2018, Phit Lifestyle Limited

10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started As A Personal Trainer

August 9, 2018

 #1 Feeling Sore Is Not A Good Indicator Of A Workout. .  .


The no pain no gain mentality coupled with the copious amounts of memes on social media about tough workouts, fueled even further by the ego’s at the gym all talking about how sore their muscles were after an epic arm day made me feel like unless I was sore I wasn’t working hard enough.


When I started out personal training I thought the same was evident with my clients, if they weren’t sore they hadn’t worked hard enough, hadn’t got the best from their session and I’d ultimately failed to provide what they’d paid for.


What I didn’t know is that DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) is caused by connective tissue and muscle damage that causes a large degree of inflammation at the area, hence why it can be so uncomfortable. It isn’t a bad thing and is likely experienced after a new training stimulus (a change to exercise, volume or range of movement), not because of a “great workout”.


Some muscle trauma is of course necessary to make improvements but DOMS isn’t the only measure of how damaged a muscle might be. Any personal trainer can beast someone in the gym for an hour, doesn’t mean they are doing you the most good.



#2 Fat Cannot Turn Into Muscle and Vice-Versa. .


Fat cannot turn into muscle just like your hand can’t turn into your foot! They are two totally different tissues and are not interchangeable. This particular myth exists because as you begin to exercise more, and start lifting weights your body’s energy output starts to increase meaning you begin to expend more calories; hence fat loss. I'd like to definitely point out here that I am sure I thought this in my teens and now recently ... #embarassing


#3 You Don’t Need To Train to Failure Every time.


In my late teens, early 20’s I used to feel like I need to leave the gym crawling on my hands and knees. I am sure I used to sit in the changing rooms long after working out before I could even drive myself home.  Following on from post number 1 I think I felt like if training hard builds great, strong, lean bodies than training even harder will yield even greater results.


Truth be told though, there is no activity outside of the gym that shows us that training to complete failure is critical. It could actually do the opposite and lead to loss of motivation and interest. If you’re so focused on ruining your body every session without factoring other implements of training and nutrition then you won’t get what you desire.

As much as it’s about training hard, it’s also about enjoying the process.



#4 Most Supplements Are A Complete Waste Of Time.

If you’ve followed me for a while you’ll already know I am a complete sucker for marketing. I can be sold anything and put a red sale sign in front of it and you’ll convince me I’m somehow saving money while spending it!


So yep I fell victim to those flashy advertisements in the magazines featuring beautiful lean women promoting supplements they said were key to their lean, toned bodies.


I got supplements like protein powders to make sure I ate within my anabolic window! Arginine for a pre workout pump to fuel my workouts (despite I hate the itchy feeling it gives your skin) and BCAA’S to make sure I didn’t lose any muscle mass I’d built and to push me into an anabolic zone.

Unfortunately I didn’t really know where to stop and followed other trainers I admired; if he was taking a casein powder at bedtime so was I.


I bought into supplement books and made supplement guides for my clients highlighting ones they should take.


I refused to believe that you could get all this from your food and that some supplements are just that, “a supplement”.

Don’t get me wrong I still use some and I still think some have their place such as Omega 3 fish oils and I think protein powders have their place but most are a complete waste of time.

A sports nutritionist once wrote a column and said that if it works it’s probably banned or dangerous and if it isn’t banned or dangerous well then it probably doesn’t work.


I guess even I sadly once felt like there was a magic pill.



#5 There Is No Magic Anabolic Window For You To Consume Protein After You Exercise


This one almost seems comical to me now, although it’s still a common researched topic that is evidently still believed by so many people.


It is a term used in strength training to describe the 45 Minute window (give or take) after exercise during which nutrition can shift the body from a catabolic state to an anabolic one, an important aspect when considering weight loss and gaining lean muscle tissue too.



Your personal trainer now might even still bang on about this, and whilst there’s evidence to support this factor and while there are optimal foods you can consume post activity for all sorts of benefits it isn’t as tightly important as a 30-45 minute window otherwise all your workout efforts will be ruined sort of scenario.


