How to decide on targets and questions to ask a trainer.

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How to decide on targets and questions to ask a trainer.

Postby the tree » Tue Jan 10, 2012 3:16 pm UTC

I joined a gym on Saturday (new years cliche, I know), and membership came with one free personal trainer session. I wasn't going to use that free session for a while but a personal trainer approached me yesterday while I was staring at a resistance machine looking confused and before I knew it I had booked that session for this Thursday.

Now the problem is that I have no idea what I actually want from this guy. I am incredibly unfit all round, I'm pretty skinny so weight loss isn't something that I should be thinking about and I think building up my cardio is something I can manage without guidance so strength is probably what I should be asking about.

Generally I never liked PE teachers, I always felt stupid when it was assumed that I should know the rules to some sport or what some language meant so honestly I'm pretty nervous about having a one-on-one with this guy even though he seemed really nice and understanding. What I want to know is, how can make the most of the hour that I've got on Thursday, what should I already know, and how can I decide on what I really want from this?
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Re: How to decide on targets and questions to ask a trainer.

Postby Sytri » Tue Jan 10, 2012 4:03 pm UTC

How weird, I only just quit my gym on Sunday as a new years resolution :)

So, back to topic. Firstly remember that this person is paid to help you, so you will have no silly questions. One question is, is this a one-off meeting that you will never have again or is it a meeting where they'll give you a gym routine to follow and after a certain period of time you go back and re-assess your situation?

If it's the latter then I'd definately suggest you ask them about cardio work as well as strength training as from my experience the cardio they give you will push you more than what you'd naturally give yourself and by the time that gets easy it's time to re-jig your routine and push yourself further. With your strength goals, why do you want to improve them? Do you have a sport that you play occasionally that could beneift from it? Do you just want the muscle-y look?

If it's a one-off meeting, then I'd get them to give you some workouts and ask them about any websites or reading material that would help you once you've reached a plateau.

Also, what I would do is head to the gym today or tomorrow and try out all the machines at least once so you can get a feel for them and whether you like them or not. For myself I dislike the treadmill and bikes but love the rowing machines so my cardio stuff revoled around rowing and some light spin bike work.

That's all I can think off the top of my head. Sorry it's a bit short but I'm sat in work.

Good luck :)
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Re: How to decide on targets and questions to ask a trainer.

Postby philsov » Tue Jan 10, 2012 6:53 pm UTC

First off, odds are it'll be an intro to Training (and sales pitch.) more than a legit hour with the guy. Ya'll'll talk about what your goals are (and it's good to know them beforehand), how often you're able to frequent the gym, how the PT staff is available to help you in terms of either planning or active coaching, and how much the service costs. At least, that's how my "free PT session" was when I joined up a few months ago. I did like 15 minutes of active time with the guy. Even if your goal is to be stronger and be more cardio-adept, don't even mention the cardio in your goal since you can do that later. This'll help the PT focus on the more immediate matter.

There are no ignorant questions at all. I suggest utilizing the time and having the trainer give you an orientation on almost everything they have available and what muscles each machine works, and possibly show you how to do some of the basic compound free weight lifts. There's plenty of literature (I highly, highly recommend Starting Strength) on how to lift, and Youtube university is typically more beneficial than not (cross-reference everything; there's a lot of misinformation, broscience, and bad form instructional vids too), so you might be able to get away without asking about the lifts. But there's no easy manual on many of the machines and while some of them do have pictures basic operation might require an additional step that's good to be edified on. Bring something to write with/on, obviously. Doing this should trump the PT's want/need to actively exercise with you -- there's plenty of time for that later.

The way to get stronger is progressive resistance. If you bench pressed for 30 kg yesterday, bench press 32 kg the next time for the same number of reps/sets. This is also discussed in Starting Strength (and its wiki). You can go for a lot longer than one month on a program if you're progressing, but it's a handy thing the PT might mention to make you keep needing the PT.
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