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Personal training

Personal Training 101 - Don't Do This

By Joe Talarico on Jan 27, 2023 10:45:00 AM
4 Minutes Reading Time


In the personal training industry, there are a lot of do’s and don'ts. It’s not particularly hard to get a personal training certification, and because of that, you’ll get a lot of trainers who don’t take the time to actually hone their craft, and just use what worked for them on everyone else. Here are some big mistakes to watch out for.

Push One Size Fits All

A trainer should always be paying attention to the actual needs of each and every client. Cookie cutter is a red flag for a bad trainer. Not every person needs or wants to do bicep curls. A great trainer understands that an assessment should be done first. Understanding the clients limitations, and previous injuries as well as experience are important. A custom workout program should be built for that individual client after the assessment is done. Don’t be afraid to ask your trainer what their plan is to help get you to your goals. If the trainer seems to be giving you general advice, find a new trainer.

Pushing Too Hard

Another mistake bad trainers make is pushing their clients too hard. The client says they want to leave sweating, so the inexperienced trainer lets them dictate the rest of the session. This is a big no-no. The trainer is the expert. He/she should be providing a workout that addresses the goals of that client. Overloading the clients or having them do exercises they aren’t ready for will only lead to injuries and a bad experience. It shows lack of awareness and emotional intelligence. A good trainer will gradually build up the resistance based on the clients skill level.

I’ve seen way too many trainers think just because barbell squats may be the king of exercises, they have ALL their clients do this. No matter the age, they’ll have them doing heavy weight with low reps because they see jacked guys doing it. This is ridiculous. There are plenty of regressions and alternatives that are safer and much more preferred that will elicit the stimulus needed for that client's abilities.

Not Tracking Progress

When I started out as a trainer, it blew my mind that I never saw any of the trainers recording their clients' workouts. I had thought maybe I was just too inexperienced to understand. Years later I would find out nope, it was them. It’s too easy for a trainer to slack off and just make up workouts for all their clients so they can get paid. This is bad. Your trainer should have a plan laid out for you, and be tracking your progress over time. How can you assure you are getting to your goals if they have no way of proving what you’ve done to get there? How do they know how much weight to add relative to last week if it isn’t written down? What gets measured gets improved.

Not Setting Realistic Expectations

Similar to cookie cutter programming, a lot of bad trainers will just think more is better. They try to cram as much as they can in the 60 minute session so they come off as a “good” trainer. This just highlights their ignorance or inexperience. You have to set realistic goals for each client. If a fat loss journey is going to take 3 months, it is on the trainer to set their client up for success. Don’t overpromise and underdeliver. Or worse, the trainer is so eager to look good they try to rush their clients' success to demonstrate value. You can’t rush anyone’s fitness journey. Fat loss or muscle gain takes time. There are no shortcuts, and any good trainer knows this. Good trainers should have an open line of communication with their clients to listen to concerns and feedback. It’s important to establish a trusting relationship with all their clients and be open to make adjustments, and set behavior goals so that the client can focus on adopting new habits, and not quick fixes.

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Joe Talarico

Joe is a certified Precision Nutrition and strength & conditioning coach. He assisted the UCLA Women’s Tennis team in winning their 2014 NCAA Championship Title, as well as study under the great strength coaches at Pepperdine University. He was a collegiate rower at the University of Rhode Island (where he got his Kinesiology degree) as well as an amateur physique competitor. He is currently the master trainer at Upgrade Labs in Santa Monica where he is combining his years of training clients in the gym with newer technology to optimize their performance and recovery. He also cohosts The RelationSH*T Show Podcast with his fiancée where they discuss all relationship topics unfiltered from who pays on dates, to open relationships.

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