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Triathlon Articles by Local Coaches

Will I get a better workout if I hire a personal trainer?

There has been many studies on this question none more famous than the Ball State University study in Indiana. Researchers put two groups of 10 men through identical 12-week strength-training programs. The groups were evenly matched when they started, and they did the same combination of exercises, the same number of times, with the same amount of rest. At the end of the experiment, one group had gained 32 per cent more upper-body strength and 47 per cent more lower-body strength than the other. No performance-enhancing pills were involved - the only difference was that the more successful group had a personal trainer watching over their workouts.

A good trainer will help you assess your fitness goals, design a safe and effective program to meet those goals and motivate you to put in the necessary work. That said, it is important for a client and trainer to have good communication and trust with goals. A good trainer not only provides assistance with achieving goals they hold themselves accountable for physical reviews. A great trainer checks in with the client on occasion. Asking questions like, "Are we meeting your goals?" "Are you enjoying and satisfied with our training?" "Are the workouts and programs working for you, or should we try something else?" I have found this brings the partnership together as a mutual working relationship. I also think keeping this open line of communication allows clients to participate in their own development.

Sounds like a solid functioning relationship, right? Then why don't we see a lot of trainers practice a client/trainer spot review? I think for 3 reasons.

Fear: What if the trainer asks an open ended question i.e. "Are you enjoying and satisfied with our training?" and the clients comes back with, "No, this is not going well. What are we even doing here?" Yikes. I have advise for the fear doctors out there. Keep small problems small. A consistent practice of spot reviews will treat issues before they blow up into an aggressive response. If you're reading this as a trainer monitor your own reviews. If you are reading this as a client, be upfront if something is uncomfortable, or you are not enjoying the exercise program. I believe a good trainer will adjust.

Time: Most sessions only last an hour, and most trainers want to try and pack all they can into that hour. Take 10 minutes while warming a client up and check in to some feedback.

Interest: Sad to think there are some trainers out there that do not invest interest in their clients. These trainers should be striped of their certifications. If your trainer is not checking in on a regular basis it begs the question; "What are we doing here?" You want a trainer invested in improving themselves as an instructor to provide the most educated and comprehensive training service. You have a choice in who you train with, where, and how. Take advantage.

A spot review with the client is a great way to maintain peak interest for the client, but there are other, less obvious ingredients that successful trainers provide - and a series of recent studies offer some hints about how we can tap into these benefits. The crucial difference between the training of the two groups at Ball State was very simple: By the halfway point of the program, the supervised group was choosing to lift heavier weights. Since both groups started with the same motivation level, it was likely the trainer's presence leading that group to set more ambitious targets. Other studies have consistently found that, left to their own devices, novice weightlifters tend to work out with weights that are less than 50 per cent of their one-repetition maximum, which is too low to stimulate significant gains in strength and muscle size. Even experienced strength trainers often fall into this trap, according to a 2008 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. The latest attempt to address this question comes from researchers at the University of Brasilia in Brazil. They compared two groups of 100 volunteers who undertook a 12-week strength-training program, supervised either by one trainer for every five athletes, or one trainer for every 25 athletes.

The results, display a familiar pattern. The highly supervised group improved their bench press by 16 per cent, while the less supervised group chose lighter weights and improved by only 10 per cent. This is another argument for getting a personal trainer. But the differences from the study in Brazil are more subtle, since both groups had access to a trainer who could provide guidance on proper form and choosing appropriate weights. Instead, motivation and the willingness to tackle ambitious goals seem to be the differentiating factors.

As the studies show, obtaining a personal trainer will help you get where you want go in health and fitness. I would say the number one deterrent for people not to hire a personal trainer is the cost. Most people tend to look at a trainer as a luxury. I believe trainers are quite necessary for proper health, and money should never be a deterrent. Here's why. Look at the money we spend to life our lives, the cost of living. What we pay in gas, junk food, coffee, medical bills, cable bills, car insurance, apple-care (sorry Mac) and hundreds more places our money goes. See if you find $300/month in there somewhere and do what's right for you buy hiring a trainer. You will sell that car, cancel cable, eat the junk, and buy more coffee-But, you are going to be in your body for the rest of your life. Invest in your life.

 

~TriJake