If you were to show somebody a picture of an elite marathon runner or an Olympic sprinter and ask which they would prefer to look like, most would choose the sprinter. Unfortunately, many gym-goers strive to look like the sprinter, but train like the marathon runner. Converting these cardio junkies into lifters can be a tricky and arduous road.
The biggest difference between the marathon runner body and the sprinter body is muscle. Plain and simple. The sprinter has stronger, leaner, and more appealing musculature. People want the swoop of the hamstring, the definition in their quads, and a firm round backside. Well, that’s only done by lifting heavy things and heavy heart beating conditioning.
Now first and foremost, heavy is a relative term, and your heavy shouldn’t be the same 2 months into lifting as it is 2 years into lifting. Two major barriers that stop people from strength training are usually that they are afraid that they’ll get bulky (which we all know is a load of crap) and the second is that some of the lifts are “uncomfortable”. The trap bar hurts your hands, we don’t like the 1/2 kneeling position on a hard floor, the bar hurts on hip thrusts and squats, the struggle to get the clips on the bar is real, and the list goes on and on.
There are simple ways to combat these excuses: cut up yoga mats, bleacher seat cushions, and barbell clamps. These may seem like random things, but they will go a long way in the journey of converting the cardio junkie into a strength training fiend.
Cut up yoga mats: Take an old yoga mat, and cut a horizontal strip off of one end, then cut that strip into 1/4ths. This will create grip pads. Simple grip pads will make gripping a barbell, dumbbell, or trap bar much more comfortable. A lot of times, the discomfort of the grip is the determining factor in adding more weight to the bar or even performing the lifts in general. Humans will take the path of least resistance, and this is true for in the weight room as well. It is a very inexpensive way to get people to lift heavier.
Bleacher seat cushions: If you are on a budget like most gym owners, Airex pads are things of folklore and fairy tales. But a cheap bleacher cushion from the dollar store will last long enough and give ample padding for movements like 1/2 kneeling presses, padding for the elbows on body saws, and even help enough for barbell hip thrusts. Spending $20 bucks every couple months for a handful of bleacher seat cushions is much more feasible than $75 for one Airex pad.
Clamps instead of clips: Women tend to have smaller hands, which can cause a lot of trouble if their gym only has traditional clips. Believe it or not, this can be one of the biggest reasons why women are hesitant to use barbells in general. Sometimes it takes both hands to open the clip wide enough to get on the end of the barbell, and then it is even more difficult to get the clip tight enough that the weights are fastened. A clamp instead of a clip will be easier for most, as it should be much easier to get onto the barbell.
The bigger issue may be the fact that a lot of people have no idea what the hell they are supposed to do when training. They have never been taught how to set up the squat rack, or how to properly load up a barbell, or which way the clip should be facing. Never mind, which lifts to perform, in which order, and how to do them safely. As a coach, it is vital that you educate your clients on how to set up and adjust the rack to the correct height, how to safely load and unload a bar, which way to set the clips for the easiest way to put on the clip and take off the clip, and hopefully you’ll work with them long enough that you can educate them on exercise selection, sets/reps schemes and longevity in the weight room.
This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to getting someone to fully commit to strength training, but with these simple tips, you can ease in the transition to getting them to lift more weight and becoming more comfortable strength training.
For more tips, tricks, and advice on training beginner weightlifters, please feel free to send an email to Strebelp@gmail.com.