There are three kinds of people who can potentially benefit from a personal trainer. They are:
• People who are new to the gym, who haven’t had any luck reaching their goals in the past
• People who have made good progress already but who have reached a plateau and need help pushing past it to continue improving
• Professional athletes
If you fall into one of these groups, then there’s a good chance you might get use from a trainer. However, this doesn’t mean that you necessarily should get one and you will still need to be very careful choosing one. So let’s take a deeper look…
What Does a Personal Trainer Do?
When you use a personal trainer, they should normally begin with some kind of assessment/consultation. This is important, a PT will need to learn about you as an individual: your goals, your current stats and what kind of training history/diet you’ve had in the past.
This last point is perhaps the most important for the savvy personal trainer. The reason being, that they need to understand how your body responds to training individually. This is especially important, as what works for one person won’t necessarily work for someone else. The effective trainer should know and understand this.
From here, the trainer should help you to devise a training program and diet plan. For this to be done well, it should take into account your current diet/training, as well as your lifestyle, routine and available time. Better yet, the best personal trainers should also be able to adjust your training program as time goes on, as they’ll start to see what works for you and what doesn’t.
The other job of a personal trainer will be to help you then execute that program to reach your goals. For the most part, this means accompanying you to the gym where they can encourage you to stick to workouts while at the same time encouraging you to give it your all and helping you to use correct technique.
As you might imagine, different trainers will approach things differently and some are inevitably going to be better suited to your personality and goals than others. One difference for instance is in the extent of the support your trainer provides. While some personal trainers will go as far as to call you up and encourage you over the phone, others will only be on hand during your set sessions. You get what you pay for, so think about what you need.
The Value of a Personal Trainer
The value you get out of a personal trainer is going to depend largely on the type of goals you have set yourself and the type of training you intend to be doing.
For someone trying to get into shape as a beginner or learner, the value will be largely in creating a plan that will work and then helping them to stick to it. If you have a history of skipping out on workouts, or if you find the plethora of machines and weights available too intimidating, then having a trainer can be a real boon to your training.
For someone more advanced, a lot of the benefit will be teaching technique. Moves like the deadlift require a lot of technique and can add a lot to your progress if you can do them correctly. The same goes for the squat and a lot of other compound/powerlifting style moves.
At the same time, personal trainers can provide advice on how to increase flexibility, they can teach you other more advanced moves and they can help you to break through plateaus. In theory, they should thereby be able to help you not only avoid injury but also see more rapid muscle gains. They can make you a better athlete and this shouldn’t be underestimated.
When NOT to Use a Trainer
On the other hand though, there are also scenarios where you don’t need a trainer and they certainly aren’t for everyone. If you are still making steady gains in the gym, or if you’re just starting out but feel confident that you know what you’re doing, then you won’t necessarily find there’s much to be gained by having a professional leaning over you and shouting encouragement. If you’re a ‘self-starter’, then you are probably perfectly fine to continue motivating yourself.
Make sure that you are completely honest with yourself and that you aren’t just using a personal trainer as a way to procrastinate, or to shift the responsibility for your physical fitness onto someone else. It’s at least worth trying to get yourself into shape before you begin paying someone large amounts of cash to help you do that.
You also shouldn’t expect a personal trainer to be a ‘silver bullet’. You still need to work incredibly hard and you still will only get out of your training what you’re willing to put in.
If you do still decide that a personal trainer is for you though, then you should think hard about choosing the right one. Be advised that there is relatively little regulation in the industry and that it’s not hard to get a ‘qualification’ online in just a few days. Look for recommendations and do your research before you decide on a trainer to go with.