If you’re a gym regular with a decent amount of experience under your belt, chances are that you see and hear things at the gym on a daily basis from trainers that make you cringe. The 40-something soccer mom being forced to do overhead presses on a BOSU, the trainer yelling about the relationship between pain and gain, the coach checking his iPhone while a new client tries to figure out how to stretch.
These things all chap our hides as editors/gym-goers, so we decided to check with some of our experts to see what other suspect trainer behavior is worth taking stock of. Because for the people out there that require a little bit of guidance, great care should be taken that they are kept safe and that they are getting what they’re paying for.
Here are the top 11 signs that your trainer is full of crap.
“Some trainers tell women to avoid weights and just stick to cardio to burn fat,” says actor, coach, and fitness model Mehmet Edipwww.mehmetedip.com. “Wrong! Weight training will only help improve muscle structure and density and an intense workout consisting of supersets or combo moves will only help burn fat better, even after you have completed your workout due to your heart rate still being elevated.”
“You’ve probably heard coaches saying ‘It’s supposed to hurt,’ or ‘no pain no gain,’” says fitness personality Andy McDermott, NASM-CPT. “Man, I hate this. I’ve helped so many people who have told me they had previously quit working out in their first week or two because they had a trainer who went all drill instructor on them and made them so sore. For the average person trying to create good habits and a healthy lifestyle, exercise needs to be fun—not painful! Sure, I encourage some clients to push into the area of discomfort to increase gains at times, but simply put, pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. Take care of your machine!”
“I have two issues with this statement,” says David Sandler, MS, CSCS*D, Director of Science and Education for Isatori. “One, if you are using anything that has a cable attachment, you are still using a machine, even if you have to dictate the movement pattern. But two, if you are in the business of looking good, which everyone at some point is, then isolating muscles and zeroing in on specific patterns is a must. There is no piece of equipment that should be avoided for total development.”
“Using light weights because they are on an unstable surface is a big red flag,” says Sandler. “First an unstable surface is questionable in and of itself but I will let someone else go down that route. But no matter what surface you are on, or which exercise you choose, you need to be working with enough weight to match your goals, whether it be for strength, size, or endurance. Simply doing a movement to do a movement is a waste of time. You need to struggle on those last few reps to make it count.”
“I hear this one all the time,” says Phil Gephart, MS, CSCS, owner of Newport Fit4Lifewww.newportfit4life.com in Orange County, CA. “Yeah, I’m gonna call BS on that one. Less calories means a slower metabolism which means a slower thyroid. If you stabilize your blood sugar then insulin is regulated. Many times people need morecalories (especially women) to experience significant and permanent fat loss. So eat within 45 minutes of waking up, eat every 2.5 to 3 hours and eat protein at every feeding. Without getting too specific and individualized that’s how to burn fat and keep lean muscle.”
A good sign that they’re full of crap doesn’t have to be verbal—it can be visual. “If your trainer can’t keep themselves in at least halfway decent shape then find a new trainer immediately,” says Rob MacIntyrewww.hardnockssouth.com, CSCS, an independent strength and conditioning coach who has worked with WWE stars like John Cena and other top-tier competitive athletes.
“Since there is no best cookie cutter diet for everyone, if someone is telling you what the best is, then it shows their limited knowledge of nutrition,” says MacIntyre. “Sound nutrition advice and guidance is a better method than a trainer who gives everyone the same diet.”