Personal Trainers that suck (Part 6- The Hits keep coming)


“You’re going to take all that weight on your neck. Then you’re going to jam your legs down and hyper-extend your ankles, and then shoot back up and lock your knees in place.”

The Dissociation Disorder trainer.  I’m not talking about the trainers that prescribe  “old school” type exercises (you know deadlift, pull-ups, push-ups, squats etc.) I’m talking about the trainers that are prescribing exercises/ techniques that have been medically and scientifically proven as ineffective,or outright dangerous, but were popular during the trainers heyday.  A fine set of examples would include the behind the neck lat-pull-down, refusing to go down to 90 degrees on a squat and bouncing the bench press bar off of your chest.


These trainers may/may not have a dissociation disorder but they are certainly chrono-challenged.

The “you do ALL of the work” trainer.   As in you rack/re-rack your own weights, you log your lifts, you get your own water bottle, you locate your props etc.  Trainers: I’m not saying you need to kiss the clients butt, but  a little customer service is a good thing, I assure you.  What’s next, are you going to have them spot themselves?


The “I’m taking a snack break while you workout” trainer.  Yes, I have seen independent trainers eat in front of their clients.  In this case, it was a plastic container of pasta and chicken breast.  I have seen gym trainers chug Diet Dr. Pepper in front of their client as well.  Even worse on both counts, the trainers were sitting on their butts while the client was on a machine pushing around weight with terrible form.  (Yes, it is possible to train on machines with poor form.)



“Bro…this hurts!, my shoulder is killing me!”

“Just jerk it down harder”

The Ignore the Pain trainer.  I’m not talking about  pain that you (a) walked in with or (b) Muscle soreness from your last workout / WOD.    I’m talking about the pain caused by the effort required to move something heavy repeatedly.  A good trainer will be able to handle the sudden change in plans, possibly figure out the cause, enact a back-up plan and/or refer you to a medical professional if needed.  Then again a good trainer would have had an eye on your form and not put you in a position where things got to that point.  Like life itself, things can and will happen.  A workout is going fine, the weight is perfectly within reason, form is spot-on and then the unexpected happens and your body sends out a warning sign.  Neither you, nor your trainer could have predicted it.  Best option is to halt the exercise, reassess the situation, proceed with caution at a lighter weight or replace exercise completely.  Seek medical advice.


The Ineffective Method trainer.   If your goals are to increase overall muscle mass or to lose weight, and your trainer has you training on multiple isolation exercises without prescribing any of the bigger multi-joint/multi-muscle actions then they are doing you a disservice.

They are however making their job a lot easier.  How much coaching is really required to learn how to do a machine bicep curl?

Worst of the worst:  I saw a trainer put an obese female client through the following workout:  5 minute walk on the treadmill at 0 incline, Hammer Strength Preacher Curl,a high curl machine with both arms, then one arm at a time and then a standing cable curl set with lousy form.  For trainers reading this blog, I will add that the client didn’t appear to have any problems moving around and her client screening sheet indicated no physical/medical issues other than obesity.


The Preacher curl performed with a straight barbell.

The next exercises  were 2 sets of what seemed to be 100 light reps on the seated hip add/abductor machine.  The workout was finished on a weighted crunch bench doing15 minutes of partial range crunches.

Here  is what the workout amounted to:

5 minutes of assisted walking on a flat service, 3 exercises hitting the same relatively little muscle in a singular plane of motion (2 performed in a sitting position, which burns less calories than standing, 1 in a leaning position and 1 in a standing position.)


The seated adductor/abductor machines (the close or open your leg machine) can cause strain on the spine and creates tension along the IT band, which can further throw the knee cap out of alignment.  It is also a machine that doesn’t replicate any sort of motion you do in real life.

Crunches (for the purpose of building abdominal muscle) are not the most effective means as they miss the transverse abdominus muscles and stress the lower back and neck.  For the purpose of trimming the waistline they are ineffective due to the fact that spot targeting fat is impossible.


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