How to be a succesful personal trainer

A personal trainer has to be good at a whole number of things. For some reason though, most people think being succesful as a PT starts with memorizing Starting Strength, Supertraining and some Bompa texts.

While I do think the cornerstone of the personal trainer has to be a sound understanding of anatomy, biomechanics and how the body adapts to stress, there’s a huge dimension that’s very often overlooked:

90% (or more) of the people you’re gonna work with wont need Russian Super Squat Cycles!

For a regular person, it all starts with three things:

  1. Not injuring them.
  2. Motivating them to work hard – consistently over time.
  3. Affecting the hours they’re NOT with you.

Obviously you should continuously work on getting your client in better shape, but think of it – can you make a training program that’ll work if you’re not succesful with the three points mentioned above?


Do you work equally hard on all your roles?

The personal trainer has a handful of different roles, but most people seem to load up on the “trainer” and “programmer” role and go easy on “motivator” and “coach” role. Personally I’ve been doing this for way too long. I have about a billion training books filled with charts, programs and tables. I can recite Siff, Simmons, Rip, Wendler and others in my sleep.

Thing is – most people don’t need that. The way society has become, most people are so out of shape, pretty much anything will help them get in better shape. This is not an excuse to give people shitty training though – not at all and in that respect I’m happy to have taken the route I have. If you start out getting people fired up, but don’t understand when to hold them back and how and where to apply their energy, you’re dangerous.

As a personal trainer, you have three tasks:

  1. Help people feel good
  2. Help people lose fat
  3. Help people build muscle

Notice how none of these said “get them to squat x amount of weight” or apply “hardcore training methods” or even “teach the olympic lifts”.

Keep the goal the goal.

Oh and remember the love. I’ll be away for about a week and will probably not post or even get online much during that week. Stay safe friends.


4 thoughts on “How to be a succesful personal trainer

  1. Super post. I enjoy theory more than the next guy (frequently spend days off reading scientific papers while I sip green tea). But the things you mention are the ones that make a difference.

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