How to Spot a Legit Personal Trainer

A quality personal trainer can do wonders for you health and your physical appearance. They can help you move better and feel better that will help to improve your quality of life. It makes you wonder why everyone that can afford to hire a personal trainer doesn’t.

The problem is that finding a quality personal trainer is becoming harder and harder in these days. A less than stellar personal trainer will do nothing but empty your wallet and leave you with a sore back, giving all personal trainers a bad rap. That’s why people that can afford a personal trainer don’t always have a personal trainer.

So how do you go about finding a quality personal trainer that will make you feel and move better? Here are 5 things to consider when you look for a personal trainer.


Unfortunately anybody these days can call themselves a personal trainer. Any old Joe can wake up, decide they want to be a personal trainer and find themselves a job. What separate the educated and uneducated personal trainer are credentials. Look for a trainer that is certified by the National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA) orAmericanCollegeof Sports Medicine (ACSM) – both of which require a college education in order to sit in on the exam.

Furthermore, don’t be afraid to ask a personal trainer about their credentials and educational background. Ask them if they regularly attend seminars and workshops or network with other personal trainers or strength coaches at local colleges and/or universities. Finding someone who is always trying to learn more is a good sign.

Does the Trainer Have Many Clients?

A sure fire way to figure out if a personal trainer is qualified or not is to find out how many clients the trainer has. Chances are, if a trainer has a ton of clients, he or she is doing something right. On the other hand, if a trainer doesn’t have many clients at all, chances are they aren’t doing much right. There are obviously exceptions to this rule, but it’s certainly a good starting point.


One thing that is overlooked when hiring a personal trainer is the trainers personality. If you are going to spend an hour a couple times a week with someone you probably want to have compatible personalities. Getting along with someone goes a long way. The trainer can have all the credentials in the world but if they think they are a drill sergeant and your one of his or her soldiers, chances are it you won’t be having a good time reaching your goals.

Where does the Trainer Work?

Maybe the biggest factor in picking a personal trainer would be based on where they work. There are a lot of great facilities across this country that have a great reputation. On the other hand, there are way more places across this country that I wouldn’t send my worst enemy to workout. Seek out the top notch facilities. Top facilities are top facilities for a reason – they seek out the best staff the continue to educate the staff to stay on top of current trends.

Past Work Experience/Mentors

If you really want to do your homework find out where and who the personal trainer has worked for is the past. Maybe the trainer doesn’t have a lot of clients or the facility isn’t booming at the moment. But what if the facility is new and the owner/trainer has moved on from a great facility working for a great mentor. The owner/trainer might have worked the last 5 years at a facility that worked specifically with professional athletes or was a strength coach at a major university working with the football team.

The Wisdom of Dan John

Out of all the strength coaches out there, Dan John has to be one of my favorites. I mean honestly, how can you not love someone that has two first names? Anything Dan writes I read. Whenever he does an interview, I listen. Thankfully, I am not the only one that feels this way and Dan gets plenty of opportunities to speak at conferences and in interviews.

Dan John

One of the biggest reasons I love Dan John is because he keeps everything so simple. Dan definitely lives by the KISS principle – Keep It Simple, Stupid. Beyond that, everything he says and writes is always spot on and hard to argue with. Yes, a lot of his programs and philosophies are simple, but they are also extremely effective and fun – his programs add a little spice to your boring training.

Because of this, I wanted to share with you some of Dan John’s training programs. Like I said, he keeps things so simple but the programs are still effective and challenging. Try them out and see how they work for you, I’m willing to bet you will find them extremely challenging but also fun! Enjoy.

Barbell Complex

One of Dan John’s staples is the barbell complex. The awesome thing about a barbell complex is there are so many ways that you can go with it. What a barbell complex is a series of exercises that you perform with a barbell, one right after another. For example, one of my go-to’s is a deadlift to RDL to hang clean to front squat to overhead press complex. Complete that five times, rest for 60 seconds and repeat for a total of 3-5 rounds. It’ll take 10-15 minutes and you’ll be gassed – it’s a great finisher at the end of a training session.

100 Reps

This program might not be a true Dan John program, but it is something that I have seen him write about. This program is about is simple as it gets: pick an exercise and perform 100 reps in a little amount of sets as possible. For example, you may toss 135lbs on the bar and start benching until you hit 100 reps. Maybe it takes you 5 sets, maybe it takes you 15, who knows. The only real rule is to never hit failure, always leave a rep or two in the tank.

8 X 3 on the Minute

Another really straight forward but fun program. Again, pick an exercise and a moderate to moderately heavy weight. Simply perform a set of 3, on the minute, for 8 minutes. The first few rounds may not be terribly challenging, but it gets tough. I typically like to do this with something like chin ups – for some reason I think it works well.

Cluster Challenge

Now here is a real fun program. A cluster challenge works a little something like this. You pick an exercise and a weight…we’ll stick to the bench press and start at 135 again. You then perform a set of 2, a set of 3, and a set of 5, resting about 15 seconds between sets. Once you complete that, you add weight to the bar and go through the sets again (2,3,5). You then complete this cycle again, adding weight to the bar. Finally you reach the 4th and final cluster, which is the “challenge cluster”. By this point you should be somewhat tired from all the benching (or squatting, or chin ups, or whatever) and at a relatively heavy weight – hence the “challenge cluster”. Enjoy this one.


