What Is a PTA Score? I've never heard it used by previous trainers and coaches I've had.
The PTA score is a personal assessment of your "Pain, Torture and Agony." It runs in a Coach Keelor scale from 1-10.
Measuring Your PTA
The PTA score narrative goes something like:
1. Yes, it's a little touchy, but I can barely notice.
2. Yes, a little bit of tenderness.
3. Yes I can feel it.
4. Oh yes, (pause, weak smile). I can feel it especially when I massage the area, ouch!
5. Yes, it hurts especially with movement.
6. Definite soreness!
7. I'm uncomfortable all of the time and I'm pissed off!
8. What the hell did you do to me!
9. I'm not going to go through this ever again! (or) It just never works for me, I must be a loser.
10. I'm calling my lawyer!
This is supposed to be funny. But the serious side is that resistance training in particular can generate serious pain—especially for beginners or anyone who has laid off for a few weeks. Who the hell wants pain?
We've all seen exercise instructors just kicking the crap our to their clients in their first couple of workouts. It's a damn crime! I have served as an expert witness in several court cases on this issue, not to mention the serious injuries caused by poorly trained and unprofessional trainers. Far more frequently, the client just gets discouraged and disgusted so they quit, thinking they're inadequate or that pain is necessary when one wants to shape up.
The PTA score is supposed to sound a little silly, (like Parent, Teachers Association). But an instructors should keep track of the score, especially in the beginning before they get to know how their client responds to the work load. There is a wide range of reactions to exercise. It's very powerful medicine and easy to "overdose." Conversely, if there is no discomfort in early workouts, you need a slightly higher load. Otherwise, you will not make the progress you deserve and want as quickly and can get discouraged.
It's also important to remember that the PTA score is sensitive to a number of variables such as range of motion (ROM) and angle of resistance. Therefore, you might be handling a supine DB bench press with 15 reps of 15 lbs., and just get sore as heck moving to an incline bench with the same reps and sets. Why? Different muscle bundle groups being called into play as prime movers.
You can always go up a few pounds at a time, but if you feel a PTA of 5 or more in early training, you may get discouraged, think you're at fault or inadequate, and hang it up. At the same time, a well-design program includes various angles of resistance in successive programs for fully functional ROM. For example, you might do a supine BB chest press for one program, and move into incline DB flys the next.