T Nation

Requesting Help from the MuscleHeads


So I got a free lesson from a PT at my local gym as part of the deal when I decided to train there. (I decided to train there because it's the closest and because almost no one uses the squat rack.)

I had already decided to start with StrongLifts bastardized version of 5x5, and take it from there. But today I figured "What the hell, I might as well use the free lesson, he might have something smart to say I didn't know". Actually, I wanted to see if I could just get him to be my spotter for those 45 minutes since my training partner isn't too practiced at these exercises yet. This is the story of how it went, and in the end, I'll ask you to help me with my counter-arguments. ("It is hard enough to remember my opinions, without also remembering my reasons for them!" - Nietzsche)

First he wanted to know some general things, and I'll go by memory here, so it might not be spot on.

  • Have you trained anything before?
    Yeah. Some weightlifting, and a lot of different Martial Arts.
  • Why do you want to work out?
    (Btw, notice work out, not train.) More strength, endurance, get a bit bigger.
  • What are your goals?
    To gain about 8 kg of lean muscle mass to get at the top of my weight class, and more power behind my punches and kicks.
    Why haven't you reached those goals before?
    Not enough knowledge, not enough time dedicated to those goals because I didn't make them before.
  • When do you hope to reach those goals?
    I don't think I'll really say "this is good enough", but I'll split the goals up into 3 month intervals.

And some more I don't remember, they were all really the same. When we were done with this, he made a template work out for me there on the spot. This is the work out he made (All exercises was to be done with 3 sets of 8-12 reps, and this is all machines, no free weights or body weight exercises.):

Warm up:
10 min on an Elliptical trainer.
Chest press - 15 kg
Abdominal crunch - 10 kg (Okay, this machine actually didn't seem too bad. It looked like you were doing a reverse crunch, except sitting in the machine so it was easier to add weight. Any thoughts?)
Cable push down - 10 kg
Biceps curl cable - 10 kg
Leg press - 15 kg (Going further down on this particular exercise than 90 degrees was a no-no as it's really unhealthy for the knees. In fact, I didn't even have to go as far as 90 degrees, according to the PT.)
Leg extension - 20 kg
Pull down - 5 kg
Leg curl - 5 kg

Please note the ridiculously low weight. Also take notice of the arrangements. Anyway, this was to give me a "complete, total body work-out to start with, and then tweak some and add some weight once I was comfortable with the exercises, but I shouldn't worry about that just yet, and just focus on correct technique for now."

I just smiled politely, thanked him, went out into the reception hall and cancelled the next two meetings with the guy and went on about my usual businesses.

But, I'd like to give the guy a proper answer if he comes over and asks me why I'm not doing any of the stuff he suggested. So if any of you guys could help me dig up the reason why we do what we do, with compounds, complexes, free weights, etc, that'd be mighty appreciated.



Just say "Because I want to make progress." Then walk away.

OR (A personal favorite)

"I'm not a vagina."



Isolation movements have their place, but big lifts generate a higher hormonal response (gH, Test) in addition to a higher metabolic demand (burn more calories) and place the muscles under a higher level of general tension (ME benching 315 puts more stress than skull-crushing 45). Greater tension ~ greater training stimuli ~ greater adaptation (gains).

Free weights are GENERALLY better than machines because they stress the stabilizer muscles (external obliques, abs, the muscles to either side of your spine) in addition to the primary movers (hams, glutes, and quads, in the squat).

Anyone who suggests you need to practice form on a machine has probably not seriously questioned the pamphlet they gave him when they offered him a job even though he admitted he didn't know a damn thing about training. That's kind of the point of machines- you can't screw up.

But no, stick with the 'I'm not a vagina' comment. Or, to try a different, less obviously insulting tack, tell him you want to use a program you found on the internet.


Odds are the guy probably genuinely thinks this is actually a good programme for you. His weekend/internet qualification course more than likely told him that this is what everybody starting in the gym should do.

If he was a nice enough guy, I'd go with the less insulting route. If he was however a douchebag and comes up to you with an attitude then yeah, say it's because you have some testicles.


Unsure if I'd call him nice or not... I'd just say he was very polite in ignoring my requests.

Thank you for the answers everyone.

Found the reason for why we go below parallel when squatting. Found it in Starting Strength. Thanks Ripptoe :smiley:


Hmmm a lot of my friends in MMA use westside for skinny bastards. or some other Upper/Lower body split. Works great with their schedules....check it out www.defrancostraining.com/articles.html


Also tell this "personal trainer". You appreciated the help. Yet you need a more demanding routine that will challenge a person more physically and mentally. To match the rigors of the sport you enjoy.

Nice way of saying sorry your routine is catered to pansy's and I need something that would actually work in my world.


Looks like a decent set up for a total newbie minus the assigned weights. Maybe he took one look at you and figured you can't do more than 5kg pull downs haha.


thats a good program to go along with an experimental vaginoplasty


Just tell him that another of the trainers called it a "pussy workout" and told you to get your ass under some free weights.


Tell him that intensity is key in all your training sessions. If your going to get a slightest bit of intensity in your workout your gonna need a whole shitload of volume on those weights (5kg c'mon!!).

Even kindly mention that freeweights are a better form of exercise as to machines, and, that he should teach his clients how to do such instead of being a pansy PT

But, I find chamber curls a lot more effective then hercs, bb curls or db curls other then that I find no use for other machines asides from the pussy version of the lateral bench (it's so cushiony :D)

There was one PT at my gym who was jacked though, but, he was only there for a few months :frowning:


Thanks, I'll definitely look into it. I was actually thinking about switching to something like that once I stalled on SL's 5x5, but I wasn't sure what.

Thanks. :slight_smile: