T Nation

Is My Personal Trainer Full of Shit?

Hey folks!

So, I just had to complete the MANDATORY personal training session/evaluation at the gym I just switched to. They asked what my goals are. I told them I’m training for USMC Officer Candidate School (training for strength, endurance, and running). He then put me through a workout. To be frank, I think the workout was all over the place. I’d never progressed in a workout this way before. Let me know what you guys think:

Exercise 1: Bench Press
5X3, adding 5lbs each set (reaching a new 3-rep PR, actually, not that he was paying attention)

Exercise 2: Overhead Press Machine
3x15, at an exorbitant weight for which he had to spot me significantly on reps 7-15.

Exercise 3: One-hand TRX pushups
3x6, each arm

Exercise 4: Front Plate Raise
3x15 @25lbs

Exercise 5: SUPERSET of Cable Row AND Cable Rear Delt Flyes
Row 1: 30 reps X 40lbs
Fly 1: 15 reps X 35lbs
Row 2: 30 reps X 50lbs
Fly 2: 15 reps X 25lbs

Exercise 6: SUPERSET of One-arm fixed lat pulldown machine AND fixed front hold
Pulldown 1: 12 x 45lbs each arm
Hold 1: “16 breaths”, holding rails (not handles), 70lbs? (not sure)
Pulldown 2: same as above
Hold 2: same as above

And then we were done. He gave me some valid notes on form and technique, which were accurate and safe by my judgment. But he kept talking about how “this set is for endurance” and “this set is for hypertrophy… well, not hypertrophy…” (doesn’t explain what he means. moves on)

So, what do you guys think? Does this workout make sense to you?

Thank you in advance,

-Jon

EDIT: felt I should also say that he did not “evaluate” me on deadlifts, squats, or leg presses. Nothing low body actually. He also didn’t take into account the exercise I did yesterday, which was (thankfully) not shoulder, chest, or back work.

What was his end goal for this? Was he trying to sell you on some kind of training package? If he isnt listening to the input you give him then he isnt a good trainer. If he just wants to run you through generic workouts then say cya later id just move on. If you are training for OCS you probably know what you need to be doing.

That makes about zero sense to me. I’d have thought he’d have had you hitting some squats, dead lifts, bench (not all of them, but one or two) and pull ups and push ups as well and maybe some sprints or something.

Find another trainer who’ll actually listen to you - if you need one. Is there any way you could ask someone who successfully completed the same USMC training what they did to prepare?

There’s a few USMC vets on here if you want that kind of advice.

Thanks for the responses guys.

Yeah, it seems like he doesn’t know what he was doing. He was probably just trying to sell me on personal training by putting me through a bunch of confusing moves and using esoteric exercise language. Fortunately, due to the information I get from sites like this, I didn’t buy it.

Reflecting on it, I’m pretty confident in my own knowledge of lifting and conditioning – I’m not sure a trainer is what I need if I already have A) goals, B) knowledge to achieve them, and C) motivation.

Thanks again!

curious what a one hand TRX push up is

I sort of improvised on the title of that one. Essentially, I was set up in a traditional push-up position. One hand was on the ground, and the other hand held onto a TRX band handle positioned about 6" off the ground. I proceeded to do push-ups in this set up for 6 reps, and then switched positions so that the other hand was holding the handle. 3x6 each arm with no rest between sets.

There’s nothing wrong with the workout. It just does not specifically target your goals. I wouldn’t blame the trainer too much. Not many people here know how to program for military training either. That workout he took you through looks fine for general strength and bodycomp purposes.

That being said, I’m not from the USMC, but as was mentioned above, there are a few here, so just wait for one of them to give advice.

I wasn’t Marine but I was an Army Infantryman up until 2013. Personally I don’t think your trainer is to cut out to really be helping you at this point at least with your goals. Boot camp us a ton of running not at a blistering pace 7 minute miles to even 8:30 of very long runs, ruck marches in foot battle rattle with 40-60lbs pack, and lots of pull ups, push ups and sit-ups . Also the occasional smoke session with burpees, rifle presses, or god only knows what else.

