Matthew Cain, PhD by Matthew Cain, PhD
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As a health and exercise professional, your responsibilities include improving a client’s movement effectiveness and efficiency, while enhancing his or her self-efficacy (as it relates to movement) over time. However, when training a novice or beginner, his or her self-efficacy for exercise most likely will be lower than those who are more experienced with exercise. New exercisers also may feel intimidated performing resistance training in a setting where more experienced individuals are also working out. For these reasons, it’s important to consider each client’s degree of self-efficacy and how the training environment or setting may impact this variable.

While there are countless exercises you might choose to achieve these goals, the following guidelines can help you select the most appropriate exercises for these clients:

  • Select exercises that are simple to comprehend yet can be physically challenging.
  • Start with low-level exercises and progress, rather than starting with the most complex exercises (e.g., begin with a hip bridge before having your client perform hip thrusts).
  • Remember that less is more, as the goal is to challenge beginners, while improving their self-efficacy and confidence for exercise.
  • Create a routine in which the same exercises can be utilized as often as possible as the client progresses throughout training. However, the application of the exercise should be modifiable.

How to Apply the Guidelines

First, select an exercise that could always be a part of your client’s warm-up routine. For example, a core and pelvic stabilization exercise may be a part of a warm-up, as multiple regressions and progressions can be used. For example, the birddog exercise can improve core and trunk strength and stability, while addressing lower-back pain.

The back row and hip bridge exercises also are recommended for beginners, as both develop the posterior chain and are simple to perform (in comparison to other exercises). In addition, many beginners may not be aware of how to effectively engage the muscles of the posterior chain. This may be due to being physically inactive in combination with prolonged sedentary behaviors, and may be accompanied by low-back pain. In addition, multiple regressions and progressions can be associated with these two posterior-chain exercises.

Finally, select an exercise that could always be a part of your client’s cool-down routine. Selecting a recovery breathing exercise benefits all clients, as it will aid in recovery and bring the client to a pre-exercising state after training.

From the warm-up to the workout to the cool-down, exercises selected for beginners should be simple to master, yet also provide a sufficient challenge to keep the client engaged and progressing over time. In addition, these exercises should have multiple regressions and progressions, so it will meet the unique needs of each individual. And finally, aim to create an environment that allows clients to feel increasingly confident in their ability to exercise and stay physically active.

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