Category: Personal Trainers

If your ultimate goal is to pack on the most amount of muscle you possibly can, the exercises you choose to perform matter. Most of the old school movements fall in the category of exercises that allow you to maximize the most amount of tension. Not to say that some of the newer exercises won’t provide you with results, but the risk of injury are much higher and/or the effectiveness of overload is very limited. Muscles understand tension therefore choosing exercises that allow you to successfully progressively overload, will serve as the best options for you for gaining muscle. If you’re unfamiliar with progressive overload please refer to my article “Progressive Overload Is The Key To Continuous Progress In The Gym“.

Plate Presses

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Even though the chest is being contracted because the arms are horizontally adducted in frontal plane of the body, there are other isolation movements such as the the pec dec machine, cable flyes or dumbbell flyes that will allow for a greater way to progressively overload. I’ve perform this exercise in the past just to test it out and what I’ve discovered is that at some point you won’t be able to hold more than a 45lbs plate in your hands. The only way to continue to progress through this movements to stack weights above your body which creates the risk of weight falling on your chest if they happen to slide out of your hands. Very high risk for the reward in my opinion!

Alternating Lat Pull Downs

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This is a popular exercise that a lot of individuals are performing in the gym. It allows for each lat to be isolated individual while using a bilateral attachment. Bilateral simply means both hands are needed to perform the movement. The problem I see with this exercise is that tension isn’t evenly distributed between each lat which can cause imbalances in the future. Instead I suggest used a single handle attachment versus a bar attachment to prevent imbalances and to help strengthen each lat individually.

Behind The Neck Shoulder Presses

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I think we can all agree that shoulder health is extremely important. If you’ve been performing this exercises for some time and have the shoulder mobility to perform it great! But if you don’t and feel pain while performing it, I’d suggest you to stop immediately! This exercise puts the shoulders in a very vulnerable position which is why I’ll suggest to stay away from it. Instead performing the standard military press will be a safer choice being that the arms are in front of the body which is a natural range of motion for the shoulders.

Behind The Neck Pull Downs

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Similar to the Behind The Neck Shoulder Press, this one also puts the shoulders in a vulnerable position. This pull down variation not only recruits the lats it’s also activates the mid back as well which is why I believe a lot of people lean towards it. But again as stated on the shoulder press, if the shoulder mobility is there carry on. But if its not, perform your standard lat pull down in the front of the body which is again a natural movement for the shoulders. Then you can perform a row movement to target the upper back mid back.

Glute Band Work

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While I believe that bands have a place in time in everyone training, I also know that just because you feel a burn in a muscle doesn’t mean it’s the most optimal approach. If you want to maximize the most amount of muscle you can build for your glutes, exercise such hip thrust, deep squats, cable kickbacks & romanian deadlifts are better options because the higher chances to progressively get stronger with these movements. Now I’m not saying that using bands are bad because they have great benefits for untrained individuals or when combining them with weighted exercises. For example if you perform hip thrust with bands around your legs, the force from the bands will cause you continue to push your knees outward throughout the movement, which from experience, has help increase my muscle to mind connection with my glutes. But just doing band work alone won’t give you the same results as the exercises that I listed above. There’s always a better & more effective way!

Building muscle is a slow process especially for natural lifters. It takes time, effort and patience to develop the physique you envisioned for yourself. I’ve made mistakes during my own journey and helped identify mistakes from clients I’ve trained and/or coached. Building muscle isn’t an easy task but by avoiding the mistakes below, you’ll increase your chances of  developing that physique you desire. 

Practice Proper Form: If you aren’t performing movements correctly, you could be wasting your time and/or putting yourself at risk for injury. Performing an exercise in a Full ROM(Range of Motion) will give you better results than a partial ROM also known as “cheat reps” especially on those big compound lifts.  I suggest everyone make a list of the exercises you perform in the gym that you’re not quite comfortable with. Then spend some time looking up tutorials or demonstrations online of how to perform them correctly. Always be a student. Always be willing to learn. That’s the recipe to become better.

Use Progressive Overload: In order for your body to change, you must continue to challenge it. Doing the same exercises with the same weight, number of sets and reps will definitely cause your muscle building progress to stall. Progressive overload simply means in order for your muscles to grow, strength to be gained or improve performance, your body must be forced to adapt to a stimulus that is greater than what it has previously experienced.  Please refer to the “Progressive Overload Is The Key To Continuous Progress In The Gym” on how you can incorporate progressive overload into your current training.

Too Much Cardio: Even though cardio is a great tool to keep additional body fat off as well as getting blood flow to muscles to improve recovery, doing too much cardio can add to muscle loss instead of muscle gain. Obviously muscle isn’t being built while performing cardio on the treadmill, stair master or elliptical therefore performing more that is needed is only adding or creating a deficit to your calories. In simple terms muscles need calories to grow. Burning too many calories doing cardio will only take away from the calories your muscle could have used for recovery. 

