Choose Your Training System Wisely

_MG_9580 Why do I say choose your training system wisely instead of saying choose your trainer wisely? Because most trainers represent a specific system, myself included! As trainers we all apply some sort of structured method that we pass along to our clients.   Frequently, the success of any fitness program is directly related to how well the client is suitably matched to their trainers training system.  I always preface my initial client phone consultations by saying there is no right or wrong system, just different ones! As trainers we all have a certain style we bring to the table, our own thumb print.  In most cases it’s a system based on years of accumulated knowledge from working with many different types of clients. In the beginning of a training career, results can be the result of a Trial & Error approach!  I can definitely say that I have made my share of mistakes over the years, and some day I might even write a book about some of the mishaps that could surely rival the top 10 comedic book list, but that’s for another time. Most importantly, a good trainer should learn from his/her mistakes and use all experiences to mold & perfect the training system they offer to clients! I would like to share with you a few points of interest to be aware of when deciding on the perfect training system for you. Remember there are numerous ways to accomplish the same goals so choose the training system that is a good match for you in order to guide you to the successful achievement of your fitness goals!!
  1. One on One vs. Online Training – Lately this has been the subject of animated debate on various message boards and rightly so. Each of us needs a certain motivating factor to help us be our best. Some of us are highly motivated athletes who merely need weekly monitoring and a few words of encouragement and off we go! Others need a more personal accountability factor that forces us to show up for training and makes sure we are following our program exactly as drawn up. While there is nothing wrong with needing more personal assistance, you have to be honest with yourself and if you know you fall into this category, don’t begin an online program expecting that same degree of one on one time and then half way into the program become upset because you’ve decided you need someone physically to be with you.
Some clients I know have tried to do a combination of online with one on one, but the trouble lies in the mixing of ideas between the two systems / two different trainers. Which trainer is correct when they both tell you to make changes to your program? Which trainer should you listen to when you are told conflicting observations regarding your physique? The problem doesn’t necessarily lie in the different answers you receive, but rather in the confusion this can cause in your mind.  Believe me when I say your mind is your toughest challenge in any contest prep!!  Advice – review each method carefully to determine if one or the other provides the attention you need in order for you to reach your goals. Above all, be honest with yourself about your needs and don’t feel embarrassed if you truly need more personal attention as we all have the right to be motivated in such a manner that brings the best out in us!
  1. Types of Systems – There are many different training philosophies designed to help you achieve your fitness goals.  It’s about finding the best system that fits your personal beliefs and that allows you to function at your best. There are many different ways to prepare for contest, ketogenetic diets, carbohydrate rotation diets, high protein diets, balanced diet plans.  The bottom line is you have to choose a program that you know your body & your mind will respond to best! Some of the decision can be drawn from past experiences, for instance if you know that when you adhere to a high protein diet your body gets sluggish, your energy levels decrease and you mood becomes agitated, then by all means don’t choose this particular philosophy as it will only cause you grief!! When you have your initial phone consultation with a trainer, ask them what their training philosophy is including their beliefs are on nutrition, training and cardiovascular exercise.  Make sure that you are comfortable with the answers you receive.  You don’t want to get half way through a program and decide this isn’t right for you. Once you do commit to a system, you must follow it exactly as planned to truly measure its success.  Altering the program will only diminish the results you achieve.   Advice – don’t be afraid to ask pertinent questions about a trainers system and beliefs!! You are about to embark on a 12 week+ program that will require your time and energy to succeed and it is very important to choose the proper system that best gives you the opportunity for success!!!
  1. Experience – Each trainer brings a certain level of experience to the table. Just because a trainer has more experience, doesn’t necessarily mean that he/she has an advantage over other trainer. I have seen trainers with little experience do well, and I have seen trainers with a lot of experience do well.  Many times the deciding factor to a client’s overall success may lie with the compatibility between client & trainer.  If this is your first competition prep, would it be to your advantage to hire a trainer who has worked with numerous figure or fitness athlete’s and who can provide you with knowledge that makes your prep easier?   Perhaps.  Look for the specific level of experience that fits your personal needs at the level you have currently achieved. Sometimes this level of experience falls back into the idea of how much personal attention we need as trainers with years of experience usually may have numerous clients competing in certain showsAdvice – look for the proper level of trainer expertise that fit’s your current situation. Evaluate if his system affords you proper attention to fit your personal needs and if the experience he brings to the table will be an added benefit to you. Just because a trainer has a lot of experience doesn’t mean he won’t make mistakes, we’re only human, but it does mean he probably has been through various competition prep situations before and should have a good understanding of how to correct missteps quickly.
  1. Personality – Now this section should get two stars**!! Each trainer has his or her own personality traits, which creates their own style of motivating! Don’t hire a drill sergeant if you need Dr. Phil!!! Some of us are better at listening, some of us are better at sternness, and some of us are good at it all. Once again, it’s about knowing your own personal needs and not being afraid to choose the personality that motivates you and keeps you on track to achieve your goals. Some of this may tie into experience, as when you have worked with a number of clients you as a trainer get a feel for a certain personality that a client may have and you draw certain conclusions as to which method of motivation that client may need. If you hire a trainer who is a no nonsense trainer and really likes to stay on top of his clients to keep them on track with constant energy, just make sure that’s exactly what motivates you!!!  Advice – Be picky in choosing the right personality, don’t just choose a trainer because he has worked with so and so, really do your homework on if his clients enjoy working with him. When you have your initial phone consultation, get a feel for his personality and style and see if it is what fits you? Bottom line, you’ll be spending the next 12+ weeks of your life with your trainer, so make sure you are compatible personality wise so that lines of communication are clear and fruitful!!
In summary, this is going to be the most important decision you make over the next 12+ weeks of your contest prep. You can acquire the best suits, best make up person, best hair stylist, not to mention all the hours of training and cost of intangibles like hotel fees, travel fees and entry fees and none of it will mean anything if your physique isn’t at it’s absolute best. Please take your time evaluating what’s in your best interest and make smart decisions that set you up for success. I know a lot of very good trainers in the industry and while we all have our own special ways, we aren’t always the perfect fit for everyone. Review how a trainer’s system is set up, how do they handle appointments, how frequent are updates and what comprises updates.  Do they travel to shows, how familiar are they with current NPC requirements, and does their current program style and personality fit your personal goals and needs!! Always remember, you have to respect your trainers system and style in order for it to work. As trainers, we are only as good as our clients allow us to be. All the experience and knowledge in the world won’t be helpful unless you follow your trainer’s advice exactly as designed. Once you have decided on the proper system for you, commit to it, put your blinders on, your ear phones’s in and politely thank those who offer advice, but let them know you already have someone you trust who has your best interest in mind!!!

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