Have you ever heard the phrase “doctors make the worst patients”?
I think that sometimes a similar phrase also applies to personal trainers. At least this personal trainer…
Sure, we know to create programs to address each of our client’s unique goals. We’re well versed in the theories of ‘target heart rate’ and ‘progressive resistance training‘. We’ll earnestly tell you how important it is to go to the gym with a written plan in hand and to schedule your workouts like you do your other health-related appointments. We’ll also remind you that the exercises you like least are often the ones you most need to do (perhaps with the exception of burpees; nobody really NEEDS to do burpees ).
But despite KNOWING how to help people improve their fitness and health, we don’t always take our own advice to heart.
Ever since I came back from the Ultimate Booty Workouts photo shoot, I’ve been wandering aimlessly around the gym.
After an intense focus on exercise and nutrition in the months leading up to the shoot, I found myself without a goal. Sure, I was still exercising (teaching 2-3 group fitness classes each week ensures that I never completely de-condition), but the days that I did head into the weight room, my workouts were lacklustre, low energy and very, very short.
In order to get back on track, I needed my own personal trainer.
Rather than hire somebody else (I tend towards frugality, unless Fluevogs are involved…), I decided to treat myself as if I were my own client (do doctors do this too?). I sat down and filled out the same health history and goal-setting forms that I send to all new clients.
I forced myself to be honest, knowing that my trainer’s job was not to judge, but to make an honest appraisal of my current fitness level and design a program that would help me reach my goals.
This is what ‘she’ came up with. (She’s tough, you know…)
- A switch in focus from almost all lower-body training to body part splits. My body responds very well to this type of training, building muscle and shedding fat as long as I keep upping the weights.
- Two core-focused segments added to the end of days’ 1 and 2 workouts; my lower back has been bothering me occasionally, upon getting up in the mornings and strengthening my abdominals and obliques always helps with this.
- Sticking with two days of lower body training. I used to hate training legs, probably because they take a lot longer to respond to strength training than my arms. What you don’t love to do = what you need to do.
- Limiting strength workouts to a maximum of 24 sets, which typically takes me 30 to 40 minutes. My trainer knows that if she prescribes a longer training session, I’ll skip out before the final set
- Vary reps and sets as follows; Week 1, 3 sets of 10 reps (this is a good baseline setter for me); Week 2, 3 sets of 12 reps (working on increasing endurance and perhaps load for some exercises); Week 3, 3 sets of 8 reps (all exercises get progressed this week); Week 4, 4 sets of 8 reps (perhaps no increase in load, but endurance gets tested); Week 5, de-loading (take a break from this program, engage in active recovery at or away from the gym).
Here are the specifics for my Day 1 program; Days 2 and 3 are similarly laid out, with 4 super-sets of exercises targeting the relevant muscle groups.
Note that this program covers all the elements of a good personal training program. It’s goal-centric, it’s scheduled, the progressions are built in and there’s an end point in sight. All ‘my client’ needs to do is follow the plan. Hee-hee.
[Note that the above program is designed specifically for me, taking my schedule, fitness level, current injuries and strength training goals into consideration. I'm sharing this program here, not because I think YOU should be doing it too, but because several members of my Facebook group were curious as to how I train and what my 4-6 week progressive resistance training cycle looks like.]
Do you work with a personal trainer?
If not, do you (a) create your own month long program, (b) plan your workouts day by day or (c) just wing it when you get to the gym?
Any personal trainers out there who’ve worked with another personal trainer? I’d love to hear about your experience!