Personal trainers are there to help you reach your exercise goals. They write you up a routine, make sure you're moving in the right direction and motivate you to actually stick with your plan. But are they worth all the money you throw at them? Most people that hire personal trainer wrongly associate the results they see with a trainer's help. The truth is that getting into shape and losing weight is so simple that it's very hard for a trainer (who's been working out and eating healthy for years) to fail. These results excite the client and cause them to buy more and more sessions attributing their success to the trainer rather than the fundamentals: eating less and exercising more.
What does a personal trainer do?
A personal trainer is supposed to be the "expert" at your gym. They're the ones that set you up with a routine, coach you through your workout and make sure that you're pushing yourself beyond your boundaries. Unfortunately they're expensive and don't really do anything. While they're using phrases such as, "push it" or, "you got it, just one more rep", the secret that they'd rather keep from you is that almost any increase in physical activity coupled with a decrease in calorie intake will help you lose weight, look better and improve your overall health. The same goes for combining more calories and lifting weights for gaining muscle.
Save Money, Get Into Shape On Your Own
Getting in shape is pretty easy. All you need to do is increase your physical activity level. There are two types of exercise that you should be engaged in to get into shape: cardio and strength training. Cardio is an activity that gets your heart pumping for a long period of time, 20+ minutes. Examples include running, biking, rowing, playing most sports and circuit training. Strength training is exercise that puts a load on your muscles. Lifting weights and body weight exercises are good examples. You need to incorporate both to have a well rounded routine. Both cardio and strength training should be done 3-5 times per week.
Get Ripped and Lose Weight
'Getting ripped' and 'losing weight' are often treated differently but require the same steps. In both instances, you're trying to get your body to burn fat to either lower your body fat percentage or lose weight. Creating a calorie deficit will accomplish both. When you burn more calories than you eat, you force your body to get energy from sources other than food, typically body fat. When this happens over a long period of time, the result is weight loss and a reduction in your body fat percentage.
Your first step is to figure out how many calories your body burns each day. For help, use the calorie calculator. Next, start monitoring your calorie intake to ensure that you're burning more than you're eating. You can create a calorie deficit in two ways: eat less or exercise more. Increasing the size of your calorie deficit by exercising more usually leads to better results because when you cut your intake drastically, your body will compensate by decreasing its metabolic rate and burning less calories throughout the day. Cut your calories by a 300-400 per day but focus most of your energy on exercising more.
Build Muscle and Gain Weight
Building muscle requires that you combine a calorie surplus with a strength training routine. If you eat more without working out, you'll get fat. Use the calorie calculator to figure out how many calories your body needs each day and eat 500-1,000 calories extra per day. Lift weights 3-5 times per week and you will grow (full body vs. split routine).
Get a free personalized exercise routine for gaining and losing weight.
Monitor Your Progress, Make Adjustments
The biggest job a trainer has is monitoring your progress to ensure you're moving in the right direction. What this means is that they weigh you, keep track of your weights, times, sets, repetitions and adjust your routine accordingly. This might seem like a lot of work but it's pretty simple.
Weighing yourself once per week will help ensure that you're moving in the right direction. Weigh yourself at the same time of day to get the most accurate reading. You also need to keep a workout journal to follow the amount of weight you're lifting and sets/repetitions completed. This will help you in pushing yourself each workout beyond what you accomplished in the previous session.
Increase Your Chances For Success
There are also some ways you can increase your chances of success without a trainer. Write down your goals and how you plan on getting there. If you want to lose weight, put down in writing how much you plan to lose, how you plan on doing it (specifically how much exercise and calorie restriction) and the time frame in which you will accomplish your goal. This will help you figure out whether or not you're actually succeeding. You should also be open to change. If a certain workout isn't exciting you, change it. If you're bored of your diet, find new foods to eat.
A big reason why personal trainers succeed in getting you to the gym each night is because it's hard to say no to another person. Working out on your own allows you to cancel gym sessions easily. You're not letting anyone down. If you want to cancel on a trainer or workout partner, you have to call them and give an excuse. It's a lot harder than simply saying, "I don't want to go to the gym tonight." Finding a workout partner will make you accountable to someone else and make it harder for you to skip out on the gym.
Is a personal trainer right for anyone?
There are personal trainers that are good at what they do, specifically those involved with professional athletes, elderly and the disabled. These trainers went to school for a degree and have studied hard to learn about exercise physiology. Most trainers you find at a local gym did not go to school. Most got certified through quick online courses that mean nothing.