I don’t know how long you have to get ready but I’ll assume atleast 4 months. Id schedule my training something along these lines. I AM COMPLETELY GUESSING AS TO YOUR CUTTENT LEVEL OF PHYSICAL ABILITY.

Monday- Long Run w/ Moderate Speed start at 2 miles shoot for sub 8 mins do not kill your self but just sub 8 mins. Finish with 2-3 sets of push ups, sit ups and pull ups. Don’t go to fail just shy of. Each week add 1/4-1/2 mile to the distance. May not seem like much but at the end of 4 months thats a possible 10 mile run. Plenty long for boot.

Tuesday: Upper Body Strength
Basic Barbell Movements. Bench Press, OHP, Pull Ups and Rows. Remember your not a powerlifter and being a body builder will not help you get any extra points. Focus on good tech 3-5 sets of 5-10 reps. Simple linear progression pushing for just a little more weight or an extra rep at each session.

Wednesday: HIIT
I prefer running quarters here. Sprint quarter miles as fast as you can keep rest lower than an minute. Start with about 4-6 sprints AFTER A GOOD HALF MILE TO MILE JOG or so to warm up. When your good enough to get all 4 sets at under 90 seconds and your rest below the minute mark add a set and continue I wouldn’t do more than 12 sets total. That’s 3 miles plus warmup at a 6 minute mile pace. Finish with the same situp, push up, pull ups circuit from Monday. Cool down with lunges.

Thursday- off or very slow moderate run and stretching. You don’t get days off in boot so take advantage of the recovery days now. Finish with stretching.

Friday- Upper Body Endurance Day. Focus on dips, pull ups, rope climbs, and the such. Keep reps higher and rest lower here then on strength day.

Saturday- Ruck March and Legs.
Ruck March with a 20lbs pack. Start at 3-4 miles and add 1/2-1 mile and 5lbs each week up to a max of 12 miles and a 70lbs pack. Once you get maxed out I liked to rotate each week.

Week 1- 4 mile ruck march with 35lbs pack tried for 10 minute mile or a very slow jog almost. A lot say don’t run with a ruck but, I enjoyed it and the fastest of the fast and best ruckers I knew did them often. But don’t be an idiot work up to it.

Week 2- 8 mile ruck 55lbs pack tried yo hit a easy 13-14 min mark this is easiest week.

Week 3- 12 mile ruck 75-85lbs and just do it. If you can’t keep atleast a 15 mile pace you need yo lighten the load.

After the ruck we always squat, pushed sled, and did GHRs. May take a while to work up to it but, worked great for me.

Sundays- I suggest taking this day off especially once you get to a much heavier and longer rucks. But if you insist a very slow recovery run and stretching.

Like o said don’t know your level of experience so I am being very general and just trying to help give an idea that worked for me.

Also forgot to mention if you just don’t wanna take the days off swimming is an excellent idea. Zero impact good cardio great for active recovery.

Google and check out the “BUD/S Warning Order” and do that all the way through so you can complete the Category II workout to Week 6 of the Running, Swimming, and PT stuff. You will be an animal among your peers in PT if you can do this entire workout.

If you can do that all the way through you’ll have no problem with OCS, it will probably be a joke actually-- the PT portion at least.

I did this before I enlisted (11 years ago) and went to Parris Island, SOI, etcetera and never had problems. Weight training isn’t really a necessity in my opinion unless you just want to bulk up or get better at lifting weights.

The only thing I think I would throw in, knowing what I know now, would be Farmer’s Carries and pushing/pulling a sled. I feel these would really help someone going into the military. I remember having to carry heavy ass ammo cans for the first time and thinking “Damnit these are so fuckin heavy.” Other than that just get really good at running long distance, doing push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, dips, and swimming.

[quote]Jarvan wrote:
curious what a one hand TRX push up is[/quote]

yeah I was wondering that too

EDIT: my bad, missed the OP’s explanation

[quote]dt79 wrote:
There’s nothing wrong with the workout. It just does not specifically target your goals.[/quote]

It doesn’t come close to addressing your specific goals, it’s probably a set workout he gives to every new client.

