The APC’s of Movement Assessment for Personal Trainers

I’m sure that by now you’ve learned your ABC’s, but have you learned your APC’s?

I hope so, because they’re the key to making the most out of any new client movement assessment. And, once you learn them, it makes it as easy as 1-2-3 to know exactly which exercises you can and should do with a client right from the jump.

Need a refresher?

Let’s start from the top…

The A’s: Awareness vs. Ability

When assessing how our clients move, we need to differentiate between whether they lack the awareness to do it, or if they lack the ability to do it.

We can determine this by giving them clear and simple coaching that makes them aware of what we’re asking them to do with their body. Often, when made aware, the client will demonstrate exactly what we’re asking for. So, they have the ability to do it, they just didn’t know that was how they should do it. 

Doing a movement screen or assessment and only looking at how someone performs a movement without any coaching can lead to lots of wasted time trying to address a limitation that was never there. Yet, that’s what some assessments and screens recommend.

Instead, if you do make them aware of what you’re looking for by simply asking them to “try it like this” while demonstrating it for them, and they’re unable to do it. You know they currently lack the ability to do it, which gives you better insight of where to go from there.

Here’s a great video that demonstrates me separating ability from awareness in real-time:

The P’s: Pain and Performance

Performance means a client’s ability to perform a given movement.

If someone is able to perform a given movement, it means they currently possess the prerequisite ability to begin loading it or adding some other intensity to it such as doing it explosively. How you go about that will be determined by their current fitness level.

In regards to pain, most people have some aches and pains, from sleeping wrong to a past injury. Having pain doesn’t make someone a “patient.” Nor should it prevent them from doing real exercises that give them a great workout and help them get into better shape. 

Even if our clients have wounded knees, shell-shocked shoulders, or a balky back, you have plenty of options to increase their strength and fitness while taking care of their body.

Both pain and inability to properly perform a given movement means we have to give our client a modification or different variation of the same movement pattern that they can properly perform without pain. This means you have to start them with exercise modifications and variations they can do safely with their current ability that will get them stronger and fitter.

The C’s: Comfort and Control

Strength training is for everyone, but not every strength program is for everyone. This is because exercises are general, but exercisers are individual.

Everyone should do some type of pushing, pulling, lower-body exercises, and core exercises, but it’s about finding the best exercises to fit each client instead of trying to fit clients to exercises.

And to find the best exercise modifications and variations for each client, it must fit the following criteria:

Comfort – The movement is pain free and feels natural to them.

Control – They can execute the proper technique and body positioning.

Some exercises just aren’t right for some people. We all move a bit differently due to our unique skeletal framework and proportions. In addition, injury, loss of cartilage, and natural degenerative processes in joints (like arthritis) can influence how we move. That’s why it’s smartest to adapt exercises based on our client’s ability.

The Best Movement Assessment 

The best movement assessment for personal trainers is the one that gives you a fast and reliable way of finding the APC’s of each client. That way you can get your clients doing the best exercises for their body and goals right away.


If your current assessment isn’t serving you as well as you’d like, then make sure to check out my newly-released Movement Performance Assessment which is the quickest and easiest way to identify exactly what your clients should be doing on day 1.

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Using My Must-Have Programming Charts

Learn how I how I quickly and easily create programs that get results and keep clients coming back for more by downloading my 2 must-have programming charts and watching the included video lesson.

With these two charts, you’ll be able to combine the most important functional movements with isolation exercises for the perfect balance of strength, hypertrophy and performance.

In this video lesson you’ll discover:

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If your goal is to write better programs for your clients and save time while doing so, then you’ll want to sign up for this free lesson!