“If you cannot teach a lift, don’t use it in your program”                                                                Mike Boyle, Advances in Functional Training.

Teach (Verb) show or explain to (someone) how to do something. Synonyms: educate, instruct, school, tutor, coach, train.

Guess (Verb) to estimate or suppose (something) without sufficient information to be sure of being correct. Synonyms: suppose,imagine,suspect


I’ll start by saying that the comment above is an example of guessing and not teaching and that Yoga certifications exist for a reason. Replace the word Yoga with “TRX” or “Kettlebell” or “Medical/Post-Rehab Exercise” or “Olympic Lifting” and you can begin to see where problems could occur.  “It’s going great”…until it doesn’t.

My definition of “teach” means the following: You as the teacher KNOW the subject,tool or method. Not “know about”,”know it by sight” or “know where to find it on YouTube.”  What you teach is literally and extension of you.


You can perform the exercise in a technically sound manner under a load that represents a challenge. I’ll cut the injured coaches or those with medical conditions some slack, but they’ll need to excel in the other areas in order to teach the material.

Sidenote: I don’t consider Weakness an injury or a medical condition.

The challenging load will vary according to your relative strength. I personally would rather learn to Deadlift from a person that can Deadlift 225lbs exceptionally well than from a person that Deadlifts 500lbs with non-existent form.

For example, I have one athlete with a Deadlift well above 2x my maximum. He also happens to be 200lbs heavier than I am. This didn’t mean I couldn’t help increase his lift total. I’d be behind the eightball if I lacked the experience of knowing what it’s like to strain during the Deadlift.

By gaining personal experience with things you can gain empathy for your clients and the positions you are placing them. You can explain what goes into the lift using simple words, or in the languages of functional anatomy, physics or biomechanics.  I try not sounding like I swallowed a Latin Dictionary when I explain things to people.

Most importantly, you can explain WHY the client is to perform a particular exercise or why it is a good choice/not a good choice for them.

You can work with the person with the inability to touch their toes to the person seeking to build their maximum effort level lift, and perhaps most importantly you can custom fit the exercise per individual Each person has their individual ranges of motions, exercise tolerances, learning curves, learning styles, rates of progression, goal(s),strengths and weaknesses.  Your job is to meet the client where they are and build them up from there.


Consider what it took the learn the alphabet to where you are now.  You had to learn each letter and then the sequence in which they appear.  Later you learned short simple words and then bigger simple words.  Words formed sentences,sentences formed paragraphs, paragraphs formed stories and so on.  You simply can’t go from not knowing your ABC’s to writing the next book of the month and people have been embarrassed by incorrect word usage (including me.)

Training isn’t much different, it has its own  alphabet of motion and the basics form the basis of everything else you do.

You can spot lift flaws and prescribe the appropriate interventions. You continually polish the lifters performance even when confidence and competence has been achieved.

You continually polish your ability to coach.


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