5 Killer Manual Cueing Techniques


What’s up SGT family? Today I want to share the five best hands-on cues to get the quickest possible result for your client. If you’re in a city that doesn’t allow you to touch your clients to correct form, then I’ll apologize now because these five are the bomb. Hands-on cueing is such an integral part of how we coach at CFR, I’m not sure I would know how to train without it.

Different Touches

There are so many different types of touch you can use while training a person. You could use a full hand, one finger, a tap, a scratch, firm pressure, or soft touch. All will get you a different result.

Over the last five years of training, the speed at which I can get a human in correct form has increased exponentially. I credit the confidence to get in there and move someone’s body where I need it without hesitation.

These skills are especially helpful in a large group setting where every second counts.

You will need to practice the accuracy of your touch over time. You don’t want to be poking your people in the stomach or tapping a female client in the chest the wrong way.

Arching my back is awesome!

I don’t know about your world, but almost all of our clients arch their backs and flare their ribs on every exercise, so this first hands-on cue might be the most powerful of them all.

I call it the double push. It consists of both hands: one hand pushing the hips forward and the other hand pushing the ribs down. You will make a C shape with the hand that pushes the ribs down. Firmly and accurately push down the ribs close to the sternum. Encourage your client to exhale as you press which will help guide the ribs into a more internally rotated natural position. Your other hand can be more of an open palm that covers the upper part of the sacrum or the PSIS. You’ll want to use about the same pressure on both hands simultaneously depending on how stiff everything feels and how coachable your client is.

Traps not working?

The second hands-on cue that every trainer in the world should be using is the soft touch to the upper traps. Has anyone ever seen someone who needs more upper trap activation? Not often, right? This touch varies on pressure depending on how neurally responsive your client is. I use fingers spread in the shape of the scapula and guide the traps down gently. I find when you want a muscle to quiet down using a softer touch works extremely well.

Fix that plank!

The third touch is the chest tap when someone in a front plank, side plank, or quadruped position. I’m constantly witnessing shoulder blades poking out and chests and heads dropping forward. I used to put my hands on their backs and say, “come to my hands,” which works sometimes. But, tapping their chest and saying, “get away from my hand,” works way better and faster.

Cueing the low back

The fourth hands-on cue I call the low back scratch. It consists of semi-closed fingers with a light scratching motion to encourage an arched low back to get more neutral. I’ve rarely used just this cue by itself. It’s most effective when coupling the verbal cue “give me less curve here” as you scratch the back.

The hands off, hands on, cue

And the last hands-on cue isn’t really hands-on after all. This is such a crucial move that can be used on many different body parts. It’s so easy to do that you can be rockin’ this one right away. It’s simply saying the words “bring your (blank) body part to my hand”. If a knee is caving in, set your hand next to the knee and say “bring your knee to my hand”. If someone is slouching, put your hand above their head and say “get tall.”

I hope you enjoyed these cues because there are endless more in countless configurations. The key is confidence and practice. Even if you don’t know exactly what you are doing, your clients will appreciate the fact that you care enough to try. If you’re not giving everything you’ve got on every session then you are doing your clients a disservice. SGT represent!

By: Dave Wilton