One of my favorites is a ladder. A ladder is somewhat similar to the cluster challenge with a few differences. Again, pick an exercise and toss a moderate weight on the bar. Perform 1 rep, rest, 2 reps, rest, 3 reps, rest, 4 reps, rest, 5 reps rest and then start back at 1 rep again. Go through the ladder 3 times. You could pick other rep schemes, something like 2-3-5 or 5-7-10 or really anything you would like. Again, effective and much harder than you think, especially if you pick an appropriate weight.

10 Rep Countdown

The final program is really straight forward. Pick an exercise and weight and then perform 10 reps and rest. Then 9, rest. Then 8, rest. So on and so forth until you hit a single rep. Again, not very difficult to understand but a total ass kicker to actually perform!

Tommy Moffitt on Iron Game Chalk Talk

Ron McKeefery did it again with another great strength coach on Iron Game Chalk Talk. This time he has LSU Director of Strength and Conditioning and one of the best strength coaches in the country, Tommy Moffitt. Always good to hear other coaches opinions and some of the things that they are doing with their athletes. Enjoy!

Things to Read to Get You Over the Hump

Here are a few articles, videos and podcats to get you through another work week;


4 Steps to Solve Every Major Issue a Personal Trainer Faces by Mike Robertson

Upper Body Self-Myofascial Release Precautions by Eric Cressey

Cutting CrossFit a Break by Tony Gentilcore

The Countdown Method by Ben Bruno

Push Up Progressions by Mike Boyle

Supercharge Your Spine and Lifts by Brad Kaczmarski

In-Season Training for Football Roundtable

Strength Coach Podcast 132


9 Ways to Increase Productivity


Plan Your Day the Night Before

If you are really serious about getting things done, take a couple minutes the night before and plan out your day. It works wonders, especially when you stick to the plan. Try it out for a few weeks or a month and see how much more you get done throughout the course of your day.

Prioritize the More Important First

We all have numerous things that we need to get done in the course of our day. Start by tackling the most important things first. Prioritizing everything that you need to do allows you to get the stuff done that is more important first, then focus on the issues that aren’t quite as important.

Don’t Leave Emails Sitting in Your Inbox

We all do it, and to be honest, it’s pretty stupid when you think about it. We take the time to log on to our email account, read an email that is in our inbox, and then close our email without responding. From now on act on all those emails you read. Save yourself the time of coming back and re-reading an email and having to respond. Plus, this will eliminate that email that gets lost in the shuffle for a few days that we forget to act on.


Get Started

This seems so obvious but it needs mentioning. The only way to get things done is to start. Stop procrastinating and start getting things done.


Avoid Disruptions

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. Get off them and get stuff done. You’d be shocked how much time we actually spend messing around on social media and the internet in general. Stay off these sites until you get your actual work done.

No Multi-Tasking

We all think we can do it, none of us do it well. When we try to get 3 things done at once we either get nothing accomplished or we get half assed results from all the things we are trying to get done. Stick to one task, complete it, and repeat.

Be Slow and Make Sure You Get Things Done Right the First Time

To piggyback off the no multi-tasking thought, get things done and get them done right the first time. Spend the time to do things correctly. If you don’t have a ton of time to do things, having to do things over and over again because you never do things right the first is a simple way to make sure your productivity is terrible.


Set and Respect Deadlines

I think it’s safe to say we all set deadlines. I think it’s also safe to say many of us don’t respect those deadlines. Keep setting deadlines but make them realistic – then hold yourself accountable and respect meeting those deadlines.

Keep a Notebook and Write Things Down

This is one of my favorites and something I learned from Mike Boyle, someone who has a ton of stuff going on in his life yet gets everything done and then some more. Simply get some type of notebook and write things down. Ideas pop into our head at the most random times – write things down immediately and stay on top of everything that you need to get done.

Things to Read to Get You Over the Hump 4/3

Here are a few good reads to get you through another long work week;


6 Things I Learned From WWE Superstar Triple H by Jim Smith

Coaching Character: Life Beyond Strength Training by Anthony Donskov

Long Live Static Stretching by Ben Bruno

Top 5 Hamstring Stretches by Mike Robertson

Soccer Injury Prevention: Quad Strains by Matt Siniscalchi

Barbell Complexes by Jen Comas Keck

My 5 Favorite Exercises…Right Now by Robert dos Remedios

20 Ways to Decrease Stress and Anxiety by Mike Robertson

So You Want To Start Sprinting? by Eric Cressey

The Case for Big Quads by Mike Robertson

Sparing the Shoulders by Eric Cressey

Ron McKeefery Interview Brandon Marcello

Things to Read to Get You Over the Hump 3/13

Here are a few good reads to get you through another long, boring work week;


Deadlift vs. Clean Pulls by Wil Fleming

Is Overtraining Just Some Mythical Bulls!it? by Jason Ferruggia

Military Press Hurts My Back, What Should I Do? by Bret Contreras

Intensity Techniques to Make You Hurt by Tim Henriques

Considerations in Athletic Performance Enhancement Training: The High School Athlete by Rob Panariello

Ultimate Bacl Hypertrophy Movement by Ben Bruno

Shoulder Training Tips and 5 Exercises by Ben Bruno

On the Job Training by Martin Rooney

Recovery Revisited: The March Madness Addition by Tony Gentilcore

Finding Happiness by Adam Bornstein

T-Spine Rx by Derrick Blanton

Ankle Mobility Exercises to Improve Dorsiflexion by Mike Reinold

Strength Coach Podcast 119