You’ve heard them all before during your sessions with your trainers. And, by now you might be well aware that “abs (somehow) are made in the kitchen,” and how “eating clean” means mastication is overrated. Clients’ responses to these delicious axioms could be translated via comic book-style thought bubbles which might collectively read: “no %$!#.” A totally reasonable response.

After eleven years of training I feel trainers forget that every single client is an individual with unique experiences and lifestyles. Sure, there are similarities. Yet, shrink wrapping our catchphrases subtracts motivational CHI of our clients. Our advice must be uplifting and also gratifying. Otherwise, trainers risk losing the special faith of their clients.

Here are a few favorite advised axioms I’ve heard over the last decade in fitness. Athletes and Trainers live by these wise words of working out. Everyday people? Nah, not really.

You can almost hear the squish of clients’ eyeballs rolling up and back against their frontal lobes.

“Abs Are Made in the Kitchen…”

Breakfast is usually made in the kitchen. Abs are not. Ideally, exercisers who hear that their six pack is borne from dieting are given the tallest of orders. They are expected to diet down to the accepted 15-ish% body fat or below to literally see the striations of ab muscles. But, I have spent too many years in boxing gyms to buy “abs-like-dough” swill.

I’ve seen ancient men, old school, ex-boxers, over 220 pounds with grizzled, protruding six packs and I have trainer friends who walk about at 15 percent body fat with little or no definition in their stomachs. I know competitive bodybuilders who never had definition in their abs until they started doing that which Thai boxers and jailhouse inmates alike have been doing for decades: incessant crunching.

A former coach had us performing hundreds of crunches each day during training, and in one hour, a painful thousand. After months of this training, I noticed my six pack became chiseled and ripped. Now, I have never been overweight in life. Though I have also never spent more than a month not being very active in my 30ish years. Furthermore, I have never “dieted” for even a day in my life. Hard work gets you a six pack. Doing hundreds of crunches daily gets you a six pack. And, performing high-test ab exercises does too like hanging crunches, dragon flags, and GHD crunches (bad-assedness). I prescribe between 1000 to 1500 per week to clients.

Planks (and all their delightfully painful derivations like side planks, scissor planks and decline planks), tone the deep core and ab muscles which help your crunching and sit up skills.

Clients don’t want to believe their abs made anywhere except in the gym. Because, in the gym, clients work for every physical goal and work hard. Why take that feeling, even a little bit, away from anyone?

“It’s All About Discipline!/You Gotta Want It !”

Discipline conjures thoughts of Samurai to me. Those warriors who up until 120 years ago, equated dishonor with disembowelment. Modernity has softened humankind somewhat and “discipline” might align itself with soldiers, fighters, athletes, Olympians, and yes, trainers. Assuming everyday folks have discipline stowed with them, trainers, is insulting. Because the alternative is assuming clients don’t give a crap and just aren’t <em>being</em> disciplined.

Discipline is a skill. Teach discipline by providing action plans. Teach people <em>when</em> to pull that second rip-cord instead of blaming them for NOT doing it.

Implying someone is simply too weak to lose weight or get strong defines weak-hearted trainers. Clients, in response, will kick their own ass for their trainers. They just will learn to stop doing it for THEM.

“Aw..I Know you Can Work Harder Than That!”

How? How do trainers know how hard someone is working without that RPE scale? If trainers don’t ask, they really have no clue how hard someone is working. There is one clear sign of exertion: when someone isn’t working hard AT ALL.

I have a couple clients who look like they’re having buckshot removed with a hot shovel from a gangrening limb when they do <em>any</em> exercise – they leave sweat streams across the floor after fifteen push-ups. And, still, I have folks who will exercise until their arms make gushing popping sounds and fly out of their sockets during deadlifts, yet appear ultra-focused, their faces relaxed. The only way to know how hard people are working is to ask.

Assumptions and asses are inexorably linked, aren’t they? Assuming clients are working less than they should work is embarrassing and makes the less secure doubt their efforts.

Cool, calm and collected might be code for crappy training. Maybe trainers aren’t pushing their charges enough. Ever assume that?


“This is Real Training, I’m Different”

Training methods are OLD – maybe – venerable. Most training methods are centuries old. Sorry, but claiming propriety over exercises and techniques makes clients unsure of trainers’ scope. That is, outlining differences makes trainers seem extraterrestrial. Every trainer is different (except for rookie trainers) because our experiences are different and so are our core beliefs in what works. Trainer who believe they have the “way,” are way off base.

There is no one way. Trainers, accept this. Clients, oddly, seem to know this even more so than their teachers mainly because many clients have been to at least one other trainer.

Sure, the Pankration fighters of ancient Greece never used treadmills – yet they invented Marathons. Trainers are sharing old knowledge. Knowledge transferred through fitness lexicon, in a domain, of techniques streamlined over decades, constantly revitalizing it for clients, giving life to new and exciting ways of training and lifestyles. In that renewal, every trainer has our interpretation of <em>different and new</em>. We are all different. The stock in trainers lay in communication and trust, not just methods.

No nonsense training is fine. So are”Real” results.

Quality is better, and fake results don’t exist.


published at in September 2014.


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