Monthly Archives: September 2015

Exteriors (AKA Chris on hiring)

It’s on nearly a weekly basis that I receive questions from other trainers,and in some cases managers on various topics.  I’m unsure when I became a “go to” guy, but I have to admit that I appreciate the fact that so many people reach out to me for help.

This week dealt with a rather polarizing topic among personal trainers.   The Fat Trainer.

“Chris, I just had person drop off their resume’ at our gym. She’s got to be 70lbs/32kg overweight, you ever run into this problem?”

Me: Does the persons resume’ meet the minimum requirements?

” Yes”

Me: You can choose not to call this one, but you’ll be doing so without knowing where she’s coming from.

The problem with the overweight trainers is people will lump them into a single group without knowing the real person.

Ever hire someone that looked super fit that turned out to be a crap trainer?

“Yeah, several times”

So this proves you cant judge competence by the persons exterior.

If she comes in for an interview you can ask her to tell you about herself, and not to repeat what you’ve already read on her resume’. You want to know the real person.

For all we know she was formerly 180lbs overweight and knows first hand how hard it is to loose a lot of weight. She’s likely still in-progress but is someone other weight loss clients can relate to.

She could be a Powerlifter, StrongMaam or former thrower and very capable at helping others get stronger.

There could be a medical condition,I can think of three off the top of my head.

….or she could have just really let herself go and got fat in the process.

If you do call her up get her story,and if she falls under the “used to be much bigger” or “athlete” category give her the opportunity to prove herself, at least a practical evaluation of her skills.

If she falls under the “medical ” category she’d have to be cleared to do the job and her physical limitations would have to be known within her right to privacy. A practical evaluation could possibly need to be modified.

If she falls under the “just let herself go” category you’ll be in a position to decide if you want to move on to a practical evaluation.  She could be a great trainer and possibly better than all other candidates, but clients do often judge on appearances.


On Function and Aesthetics (AKA Chris on the divide)

The topic of today’s blog is based on a personal observation.  There seems to be a growing divide between those wanting to train for functional purposes and those for aesthetic appeal.  To me this is a matter of personal choice, and further I believe bodybuilding style training (hypertrophy training) has value and is a needed component in strength, long term athletic development and rehabilitation programs. I personally don’t see the harm in wanting to look good, but I do hold a persons physical ability as a far more important measure.

Thinking back on the times where my fitness levels were tested in real life, strength, mobility, stability,endurance/resilience and power were at various times and to various degrees the most needed components.  Having said that, I also like looking good and I’m not sure when exactly bodybuilding got a bad rap.  If I was to speculate, I would say somewhere around the time “Fat Shaming/Fit Shaming” became a thing.   (There is some future blog material)

Recently I came across a post from a trainer that took a firm stance against training purely for aesthetics.  Whether this applied only to those that wish to improve their physical appearance, or also includes those with aspirations for physique,bikini of bodybuilding competition is unknown.  The trainer does have a history in physique competition so they are well aware of the training and dietary demands and presently is far more interested in strength development, therefore their physique appears quite different.                                                                                                                                                                                             In the case of competitive bodybuilding, symmetry and mass are are held to a higher priority than how the body functions.  It is my opinion that of all the iron sports (Olympic lifting, Powerlifting, Kettlebell, Strongman and Bodybuilding)  Bodybuilding is unique in that the fact that the competition bears zero resemblance to the training.  It is also in my opinion the least forgiving in the dietary component.  Just like the others, it is a lifestyle and bodybuilding has stood the test of time as an effective means of training.  Having a exceptional physique does not necessarily translate to physical skills.

My initial thoughts when reading the trainers comments were cynical.  Essentially the trainer states that she shouldn’t be judged for what she looks like on the outside (which I agree)… only to turn around and judge those that train for aesthetic purposes.  I’m of the belief she sticks to her opinion as a means to justify eating what she wants.  (TRUTH TIME: I eat what I want too, but I keep a good balance of things)

tumblr_mr3o19LFLp1syno7do1_500                                           A young Arnold performing the Front Squat                                         A bodybuilder may not be stronger than a similar sized power lifter, but the training methods differ according to the specific adaptations they wish to gain.  Bodybuilders have historically made use of the same compound exercises power lifters use (bench press, squat and deadlift) and power lifters and strongmen cycle hypertrophy training into routines to minimize injury and improve lift performance.

Going a bit deeper, there are only so many people truly wishing to be competitive bodybuilders, or are even blessed with the favorable genetics.  Most people simply want to look better naked,have less fat,more muscle and be able to physically do what they want to do.  In this regard, bodybuilding training is certainly an option.

I ask,is it too much to ask for both?  Can a natural program (bodybuilding specific or otherwise)produce strength and performance gains that also help create an aesthetically pleasing physique?  The answers to both I believe are yes,however your genetics dictate your potential.


Eugen Sandow  1867-1925

The physique attained by Eugen Sandow predates anabolic steroids, which first saw use in the early to middle 1930’s.  In addition to his chiseled physique, Sandow was a performing strongman and there are accounts of him bent pressing 300lbs/136kg.


Edward Aston, 1910 Worlds Middle Weight Weightlifting Champion

  • One-hand clean and press of 243lbs/11okg
  • One-hand clean to shoulder of 250lbs/113kg
  • Two-hand clean of 282lbs/127kg
  • Two-hand jerk of 311lbs/141kg
  • One-hand snatch of 180lbs/141kg
  • Fatbar Deadlift 496lbs/223kg                                                                                                         These are Impressive numbers even by the lifting standards of today, especially for a man approximately 5ft 7in 170lbs/77kg                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Miranda-OldroydAt the elite athlete level there is no denying that the CrossFit athletes don’t present exceptional physiques.  Their training places huge demands on the body and its energy systems.   For the non-competitor, I believe CrossFit is a good choice for both fat loss and cardiovascular training but there will also be gains in strength and power. The amount of visible lean muscle visible on this athlete indicates to me that her bodyfat percentage is a low double digit number. Female bodybuilding contestants can hit the stage in the single digit numbers.  Either way it too A LOT of training and dedication to reach that level.                                                                                                                                            ernestine-shepherdAt 75 years young, Ernestine Shepherd is the worlds oldest female bodybuilder.  I can safely state her hypertrophy is quite not simply for aesthetic appeal and quite functional in her daily life.