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New challenges face personal trainers as the American population experiences an increase in both physical size and the consequent need for intervention assistance. Although most clients hire certified personal trainers for weight loss purposes reflecting vanity, the reality is the weight situation in the United States is now largely a medical issue, directly and indirectly accounting for 50% of health care costs. In 1990, no single State in the country had an obesity rate above 20%. Sadly in 2010, that number (20%) now represents the obesity rate in the healthiest State – Colorado. Overweight individuals are getting larger and obesity rates are continuing to climb. These rates are likely increasing faster than the predictive data suggests, because the nation uses Body Mass Index (BMI) as a prediction of obesity. New research suggests that the use of BMI as a national predictive measure is underestimating the actual number of obese Americans, but until DEXA scans are placed in physician offices the actual numbers will always be an estimate.
Personal trainers know that flexibility is a vital health related component of fitness closely linked to function and performance that should be integrated into all exercise programs. The modern theory of personal training is to get the skeleton to be structurally efficient, stabilize it effectively, and load it to promote the linkage system. Accordingly, personal trainers should seek to optimize joint alignment and movement as part of an overall health plan for the musculoskeletal system. Unfortunately, range of motion (ROM) activities are not commonly regarded as highly relevant due to the lack of association with vanity and weight management. With no aesthetically visible effects derived from improving flexibility, focus is often displaced to increase efforts toward the removal of adipose tissue or the promotion of lean mass hypertrophy.
Infomercials have driven the popularity of home-based personal training programs. Twenty-minute commercials of testimonials, motivational speeches, and surprising results from seemingly average people inspire general consumers to spend three easy payments of $39.95 (plus $19.95 S&H). These types of programs commonly claim that anyone can reap the rewards of physical activity and see similar results (to the models) in body composition and muscle mass through “special sequences”, “muscle targeting”, or more legitimately significant caloric expenditure from very high volumes of training. These self-implemented personal training systems commonly provide for a variety of exercise programs and activities to be performed over a series of weeks or months. The guidance is a bastardized combination of traditional personal training and group exercise. Furthermore, strategic marketing develops the perception that participants receive expert instruction in the most convenient and safe environment possible; all at a lower cost than hiring a certified personal trainer. The only thing missing is the actual qualified personal trainer.
Hypertrophy refers to an increase in the total mass of a muscle via a collective enlargement of individual muscle fibers. Hypertrophy training therefore aims at increasing the total amount of muscle mass in the body. It is common for male clients to list hypertrophy as a common goal of training, but lifting weights unto itself does not ensure gains in muscle mass. Personal trainers must be well aware of all the factors involved in creating a hypertrophic response and understand the challenges within the time constraints commonly encountered in the profession.
Clients often ask personal trainers what supplements or nutritional modifications might serve to provide the extra edge in attaining their goals. Misconstrued data and anecdotal based supportive claims are commonly encountered when an individual attempts to review supplement usefulness via the internet or other easy-access sources of information. Thus, the personal trainer should be aware that supplement companies are not regulated; company claims founded in “independent research” are not the same as peer reviewed research and the government does not require evidence of the proven efficacy or purity of any dietary supplements and herbs. To protect clients from the marketing of bogus supplement products a personal trainer must become aware of these facts and educate clients on the safety and proper use of them.
It is common for inappropriate or ineffective exercises to be implemented when there is an infatuation with challenging a specific muscle group (through every angle and method possible). The rectus abdominis is one such group. Often exercisers attempt every type of crunch and ab-related exercise to encourage a “six-pack.” In many cases the exercises are hip flexor dominated and actually provide little improvements in the trunk flexors, as seen in the anchored incline sit-ups, leg lifts, and 90 degree hanging knee raises. It is important for personal trainers to recognize these exercises place certain individuals at risk for low back pain and in some cases disc injury.
In the initial segment of this discussion the principle factors of lifestyle modification and pharmacological intervention were identified. As were the key considerations a professional personal trainer should be aware of while working with hypertensive clients. In this section, the recommendations pertaining to the practical exercise programming will be examined.
The personal trainer today will undoubtedly encounter a significant number of hypertensive clients. This is a reality for any trainer working at corporate gyms, community health and wellness centers, and sport performance centers alike, as nearly 1 in every 3 individuals in the United States are hypertensive. Stage one (I) hypertension measures at, or above 140/90 mmHg, whereas Stage two (II) measures, at or above 160/100 mmHg. For the personal trainer, Stage I hypertension means that special or limited activities are used to manage high blood pressure. If a client presents Stage II hypertension the disease necessitates medical referral for pharmacological intervention.