So, you’ve finally taken the plunge.

You’re sick of being mediocre, overweight and worrying about your health. You bought a new pair of running shoes and went to the gym, but as a lot of us do, you felt you needed a little extra help. It takes a big person to ask for it, so, well done!

You went to a free taster session, absolutely loved it, and signed up to a personal trainer. But 10 weeks down the line — and a couple of hundred dollars later — you don’t look much different, or feel much different, and you’re sore as hell the day after.

What gives?

It could be that you haven’t got your diet down to a tee. It could be that you haven’t tried quite hard enough in the sessions away from your personal trainer. Or, it could be that your personal trainer absolutely sucks!

Here are 20 signs your personal trainer is wasting your time, money and energy:

1. They Overcomplicate Everything

A sure sign your personal trainer sucks is that they can’t explain anything simply. Everything that comes out of their mouth seems to be some form of other-worldly language. Your personal trainer should be working hard to make sure they can explain things you as easily as possibly. They should not be using elongated Latin terms to explain that pull-ups make you stronger than lat pulldowns.

2. They Don’t Give You Work to Do Outside of Sessions

Your personal trainer sucks if they don’t give you work to do outside of your sessions together. If they charge you by the hour but don’t try to help you in the other 167 hours in the week, you need to fire them — straight away.

What you do in your one-hour session should help you to achieve your goals outside of your session. Good personal trainers give you homework, with a reason.

3. There Is No Sign of Programming

Does your personal trainer carry a clipboard around, marking today’s session? Do they have a log of all your sessions, past and present? The weights you lifted, for how many reps, and general comments on your sessions. A log that you can see?

Do they also show you where your training is heading, and where you’ll be in a couple of weeks or months?

If not. Guess what? Your personal trainer sucks.

A personal trainer worth their salt puts an extreme emphasis on creating a program that works and adapts to you. It should progress, change and adapt in accordance with your results.

4. They Do Tabata for Everything

A sure sign your personal trainer sucks is if all of your sessions involve Tabata Protocol.

If you’re not sure what Tabata is, it’s 20 seconds of all-out work, with a 10-second rest, repeated over a four-minute time period.

Tabata used sparingly can be great for increasing your cardio fitness, and for shedding a few extra pounds. But, used all the time it can become an excellent way to get injured, overtrain (which makes you ill) and pass out.

This protocol has become a way for sucky personal trainers to switch off and not think about conditioning exercises. If you’re doing it all the time, there’s a good chance your personal trainer sucks.

5. They Look at Their Phone While You’re Training

Nothing infuriates me more than this point right here. If your personal trainer is taking (non-emergency) texts and phone calls, or checking social media in the middle of your session, they suck. There are no two ways about it.

You pay them good money to pay attention to what it is you’re doing. It’s not safe, it’s not professional and it’s a complete waste of your time and money.

6. They Only Count Your Reps

Your personal trainer sucks if they’re more bothered about counting reps than checking your technique. Counting reps is your job, it’s your trainer’s job to make sure you’re doing the exercise correctly, safely and to pull you up on bad technique.

A good personal trainer gets involved in the exercise, checks your technique from all angles and coaches you through it. They don’t just count to 10.

7. They Teach ‘Kipping Dips’

Your personal trainer sucks, if they teach you to do moronic exercises like this:

If you can’t do an exercise, build up the strength to do it. Good personal trainers recognize this. Bad ones teach you to do exercises like that.

8. They Talk More Than You Train

Your personal trainer sucks if your jaw hurts more than your muscles after a workout. Has your one-minute rest ever become a five-minute cool down while they talk about their latest escapades?

All trainers talk, it’s what we do, but if you are having more conversations than sets, they suck and they’re wasting your time.

9. They Don’t Educate You

Your personal trainer sucks if they don’t try to teach you how to do things for yourself. If they don’t recommend books or blogs, or simply don’t teach you why you’re doing what you’re doing, you’re wasting your time.

There are a lot of personal trainers in the world who live by the mantra, “Make your client need you, not want you.” Don’t let yours be one of them.

10. It All Seems a Bit ‘On the Fly’

Does your trainer seem to do anything a little bit off the cuff? No session plan, no layout and no idea what they’re doing today? Do they umm and ahh about what exercise to choose, and become a little flustered?

Chances are, they suck!

