Do you need a personal trainer?
The short answer is probably no.
If you’re paying someone to train you as a way to justify the abuse you inflict upon your body on the weekend, well that speaks for itself.
Considering the standard of the average trainer is so low, they offer absolutely nothing to casual gym goers other than expense, and certainly nothing to anyone who is seriously trying to achieve something. Be it body composition or strength gains.
Anyone can go to a gym to lift weights, run on a treadmill or participate in group classes. Why on earth would you part with hard earned money to some inexperienced, out of shape trainer who will probably spend most of the session checking Facebook or perving on all the lycra clad ass wondering around the gym?
Training in it’s simplest form isn’t overly difficult. It’s not complicated. Body builders can do it and they’re some of the dumbest people on the planet. If you’ve got half a brain I’m fairly certain you can figure out: pick it up, put it back down.
Paying someone to stand next to you while they work on their counting from 1 to 10 skills seems a bit silly.
What is extremely concerning is these career mathematicians have discovered how to make the most simple of movements, ie: squatting down and standing up, or even more challenging, bending over and picking something up, damn near impossible to the point that people have to seriously think about how to do a movement they’ve been doing their entire lives instinctively.
Bear with me while I paint a general picture.
Initially when you first go to the gym you’ll need to try really hard to not change in some way. Its nearly impossible to start lifting weights and not have something happen no matter how small the change may be.
Go to the gym often enough and you’ll start to develop a style of training that works for you. You’ll find what you’re good at (chest, shoulders, arms), avoid what you’re bad at (most probably legs) and eventually fall into a groove that results in every workout being largely the same.
At a minimum two to three years will pass and you’ll now be considered an experienced gym goer, though not necessarily a serious one. You can’t be expected to not go out on the weekend and enjoy life! But you know your way around a gym and a bench press. The squat rack still confuses you. People at your gym know who you are. You wear your Animal Pak singlet to train in. Your monthly supplement expenses are bigger than your yearly food bill. You look like you kind of train. You’ve got some shoulders. A bigger chest than the average person. Slight shape to your arms and you’re not overly concerned about your legs because god invented jeans for a reason.
However now you’re in something of a rut. You sit around 15-20% and you’ve never been able to shift that extra fat from your gut. You don’t look like a pro bodybuilder or even a male bikini, excuse me, men’s fitness model despite your best efforts. Training 6 days per week with added cardio, while eating 1800 semi clean calories during the week and then 6000 booze filled dirty calories on Saturday night and barely 200 on Sunday while you recover from last night’s bender, should be enough to have you gracing the covers of Muscular Development or at least Men’s Health! After all, Justin Beiber was on the cover and he has the physique of a prepubescent girl…. only smaller.
You lift heavy too! You’ve progressed all the way to the 30kg dumbbells for db bench press. You used to push 80kg on a flat bench, but that hurt your shoulders too much so you switched to dumbbells because you “feel” it more in your pecs. The other week you maxed out on that 2 plate deadlift for 6 perfect reps. They were so good in fact you swore the hottie in the Lorna Jane leggings was eyeing you as you slowly locked out that last rep. You slammed that sucka back down with authority just to let everyone know whose gym this is!
About now is when you start to wonder if there is anything else you could to improve on what you could only describe as perfection. You start doing some research looking for help. A few Google searches has you on various forums learning about drug cycles, but you’re not really sure if you want to go that route. That’s cheating after all and you don’t want to become one of “those guys”
Then you come across some online trainers.
Online training is huge these days. Everyone is offering their services at the click of a button. It’s beautiful for both sides. From the providers point of view it’s so easy. Create one program and send it to everyone regardless of differing goals, strengths or weaknesses. Make it generic enough that it wont require a great deal of follow up work, but customise it just enough to make the client think they’re getting something unique. Writing their name on the front page is a great touch. Don’t provide too much information though; you don’t want to bog people down with irrelevant numbers such as weights. Just give them the same run of the mill stuff that you copied off the net. 5 days per week. 5 way split. Bench Press – 3 sets of 6/10 reps. Job well done. That will be $200 please. Cha Ching!
From the clients point of view they get to feel as if they’re doing something worthwhile even though they have no real intention of changing their lifestyle to achieve a goal. They’ve contacted a professional for advice. An expert! They’ve paid for a training program which means it’s all aboard the “gainz train!” What’s even better is that because the provider doesn’t actually want measurements they don’t have to be completely honest about how they’re going. No weights were provided so as long as they can do those 3 sets of 10 with any weight, the client is doing their part. They can now post on Facebook, “such n such is the greatest coach ever. The program they wrote me, OMG! I never knew what DOMS were until I did this training. Best workout ever!” #fitlife #strong #fit #strongfitlifestyle
It’s a thief ripping off an idiot.
A few months pass and despite following your “customised” program, once again nothing has happened. You’re no bigger. You’re no leaner. You’ve obviously hit a plateau. Now you decide you need to see someone. No more of this online nonsense. You need to be held accountable!
