By Alastair Crews


As trainers, we need to ask ourselves a few questions. Do the exercises or movements we use require a low or high mechanical load? What level of force or load are we looking to add to the bodies of our deconditioned, injured, or beginner clients? Is it appropriate and safe for them, or is there a more appropriate option? When looking at running verses low-impact X-Trainer, for example, the first has a higher mechanical load, whereas the latter holds a lower level.


For a client who is new to exercise, we may initially need to question if it is relevant to target a true high intensity workout. Is it more appropriate that we take a PTAG tool, such as “Gears and Goals”, and spend some time developing our client’s conditioning and exposure to different energy system development? More about Gears and Goals can be found at PTA Global in the Behaviour Change in Exercise course.

Let me provide an example of Gears and Goals:  Start with the Base level of fitness first (Gear 1) before progressing through Endurance (Gear 2). Then, move on to Fitness (Gear 3) before pursuing the Performance and Max Performance levels (Gears 4 & 5). Depending on the client, it may take weeks or months before exposing them to a true authentic HIIT workout and challenging them to complete it. We must also consider that spending time in the high intensity heart rate zones can feel very uncomfortable. So, if the client is new to regular exercise, then associating an unpleasant or negative experience with the act of exercising could potentially increase his/her chances of quitting altogether.


How challenging is the exercise going to be for our clients? Will our client’s require low demand or high demand? Are we asking them to complete a single leg/arm exercise before ensuring they can comfortably execute the same movement with both legs/arms? Is there a high degree of balance, speed, agility, or quickness required? These are all key questions we should ask ourselves.


The speed at which we are asking our clients to move can tend to be challenging, yet still achievable. How much TUT (Time Under Tension) is appropriate for them at that moment in time? How much sequencing, complexity, rhythm, and timing is needed for them to master?

A kettlebell swing is a good example of a movement that requires a higher level of rhythm and timing. It also requires body awareness and technique development. Due to its ballistic nature, a greater risk of injury is present if all the previously mentioned things are not already in place.


The size of your client’s safe movement bubble is influenced by the phase of training, injury and medical considerations, and the level of daily readiness. Consider Movement preference as well as Ability preference. MoStyle is a common term used at PTA-Global which essentially means Movement Style.  The client’s MoStyle may also influence this. A client who tends to favour Progressive or Hybrid styles may naturally gravitate toward more functional 3D movements and may tend to expand and explore more of their 3D movement bubble.

Alastair Crew Alastair Crew is a positive, trustworthy person who loves working in a team environment. As a Fitness Professional, he is passionate about empowering people with the skills to move well & feel better. He currently works as a Group Health & Fitness Support Manager at David Lloyd Clubs and has previously trained for Orange Theory. Alastair is excited about his new role introducing heart rate lead, interval group training to the UK in conjunction with Orange Theory Fitness & David Lloyd Leisure. He supports the Studio Manager with driving pre-open sales and ensures the OTF Personal Trainers are delivering all sessions to the highest standards.