Getting results from personal training should be easy, right? Well, yes and no! Use these tips to really get the most from your training sessions.
The personal trainer is responsible for creating and guiding you on your journey, but ultimately, it is up to YOU to get the results that you are after. Though I love being a running coach, I got my start as a personal trainer, and so I thought it might be helpful to look into this topic a bit more.
Be Clear and Honest About Your Training Goals, Your Training History, and Your Lifestyle
Personal trainers are very good at reading clients, but even so, we aren’t mind readers. If you are in it to lose 10 lbs and you tell us that you walk to work every day, but work happens to be your home office… well, you get the point. Did you stay up all night because your best friend came up to visit? Let us know if you drank a ton, or if you were on your feet all weekend. We might need to come up with a different plan for you for that session, but it is better than getting hurt.
That doesn’t mean just arrive. That means show up ready to work. I understand that we all bring the outside world into our training sessions, and I have no problem with that. But here is the thing: if you want to get results, you have to control what you bring to your workout. That means tabling your fight with your coworker (or throwing that frustration into your efforts) or other issues that have been plaguing you that day, and spend the next 30 minutes to an hour working on YOU.
Show Up EARLY
If you really want to get the most from your personal training session, come early enough to get situated before the scheduled start of your session. Why? To make sure that your shoes are tied, your water bottle is filled, you have gone to the bathroom, you have taken off your jewelry, put your hair back in a ponytail that is satisfactory… but also in order that you can…
Warm Up Before Your Personal Training Session
That is, if you know how to do so properly. Discuss with your trainer, but I like my clients to spend 5-10 minutes bringing up their heart rate and introducing movement to their body. That doesn’t mean doing so all at once: start at an easy walk on the treadmill, increase incline, then decrease incline and increase to a run (just and example). Your trainer will (or should) still structure your session to warm up for the focus of the training session, but get more time for work during your session by leaving that to them and the general warm up to you!
As I said in my post on my number 1 goal as a personal trainer, I want my clients to be self sufficient, but to continue to come back to me because they want more from their workouts and they choose to do so. In order for clients to become self sufficient, they must ask questions: questions about form, to number of reps, to why aren’t we doing this. Asking questions also means asking questions of themselves: why do I not like to do something? Why have I had issues in the past?
A note on nutrition: personal trainers can give general guidelines for nutrition, but by law, we cannot give you specific nutritional advice. For that, we refer you to a dietitian.
Don’t Go Rogue
That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t workout on your own, but ask your personal trainer what they would recommend you do between sessions. The reason that I say this: they might have a progress arc in mind for you (and that includes working certain body parts), so you don’t want to do a chest day of your own and then show up and miss out on having chest day with them.
Do the Work In Between Personal Training Sessions
Just as marathon training isn’t just about the long runs, achieving fitness goals requires you to put in the work in between your training sessions. As I said in the previous tip, ask your trainer what they recommend, even down to what they would prefer you to work on outside of your scheduled personal training sessions–this will let them focus on training you when you are actually there. Another way to think about it: (whether or not I agree with it) in diets there is that concept of a “cheat day,” that day when you relax your diet. Don’t treat your personal training sessions as your “reverse cheat day” when it comes to working out. You can’t do work one day a week and expect results, but even if you workout daily in between sessions, make sure that you are doing the RIGHT work. That means if you are bulking up, skip the cardio.
For Real Results From Your Personal Training Sessions, I Recommend at Least 2x Week
Twice a week is my minimum preferred frequency for my personal training clients, for several reasons:
- Those coming at least 2x week are dedicated to their goals and truly invested in the pursuit of them
- I can use the sessions and set up the workout to compliment one another
- More opportunity to discuss their strategy
- More opportunity to work toward goals, work on form, and develop good habits.
Have Some Freaking Fun! Make a Connection with Your Trainer
Not every pairing is right. Again, the physician analogy: if you don’t trust your doctor, or work with the right doctor (or even in the right field), or you just don’t like going to see your doctor, are you really going to get the most from your relationship with them? Likely not. So you might have to play around a little to find what you need. The right trainer for you will pull the results from you because they know how to work with you, how to help you get there.
Because, yes, personal training in order to reach goals is work, but work can be fun.