group training settings alike. If an individual can’t meet the basic standards for a loaded movement, then you can scale it back to an unloaded variation or break the movement down into parts before rebuilding it back into the whole exercise. For example, for a client who is struggling with a dip on the TRX Duo Trainer, you could first have them hold the top position of the exercise to enhance stability and then ask them to do negatives that improve motor control. That way, they can start to develop their skill in the context of the dip by better understanding what “right” looks like and feels like. Breaking down movements using the “part to whole” method also empowers clients to know what should be mobile and what should be stable at each stage of a movement.
Such an approach also challenges you as the instructor to improve your communication and cueing. You can first try the kind of movement cues that you’ve heard in TRX Education courses, such as “Hide your ribs” for a press or “Give me some George Washington” during a plank. It’s also important to emphasize correct starting, midpoint and ending positions. Once clients have the individual Foundational Movements down, then you can begin adding reps, speed or load and improving their transitions between exercises.
Every class presents an opportunity for skill development. In the context of TRX Suspension Training, this practical methodology first involves understanding the standards we’ve identified for each of the TRX Foundational Movements. Once you’ve learned these and can demonstrate them so they’re understood by your clients, the key criteria for each exercise can then be used as diagnostic tools to assess the quality virtually any movement and any faults that occur. The ability to teach correct movement is first put into action on the TRX Suspension Trainer (as well as the Rip and Duo Trainers), but should be transferable to other modalities, such as kettlebells, barbells, medicine balls, heavy ropes, and body weight as well.
It’s time to take your TRX Movement-based coaching to the next level, learn to “change the conditions” and correct common faults with the TRX Functional Training Course (FTC).