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20 Signs Your Personal Trainer Sucks

20 Signs Your Personal Trainer Sucks

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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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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Last Updated on November 9, 2020

10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

Bad habits expose us to suffering that is entirely avoidable. Unfortunately, breaking bad habits is difficult because they are 100% dependent on our mental and emotional state.

Anything we do that can prove harmful to us is a bad habit – drinking, drugs, smoking, procrastination, poor communication are all examples of bad habits. These habits have negative effects on our physical, mental, and emotional health.

Humans are hardwired to respond to stimuli and to expect a consequence of any action. This is how habits are acquired: the brain expects to be rewarded a certain way under certain circumstances. How you initially responded to certain stimuli is how your brain will always remind you to behave when the same stimuli are experienced.

If you visited the bar close to your office with colleagues every Friday, your brain will learn to send you a signal to stop there even when you are alone and eventually not just on Fridays. It will expect the reward of a drink after work every day, which can potentially lead to a drinking problem.

Kicking negative behavior patterns and steering clear of them requires a lot of willpower, and there are many reasons why breaking bad habits is so difficult.

1. Lack of Awareness or Acceptance

Breaking a bad habit is not possible if the person who has it is not aware that it is a bad one.

Many people will not realize that their communication skills are poor or that their procrastination is affecting them negatively, or even that the drink they had as a nightcap has now increased to three.

Awareness brings acceptance. Unless a person realizes on their own that a habit is bad, or someone manages to convince them of the same, there is very little chance of the habit being kicked.

2. No Motivation

Going through a divorce, not being able to cope with academic pressure, and falling into debt are instances that can bring a profound sense of failure with them. A person going through these times can fall into a cycle of negative thinking where the world is against them and nothing they can do will ever help, so they stop trying altogether.

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This give-up attitude is a bad habit that just keeps coming around. Being in debt could make you feel like you are failing at maintaining your home, family, and life in general.

If you are looking to get out of a rut and feel motivated, take a look at this article: Why Is Internal Motivation So Powerful (And How to Find It)

3. Underlying Psychological Conditions

Psychological conditions such as depression and ADD can make it difficult to start breaking bad habits.

A depressed person may find it difficult to summon the energy to cook a healthy meal, resulting in food being ordered in or consumption of packaged foods. This could lead to a habit that adversely affects health and is difficult to overcome.

A person with ADD may start to clean their house but get distracted soon after, leaving the task incomplete, eventually leading to a state where it is acceptable to live in a house that is untidy and dirty.

The fear of missing out (FOMO) is very real to some people. Obsessively checking their social media and news sources, they may believe that not knowing of something as soon as it is published can be catastrophic to their social standing.

4. Bad Habits Make Us Feel Good

One of the reasons it is difficult to break habits is that a lot of them make us feel good.[1]

We’ve all been there – the craving for a tub of ice cream after a breakup or a casual drag on a joint, never to be repeated until we miss how good it made us feel. We succumb to the craving for the pleasure felt while indulging in it, cementing it as a habit even while we are aware it isn’t good for us.

Overeating is a very common bad habit. Just another pack of chips, a couple of candies, a large soda… none of these are necessary for survival. We want them because they give us comfort. They’re familiar, they taste good, and we don’t even notice when we progress from just one extra slice of pizza to four.

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You can read this article to learn more: We Do What We Know Is Bad for Us, Why?

5. Upward Comparisons

Comparisons are a bad habit that many of us have been exposed to since we were children. Parents might have compared us to siblings, teachers may have compared us to classmates, and bosses could compare us to past and present employees.

The people who have developed the bad habit of comparing themselves to others have been given incorrect yardsticks for measurement from the start.

These people will always find it difficult to break out of this bad habit because there will always be someone who has it better than they do: a better house, better car, better job, higher income and so on.

Research shows that in the age of social media, social comparisons are much easier and can ultimately harm self-esteem if scrolling becomes a bad habit[2].

6. No Alternative

This is a real and valid reason why breaking bad habits is difficult. These habits could fulfill a need that may not be met any other way.

Someone who has physical or psychological limitations, such as a disability or social anxiety, may find it hard to quit obsessive content consumption for better habits.

Alternately, a perfectly healthy person may be unable to quit smoking because alternates are just not working out.

Similarly, a person who bites their nails when anxious may be unable to relieve stress in any other socially accepted manner.

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7. Stress

As mentioned above, anything that stresses us out can lead to adopting and cementing an unhealthy habit.

When a person is stressed about something, it is easy for bad habits to form because the mental resources required to fight them are not available[3].

We often see a person who had previously managed to kick a bad habit fall back into the old ways because they felt their stress couldn’t be managed any other way.

If you need some help reducing stress, check out the following video for some healthy ways to get started:

8. Sense of Failure

People looking to kick bad habits may feel a strong sense of failure because it’s just that difficult.

Dropping a bad habit usually means changes in lifestyle that people may be unwilling to make, or these changes might not be easy to make in spite of the will to make them.

Overeaters need to empty their house of unhealthy food, resist the urge to order in, and not pick up their standard grocery items from the store. Those who drink too much need to avoid the bars or even people who drink often.

If such people slip even once with a glass of wine, or a smoke, or a bag of chips, they tend to be excessively harsh on themselves and feel like failures.

9. The Need to Be All-New

People who are looking to break bad habits feel they need to re-create themselves in order to break themselves of their bad habits, while the truth is the complete opposite.

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These people actually need to go back to who they were before they developed the bad habit and try to create good habits from there.

10. Force of Habit

Humans are creatures of habit, and having familiar, comforting outcomes for daily triggers helps us maintain a sense of balance in our lives.

Consider people who are used to lighting up a cigarette every time they talk on the phone or eating junk food when watching TV. They will always associate a phone call with a puff on the cigarette and screen time with eating.

These habits, though bad, are a source of comfort to them, as is meeting with those people they indulge in these bad habits with.

Final Thoughts

These are the main reasons why breaking bad habits is difficult, but the good news is that the task is not impossible. Breaking habits takes time, and you’ll need to put long-term goals in place to replace a bad habit with a good one.

There are many compassionate, positive and self-loving techniques to kick bad habits. The internet is rich in information regarding bad habits, their effects and how to overcome them, while professional help is always available for those who feel they need it.

More on Breaking Bad Habits

Featured photo credit: NORTHFOLK via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] After Skool: Why Do Bad Habits Feel SO GOOD?
[2] Psychology of Popular Media Culture: Social comparison, social media, and self-esteem.
[3] Stanford Medicine: Examining how stress affects good and bad habits

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