I’ve seen many people work with personal trainers and not get serious results or make much progress. These people may not be doing exactly what their trainer prescribes. They may not be doing the workouts consistently or following his or her nutrition recommendations. Or the trainer may be giving them workouts that are not very effective.
However, if you hire a trainer for the medium- or long-term, consistently do the workouts that he or she prescribes, and exactly follow his or her nutrition recommendations, then you should be getting results and making progress in the medium- and long-term.
Results and progress are the most important things. They’re more important than good conversation, good laughs, good feelings, etc. People skills or soft skills may be important to some degree, but results and progress are ultimately the most important.
If you’re working with a trainer who seems really “cool” and personable, you’re doing exactly what he or she prescribes, but you’re not making much progress in the medium- or long-term, then you’re wasting your time and money and you should look for a different trainer.
In order to assess your trainer and your progress in the medium- and long-term, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Does your trainer emphasize getting results and making progress? Does he explicitly talk about it? Or does he talk about everything else except getting results and making progress? Is your trainer basically all talk, hype, and image?
2. Can you do more push-ups, pull-ups, chin-ups, and air squats now than when you first started?
3. Have you learned how to properly deadlift, squat, bench press, and overhead press (or push-press), whether it’s with a barbell (BB) or dumbbells (DBs)?
4. Have you made significant progress in terms of the deadlift, squat, bench press, and overhead press (or push-press)?
5. Have you significantly decreased your one-mile run time, 500-meter rowing time, 2000-meter rowing time, or any other cardio benchmark?
6. Is your trainer making you do constantly varied workouts?
If you’re doing constantly varied workouts, then you cannot really make systematic progress since you’re too busy doing constant variety.
In order to make progress, you must be able to measure progress with a benchmark (i.e. something that you do repeatedly). For example, if you deadlift once a week or run one mile once a week, then you can use that as a benchmark to measure progress. If you’re increasing your deadlift by 5lb or 10lb every week (or month) or if you’re decreasing your 1-mile run time every week (or every few weeks or month), then you are in fact making progress.
7. Is your trainer making you do many different variations of the same fundamental movement pattern?
For example, here are different variations of the lunge:
- Front lunge
- Side lunge
- Reverse lunge
- Front lunge with torso twist
- Walking lunge
- Walking lunge with DBs, BB, or medicine ball overhead
- DB walking lunge to curl to shoulder press
- Front DB lunge to balance
- Side DB lunge to balance
- Front DB lunge to balance to overhead press
- Side DB lunge to balance to overhead press
Here are different variations of the push-up:
- Regular push-up
- Decline push-up (feet elevated)
- Wide-grip push-up
- Narrow-grip push-up
- Diamond push-up
- Divebomber push-up
- Clapping push-up
- Hand-release push-up
- Push-up with feet on stability ball (SB)
- Push-up with hands on SB
- Ring push-up
- Push-up with hands on DBs
- Handstand push-up
Now, if you’re constantly doing variations of the same fundamental movement pattern, then you cannot make significant progress in any one variation. You’re too busy doing constant variety to make systematic progress. You’re essentially spreading yourself too thin.
Instead of doing 10 or more variations of push-ups at a time, you should focus on one to three variations at a time, which will allow you to make significant progress in those variations.
Now, if your answers to questions (1)-(5) are mostly “no” and if your answers to questions to (6) and (7) are “yes,” then you should consider getting a different trainer.
In particular, you can sign up for NO-MIND FITNESS monthly programming, which is personalized, systematic, and progressive. It is all about results and progress in the medium- and long-term.