The Learn to Coach Series: Internal & External Cueing

May 17, 2021

Written in conjunction with Strength Coach Podcast Ep. ###

In our last episode of Learn To Coach, Kevin Carr discussed Client Communication. This week we’re going to discuss how and when it is best to use internal and external cues.

External cueing: a cue that directs the client’s attention away from the body. The cue focuses on the outcome of the movement in relation to the environment.

External cues have proven to be more effective than internal cues when it comes to coaching complex and dynamic movements. For this reason, I try to use as many external cues and analogies as possible when I’m coaching.


  • “Push the floor away from you.”
  • “Jump and try to touch the ceiling.”
  • “Blow out your birthday candles.”
  • “Try to stick the bottom of your foot to the wall behind you.” “Stand up like you’re going to be measured.”
  • “Throw the bar to the sky.”
  • “Line up like you’re on a balance beam.” “Drive the band out.”
  • “Try to break the bar or bell.”

An internal cue directs the client’s attention to body parts and how to move. The cue focuses on the outcome of the movement in relation to the person’s understanding of anatomical terminology and personal body awareness. Internal cues are best used in one-on-one clinical situations. 


  • “Externally rotate your hips.”
  • “Extend your leg behind you.”
  • “Activate your _________. Engage your _________.” “Exhale your ribs down.”
  • “Get your elbows higher.”
  • “Supinate your wrists.”
  • “Engage your lats.”
  • “Shoulders back, chest out.”

There is a time and place for everything, and when it comes to coaching exercises out on the gym floor I prefer to use external cues. Your clients will be more impressed by your ability to be brief and use analogies than by your knowledge of anatomy and muscle actions. Anatomical terms are important for your knowledge as a coach, but your clients don’t care for anatomy lectures.

Know your audience and cue accordingly.

Thank you, Coach Nick Winkelman, for your valuable insights on external cueing.

PS check out for more ideas!


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