T Nation

Personal Trainers


In Muscle and Fatness this month, there is an excellent article about personal trainers, specifically the fact that most of them are dreadfully underqualified, uneducated, and ill-prepared. The article even lists some cases (admittedly anecdotal) of trainers seriously injuring or even contributing (greatly) to the deaths of their clients.

Anyone else check it out?

And...what's the most god-awful thing you've ever seen a PT putting some poor bastard through?

First entry: Not horrendous, but just massively irritating...

Today I had to wait to deadlift while a PT put his client through four sets on the squat rack. Who wants to guess what exercise? I'll give you a hint: it rhymes with "barbell curls". Actually, it rhymes with "barbell cheat curls with no fucking weight on the bar for the first two sets."


At the gym I have been going to for 8 years we used to have a trainer I named "earth worm Jim". He was as thick and wise as an earthworm and always ran around like he was cracked up. The funniest thing I witnessed him do was with a father and son newbie duo on the lat pulldown. He had them doing way to much weight, so much so they couldn't get it down. My genius wisdom says lower the weight. what does earthworm do? Jumps up grabs the bar and pulls it down, not once, but for a good 8 reps. With the same father son I also witnessed him "assist" them with curls. He had these chubby newbies with the cambered bar and a 35 on each side. When they can't get the weight up what does he do? drops to a knee and does an overhead press. Needless to say the father and son never came back after the second session. As for "earthworm" he was canned after numerous complaints by the serious lifters as to all the damage he was doing to these new lifters.


my favourite is 500lb quarter squats in the smith machine (it was a juiced up retard doing them, the trainer was just encouraging him).

But in general the most annoying is just smith machine squats, you watch these people completely leaning into the bar, totally neglecting their posterior chain, and this is exactly what the trainers at my gym tell them to do!


There is a guy named David Gluhareff, a certified personal trainer, through the International Sports Sciences Association. He writes for a very popular website.

Some of the advise he gives makes me laugh, but at the same time I fear for his clients. His latest is this.

"Serious 4 Week Mass Routine"

"Warning! This plan is for advanced lifters only!"

Meal One:
Healthy cereal then multi-vitamin/mineral or

Meal Two:
Lean meat (chicken, tuna, turkey, or turkey burger) and green veggies or green salad and complex carb (two slices whole grain bread, sweet potato, or brown rice)

Meal Three:
Handful of raw almonds, walnuts, or pecans and an apple or pear

Meal Four:
(dinner) lean white meat or fish (not fried) w/green veggies or green salad

Meal Five:
CarbRite Bar or Specialized Protein shake

Keep in mind that this is a "Mass Routine". I really only see 2 meals there, with some snacks in between. And, cereal for breakfast. Come On!

His training is in depth, and includes concentration curls, dumbbell squats, pushups, and cable work. Nothing fancy, just 3 sets of 6-8 reps.



I'm not a personal trainer, but the worst thing I ever did to a guy was on his first workout I used a 4,4,4 som. for a whole upper body superset workout, doing 3 sets of 12 per movement for bench, seated rows, inclined bench, lat pulldowns, tricep presses, curls, and finished with deltoid raises.
Truth is I wanted to beat his ass and just figured it would be better if he did it himself.
Of course I also gave him a big heaping teaspoon of creatine so he could shit himself silly before the severe doms set in.
That one still gives me the giggles.


Man mindeffer01, with friends like you, who needs enemies!!!


I think the magazine you read it in is Mens Health, unless Muscle & Fitness is running an identical article, as I just read that article in Mens Health today at my gym.

Anyway, along with managing the gym, I do personal training as well, and actually consider myself qualified: Masters Degree in Kinesiology from PSU, CSCS & NASM certified. Being a trainer that actually knows what he's doing, I can attest that the other 95% of them have no clue.

Take my first place of employment for example, a personal training studio in State College. This place is all about "functional training", which to them means this: swiss balls, bands, and no dumbbells over 25. I kid you not.

I once took on a client there, a healthy 17 year old ice hockey player, and had him do a deadlift with an empty olympic bar, just to show him proper form for the lift. This was quickly followed by the owner of the facility threatening to fire me for having my client do such a "recklessly dangerous" exercise. Yes, a 45 pound deadlift, terrifying indeed. Needless to say, I didn't stay at that place long...


You're right: it was Men's Health. I just like saying Muscle and Fatness. Didn't have the mag on hand, since I read it for free at Barnes and Nobles.


Personal favorite exercise to view:

Stand on a bozo ball while simultaneously lateral raising a db and db supinated curl for 65 "funkshway" reps. Compound set with toe touches and standing twists.

That is an all-time great one. Add it to you program NOW!!!

Functional is Fun,


Muscle & Fitness is an absolute joke...no practical, real-world/real results training info. I actually have much more respect for mags like Men's Health and Men's Fitness. Both of them regularly reference strength coaches, like Poliquin, Ian King, Alwyn Cosgrove. Hell, Dave Tate is on the Men's Fitness advisory board. Both also routinely have articles that tout the merits of compound lifts as well, something you'd be hard pressed to find in M&F or any of the other rags. "Oh, I see, if I do super heavy dumbbell flyes like Jay Cutler, I can look like him!" So fucking sad.


I think I've mentioned before, about the first gym I worked with. The "head trainer" was fond of telling the other trainers that "I have all my clients do Functional Training whether they want to or not." Hardcore J.C. Santana stuff like kneeling atop a Swiss Ball for time, and 1-legged twisting resistance band nose-pickers, or something like that.

I guess the jokes on us though, people bought into the fad, and he had a consistent 50-60 clients a week. Granted, I worked there for 2 years, and never saw any changes in them, but at least his wallet got fat.


Hey, have you ever done these? Before you go being so critical, maybe you should try 'em! The burn is unbelievable...


I agree.. I'm a trainer / strength coach... Most trainers don't know what the fuck is going on half the time Which makes it better for guys like us. Bring on the business...


Don't you mean enemas?


I saw a guy demonstrating chest flyes on swiss balls. But not how you might imagine. He had two swiss balls side by side and put his forearms on them, palms down. He put his feet up on another swiss ball and lowered his chest and did kind of like a pec deck movement...all on 3 swiss balls! ahaha


I dislocated my entire set of vertabra doing those one legged nose pickers. The resulting spasm made me curl up backwards like a tire, then the guys started flipping me across the gym. I don't know which hurt worse.


Slightly off-topic (but about the bullshit you find in magazines): has anyone seen FLEX this month? There's an "article" purporting to answer the question, "Why do so many professional bodybuilders have fucked-up kidneys?" (I'm paraphrasing.)

The sheer genius is the answer--which runs for an entire page--doesn't contain the word 'steroid' once.

Bush ain't got nothing on Weider. (And I know he's no longer in charge.)


I totally agree. There should be more to gaining a Personal Trainer Cert. I went through AAAI/ISMA, and I felt like, "That's it?" Was far too easy. I try to stick to training beginners then pass the client on to a more advanced trainer -A


Youre not talking about DP Golds now are you Minotaur? Because I was there working for two weeks and the experience disgusted me.



Nope, it was North Shore Fitness in Manhasset (they've got a new location in East Meadow now). I guess you can find that kind of trainer anywhere though.

I also "did some time" at the Dolphin in Westbury. Not much to report there, but there's just 1 power rack, and literally, the entire Hammer Strength plate-loaded and cable system line. One of the other trainers was actually a Master's level powerlifter.