How To Tell When a Trainer Sucks

How To Tell When a Trainer Sucks

By Christian Thibaudeau

Here’s what you need to know…

Many coaches have their clients do types of training despite never having done it themselves.
Trainers who try to impress clients with knowledge don’t teach them anything about exercise or movement. They just teach the client about their ego.
Any trainer can demolish a client with excessive work. That’s the easy way to earn a reputation. Getting them results through proper programming is another story.
If you’re someone who makes a living getting people in shape, you should be able to get yourself in shape.
Good Coach, Bad Coach: The Difference

It’s a touchy subject and some people might feel slighted by the examples I’m going to give here, so I’ll start with doing a mea culpa and list the biggest mistakes I’ve made as a coach.

1. Being too eager to have people lift big weights
I’m a strength guy. I think getting stronger should be the foundation of every program. But in the past I’ve had people go up in weight too fast, using weights that they weren’t prepared for. Similarly, I had them use training tools and methods that were too advanced for them.

This often led to bad form, frustration, and sometimes injury.

I often see this exhibited by coaches working with athletes, especially those working in a team sport setting. A strength coach often feels the need to justify his program to the sport coach(es), but since very few sport coaches are strength training experts, they don’t necessarily understand what strength training can do for their athletes.

The strength coach is often forced to use strength gains – usually increases in the athlete’s maxes – to show that his program is effective. Thus, many of these strength coaches focus on getting the numbers up at all cost, even if that means allowing bad form.

2. Bypassing my own beliefs and training philosophies to get more clients
When I first got started as a trainer I used a ton of intensity techniques and plenty of isolation work in my programs just so clients would get a great pump and be sore and thus feel good about what they were doing. I’d include things that I never did in my own training and that I didn’t really believe in.

Now I force myself to be true to my beliefs and I don’t try to be somebody else. I’m good at what I know and do and that’s what I focus on.

Too many trainers fall prey to the latest trends. I can’t tell you how many coaches have their clients do “CrossFit,” Olympic lifts, and kettlebell training despite never having done these types of training themselves. Granted, the personal training market is highly competitive.

It stands to reason that excluding certain methods could limit your marketability. However, teaching stuff you know nothing about is even worse for your marketability. People aren’t dumb, and the internet will allow them to quickly figure out that you’re a fraud and you’ll then lose all credibility.

3. Not making time for my own training
At one point I took on so many clients that I barely had time to train. When I finally had time to lift I had zero motivation. It killed my passion for training and made me a worse coach.

Passion is what differentiates an average personal trainer and a great coach. Never lose it. Furthermore, your body is your business card, so if your own training suffers you lose a lot of marketability.

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