If they aren’t planning out your sessions and adhering to your programming, then they’re setting you up for failure from the start. Don’t waste your money on an unprepared schmuck.

11. You Only Seem to Do Cardio

If your personal trainer spends your hour watching you on a piece of stationary equipment, they suck. Big time.

Your sessions are for being coached, strengthening your body and learning new techniques. Not to be stood and watched for a complete hour.

Your cardio is for the other hours in the week.

12. They Get a Kick Out of How Sore You Are

Your personal trainer sucks if they get a real buzz out of the fact you can’t make it up the stairs or sit on the toilet for the week following your last session. When their sole purpose is to make you sore and they tell you that “It’s an essential part of training,” they’re leading you on.

Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness (DOMS) — also known as that after-training pain — is a normal part of training. But it isn’t essential. You’ll feel it after you do something new, or you push yourself to your limit. Which shouldn’t be every week or every session.

Any idiot can make you sore – only a good trainer can make you better.

13. They Don’t Practice What They Preach

This doesn’t mean your personal trainer sucks if they don’t have a six pack. That doesn’t reflect on them in the slightest — not everyone wants, or can get a six pack that’s sustainable.

But, it does mean your personal trainer sucks if they don’t train at all, if they don’t eat well, if they don’t look after themself and if they don’t try to expand their own training knowledge.

A good personal trainer doesn’t have to be an Adonis. But they should venture in to the weights room occasionally.

14. There Is No Emphasis on Nutrition

If your personal trainer doesn’t put any focus on nutrition, they suck. “I train so I can eat,” is not the answer you’re looking for when you’re trying to get results.

Nutrition, sleep and training are the most important things when it comes to getting your results. And they don’t break down to 33.3% of the job each. They’re all 100% of it in their own right.

If your trainer isn’t focusing on getting you to do the right work outside of the gym, you won’t achieve anything whilst you’re in the gym.

15. They Say, “No Pain, No Gain”

If your personal trainer has ever said this to you, they suck. Fire them. On the spot. Non-negotiable.

Pain is not the enemy, it is your friend. It’s your body’s alarm to alert you that something is wrong: that you should, in fact, stop doing what you’re doing and figure out the problem. There is a distinct difference between pain and the soreness you get when you exercise. But if your trainer asks you to fight through the pain, they aren’t worth your time or money.

16. They Speak in Absolutes

If your personal trainer believes there is only one way to do things, then they suck.

Your life, your needs and your body type are all different from those of their other clients. As are their needs from yours. But if your trainer wants to tar you all with the same brush and give you a ‘cookie cutter’ workout, then they need to be shown the door.

CrossFit isn’t the only way to burn fat. Deadlifts aren’t the only way to build strong hamstrings. Throwing up isn’t the only indication you’re working hard.

If your personal trainer can’t adapt and change, they can’t be worth your money.

17. They Complain (a Lot)

Your personal trainer’s complaints should never enter the session. If they do, they suck. This hour is about you and only you.

Trainers who complain a lot are usually more invested in themselves than they are in you. Don’t work with someone who doesn’t make you their focus.

18. They Don’t Take Measurements

If your personal trainer doesn’t take any measurements beyond standing you on the scales for your first session, they suck. Hard. 

An effective trainer takes measurements monthly, if not weekly, so you can see your progress. It helps you carry momentum week to week, shows you when something isn’t working and allows you to see how far you’ve come.

If your personal trainer can’t show you where you’ve come from, they have no hope of taking you where you want to go. If there are no measurements, they’re not worth your time.

19. They Never Take Courses

If your personal trainer isn’t invested in their own development, they suck.

Now, they don’t need to be on a course or attending a seminar every week. But what they do need to be doing is constantly learning. They should be attending something relevant at least quarterly, or, you know, reading a book from time to time.

A good personal trainer wants to find the newest, most effective way to take you from point A to point B.

20. You’re Not Getting Results

If your personal trainer isn’t getting you results, they suck. That’s the be all and end all. This is the biggest metric that matters. At the very least, they should be trying to find out why you’re not getting results. You should be feeling stronger, leaner and healthier within a matter of sessions. And if you’re not, it’s time to change up.

Although, of course, if you’re pounding a double cheeseburger a couple of times a week, it could be your fault!

Featured photo credit: istolethetv via flickr.com

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