Categories: Training
Tags: fitness

How to work out like a personal trainer every time

January 10, 2017

Use these tips from personal trainer Jessica Thiefels to take your training to the next level, just like a trainer.

If you’ve ever watched a personal trainer at the gym and thought, “I wish I could workout like them!” there’s good news: you can – and you don’t have to study and take a test to do it.

While personal trainers have a vast knowledge of fitness, their effectiveness comes from creating smart habits and setting themselves up for success before they ever step foot inside the gym or studio. The following tips will help you do the same, making your workouts more effective and enjoyable. Soon, people will be looking at you saying, “I wish I could workout like that person!”

Come with a plan

More often than not, clients will say to me: “I hate going to the gym. I end up walking around and not actually doing anything.” My response every single time remains: “Write your workout before you go!” Or at least have a basic idea of what you want to do.

warm-up

While personal trainers are accustomed to writing workouts, and therefore the practice is easy for us, you don’t have to write a whole workout to bring more focus and effectiveness to your session. A basic plan could look like this:

  • Treadmill to warm up for 5 minutes
  • Weight room for 20 minutes
  • Stretching area for ab exercises for 10 minutes
  • Treadmill for run and cool down for 15 minutes

This structure helps you stick with a timeline and move from one area to the next with purpose. If you know what exercises you want to do, write those down with each section as well. For example:

  • Treadmill to warm up for 5 minutes
  • Weight room for 20 minutes
    • 4 sets of 10 each: bicep curls, military press, weighted squat, deadlifts
  • Stretching area for ab exercises for 10 minutes
    • 3 sets of 20 each: plank jacks, toe touches, Russian twists
  • Treadmill for run and cool down for 15 minutes

This makes it even easier to stay on track because there’s no guessing about what you’ll do once you reach the weight room or stretching area. If you don’t know a lot of exercises, you can research when writing your plan at home, rather than trying to watch and copy people at the gym or making up your own.

Eliminate distractions

The gym is full of distractions: people, music, busy weight rooms; the list could go on.

These distractions can wreak havoc on your productivity at the gym. When you’re focused on watching the person across the room perform a chest press, you aren’t paying attention to your own form or effort, which could lead to less effective movements and put you at risk for injury.

Here are a few of my favorite tips for avoiding these distractions at the gym:eliminate distractions

  • Wear wireless headphones – no more annoying chord!
  • Workout alone, not with friends, to avoid chatting.
  • Double knot your shoes so you don’t have to stop and do it mid-workout.
  • Find a private space to work out, if possible, so you can focus on yourself.
  • Bring a water bottle so you don’t get stuck in line or conversation at the water fountain.

Find fitness you love

My relationship with fitness changed when I realized I don’t have to do the same thing week-in and week-out to see positive results and feel great. In fact, I had better results when I changed my routine, tried different formats, and found the fitness that I love.

If you’ve been a gym goer for many years, you may not know what you like, so start experimenting. For example, give rock climbing a try. It was voted the #2 most popular indoor hobby of 2016 for a reason: It’s fun and extremely challenging. This full body workout targets your quads, biceps, abs, deltoids, forearm, and middle and upper back  – all in one session.

After doing some experimenting myself, I now include one session of yoga a week – I love vinyasa, hot and sculpt – along with a boxing class and one or two gym sessions.

I’ve found that when you focus on the fitness you love and choose the format that feels good for you, working out becomes enjoyable. If you ever wondered why personal trainers love working out, this is it.

Another way to go about it

After you’ve learnt to plan your training session, you can try switching things up. Don’t create a set schedule; decide what you’ll do for your workout on the day-of. This has made a huge difference for me in recent months. Without a set schedule, I’m free to choose the workout that sounds most appealing that day. For example, if I notice that my body needs stretching, I’ll head to a yoga class. If I wake up feeling strong and powerful, I might do a heavy lifting session at the gym or take a boxing class at the studio where I teach. You’ll be amazed at how liberating this strategy is, so give it a try.

Focus on form

Personal trainers know that most exercises aren’t effective if form isn’t right. For example, the key to a good bicep curl is keeping elbows glued to your sides; when you swing them forward, rather than simply hinging at the elbow, you decrease the contraction on your bicep, making it less effective.
If you’re not sure what the right form looks like, use a resource like ACE’s Exercise Library. Here you’ll find hundreds of demonstration videos, which you can mimic during workouts.

If you need more guidance, work with a personal trainer at your gym; with just a few sessions you can learn proper form for a variety of exercises. Better yet, take a class and ask the instructor to point out any form mistakes they notice you making. With improved form, you’ll see greater results and feel stronger.

Working out like a personal trainer isn’t about having their knowledge; it’s about being smart with your training – using proper form, having a plan, and eliminating distractions that keep you from doing your best work. Use these tips to take your workouts to the next level, no personal trainer certification required.



Please note that the information provided in the Polar Blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals or physicians. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.

In the spotlight

Jessica Thiefels

Jessica Thiefels

Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than ten years and is currently a full-time blogger. She is also an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition specialist, and the owner of her own personal training business, Honest Body Fitness in San Diego.