There are a great many things that I learned in my first few years of being a personal trainer/strength coach. Over the years I have changed so much as a trainer, as an athlete, and as an individual. Initially my programmes were excessive and there was no structure until I began to learn from some of the best in the field; people such as Paul Chek, Charles Poliquin, and others who taught me the importance of understanding training in a comprehensive manner.

Here are some of the things I learned which may be of relevance to other trainers.

Do not be arrogant

You will never know it all. No matter how much you read and how much you learn, it is not possible to know everything. Continue to keep an open mind about training techniques and programme design and you will always have your job.

Do not make your workouts excessive

Paul Chek taught me that less is better. Be efficient, not excessive. It is not about how many exercises you can get in, in an hour-long session. It is about the efficiency of the workout. If you keep trainees healthy and limit overtraining, you decrease their chance of injury and then you can be consistent and stay on track.

Write everything down

Whether its ideas, workouts, sets, reps, weights or quotes you hear, put everything down on paper. When you write it down you are more likely to remember and follow through. You cannot keep track of all the people you train. You lose track and it's mostly guesswork when you exercise your clients. Not a good idea.

It's ok to be wrong

I hate being wrong, but I have learned that it is ok to be wrong. It goes back to point number one, drop your arrogance. It's important to understand the flaws in your own programme and know that you can be wrong. If a question is asked and you do not know the answer, be honest and admit you don't know.

Do not believe everything you read or see

There is plenty of worthless information out there. You have to be able to use the good stuff and throw the bad stuff away. Taking an exercise and implementing it into your programme design is a better idea. Also, there are numerous fad diets and information that do not make sense. You have to draw up your own nutrition plan for clients to follow. What works for somebody might not work for someone else.

Keep it simple

Thanks to Paul Chek, I have changed my programme design immensely in the past two years. My workouts are filled with basic athletic movements that are mandatory for anyone trying to better their performance and fitness levels. I lay stress on proper technique and get my clients to master the basic movements, so they can progress from there. Do not complicate things; if you keep things simple, your clients will see improvements and that will keep them motivated.

(The author is CSCS (NSCA), C.H.E.K. and expert trainer)

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