Lets talk business for a second.
Businesses exist to cater to the needs of their consumers. When they do so, they make money. And who doesn’t love money?
Companies, at least the good ones, are always looking to continually improve and evolve for the better by tweaking systems and daily practices, introducing new products, enhancing their customer service, etc. One of the ways they can judge if a new product, service, or method of doing things is successful is their ROI, or return on investment.
ROI allows you to see if you’re making a profit (gain) compared to what you’re putting into something, or investing.
So if you spend $1,000 improving daily customer service and it ends up bringing in an extra $3,000 per month in revenue, well look at you, you’ve got a good return on your investment.
If you spend $5,000 on an exquisite painting because you think it will attract high earning business professionals to your location but nothing changes, well, that’s a crappy ROI. You wasted money. Just like Phillies season ticket holders last year.
But ROI doesn’t just apply to business or money. You can apply this to almost anything in life… like, oh, I don’t know… training?!
I mean, I don’t write a business blog, now do I?
ROI plays a huge role in your program. And it directly relates to Golden Rule of training:
DO. NO. HARM.
Your main job as a coach is to ensure your clients, athletes, boot campers, or whoever, stay healthy. Injured people can’t train, play, compete, work, enjoy life, or do anything as well as they could if they weren’t hurt. They essentially become a less effective human being. So if you introduce something into their routine that potentially puts them at risk for getting hurt, you my friend, kinda suck as a coach or trainer. If you don’t have a coach or trainer, then its on YOU to weigh out the risks and rewards for every exercise. How you do this is quite simple.
Ready? Take notes children.
If the risk (possible negative outcomes) of performing an exercise outweigh the reward (possible positive outcomes), it doesn’t really make much sense to do that exercise. You are getting a poor ROI with your training.
*From the comfort of his mother’s basement, an internet troll (and coincidentally fitness expert) emerges to address the weak point in my rant so far*
Internet Troll Fitness Guru: “Yes Chris, but ALL exercise is inherently dangerous, especially if done with poor form. As long as you coach all exercises properly, it shouldn’t be a problem.”
Look, a goblet box squat (an exercise that’s almost impossible to mess up) can be dangerous if done like a jackass. But there are still exercises that even if done to perfection….just don’t make sense. Some of these things include….
- Kipping handstand pushups
You’re one tiny slip away from dropping (with the full weight of your body) straight onto your neck and head. Maybe not a huge deal to an athletic individual who can recover quickly, but to the novice who sees this stupid bullshit on the internet, it might be a different story. The risk of this exercise outweighs the benefit in my eyes. Perhaps a nice push press instead? Or barbell jerk?
- Power exercises performed in a fatigued state
This woman is clearly strong, no doubt about that, so kudos to her. But ehh, come rep #3, she’s proving the point I’m about to make.
This category is all the rage nowadays. Snatches until you vomit. Clean and jerks until your eyeballs bleed. 400 box jumps IN A ROOOW. DON’T YOU DARE STOP YOU DAINTY MITTEN WEARING PIGTAIL HAVING TEAT SUCKER (actual excerpts from my last coaching session). Do you know what the definition of power is with regards to training? “To move or travel with great force.” Do you know what decreases significantly when fatigue is introduced? DING DING DING! If you said “power”, you win! And when you can’t produce high amounts of power or speed in an exercise that is designed for just that, you get entertainment at the expense of others.
Internet Troll Fitness Guru: “That can happen to ANYONE at ANYTIME, Chris. And besides, power exercises done in a fatigued state will result in an incredible amount of metabolic disruption causing adaptations for the better.”
Yeeeeeah but ask any physical therapist who their favorite clients are and they’ll tell you it’s people who regularly participate in workouts like that because they’re always rehabbing or recovering from something. This means more money for that PT. Cha-ching!
My point is whatever ‘positive adaptions’ that occur from this type of work, they’ll always be overshadowed by the greater risk involved.
- Unstable surface training
The potential for injury is a huge example of poor ROI for an exercise, but there are other examples as well. For example, unstable surface training may be acceptable in certain rehab settings, but I really want to jam rusty forks in my eyeballs when I see someone squatting on a Bosu ball, or worse, doing arm isolation exercises on it thinking they’re going to see a ton of strength gains. You may be getting better at balancing on a squishy ball (which, by the way, happens all the time in real life. It’s totally functional), but you won’t get much stronger, especially when compared to stable surface training, aka the floor. Getting stronger should ALWAYS be a priority in a training program, and if you’re not trying to get stronger, you need to have your head examined. So in terms of strength gains, unstable surface training has a pretty poor ROI. There is a time and a place for instability in your training program, but mixing it with traditional strength training exercises is not one of them.
These are just the first things that popped into my head, but the list can go on and on. Lots of overhead pressing for an office worker stuck in a flexed posture, advanced plyometric training for untrained middle school female athletes, tire flipping with people who lack adequate mobility, etc.
Just make sure your training program is full of exercise choices and movements with a high return on investment. The rewards should always outweigh the risks. Train smart, stay healthy!