It’s one thing to tell a client to pace their exercises or workouts properly. It’s another thing entirely for that same client to navigate through training pieces effectively on their own.
Teaching clients to manage their workout pacing to create sustainable and repeatable efforts can be challenging for any coach who lacks the right tools. Despite the challenge, developing this self-awareness and autonomy in clients is incredibly valuable.
The biggest challenges for clients are:
We recognize this challenge, which is why we teach coaches multiple ways they can program to develop their client’s pacing abilities. For this article, we will focus on one effective method, time-dependent training:
What is time-dependent training? Time-dependent training is when a task(s) is performed for a certain period of time. For example:
15 Minute Clock @ 75% Sustained Effort
10 Push Press @35% of 1RM
10 Alternating Lunge
250m Row @ moderate effort
Now that we have defined time-dependant work, let’s discuss how to progress a client through pacing efficiency.
First, start with easier contractions and longer time domains at a slower tempo. Over time, work towards tougher contractions and shorter time domains at a faster cycle rate.
Easy Contractions + Slower Tempo
15 Minute Clock @75% sustained effort
30 Meter Farmer Carry @33% of body weight in each hand
40 Single Unders
Moderate Contractions + Moderate Tempo
12 Minute Clock @80% sustained effort
9 Russian Kettlebell Swings – loads you can complete in unbroken sets
12 Wall Balls – loads you can complete in unbroken sets
Tough Contractions + Faster Tempo
9 Minute Clock @85% sustained effort
6 Clapping Push-Up
8 Cleans @55% of 1RM
10 Cal Assault Bike
Week 1-3: 15 minute clock x 2 sets – easy contractions + slower tempo
Week 4-6: 12 minute clock x 2 sets – easy contractions + moderate tempo
Week 7-9: 9 minute x 2 sets – easy contractions + faster tempo
Week 10-12: 12 minute clock x 2 sets – moderate contractions + slower tempo
Week 17-20: 9 minute clock x 2 sets – moderate contractions + moderate tempo
Week 21-24: 6 minute clock x 3 sets – moderate contractions + faster tempo
Week 25-27: 9 minute clock x 2 sets – tough contractions + slower tempo
Week 28-30: 6 minute clock x 3 sets – tough contractions + moderate tempo
Week 31-33: 3 minute clock x 3 sets – tough contractions + faster tempo
You need to know what exercises a client can perform efficiently in order for time-dependent training to be effective. A client should be in constant motion for the entire time frame prescribed while staying under their muscle endurance threshold.
Establishing contractions and exercise selection will be dictated based upon your initial assessment. An assessment will give you a starting point for working with a client, showing you what areas to prioritize and what is within their current capabilities.
Take the first training example above as a starting point. If a client can complete this at a sustained pace, it means they are making that specific workout aerobic. A coach can use two steps to check for sustainability.
First, measure their intraset repeatability. It is important to see consistency per set to ensure the work stays aerobic.
Clients Results From the 15 Minutes of Work:
Round 1: 2:55
Round 2: 3:05
Round 3: 2:58
Round 4: 3:02
Round 5: 3:00
The results show the work completed challenged the aerobic system while staying under the muscle endurance threshold because of the consistent times for each round.
Secondly, a coach must communicate with the client to gain insight to their experience during the training session. An effective tool is using a scale of measurement of rated perceived exertion (RPE).
Ask this question:
How did you feel on the final round of work on a scale from 1 to 10?
(1 being very easy and 10 being max effort )
This method of measuring intensity is important to consider as the client’s program is progressed. Staying in a moderate range of 5-8 is optimal for aerobic work.
Using these two tools–intraset data and client (RPE)–is simple and measurable, and will guide what to prescribe and how the client will perform in future sessions. Patience is key. Clients need structure and a robust amount of exposure to time-dependent work to be able to effectively pace. In time this method will result it vastly improved pacing abilities for clients.
Learning to pace is a valuable lesson for every client, but the best style of workouts, exercises, and training tools to teach this need to be individualized. Start your education in personalized metabolic conditioning workouts in our free Coach’s Toolkit course.