Stop counting reps

Coaching Principle #28

‘A Trainer Counts Your Reps, A Coach Discounts Your excuses’

Martin Rooney

If we are honest with ourselves, we would admit that once upon a time we counted reps too!

What does it really mean to stop counting reps anyways?

Truth be told that as coaches our number one tool is observation. As we learned in ‘Make observation a habit’, to observe is to see more and say less. Now when it becomes time for us to say anything i.e. communicate to our clients, it needs to be as precise and to the point as possible. This brings us to the heart of the subject matter.

To simply count reps diminishes your level of communication and connection with your client. How present are you if you simply rattle of rep 1, rep 2, come on 3 more to go…!?

How about if we explored a new approach to ‘counting reps’?


Let’s say you have assigned 8 repetitions of a squat to a client.

The client begins rep 1 and it looks good. Then the client begins to speed through the movement so you say slow it down, 4 more reps to go…

Then at the 5threp there is a slip in form so you say ‘keep your eyes up’, 2 more to go

Then on the very last rep you say, ‘last rep best rep’

In that scenario was I counting 1 to 8? If you followed the scenario you would notice that I layered in concise cues to get the client back on track, coupled with positive and energetic feedback to keep the client focused to the very end.

There’s a powerful as saying that I came across some years ago and it goes like this:

‘How you do ANYTHING, like the small things is how you do EVERYTHING, such as the bigger things’.

Next time you set up your client or group in a session, do them a service and be alongside them for every rep, every set and most of all ‘stop counting those damn reps’!

Reference: Martin Rooney ‘Rooney Rules’

Keep reaching




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