We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
But what do people mean by "physical conditioning"? After all, it's a something that most people exercise to maintain or achieve. When people commit to a daily or near-daily exercise program, conditioning is what most people are after. They are in crappy physical condition (sedentary, overweight or underweight, flabby muscles, poor cardio and muscular endurance, low energy, agility, posture, or power, etc).
They are not after mighty muscles, winning marathons, or entering the Crossfit Games. Most people just want to move from a poor or mediocre physical condition to the best condition they can reach given their age, sex, and physical architecture. And, really, people want to look in good condition too instead of looking like they are going to seed, over the hill. That's not a good look to present to the world.
When you see trainers working with clients in the gym, they are usually working towards general conditioning. That's why they do so many varied things in an hour: ball throws, some weights but not too heavy, combat bike sprints, lunges, kettlebell stuff, body weight squats, box jumps, band walks, machine rows, sled pushes and pulls, etc etc. A full mix of good conditioning exercises. Trainers in most gyms rarely have the opportunity do do real training.
The Maggie's Fitness for Life program is basically a general conditioning program - but it can be a general fitness training program if you keep records and graph performance. What can we easily graph? The weights we move, speed and endurance with "cardio", our own weight, and similar. It is difficult to graph out our performance with calisthenics and calisthenics classes, but it's easy to know how many pushups or pullups we can do, or how many kettlebell swings with a given weight.
So I guess my point today is that the Maggie's Fitness for Life Program can easily be turned into a training program by keeping records of most of the components (especially the weights and cardio speed/endurance parts). Oh, also, body weight - some need more weight and muscle, some need less body fat.
What is the Maggie's program? Readers know what it is: 2 days of weight training (powerlifts and accessory weights), 2 days of cardio with HIIT, 2 days of calisthenics/fitness class, and one recovery day of some sort of enjoyable recreational activity after church. This doesn't include most recreational sports, because they do not really count. Recreation is the reward.
I very much appreciate the sharing of knowledge, esp. this type of thing, with which you have so much relevant experience. But, I think it's true that most people don't even exercise. Sometimes I think what those people need is a few simple things to get them going. I belong to a fairly new gym, and you meet people who want to get in shape but just have no clue how to begin, esp, without hurting themselves. Not all of them can hire a trainer (we are not all affluent). I engage with these folks if they seem to want to, but a "basic training" primer would help a lot of people, IMHO.
In the body of your post, you say that trainers have their clients do a variety of things during a training session. Does this imply a variety of movements or a variety of energy systems?
I would argue that many clients and even many trainers get too greedy and try to incorporate too many things in a session. In general, a training session should have a specific goal and be limited to one energy system. This is particularly true as one gets older. Getting greedy - trying to train too many things simultaneously and/or incorporating too much volume - is a recipe for injuries.
I have no problem with people trying to improve themselves in multiple categories (fat loss/body composition, strength, endurance, etc.) - but they need to be trained separately and each session should focus on one goal and each 3-6 week cycle should usually focus on one or two goals. That's not to say that nothing else is trained during that cycle, but that the emphasis is placed on 1-2 goals, i.e. the goal is to keep the goal the goal. If you're working muscular endurance, you can substitute a max strength day every 10 - 20 days depending on your age (ironically, old farts need the more frequent strength days as they lose strength more rapidly).
Instead of trying to accomplish too much, too fast, trainees are better off thinking long term and planning accordingly. You didn't get "out of shape" in two weeks and you sure as hell won't get "in shape" in two weeks.
What do you mean by "conditioning"? It's much like the term "fit". Fit for what? If the goal is to improve multiple areas of "fitness", a useful question is whether it's better to train all areas simultaneously (and equally) or to train in a more "periodized" manner. I think people who use the first approach will have less optimal results because they do more (in terms of intensity and volume) than they can recover from. The concept of minimal effective dose came about for a reason.
And while I sometimes disagree with Mark Rippetoe (more in terms of training than bourbon), we generally agree on this aspect.
> Most people just want to move from a poor or mediocre physical condition to the best condition they can reach given
> their age, sex, and physical architecture.
You need to put in there something about "given a certain level of commitment/effort" because most people (me included) aren't trying to reach the "best" condition we can be in, just the "best" condition we can be in given the ability to commit a certain number of hours a week to it.
William O. B'Livion