Why personal training might not be what you need

As we emerge from lockdown some of us with a few extra kilograms, many of you are probably looking around for a personal trainer to help you lose some excess body fat and get ready for summer.

But wait…. I’m a nutritionist AND a personal trainer and I want to share my thoughts with you on where your time and money is better spent to get the results you want.

Should you use a personal trainer?

Yes, but I believe to get results you need to address both your nutrition and training, its going to require a combined approach, here’s why.

A lot of people sign up to a personal trainer for only 1 maybe 2 sessions a week hoping this is going to help them reduce body fat and change their body composition.

Yes,  you are will be getting some exercise which is great, but here’s the thing, it’s what you eat outside your personal training sessions that is really going to be a big factor in the results you get.

As well, if you’re only training once or twice a week with a personal trainer, you probably need to do a couple of extra training sessions yourself without your trainer to fast track your fat loss results (I recommend 4 to 5 - 20 to 45 minute training/exercise sessions a week).

So, when someone tells me they need to lose body fat and asks if they can personal train with me, I always ask them these questions to help them decide what will get them the best results.

  1. What is your nutrition like day to day? After we finish our one or two personal training sessions and you go home what do you eat? Do you have a plan in place with your nutrition (meal plan, regime, lifestyle change) that is going to help you reduce body fat and build lean muscle outside our sessions? Do you know what to eat and why to get results?

In most cases people gain body fat not because they aren’t exercising, but because they are consuming more calories each day then their body needs, and the excess is stored as body fat. This is a dietary issue. 

  1. Will you exercise or train outside our sessions. One or two 30-minute PT sessions a week is rarely enough to get results and most people aren’t going to pay a trainer for 4 to 5 sessions a week. So ideally you find a personal trainer that is going to give you an exercise plan to follow outside your sessions, or you put a plan in place yourself to commit to exercise outside your sessions. When I have trained clients in a gym, I’ve always given them a program to follow on the days we aren’t training together.

Here’s the thing, you can’t out train a bad diet.

I’ve had clients who have turned up week in, week out for their weekly personal training session with me only to see them gain body fat and fail to gain lean muscle, because the problem lies with what they eat day to day and so that needs to be addressed.

So where does personal training fit?

I have had my own trainers when I was competing in bodybuilding. For me personally, it was nice to have someone train me, push me that bit harder, give me new ideas on how to use equipment in the gym and motivate me. He also had a boxing background and as a trainer I don’t, so we’d get in the ring and he’d make me cry it was so tough, he got me outside my comfort zone and introduced me to new ways of training.   

However, I didn’t expect those one or two sessions a week with my trainer to get me all my results.

So, I was following a nutrition plan for outside those sessions and I also had a gym and cardio training plan I was following on the days I wasn’t training with him.

Basically, I was working 7 days a week to get results with my nutrition and training, every meal and training session counted (with my trainer or without).

Yes, use a personal trainer

Personal trainers are fantastic to use, group boot camps can be fun and social  and knowing you have an appointment booked with a trainer can make you more likely to turn up and get the work done. Of course if you are new, they are the experts that will guide you in how to exercise and train effectively.

However, remember to get results you also need to focus on what you do outside your personal training sessions with your nutrition and you might need to add some extra training/exercise sessions in each week on top of your PT sessions depending on how often you are seeing a PT.

Thanks for reading.  

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