So you do some more research and find some like me. A Recomp qualified strength coach!
We’re everything you’ve been looking for. Things really are customised to you. The training program is based on weights you lifted in your strength test. The programs actually tell you weights to lift so there’s no more head scratching and saying “WTF am I supposed to lift?” What’s even better is the numbers adjust as you make progress giving you a true indication of how well you’re training. You get a diet built for you by you with foods you want to eat and none of this 6 raisins with 3.5 mini tomatoes crap. Unless you asked for it? You tell me over and over during the assessment how this is everything you’ve been looking for and how no one offers anything like this. When all is said and done I say to you, “so would you like to book in for a session so I can show you how to do this training properly?”
Eventually. You: “No, no I’m good, I’ll be able to do it myself”
Me: “Today you lifted more weight than you’ve ever lifted before. You’re going to be fine doing a 20 rep deadlift set with a new technique and weights you didn’t even know you could lift until 5 minutes ago?”
You: “Yup, I’ll be sweet!”
Me: “Have you ever done a 20 rep deadlift set before?”
You: “No. But I’ll figure it out. If I need some help I’ll look online.”
And off you go with your program and diet.
The problem here is that you have no idea how to train properly to get the most out of this style of training. I’m certainly not saying this is the only way people should train, but I am saying in order for it to be effective you need to learn how to do it correctly.
I can drive a car quickly. That doesn’t mean I can jump in an F1 car and go racing.
Bringing your style of training to a new training system is just going to result in you doing your style of training. We all have a default mode that we revert back to when things get hard. If you’ve never lifted heavy weights, then having to do so for high rep sets isn’t going to happen. If 12 reps is what you consider a high rep leg press set, how exactly are you going to deal with doing 50 with 3 times the weight? Ill tell you how: you’ll lower the weight and defeat the entire purpose of the set. The way in which you execute movements for high rep sets is entirely different to how you do them for low rep sets. The speed changes. How you breathe changes. When you rest and how you rest changes. EVERYTHING changes, and if you’ve never done it before, you don’t just pick up those changes. They need to be taught.
Quite often people will take their new program and start training, only to get injured. They blame the training and say that lifting heavy results in injuries. People stronger than you lift more weight than you and don’t get injured so might I suggest the problem isn’t the training? Getting injured a lot? You’re doing something wrong. You need to be taught how to do it correctly. No style of training, other than Crossfit, should cause frequent injuries. Doing light weight with high reps has just as much chance of breaking something as doing heavy weight with low reps. If what you’re doing is causing injuries, you’re doing it wrong. Disagree? Your injury would suggest otherwise. If you start a new training style with pre-existing injuries and then aggravate them, that’s not the new training styles fault. That’s your fault. Don’t blame the training. Blame yourself for being an idiot!
So this brings me back to the opening question: do you need a personal trainer?
You need a coach.
You need someone who has done what you’re trying to do. You need someone who has done it to a higher level than you thought possible. You need someone who is able to answer every question you have, cover every angle you can think of because they know it from personal experience and not just something they have read in a book, seen on an internet forum or picked up from a weekend course.
Now “coach” seems to have become to buzz word in the fitness industry ever since trainers figured it added a little more credibility to their business. The one legged squat on a bosu ball crowd kind of destroyed the whole “personal trainer” image and the public were justifiably weary of employing the services of anyone who roamed the gym floor with “PERSONAL TRAINER” printed across their back.
Not all coaches are the same.
Don’t be blinded by how many certificates they have or how many courses they’ve completed. There are literally dozens of courses available every weekend held by people who have never done anything of any substance in their own training or in the industry other than tell people they know what they are talking about. It’s very easy to regurgitate information from a study or Poliquin principles but it doesn’t mean you understand it or how to properly implement it’s meaning.
There are nutrition courses being presented by over weight people. They are selling people on the optimal way to eat in order to perform at the highest level when they themselves fail at every corner.
Getting a faux qualification from a unrecognised organisation is just a waste of time. “Joes Gym – Certificate 1. Strength” is worth less than the paper the certificate is printed on.
If I’m going to spend money and a few hours of my time listening to a person tell me how to be better at what I’m doing, that person had better be miles better than me. I don’t particularly care on the paper qualifications they have. Nothing beats real life experience. If I’m going to a seminar on strength then the person presenting needs to be strong. Record setting strong. Anything less and what they say I could probably figure out myself. If I’m going to a nutrition course the presenter better look like they know how to follow a diet and not just eat every food available to them. If they are fat…. come on, do I really need to spell that out?
There are thousands of people offering services, making all kinds of claims about qualifications and how they can help you. There are far less people who out perform all others in their field, but these are the people you should be seeking. Look for the people who won the titles. Look for the people who hold the records. Look for the people who have done extraordinary things. Ignore the people who haven’t done anything.
If you employ average, you get average
If you employ the best, you get the best.
Do you need a personal trainer?
Do you need a coach?