In class, it is the coach’s responsibility to guide their members through a safe and effective workout. Most commonly, this involves appropriate loading and the meeting of movement standards. For example, a workout may require unbroken sets of at least ten repetitions. If a member is unable to do so, the load is too heavy. Another workout may include air squats. Is the member getting the hips below the level of the knee? If not, they are not meeting the movement standards. Granted, individual circumstances also need to be taken into account. However, these objective measurements provide the basis for effective coaching.
Just as useful is subjective data. If no objective fault is readily apparent, the coach will often ask the member how they feel during the movement. The execution of the movement may appear technically sound, but the member may feel off balance or be experiencing pain. These subjective measurements help the coach decide if an adjustment or modification is in order. For example, a workout may involve the strict press. During set up, a member in class is performing the movement with sound technique, but is experiencing mild shoulder pain. The coach decides to have the member switch to a dumbbell strict press, which reduces the pain. The coach has used subjective information from the member to make a positive, objective change.
As a member, you too can use your own subjective data objectively. After all, no one else can tell you how you are feeling. Subjective data can help you understand when to push the envelope and when it is time to dial back the knob. It is a powerful tool that can help you make smarter decisions in the gym. So, make sure to listen to the signals your body is giving you!