It may be tempting to look to what your trainer does to
gain inspiration for your own exercise goals. However, most trainers are
fitness enthusiasts, former or current athletes at some competitive level, or
just plain crazy. A lot of the time what we do for our workouts goes beyond the
norm. But that is because our goals are often different than the average
individual that we train.
Find a goal that is appropriate and reasonable
for you, and that will dictate the frequency (and content) of your workouts. A
certified personal trainer can help guide you to set reasonable goals and track
your progress along the way.
As a side note to personal trainers, be careful
not to give a client a workout that you have done just because it was “a killer
workout”. Unless that client’s goals are similar to yours, he/she has as much
experience as you, and he/she has worked through proper progressions to prepare
for the workout, you should question the benefit of that workout.
Unless your trainer is also a registered dietician or
otherwise has some certification in nutrition counseling, he/she should not be
giving you a food plan. However, as personal trainers, we do stay abreast of
current knowledge in the nutrition field and can give general guidelines for
For example, I advise most of my clients to drink more
water and eat more frequently (starting with a good breakfast). For most people,
focusing on making those two changes will correct a lot of other nutrition
problems. Otherwise, a personal trainer should provide support for diet
modifications that will help a client reach his/her fitness goals.
If you do need further nutrition counseling, ask your
trainer to refer you to a dietician. Most trainers know at least a couple.
3.This Exercise won’t Make my _______ Bigger, will it?
This is a tricky question which is usually preceded by the
statement, “I don’t want to bulk up.” Most of the time, this question comes from
our female clients. The simple answer is, “No.” But the reason is a little
Making a muscle bigger requires adequate stimuli in the
form of weight training. But muscle hypertrophy also depends on appropriate
nutrition, appropriate rest, and appropriate hormones. This last one (hormones)
is what will have the biggest effect on muscle growth. The bottom line is that
females have much lower levels of the hormones (mainly testosterone) needed for
We all want to make certain muscles bigger (we call it
“toning”) and need muscle to drive our metabolism. But unless you do very little
cardiovascular exercise and eat like a bodybuilder, you won’t “get bulky”.
2. How often should I do
The answer to this question varies by person. The main
factors to consider are how much money you can dedicate to training, how much
time you can dedicate, and how motivated you are to do it on your own.
Initially, most people should do at least two personal
training sessions in close proximity to each other. This gives the trainer a
chance to adequately assess you and start to design a program in the first
session. In the second session, you can build on what was done in the first
session and correct any bad form before they become bad habits.
If motivation is an issue for you, you may need to consider
meeting more frequently with a trainer. If you have someone waiting for you at
the gym, and you are paying for it, you will be less likely to stay in bed. I
have had some clients train 4-5 days a week because they knew that that is what
they needed to form a habit. Just make sure that you are realistic with the
amount of time and money that you can commit to personal training. If money is
an issue, you may want to consider doing personal training with a partner or
1. What’s the best Exercise
for ________ (abs, inner thigh, back of the arms, etc.) ?
THERE IS NO SPOT REDUCING. Muscle
and fat are two separate things. By working your inner thighs with the adductor
machine in the gym, you will be doing very little to “slim” your thighs. To get
rid of the fat in any one area of your body, you must decrease your bodyfat all
over your body.
Where you gain or lose body fat the most is pretty much
genetically predetermined. If your mother and father gained weight primarily
around their mid-sections, then you will too (if you do gain weight).
You would have more success
“slimming” your inner thighs by taking the time that you spent doing three sets
of 20 adductions on the machine, and use it to do some high-intensity intervals
on the exercise bike. And of course sound nutrition is a must if you are trying
to lose fat in a particular area.
Now, if you want a “best exercise”
to strengthen or build a particular muscle, then specificity and variety should
be your guide. If you start doing pull-ups now as the best exercise to
strengthen your lats, then they will not be the best exercise four weeks from
One of the greatest functions of our muscles is that they adapt. So you
need to stimulate the muscle with different angles, speeds, resistances,
repetitions, rest time, etc. If you want to strengthen a muscle for a specific
task, the best exercise is going to be the one that improves that task. For
example, if you want to improve your vertical jump, squats may be a good
exercise, but squat jumps would be a better exercise.