5 signs you have a good personal trainer

Posted by Dayne Hudson in Wellness

Estimated reading time: 5mins

5 signs you have a good personal trainer | Bulk Nutrients blog

1. Make sure they don't follow trends

A personal trainer who shapes their whole mindset of coaching around the latest fad of training and/or nutrition isn't going to work for you.

Fitness fads are just that: fads. They don't last because they don't stand the test of time.

Whether it's Bosu ball preachers, TRX usage or CrossFit junkies, be very wary. There's not a "one size fits all" for every client.

Now sure, there's a place for a Bosu ball here and there (particularly for some hamstring exercises!) but make sure it's not the foundation of your training and popping up too frequently without a convincing reason.

Moreover, some qualifications in some spaces can be achieved very quickly (I'm talking days). Ensure your potential personal trainer has the appropriate certificates (certificates 3 and 4 here in Australia, for example) and not just a "CrossFit" certificate that means they don't have a broad grasp of training as a whole.

2. They follow the principle of Progressive Overload

The principle of progressive overload is paramount to your success; it's simply increasing the workload for muscles beyond present capacity.

And progressive overload is important because it directly drives muscle growth.

Research shows progressive overload can be implemented in the following four ways:

  1. Increasing the amount of weight we lift
  2. Increasing the training volume by increasing the number of reps, sets, or exercises performed
  3. Altering rest periods
  4. Increasing rep speed during lighter loads

Research tells us the most popular method is number 1.

So, it's obvious what you're looking for: your personal trainer to be taking detailed notes of:

  1. Where you're at
  2. Where you're going
  3. And a plan to get you there

It's making sure you're improving slowly, day by day, with more and more weight on the bar, and/or ongoing fat loss.

3. They listen to you and what you want

The worst type of fitness professional thinks they know what it is you want before asking, and simply shovels you into their "method."

A good one will really take the time to document not only what it is you want, but any injuries you have. Your personal trainer will ask you what you expect from them, what you don't want, and specifically what your goals are: fat loss, muscle growth, better fitness, etc.

Make sure your personal trainer cares about what you want and takes the time to listen.
Make sure your personal trainer cares about what you want and takes the time to listen.

They understand it is all about YOU, and that you may be starting from absolute scratch or from reasonable experience.

4. You feel like you can do anything with them

Here's the most important thing to remember you have to LIKE your personal trainer.

They're going to see you in all sorts of states: stressed, tired, motivated, demotivated, and you need to ensure you're comfortable with being the real you around them.

This will ensure you let your hair down in a way that you can give maximal effort in a session and get the results you need.

If you're tiptoeing around with a certain personality that doesn't allow you to break free, results are going to be rather scarce.

5. They hold you accountable and DON'T let you off the hook.

I can remember watching one of the best personal trainers I'd ever seen at the first gym I signed up at 17.

He would come in almost like a military Sargent and demand a high work ethic every time.

I can remember this personal trainer performing boxing with a client. When he asked her to keep going, she rolled her eyes at him. He yelled back: "Don't roll your eyes at me!" And demanded she keep punching him.

Now, some onlookers would be forgiven for thinking: "What a goose, yelling at his client!" But the truth is, this is why he was great.

Make sure you're held accountable for being lazy or not giving 100 per cent.
Make sure you're held accountable for being lazy or not giving 100 per cent.

Because his clients were paying him to bring them RESULTS, and NOT to let them off the hook when they just didn't feel like they "had it in them".

This personal trainer knew that the difference between winning and losing, and between getting results, was making clients do what they DIDN'T want to do, every time.

Otherwise, they could just turn up to the gym and do it "their" way and keep getting no results. So, make sure they don't let you get away with average energy!

The bottom line on a good personal trainer

Finding a personal trainer that gets you results isn't rocket science, but there are five main things you need to think about: ensure they don't follow trends, make sure they follow the principle of progressive overload, be sure they listen to you and what you want, ensure you feel like you can do anything with them, and be certain that they hold you accountable for what you've paid them for and don't ever let you off the hook.

Consider interviewing a few over the phone before making a decision, and always get reviews from other clients who have used them.


  1. Goldberg AL, Etlinger JD, Goldspink DF, Jablecki C. Mechanism of work-induced hypertrophy of skeletal muscle. Med Sci Sports. 1975 Fall;7(3):185-98. PMID: 128681.
  2. Lorenz DS, Reiman MP, Walker JC. Periodization: current review and suggested implementation for athletic rehabilitation. Sports Health. 2010;2(6):509-518. doi:10.1177/1941738110375910.
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