One of the biggest perks of having a personal trainer
is that gym visits involve a lot less thinking and a lot more doing. With an expert at your elbow guiding you through each routine and monitoring your form, you don't have to worry as much about slacking off, getting injured or doing too much (or not enough) of any given movement.
But as awesome as it would be to have your trainer by your side 24/7, each session eventually comes to an end. Most likely, you're doing some exercise moonlighting in between - but are you undoing all of your hard work with unintentional mistakes?
Related - 7 Tips to Hire the Perfect Personal Trainer
Below are just some of the fitness faux paus
that your trainer probably wishes you'd avoid at all costs. Are you making any of these missteps during your solo workouts?
Reading the Mind of Your Personal Trainer
1. Skimping on (or skipping) the warm-up.
We get it: Gym time is a precious commodity, and you may be tempted to get right to the main event without any fitness foreplay - but the warm-up is more than just a formality. It's important to get the blood flowing to your muscles, which primes them for better performance during the workout and reduces the risk of injury.
Some preliminary movement also raises your core body temperature and gets your heart rate up, so it's not as much of a shock to the system when you dive into the meat of your workout. Also, although you're not exerting yourself as much as you will be later, you're still burning fat and calories during the workout, so it's not a complete waste of time on that front.
2. Doing workouts you hate.
That stereotypical concept of a tough-as-nails
trainer cracking the whip on a reluctant client, barking orders to complete a dreaded workout, couldn't be farther from reality. Good trainers realize that the key to a successful program is finding routines you enjoy.
If you hate running
and are spending your non-trainer days forcing yourself through miserable 5K routes, you're not doing yourself any fitness favors. Instead, look for activities that you love, or at least find somewhat pleasant.
This will greatly increase your consistency and reduce the chances of getting burned out. Try a variety of options - from Spinning to Zumba to rowing classes - until you find the right mix to keep you engaged and challenged.
3. Doing the same thing over and over
Trainers are all about consistency, but that doesn't mean you have to repeat the exact same workouts, day in and day out. The body adapts to recurring activity over time, so if you're running the same course without altering your speed or distance - or lifting the same amount of weight for the same number of reps - you'll eventually hit a plateau where you're just maintaining and not improving.
Your trainer would surely recommend mixing it up with a variety of workouts to keep your muscles (and your mind) guessing. For instance, you might do a HIIT workout one day, followed by a yoga or Pilates class the next day, and then a Spinning or boxing session.
4. Not having a plan.
On days without your trainer, do you feel a little like you're drifting aimlessly through the gym, choosing routines randomly and just going through the motions? The old cliché "failing to plan is planning to fail" comes to mind here.
Every good trainer recognizes the importance of having a road map for each and every exercise session. Even if it's something as simple as "arms for 30 minutes, 15 minutes of core work and 15 minutes of yoga," it's important to have a strategy in place before hitting the gym, the sidewalk or just the mat on your living room floor.
5. Trying to exercise away a bad diet.
After working so hard all week, it's easy to convince yourself that you've earned that large pizza, pint of ice cream or bucket of fried chicken on the weekend. Despite all of your trainer's spot-on nutrition guidance, he can't control your eating habits outside of the gym. If you want to get the most out of those expensive workouts, it's critical to be consistent about fueling your body the right way.
Before eating something, ask yourself if it's either helping your body recover from your last session or preparing it for the next one. If the answer is no, consider replacing it with a healthier choice. Of course, that doesn't mean you should deprive your body when it's hungry, or that you should suffer through foods you hate.
There are plenty of delicious ways to stay nourished without succumbing to junk calories.
6. Skimping on sleep.
If you've scheduled a 6 a.m. session with your PT, don't binge on Netflix until the wee hours the night before and expect to kick butt at sunrise. When you show up groggy and grumpy, you won't have nearly the energy and endurance as when you've had some solid shuteye.
You also won't get optimal results from your workouts, because sleep is essential to building and repairing muscles, sharpening your mental focus, generating human growth hormones and preparing you for intense bodywork. If possible, tweak your routine to ensure that you get eight to 10 hours of quality sleep each night.
7. Focusing on quantity over quality.
Showing up may be the first step, but it's not the most important one. Your trainer isn't likely to be impressed with your three-hour Saturday gym session if a majority of it was spent plodding along on the treadmill while paging through a magazine or gossiping with other gym-goers between sets.
Instead of worrying about clocking your workout hours, focus more on making every minute count. Thirty minutes of high-intensity cardio intervals and targeted strength training will be far more beneficial than 90 minutes of mindless piddling.
8. Making excuses.
It's easy to let a thousand and one daily obligations gobble up the time you could have spent working out, but nothing irks a trainer more than a client who rattles off a litany of empty excuses. Whether you're swamped with work projects, kids' sports practices, home renovations or any number of urgent tasks, it all boils down to priorities.
Each of us is allotted the same number of hours per day, and we ultimately control how we spend them. Next time you're tempted to complain to your PT about your demanding boss or your long commute, swallow the excuse and think about what you might be able to strike from your schedule to make room for yourself - and your health.
Have you been guilty of any of these gym gaffes? Fess up in the comments!