[quote]OGrady wrote:
Yeah, it seems like he doesn’t know what he was doing.[/quote]
Even though you hit a PR and he did, by your estimation, give solid advice about technique?

That is the goal of those complimentary sessions you get with new gym memberships.

“Baffle 'em with bullshit” is an unfortunate crutch a lot of trainers will use to try to impress prospective clients. Not saying that’s necessarily what this guy did, but I’ve seen it plenty of times.

Like Dt said, the guy ran you through an upper body workout. In all likelihood, the next session could’ve been all lower body. I don’t necessarily agree with some of the rep ranges he used, but the exercises were diverse enough that he hit all the big movement patterns. Nothing I’d call atrocious or dangerous.

Long story short: No, he’s not full of shit. But I think he, and you, should’ve talked more as the session went on to get a better idea of how he’d approach training for your goals. And in all fairness, like someone said, he might not have had a solid plan off the top of his head. I’d rather he do some research and get back to you instead of trying to wing it.

Everyone could benefit from a trainer, as long as the trainer brings the right experience to the job. And based on the workout you made for yourself in a different thread, I think you still need to read up a bit on how to program for your goals.

Hey OGrady,

USMC Vet here (enlisted Sergeant 2004-2008). Are you looking for input on this routine as it pertains to getting ready for OCS or just in general? I’d be happy to share my experience from an enlisted perspective if you’re looking for the former. I typically scored around a 285 on PFT (old metric never did the new one).

Semper Fi
-Chris

[quote]Evolv wrote:
Google and check out the “BUD/S Warning Order” and do that all the way through so you can complete the Category II workout to Week 6 of the Running, Swimming, and PT stuff. You will be an animal among your peers in PT if you can do this entire workout.

If you can do that all the way through you’ll have no problem with OCS, it will probably be a joke actually-- the PT portion at least.

I did this before I enlisted (11 years ago) and went to Parris Island, SOI, etcetera and never had problems. Weight training isn’t really a necessity in my opinion unless you just want to bulk up or get better at lifting weights.

The only thing I think I would throw in, knowing what I know now, would be Farmer’s Carries and pushing/pulling a sled. I feel these would really help someone going into the military. I remember having to carry heavy ass ammo cans for the first time and thinking “Damnit these are so fuckin heavy.” Other than that just get really good at running long distance, doing push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, dips, and swimming.

[/quote]

Agree with this. Running and calisthenics are clutch for boot camp and swimming will only help especially if you suck at it. You will have to swim qual while you’re there (it’s not difficult to reach lvl 1). Learning to carry stuff (farmers walks) would be helpful too. You spend a lot of time carrying around your rifle (8 pounds if memory serves). I’m not sure how you can prepare for that, but that was one thing that has stuck with me. The chances of you touching a weight are very slim. Master your body weight and quarterdeck yourself (basically a met-con or tabata type training for 2-3 minutes non-stop 5-6 exercises).

You can lift, but it’ll just be excess weight during OCS.

Have fun with pit stops… lol…

Quarterdeck:

Ahh the memories…

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:
Have fun with pit stops… lol…

Quarterdeck:

[/quote]
Oh man, those look like the barracks at the rifle range… We were there and my rack mate was taking a shower and mocking one of our drill instructors and unknowing to him that DI could hear him. So the DI goes in the shower and pulls him out butt naked onto the quarterdeck making him push singing “I wanna be a drill instructor!” with soap suds still on him. Ah man… what a place… the humility…

[quote]OGrady wrote:
I sort of improvised on the title of that one. Essentially, I was set up in a traditional push-up position. One hand was on the ground, and the other hand held onto a TRX band handle positioned about 6" off the ground. I proceeded to do push-ups in this set up for 6 reps, and then switched positions so that the other hand was holding the handle. 3x6 each arm with no rest between sets. [/quote]

dude, trying that tomorrow.

Might be a good idea to practice yelling at top of your lungs “request permission to piss”. Also, practice bladder control. If you develop the right attitude it’ll be challenging fun.