I won’t bang on about this one topic as it’s pretty vast but what is an important take home point is something as precise and small as this won’t diminish your results and hard work. People struggle to get the basics right and sustain those, let along focusing on the optimal time to eat after you’ve worked out!

Small factors like this only become important when someone is already extremely fit and lean and their coach is looking to make more of a difference, the smaller aspects when doing everything else right come into play. For the general public though such a small thing like the above will play no important role in getting results.

#6 Sweet Potato Isn’t Superior To other Potatoes

This point almost feels like my most recent pitfall, it’s definitely something I still hear and see a lot of people banging on about.

In short when you compare 100g of both sweet potato and white potato there really isn’t that much significant different. In fact threes even more carbohydrate and more calorie within a sweet potato than a white one but a white potato is placed slightly higher on a glycemic scale ((GI is a relative ranking of carbohydrate in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels).  It is due to this information that sweet potato gets given a “super food” status as well as being quite high in vitamin A.

However on the whole there is little difference between them and actually you should eat them both as part of a balanced diet.



#7 Calories play a big part in the realm of weight loss and thermodynamics can’t be ignored.


I still don’t think it’s right to focus solely on calorie intake, we can all reduce our calories and lose weight but what is difficult is sustaining it and creating lifelong habits.


I used to focus solely on food content, making sure people were more active and whilst I still sometimes do that I am far more aware that a calorie deficit in relation to exercise out put must occur in order for any fort of fat loss to occur and there are effective ways to this without forcing someone to monotonously count numbers weather it be macronutrients or calories.

I think this goes hand in hand with me feeling like weight loss was easy and everyone should be able to do it but actually it goes far deeper than that for most people.  A good coach will find a solution for their client and find many approaches to get to the same destination as opposed to finding a solution they think works most of the time and then forcing their clients to stick with it, only pointing blame at them if it can’t be achieved.


# 8 That I would need my own personal trainer.

Yes you did read that correctly! I used to spend hours putting together the most elaborate training plans and there was a time where I would train 2x a day 6 days a week and probably still be active on the 7th.

Now  . . . I barely fit in 3-4 sessions and they rarely last over 45 minutes.


Why am I telling you this? Because I can absolutely relate to the busy individual trying to hold down a family, keep their friends, have a social life and some down time as well as running a successful business or working for a company.  I work 15-hour days, most days and so fitting training in can sometimes be a chore. 

It has meant that I often train smarter not harder and means I can relate to my clients and help them get the max out of sessions when time may not be on your side.  If your worried about getting started or struggling to manage training and nutrition around your current lifestyle or commitments, don’t fear, you aren’t the only one and there is a way around it to get the results you desire without affecting your other commitments.



#9 Consistency of effort is better than the intensity of effort.

It really doesn’t matter how amazing the program is your following, how great the research is behind it or who got results on it before you if you personally can’t follow it for periods of time.

I still try to remind myself now that it is better to be consistent than it is to be occasionally amazing.

This is true to both training and nutrition, don’t commit to unrealistic goals and a program you already feel isn’t realistic for you otherwise you are just setting yourself up to fail.

Ask yourself if your program is REASLISTIC? ENJOYABLE? And FLEXIBLE? And if it isn’t it’s not the one for you.


#10 Bread, donuts, cereal and sandwiches to name but a few are not the cause of you being fat.

Sounds a bit weird that statement doesn’t it?  We love as an industry to demonise foods and label things as “clean foods”. Albeit as a nation we probably do eat a bit too much of these foods  (I probably should have thrown alcohol and pasta to that list as well) But it’s not these foods their self that cause weight gain but rather the calories in all these foods added u over time and a sedentary lifestyle that causes weight gain.

There are of course optimal ways of eating and it will do someone good to swap a sandwich for a salad occasionally or have a Greek yogurt instead of cereal in the mornings but the bottom line is that moderation is key and that these foods alone aren’t what are making you fat.



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