12 Ways to be a Better Trainer or Strength Coach

Posted by Jason Ferruggia

1) Always Start Too Easy

Whenever you have a new client always start them out with easy exercises and light weights.

If you do group training have them do the easiest progression of whatever the rest of the more advanced members of the group are doing. Any nitwit can create a hard workout. That doesn’t make it effective, though.

You don’t want them struggling or getting down on themselves or thinking that your training is too hard. Nor do you want them throwing up during their first session or getting too sore from it.

2) Don’t Introduce Too Many Complicated Exercises Per Day

If you want to introduce the barbell snatch for the first time it’s probably a good idea to have the rest of the workout consist of no brainer exercises like inverted rows and glute ham raises.

Don’t pile snatches, pistol squats, divebomber pushups and Turkish Get Ups into the same workout if they’re all exercises people haven’t done before.

3) Only Give People Exercises That You Can Do Yourself

You should have tried it out first and mastered the form before you can teach it effectively or expect someone else to do it.

4) Almost Perfect Form is Usually Good Enough

When introducing a new exercise always accept “good enough” as perfect form at the beginning. As long as they aren’t going to get injured let some imperfections slip.

Why? Because nobody likes to be continually told that they are doing something wrong. It gets frustrating and they get down on themselves. Especially females.

Make small improvements over time and eventually they will get it. If they never do, as long as it’s close enough and there’s no injury risk involved I would probably let it go.

5) Say People’s Name at Least Three Times Per Workout

There’s no sweeter sound to a person than that of their own name. Don’t make up nicknames or call everyone “bro.” That’s fine after you’ve developed a relationship with them but at the beginning always say the persons first name, loudly and often.

This is especially important if you train large groups and need to yell across the room to people. If you’re like most people you forget someone’s name two seconds after you meet them. So try this little trick.

I forget exactly where I learned this but it works.

Whenever someone tells you their name immediately associate it with someone famous. Here, I’ll do it right now live on the spot.

I promise I’m going to just randomly pick names out of thin air and write down the first thing that comes to mind.

You say Billy.

I think- White Shoes Johnson. Man, that’s weird. Talk about being trapped in your old school memories.

You say Kyle.

I think- Kylie Minogue- That’s even weirder.  And embarrassing. I couldn’t think of anyone named Kyle off the top of my head so that’s what I thought of first.

You say Roger.

I think- Daltrey. “Who the fuck are you?

You say Alex.

I think Rodriguez. I’m a huge Yankees fan and even I’m not happy that his was the first name to come to mind.

You say Jimmy.

I think Walker. There’s me trapped in the 80’s again.

You say Dean.

I think Malenko. I grew up obsessed with pro wrestling.

You say Eric.

I think Estrada. Seriously?! Now this is getting disturbing.

You say Frank.

I think Rizzo. “Open ya ears, jackass!”

You say Jack.

I think Torse. Loved me some Jerky Boys.

You say Peter.

I think North. That’s right.

You say Sam.

I think Mills. Linebacker for the Saints, used to wear number 51. Why I thought of him first I haven’t the foggiest.

You say Tom.

I think Glavine. Again, very, very strange.

You say William.

I think Wallace. I’m half Scottish. And even though Mel Gibson’s insane, Braveheart’s still one of the greatest movies ever made.

In retrospect I kinda regret doing this little exercise as it gave me an unwanted look into the dark recesses of my mind. I find it a bit odd that I couldn’t think of anyone who became famous after the late ’80’s or early 90’s except for A-Rod. I’ll have to look deeper into this at another time.

The point is that by doing this it makes it way easier to remember someone’s name. And that’s very important for business.

6) Don’t Use Big Fancy, Technical Words

Nobody knows what the conjugate method is or what a brachialis is and they don’t understand terms like sarcoplasmic and myofibrillar hypertrophy, nor do they care.

I do my damndest to keep this site free of big words and confusing subject matter. And you guys that read this site are far more educated than the average person who is going to hire you to train them. I just know that not too many people want to read that type of stuff. So don’t force that upon your clients.

Keep it simple.

7) Make Things Competitive Sometimes

Guys thrive off competition and if you can make at least some or some parts of your workouts have a competitive element training will be more fun.

8) But Think Twice Before Doing so With Certain Females

Guys like to compete against each other. Females usually like to compete against themselves. Be careful when pitting females against each other. Make sure you know them well before doing so.

9) Guys Respond Well to Criticism. Girls Don’t. Know the Difference

You can tell a guy he’s a pussy and that your mom squats more than him and he’ll be completely okay with it. He’ll respond quite well, usually.

If you train groups of guys you can bust balls and talk about how so and so just made them look like a punk by doing ten reps with their 1RM. It motivates them.

Girls are different. There is a rare breed of them that you can do this with. I love those girls.

But a lot of the others will get down, angry or defeated. They respond best to positive feedback and support.

So while you  might be able to tell Mikey his squat looked like a car wreck you have to tell Susie that hers is looking better and she just needs to sit back a little more.

This also comes down to choosing and knowing your market. I personally only work with guys for a number of reasons. Everyone can’t be good at everything.

10) Smile and Have Fun

If you’re tired, lifeless and miserable your business will die. Try to lighten up and joke around more often.

This is sometimes hard for me in the heat of the moment during a workout because I take it very seriously if someone isn’t really giving it all they have.

If I write a diet for someone that should have packed ten pounds on them in a certain time frame yet they look the same as they did the first time I wrote it, that person slowly starts to die in my eyes. I lose interest and start to resent them.

Maybe that’s wrong but I’m being honest here.

The best thing you can do is get rid of that person or just let it go. Don’t let them bring you down; instead stay positive and focused on the people in your training program who do actually bust their ass and do what they’re supposed to do.

11) Don’t Check Your Cell Phone During a Training Session. Ever

It’s incredible to me that I have to mention this but I see it happening all the time when I’m in public gyms. Show respect to the person or people who are paying you and act like a professional. Checking your phone shows a lack of interest in what you’re doing. Keep it off when you’re training someone.

12) Keep the Workouts Short and Fairly Simple

Nobody wants to be overwhelmed by an overabundance of confusing set and rep schemes that they need an abacus to figure out.

Everyone has enough stuff overwhelming them at work and in their personal lives. The last thing they need is more of it at the gym. So keep it simple and keep the workouts limited to no more than 45 minutes.

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This is the ultimate resource for any trainer or strength coach who wants to put together highly effective, short, simple workouts that will deliver huge results and help grow their business.

I’ll post more random tips on how to be a better trainer or strength coach some time in the future but in the meantime I’d like to read your feedback and hear your tips.

So please leave your best stuff below.

I look forward to seeing a lot of good tips from all of you.

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Thanks, guys.