One morning, a client showed me an Instagram video of actress Jessica Biel performing a deep single leg squat (or “Pistol”). He said his wife and his sons school advisor began fawning over the feat during a meeting and he wanted to show them he could do one in the future. So, he asked, “Can I train to do one?” Any awesome trainer would have looked the client in the eyes and said, “If you do the hard work, I can get you there!” With that in mind, I solidly looked him in the eyes and said, “Mmmmmm, I don’t think so.”
As a trainer, having a heavy dose of realism and carefully blending it with the role of cheerleader is essential. This creates a reasonable balance. If I’m working with a young athlete on strength training, I need to take him to levels I think he can go physically. I will plan, progressively push, prod and cajole to get him there. On the other hand, I need to pull in the reigns on doing too much, analyzing the ‘risk to benefit’ ratio. When my brother and I were strapping young men, we used to ask ourselves a single question about our workout: “Is this going to be part of a solution or a problem”? When planning our sessions, we understood that suffering an injury would set us back months, or even a lifetime if we were too reckless.
So, when my client asked me about the Jessica Biel pistol squat, I had to respond, well…honestly. To my credit, we did test the waters to see if he could physically get into the position. I had him do a hang-on-for-dear-life repetition. It was not pretty. He agreed immediately. The amount of work it would take to get there was not worth it. Basically, I believed the progression would be stricken with injury and frustration, taking his focus away from his main goals. To his credit, once a week we do a very modified version of it. And we now affectionately call that move, “The Jessica F#<%!ng Biel B!#ch Pistol Squat”!
This year as you move ahead with your workout program, take the time to consider the risks and benefits of everything you do. With so little time to exercise make every second, minute and movement count. And of course, we are always here to be your cheerleader or dreaded realist.