The Most Important Personal Training Secrets Revealed
The Most Important Personal Training Secrets Revealed by Coach Matt Hartsky, CSCS, PES, CPT
Personal trainers have a lot of secrets. In the early days of their careers, they may not even realize it themselves, but their studies to become certified gave them the knowledge that may seem downright magical to the average person looking to lose weight or start an exercise program.
As the years go by, a trainer’s knowledge about weight loss and exercise accumulates rapidly, often daily, as they work with more and more people. Every opportunity to train someone new who has the goal to get in shape, lose some weight, recover from illness, or prepare for an upcoming event provides them with feedback about what worked and what didn’t.
Trainers who have been around the fitness industry for a while often look to advance their knowledge through better certifications and ongoing research and education to find ways they can be better coaches for their clients.
After more than 25 years of strength, conditioning, and nutrition coaching, and as a personal trainer and gym owner at Transforming Strength in Laramie, Wyoming, I have accumulated a lot of health and fitness secrets. While some of this knowledge is more profound than others, there is a lot to share. Sometimes, the information I need to pass along comes in the form of small tweaks to form or technique, while other times, it lies in helping someone understand how food works in their body to either provide energy or get stored as fat.
Many trainers live in areas that allow them to specialize their services for very specific or niche clientele. In my case, I have spent my career in smaller cities with populations ranging between 10,000 to 60,000 people. In my early days, it bothered me that because of my limited demographic I wasn’t able to dial in on just one particular fitness goal. Over the years, I’ve come to realize the business need to stay diversified in my services has actually built a well-rounded skill-set that allows me to confidently work with many, many different health and performance goals. More secrets.
Since every client’s background, needs, ability level, and goals will be different, there are thousands of secrets that might only come up on an individual basis. However, no matter what training style a coach uses to get results there are some universal fitness secrets important to the success of all personal training clients.
Here are a few of the most important personal training secrets I’ve learned:
Inspirational goals drive the bus.
I hear or read the word motivation many times a day. It’s a term and idea that is as synonymous with fitness as a set of 6 pack abs. Unfortunately, despite the amount of focus placed on “getting motivated” I have come to realize this is a losing battle. You see, motivation is fleeting. We can read or watch something super motivating, go to bed, and wonder where that spark went when the alarm clock rings early the next morning. We can have a deep and meaningful conversation about nutrition that motivates us to make healthy eating changes but the afternoon cravings can crush this flame as quickly as it was lit. Motivation simply comes and goes.
Inspired people, on the other hand, can buckle down and work through their challenges and move closer to their goals. Inspiration sticks with us. Oftentimes, it makes us emotional. Being inspired about your goal means you will be driven and passionate about doing the small and often tedious tasks that will lead to success over time. Setting inspirational goals will keep you on track and move you closer to your goals long after motivation has left you hanging.
Following the 6 P’s will change your life.
Proper prior planning prevents poor performance. The first time I heard someone use the “6 P’s” was when I was in high school while attending a cross-country running camp at a division I university. The successful head coach was presenting the value of planning and preparation. As an athlete who was always looking for an edge, this particular topic stood out and stuck with me. I became a meticulous planner, not just with my running schedule, but with many areas of life. This preparation wasn’t out of obligation, but because it didn’t take long for me to realize the more prepared I was for anything I wanted to do well at, the better I performed.
The more this strategy worked for me, the more I became aware of the different ways planning was tied together. The more I worked to tie the pieces together, the better the plan turned out. For instance, I realized the more training volume I did, the faster I became. But there is only so much you can do at one time, so I planned to add morning workouts to my afternoon training. Getting up early and the added workload left me more fatigued, so I started going to bed earlier. Going to bed earlier meant I had to cram more school work and study time in, so I became more efficient with getting those tasks done earlier in the day and using my time more wisely by using a room at the college library for my studies where I wouldn’t be as distracted as I was at my busy college campus apartment. The more schedule-oriented I became, the easier it was for me to plan my meals and ensure I was fueling my training.
You’ve probably heard it said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” This couldn’t be more true than it is with fitness and nutrition. Most of the failures and slow progress I see with clients comes down to their ability and willingness to plan and prepare in advance, especially when it involves having healthy meals ready to go. If you want to see significant and long-lasting results from your exercise and eating changes, you must unequivocally commit to the secret of planning, preparing, and following through.
Consistency is king.
I wouldn’t expect to be very good at anything in life if I only did it now and then. Yet, I have clients come to me all the time who tell me they want to make substantial changes to their health, fitness, and nutrition, without fully committing to being consistent with the actions necessary to make their desired changes possible and permanent.
Oftentimes, I find myself feeling like clients expect me to get out a magic wand, suggest an unheard-of pill, or get out my divine playbook and give them the secret that will make all their weight loss and health worries disappear. Many also believe coming to see me for workouts and nutrition advice for a couple of hours each week will be enough to get them to their goals.
I try to set new clients on the path to success by having this discussion during their first week of training with me- To be successful, the secret is consistency. While this is not the profound advice most are looking for, it is 100% true.
If you are scheduled to work 5 days for your employer to accomplish everything they hired you to get done, but you only put in 2-3 hours or even 2-3 days of effort per week, how is that job going to turn out for you?
If you get married and commit to work at your marriage every day with your spouse to get through life’s many challenges together, but you only put in 2-3 hours or even 2-3 days of effort per week, how is your marriage going to turn out?
If you decide to have children and be the best parent you can for them to be successful, but you only put in 2-3 hours or even 2-3 days of effort per week, how do you think your kids are going to turn out?
While these are three examples of major life commitments, is your health and fitness any less important? While building consistency may not happen overnight for you, it is a crucial step in the process you can strive for every day.
Setting inspirational health goals, learning to plan and prepare for training and eating on purpose, and developing consistent habits are the most important personal training secrets I hope to successfully share with my clients. Like a pyramid, these elements are the foundation and base for which we can build all other aspects of fitness. The wider and stronger the base the higher the peak of our pyramid can reach.