Training Goals With Trainer

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 12, 2009 3:27 AM GMT
    Although I rarely reply to forums, I have been around for a while reading and learning a great deal from this site--I truly appreciate having this resource available. I'll try to make my question as short as possible, but I feel that I need to lead into it a little bit, but you can skip to the "QUESTIONS" heading below to go directly to the question if you don't wanna hear my background crap.

    I've always been more of a long-distance runner who avoided upper-body strength trainer. After numerous, successive overuse injuries my body no longer even remotely had the "runner look" (i.e., I got really out of shape). After a lot of starts and stops with strength training on my own, I have been working with a personal trainer for the last two months. I have 1:1 session twice a week and I'm part of a group session twice a week (the group is a pretty intense total-body, almost boot-camp type event).

    I told my trainer up front that my goal was to build upper body strength--not to the point of looking like a world-class body builder, but to the point of not being embarassed of taking off my shirt. We took measurements of weight, neck, chest, arms, waist, hips, thighs, calf, and body fat. At the end of four weeks, the body fat, weight, and waist/hips got better but all the other numbers stayed the same.

    I've just now gone down to just one 1:1 session, because that package allowed my to spread the training out over the next 8 weeks. I have really devoured several sources out there (including RJ) and I'm feeling really good about doing 3 strength sessions a week on my own--I've been doing them on my own 2 days a week already. My current plan is that I do cardio every morning, and strength training after work, 6 days a week (3 on my own, 2 1-hr groups sessions with trainer, 1 individual 30-min session with trainer).

    Finally, my two questions.

    (1) After seeing the measurements that we've taken, and will continue to take, they don't seem to mean anything to me. I know it was my fault for being vague up front, but now I want to be specific, and assign specific number goals to each of these measurements. Is that reasonable? I can set waist/weight/body fat goals, but it is reasonable to set a goal for arm size and chest size--realizing that these things are indicators of the overall goals of (1) upper body strengh and (2) looking good with my shirt off? Or would be trying to set goals at that level of specificity be anal retentive and unrealistic?

    (2) Is is a fair question/expectation of a trainer to ask advice on what plan I should employ on the days I work out on my own? I don't want him to tell me which excercises, but I'd like to ask advice such as should I do legs on X day and chest/back/shoulder and Y day, etc. to ensure that the days I'm working on my own complement the work I do with my trainer, since both my individual work and my work with him should be geared toward the same set of goals?

    I'm asking these questions because, although I like working out with my trainer, he can sometimes be both arrogant and defensive and I want to know how far out there I'd be in discussing these things.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 12, 2009 4:13 AM GMT
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like you want to gain muscle mass, not muscle strength. Because you can be strong without looking strong. And to answer your questions..

    1) No.. Don't use measurements. Just work out, and implement mass building exercises and techniques (hypertrophy). Eat more food. After you gain some muscularity, you can see where your weak/lagging spots are. And then you can focus your attention on those areas, to bring a balanced appearance to your upper body. And the keyword here is appearance. Your goal is to look good with your shirt off. If you start measuring stuff and try to make this into an exact science, you're only going to frustrate yourself.

    2) I don't know what to offer here. Everyone's body reacts differently to certain exercises and routines. You need to be very aware of your own body to figure what works. This awareness usually comes after you've been working out for some time. Trainers are great. But I don't think most of them really try to get to know their client's needs. Since you've been with your trainer for only a couple months, it might be a good time to lay down some goals before it's too late. Let him know exactly what you want. Find a guy in your gym with your ideal body type, and tell your trainer.. "I wanna look like that guy". If he can't or won't deliver, then it's time to find a new trainer.

    Also, I might add that you should avoid the group session workouts. For a while at least. That type of "boot camp" training will have a negative effect on all the work you put into the gym.

    Your body stores glycogen in the muscle cells. And that stored glycogen contributes to muscle mass. If you're doing intense cardio, then your body is going to burn up all that stored glycogen, and you're going to lose some muscle mass. And then you're back where you started.