Track Calories: Most people typically track their calories when they are trying to lose weights but fail to do it when they are trying to gain weight. The same way a weight loss plateau can occur, so can a weight gain plateau. This is where you’ll need to increase calories to continue to gain weight at a healthy pace. If you don’t know exactly what you’ve been doing before, how can you know for sure what adjustments need to be made in the future? Easy fix just track your calories and you thank yourself later!

Drink Enough Water: The blood that runs through our bodies is primarily made up of water. Aside from delivering oxygen to muscle and organs, our bloods other function is to deliver nutrients to our cells and transport waste out of the body. This is where water consumption is very important for muscle building. Even though you can build muscle while being in a small calorie deficit, most individuals are in a surplus of calories. So the more food you eat, the more water you should drink. This allows those nutrients from our diet get to our muscles to recovery. Drinking enough water has other benefits such as preventing muscle cramps and improving muscle contractions. If you want to guarantee great training sessions, drink enough water throughout the day.

Prioritize Rest: Rest is the most important piece to the puzzle. After an intense training session, rest allows the muscles you have broken down to heal and recover. Most people have the theory that the muscle growth occurs during a training session. That is so far from the truth. In fact during training all that is taking place is breaking down muscle tissues but through proper nutrition and rest, muscle grow bigger, better & stronger.

Personal training is a field that is constantly growing. The amount of institutes that exist now makes its extremely convenient for anyone to become of trainer. But beware not all personal trainers are created equal. Let’s be honest back in 2014 I quit my 9 to 5 job, decided to pursue my passion as a trainer, bought a certification package from NCCPT and pass it with flying colors. Yes that easy I become a trainer. But I’ve dedicated years in learning how the human body works, how muscles contract, what diets are best, understanding macros and the listed goes on. If you’re a new trainer or thinking about it, just like any other job that’s providing you an income, take it seriously and honor your craft.

I’ve trained at so many gyms in my lifetime and as a personal trainer myself, seeing trainer who don’t take their craft seriously really upset me for several reasons. One this is a very rewarding professional that give you the opportunity to help someone reveal the best version of themselves. Two the people you train, your clients are paying good money for your service. Commercial, private or online, it isn’t a cheap expense. And three, I’m someone who’s always thinking of ways to provide a better service for my clients and I wish more trainer had a similar mentality.

Knowledge is power. I’m sure everyone has heard that saying at least once in their lifetime but knowledge isn’t much if you don’t apply it. Therefore to me “applied knowledge is power”. More trainers need to understand that the fitness industry is always changing therefore us as trainer need to adapt. Adapt to new training strategies, diets, macros and scientific studies in order to provide accurate information for our clients to help them reach their goals. Every time a trainer ask me for advice on how to become a great trainer my response 10 out of 10 times is always the same, “never stop learning”. The more versatile you are as a trainer, the more lives you can change with your service. This goes beyond money. You can have all the money in the world then suddenly die and no one will ever miss you. If you have hundreds, thousands or even millions of lives that you’ve touched, you’ll never been forgotten.

Gyms have always been male dominant. I’ve trained at gyms where the amount of women that were in the gym(not include the gym staff) you could count on one hand. So I get how easy it can be to get a new client who’s a female, good looking and may want more than training sessions with you. Please try to avoid this at all cost because it can ruin your entire reputation as a fitness professional. Business and pleasure never mix well similar to water and oil. Treat all your clients equally. If you wouldn’t sleep with the client who is slightly overweight, don’t try it with the one who isn’t. Great rule to live by for any professional in any industry.

Honor your craft! We live in a time period where we use social media multiple times throughout the day. I’m guilty of this myself. But I’ve never trained a client while being on my phone texting, checking my Instagram, sending Snapchats, etc. because my eyes always need to be on my client(s). The beauty of being a personal trainer is that you can identify problem areas that yous client had no idea about. How will you be able to catch these things if you eyes are glued to your phone? The honest truth is that you can’t because your focus is elsewhere and not on your client(s).  The last you want is your client to get hurt during a training session. Next time your training a client follow these simple steps:

  1. Set your timer for the length of the session
  2. Put your phone on vibrate/silent
  3. Put your phone in your pocket
  4. Only pull out your phone to check how much time you have remaining then immediately put away
  5. Put all your focus on your client(s)
  6. Simplify how you would like them to adjust their form if needed
  7. Pull your phone out when the time goes off

This behavior of how you conduct yourself as a trainer will not only bring you more clients for your business. you’ll be viewed as the trainer that honors their craft. The people who constantly watch others in the gym will have no choice but to respect your work ethic and there’s no better feeling than that. Trust me when I say this. THERE IS NO BETTER FEELING!