Early in a training relationship, a personal trainer assesses your fitness level and any muscle imbalances, help you set reasonable fitness goals and design a program that takes those into account. Thereafter, the trainer guides you through the program, ensuring you maintain proper form, avoid injury and achieve the desired results, whether that is to build muscle, lose weight or train for a specific sport or activity.
Your reasons for choosing a trainer will determine how often you need to meet. Throughout your relationship, she'll offer encouragement and support to keep you motivated and progressing.
For Exercise Virgins
If you are new to exercise or haven’t worked out in a long time, you should meet with your trainer two to three times weekly. This regularity ensures that you develop proper form in all of your exercises. Muscle memory is powerful, and you don’t want to learn bad habits in the gym; they will hinder your results and possibly contribute to injuries.
Scheduling regular workouts and check-ins with a personal trainer helps eliminate any excuses for skipping exercise. After you've seen the trainer consistently for two to three months, you may wish to reduce the number of sessions to once weekly — or if you’re feeling comfortable and self motivated, once a month.
Knock it Out of the Park
If you’re an athlete, a trainer can help you develop a program to strengthen sport-specific muscles to improve performance in the sport and reduce the likelihood of injuries. The program should include exercises that work the non-dominant muscles and both agonist and antagonist muscles — think biceps and triceps — for a balanced physique. This type of training can last anywhere from one session with general recommendations to weekly sessions for the duration of the season.
Better than a Running Buddy
If you have a 5K or a marathon coming up, a trainer can help you prepare for race day with a progressive training program — especially important if you’re new to racing — that improves your finish time and reduces your risk for sustaining an injury. This can take place in one session or weekly sessions leading up to the event.
Time for a Tune Up
If you’re an avid gym goer but have stopped seeing results, you may want to work with a trainer for one to two months. She can evaluate your current routine and either make recommendations for progression or design a full program for you to work through together.
In either case, the longer you spend with the trainer, the greater the benefit. After about six to eight weeks with one to two sessions per week, you'll likely find that you have developed new habits and see noticeable improvement, at which time you may continue seeing the trainer or carry on exercising on your own.