9 Questions Your Trainer Wishes You'd Ask
Last Updated: Apr 19, 2015
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When you hire a personal trainer, whether it’s for a couple of sessions or a long-term commitment, you want to get the most out of your time and money. Most of this depends on the trainer, who should know what to say and do to get you the results you want. But by asking the right questions, you can bring out your trainer’s best with topics they may not know are of concern for you. Check out the questions these top trainers would love to hear from their own clients and examples of how they’d respond.
“AM I DOING THIS CORRECTLY?”
Your trainer should be able to spot any misalignments or improper form, so if you’re unsure of your positioning, ask! “It’s why I’m here,” says Sam Karl, Barry’s Bootcamp Miami Beach instructor. “I want to make sure you are in the right alignment in order to prevent injury and to hit the muscles correctly by using the right body position.” For example, when doing a biceps curl, you shouldn’t be jerking your shoulder forward and back or using your back to complete the curl. “This incorrect form will take away from building your biceps and forces you to use your back and shoulder,” says Karl. “Too many times clients are shy and scared of asking the trainer if they are in the correct position, but that’s exactly why I’m here.”
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“HOW IS THIS GOING TO HELP ME?”
The right exercise program, with a variety of exercises that target all the major muscle groups, should help you perform your daily activities more easily. But if the exercise you’re doing doesn’t seem to have any relevance to you, speak up. It could be working muscles in ways you’re unfamiliar with. “If you ask more about what you’re doing, you will become more educated and actually realize how much it is helping,” says fitness instructor Sam Karl. “Things like lifting a briefcase, carrying the groceries or walking from office to office will become easier as you become more fit.” Exercising, stretching and working on overall flexibility and strength will help little discomforts like back pain disappear over time, adds Karl.
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“HOW QUICKLY SHOULD I EXPECT TO SEE RESULTS?”
Impatient much? Seeing results can take time, so it’s a good question to ask your trainer. “Many people come into the trainer-client relationship with several misconceptions of the effort and time required to reach their desired outcome,” says strength and conditioning coach Neal Pire. Issues that determine your body’s response include: How far away are you from your goal? Are you currently training? How much weight do you want to lose? Are there stability, rehabilitative or foundational issues that need to be addressed with training before you can transition into the next goal-oriented training phase? Only after answering these questions can a trainer set realistic time goals with you.
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“HOW CAN I ADJUST THIS WORKOUT ON THE ROAD?”
This is an especially great question, since you don’t want to lose all your fitness gains if you travel frequently or are going on an extended vacation. “Bring your travel-tubing along with you and use it instead of the resistance training machines you use at the gym,” says strength and conditioning coach Neal Pire. Instead of the leg-press machine, Pire suggests you do body-weight squats, lunges and step-ups for your lower body. Push-ups can substitute for the chest press. Stand and do military presses or lateral raises to substitute for standing dumbbell overhead presses and dumbbell lateral raises. Wrap the tubing around a stable piece of furniture and perform a row for your back. You can also stand on the tubing and use it for biceps curls and follow them with standing triceps extensions.
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“WHAT ARE THE LONG-TERM BENEFITS OF WORKING OUT?”
Striving to lose weight and get in shape for an upcoming college reunion or wedding make great temporary motivators, but what happens after you reach your goal and the party’s over? Asking about the long-term benefits can help ensure you’ll stick with it for life. “Exercising can help things like preventing cancer, heart disease and liver disease as well as living a happier and more energized life,” says fitness instructor Sam Karl. “Exercise also helps relieve stress and build confidence. You will be able to accomplish more without getting tired. The workout you do today will help you build a stronger heart, stronger lungs and a stronger brain in the future.” Keep the long-term benefits in mind for lifelong commitment.
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“HOW CAN I MAKE THIS EXERCISE MORE CHALLENGING WITHOUT INCREASING THE WEIGHT?”
If you have limited access to equipment or simply want to stick with your current resistance level, you can still continue to see results without adding more weight. Ask you trainer to help switch up your routine, says fitness instructor Sam Karl. “People get tired of doing the same old thing in the gym, and your muscles will get used to the routine as well. This causes you to hit a plateau.” He suggests increasing the number of reps. You can also slow down your reps: Try a very slow 10 count for the concentric (contraction) and eccentric (the stretch) portions of the exercise while using the same weight will make it feel much harder. Or try drop sets, Karl suggests, in which you start with your normal weight, do a set of 10 reps, immediately pick up a lighter weight and do that one for 10 reps. The two different weights equal one set.
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“WHAT ARE ALTERNATIVE WAYS I CAN WORK THIS SAME MUSCLE?”
Don’t be afraid to ask for an alternative exercise if you really can’t stand a particular exercise. Your trainer may try to help you see the benefits and push you through it, but you almost always have other options. “Use different angles,” says fitness instructor Sam Karl. “If you hit your muscles at different angles, you work the muscle in a different way. This allows you to build, strengthen and tone your muscle while essentially doing the same exercise.” For example, instead of lunging forward or back, lunge to the side or diagonally. In place of a bench press or a push-up, try an incline or decline bench press. The more you change up the angles or the exercises, the more your body will develop and change over time.
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“WHAT CAN I DO ON MY OWN?”
Training with a coach provides motivation and holds you accountable for your workouts. But if you do nothing on your own, it won’t be enough to see results, says Mark Nutting, CSCS, fitness director of SACO Sport and Fitness. “Often clients think it’s enough if they put in the one to three hours per week with the trainer, but it’s not. They can’t go home, sit on the couch and eat anything they want. They have to eat better and move more.” Your trainer may recommend several things, such as additional cardio and strength training -- as well as accountability for your diet, such as keeping a food journal -- to keep you on track when you’re on your own.
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“WHAT ARE YOUR QUALIFICATIONS?”
Currently, no license or credentials are required in order for someone to call himself or herself a personal trainer. This leaves it up to you to do your due diligence to find a trainer who is qualified to help you meet your goals. “There are many unqualified personal trainers in the world, and potential clients typically can’t tell what they should look for when hiring a trainer,” says strength and conditioning coach Mark Nutting. Additional questions to ask include: Do you have a degree or certifications? Which certifications? What is your philosophy on exercise? Look for national certifications, such as ones from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) or the American Council on Exercise (ACE), to name a few. Also ask the trainer for references and if he has experience working with someone who has similar goals to you.
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WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Have you worked with a trainer and ever asked any of these questions? If so, what happened? If not, will you in the future? What other questions have you asked of your personal trainer? If you are a trainer, what questions do you wish your clients would ask of you? Let us know in the comments section below!
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