I will start this blog by saying that no trainer on the planet has not made mistakes.  We are humans and good trainers everywhere continually hone their skills and improve at their craft.  It is my firm belief that every trainer should hire a trainer of their own from time to time even if the coach trains in the same method as the trainer.

It’s hard for me to watch a trainer using methods and techniques that they are clearly not skilled in and working out of their depth.   Personally, it hasn’t gotten easier with time even though I try to not let it bother me.

It could be argued “Chris, you have no idea what the clients situation is, what the goals are and if there are any physical limitations the trainer is facing.”

You would be right.  I don’t know these things much less anything about the trainer.  The trainer might be a perfectly nice person and otherwise well meaning.

But wrong is still wrong, at least in my world.

I can reasonably expect a beginner to not have perfect form in a given exercise.  We all start somewhere and learning curves vary greatly.  The key that improvement occurs over time using progressive resistance to instill physical literacy and technical mastery.


I routinely see trainers living up to this statement.

A trainer should be able to teach an exercise correctly, provide coaching cues and course corrections to improve the clients form.  If the movement is taught wrong in the first place all sorts of things can go wrong.   It is entirely possible to have terrible form on a machine just as much as a free weight.  Form is important.


The 45 degree leg press (top left) is a very different move than the FMS Squat/Inline Lunge Tests (top right) or the NASM CES Overhead Squat.

I cannot fathom how using the 45 degree leg press machine can be a substituted for a functional movement or corrective exercise squat test.  For a RM test it can be the equipment of choice (repetition maximum, how heavy and how many times a weight can be moved generally expressed as 10RM, 5RM or 1RM.)  It has been a staple in bodybuilding for local leg hypertrophy for years and strength gains can transfer to other activities to a degree so it is certainly not without its uses.  Functional movement and corrective exercise screenings just aren’t one of them.

The Movement and Corrective Exercise guys know what I’m talking about.


The Overhead Barbell Squat.  Not a beginners move.

If a beginner older client cannot perform a decent body weight, goblet or front squat I see no reason whatsoever to try making them perform barbell overhead squats.  The overhead squat performed with a dowel or PVC pipe has purpose in screening, loaded bar overhead squats are used to develop Olympic lifting skills, which indicates shoulder, hip and thoracic mobility along with core stability and a foundation of strength has been developed.  The former is performed early and not under a load, the latter is for athletic populations.

The Performance, Strength and Conditioning, Olympic lifting, Power lifting and Kettlebell Coaches know what I’m talking about.

I haven’t even addressed trainers taking on clients that they are ill-equipped and under-educated to properly service and utilizing training methods that I can charitably call questionable, or in some cases outright dangerous.  Those medical issues, over 55 years of age, non-athletes over 300 lbs and children all have different training needs and a one-size fits all approach cannot be taken.

My advice to trainers:                                                                                                                   Train to your level and do it as best you can.                                                                                   No matters how well read you are on a subject, practical experience still trumps it.                             If you cannot do it, don’t make someone else do it.                                                                   Saying “I don’t know” can be tough, but is something you need to be honest about.                 That’s a human being you’re moving.  Think about what you are doing and apply logic.


One thought on “Depth

  1. bshilia

    Reblogged this on Brittney Fitney and commented:
    Great post here about depth, & when to know your limits as a trainer. I for sure don’t know it all, as well as my other trainer friends. That’s why this is a practice, we practice and practice and constantly learn to help others reach their full potential.


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