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You might have heard it before.  I know I have: “Pick up that bar!” “Get back on that bar!”  When you are part of an elite fitness regime, you are expected to give every workout your all.  Coaches like to push their clients harder.  The music, breathing, and clanking of weights is loud, and there’s not a lot of time, so coaches can’t just sit down and reason with their clients:

“You know, you really ought to move a little faster.  It might seem uncomfortable now, and I know you are pushing your metabolism very hard and feel a little sick, but really I think there is some laziness mixed in, a lack of effort, and that is what I want you to overcome right now and get back on that bar to do more of your lifts.”

Special thanks to Ethan and Angry Trainer Fitness for this image.

No, coaches need to yell, and only a few words at a time.

I like being yelled at because I like to try harder.  It’s true, when I workout by myself, I usually spend a lot of time sitting on the ground, waiting for my willpower to overcome my desire for comfort.

There are two types of yelling.  Every coach will have to do the first, and can do it to everybody at any time:

  1. Brief rotational yelling – Everybody knows that coaches need to make the rounds and inspire their clients.  It’s one of the things they’re paid to do.  Rotational yelling involves walking around the box and yelling a single command out to those who are stalled, like “Get back on that bar!”, and then turning away.  It is important that the coach does not stand and watch for too long, or else he/she will be doing yelling type #2, in which case certain guidelines must be followed.
  2. Concentrated yelling – This sort of yelling, unfortunately, does not usually occur until the last couple people are attempting to finish the WOD that everyone else has already completed.  The instructor will then feel inclined to concentrate all efforts on helping the straglers, which means they will usually be yelling at the weaker folk.  This sort of yelling involves standing there, counting their reps out loud, making them feel humiliated when they are gasping for air, ready to puke, and telling them not to stop.  It is the most inspirational, but also the most dangerous.

Here is a list of times you should not use the second type of yelling:

  1. When more reps leads to bad form – Sometimes there are workouts with pretty heavy weight, especially if there are squats involved.  On those workouts, the instructor might yell at someone and tell them to not drop the bar, to finish their set.  The dangerous thing about this is that, when too tired to do a proper front squat, an improper one can still get the job done, i.e. by leaning forward first, then lifting with the lower back.  If you decide to tell a person to do “ten more”, etc., then just keep an eye out for bad form and be ready to say “Drop it! You gotta keep your form!”  It will save their back and make them stronger in the long run.
  2. When going faster makes them puke – Food is expensive, and puking is not enjoyable.  If your client has a ghastly whitish look on their face, maybe it’s not the best time to use your overwhelming presence to force them to do burpees a little faster.  Push them, but have mercy perhaps and turn away so they can take a brief rest.
  3. When it’s a new person, especially a new female (* sexism alert *) – I have been told that females, when gathered together, usually don’t jest and build comradery through insults and criticism in the way that males often do.  They generally like instead to encourage one another with compliments, to talk about the flowers and not the thorns.  This is not always the case, but in general it seems better to learn towards encouraging females positively than to prod them with negativity, especially if they are not yet elite.  The same can be said for any new people, regardless of gender, who have not yet built up the pride of improvement.

I hope these instructions help you coaches a little.  I’m not a coach, but I do represent the common client, and the common client is the one you are coaching, who pays your salaries, and whose lower back gets injured when you make us do too many reps too fast.