Tips for Health/Fitness Professionals for Selecting the ‘‘Best’’ Resistance-Training Exercises for Their Clients
Professor James A. Peterson,

1. Conquer lightweight thoughts and interests. Far too often, individuals who undertake a resistance-training regimen unwisely focus their workout efforts on the unattainable over-development of a particular muscle or muscle group. As such, health/ fitness professionals need to serve as an informational counterweight to their client’s fixation on bulging muscles.

2. Penetrate the sometimes not so thin veneer of ignorance. A key step in determining what exercises should be included in a person’s strength training program is to determine the individual’s reasons for working out. In other words, health/fitness professionals need to identify their client’s perceived personal training goals.

3. Judge for yourself. The next step in the process of selecting resistance-training exercises for a client is to assess the individual’s actual musculoskeletal needs. In reality, a substantial disparity can exist between what a person wants to achieve and what that same individual needs to accomplish in the weight room.

4. Carefully study the situation. Health/fitness professionals should perform an anatomical, biomechanical, and orthopedic analysis of their client’s limitations and capabilities. To a point, the more that is known about a given subject, the more informed a decision that can be made involving that particular matter.

5. Balance analytical findings with key program factors. Health/fitness professionals need to match the information gained from analyzing their client’s needs, limitations, and capabilities with the various factors and parameters that can significantly impact a person’s workout regimen (e.g., accessible equipment, time available to exercise, fitness level, training experience level of the client). Giving due consideration to each key element and the potential impact of one factor or another can help guide the exercise selection process.

6. Identify the choices. Once health/fitness professionals have performed their due diligence with regard to the needs, limitations, capabilities, and circumstances attendant to their clients, their next step is to determine the resistance-training exercise options for those individuals with whom they are working. Not all exercises will be suitable for every individual. The key is to ascertain which exercises are appropriate for a particular person.

7. Find the ‘‘perfect’’ fit. Once the list of possible exercises has been refined for a particular individual, the next step in the process is to decide which exercise choices offer the ‘‘most favorable’’ option (all factors considered) for that person. Unfortunately, no easy-to-apply procedure for making such a decision exists. Rather, on the part of the health/fitness professional, the task requires a judicious mix of professional judgment and a thoughtful dose of subjective insight.

8. Place the emphasis where it belongs. Health/fitness professionals need to ensure that their clients are properly performing each exercise while they are working out. The exerciser’s emphasis should be on adhering to sound form and purposeful function, rather than on racking up relatively meaningless statistics.

9. Observe the outcome. To achieve maximum results from their clients’ efforts, health/fitness professionals should monitor their training results and make whatever adjustments are deemed appropriate in the exercise selection in their workout regimen.

10. Keep an open mind. To paraphrase a common street saying, stuff happens. As such, individuals must be able to respond to their circumstances as they exist - not as they would like them to be. In that regard, health/fitness professionals should approach every situation with an open mind and a ‘‘do whatever has to be done to get it done’’ attitude. If change is necessary, so be it.


James A. Peterson, Ph.D., FACSM, is a freelance writer and consultant in sports medicine. From 1990 until 1995, Dr. Peterson was director of sports medicine with StairMaster. Until that time, he was professor of physical education at the United States Military Academy.