Beefy Shoulders, Moose Knuckles, and the Right Exercise Program

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I try and post a lift or two on social media once a week, maybe twice. I think it’s important to stay visible in my line of work, so that anyone who wants to find me can accomplish that fairly easily. It’s also a training log of sorts; it keeps me accountable to myself…also I use an iphone (which has actually turned into an embarrassing thing; well done Apple, you bunch of pricks) so I have such pitifully little storage space that any pics and videos I take on my phone must be stored elsewhere for future reference, before I delete them all. Taking and posting pics and videos of myself is something that does not come naturally to me at all; I have to force myself to do it but it at this point I can tell you honestly that it has had its benefits. One benefit is that I’ve gotten used to seeing myself on video and it is no longer a mortifying, uncomfortable experience. I have a much easier time watching video footage of myself and just looking at the lift now than I did a year ago. I can even giggle at my neck veins and angry pooping mother seal face! But it also means that I can be my own coach when my coach isn’t standing there watching me work.

Another, more obvious benefit to posting video footage of myself is that it’s good for business; it allows me to demonstrate that I practice what I preach as a trainer/coach and that I get a lot of joy out of training, and it attracts potential clients that want to train the way I do. This is a double-edged sword though, because something new has happened over the last little while: there has been a sharp increase in messages in my inbox that go something like this: “I wish I could do what you do! I want to come train with you but I need to get in shape first.”

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Where to even start? How about here: if you want to get better at anything, it’s ALWAYS good to get some instruction. ALWAYS. It doesn’t matter where you are on the learning curve. If you look at anyone who does anything really well, 99.99% of the time they had to get some guidance from somewhere at some point (yes, I know there are the freaks of nature out there who are naturally amazing at stuff – if you are one of those people then congratulations! You can stop reading right now because I’m talking to the other 99.99% of the population). Ever watch the Olympics? Ever see an athlete who didn’t have a coach? How about a great musician who has never studied with anyone else? Or how about people who have built really successful businesses? Chances are they had a mentor along the way. The truth is, we need to lean on people who are better than us in order to be better.

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Getting fit and strong is a learned skill, just like any other worthwhile endeavor…which means finding someone who can teach you how to do it right and keep you accountable is pivotal to your success. The sooner you do it, the better, too, because nailing in the right habits early on can help you avoid a host of problems later. This goes double for you if you are like most adults out there and have some health considerations to work around (joint pain, injuries, diabetes, arthritis, mental illness, etc.) So do you need to get in shape to hire a personal trainer? HELL NO. We are here to make sure you get started on the right path, stay healthy and injury free, and eventually get where you want to go. Stupid weight loss reality shows are just about the worst thing that has happened to the fitness industry because they portray trainers as these insane, loud, judgemental neo-nazi-esque cartoon characters who can barely see past their own narcissism and have no time for dealing with the real, multi-dimensional human beings that are their clients. We’re not actually like that. Well, not most of us.

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The good coaches out there (myself included since this is my article and I can say what I want, ha ha) care about learning not only who you are, but where you are both physically and mentally. We need to know this stuff so that we can design an exercise program that will work for you. It needs to be challenging without being overwhelming, and it needs to give you what you need so that you get the end result that you want. There’s a lot of planning that goes into making sure your exercise program fits all aspects of you.

So, if you hire me to be your trainer/coach does that mean you’re going to train the way I do?

Well, that depends on your goals. If you are already strong and healthy, have been working out for a while, have good movement patterns, lots of mobility, have lots of time to invest in training (like, 12 hours/week plus), and want to train for a powerlifting competition, then yes, your program probably will look something like mine. Otherwise, probably not, because my goal is to get you what you want.

Story time: many years ago I did a consultation with a woman who had just joined the gym. Her goal was to lose weight (she had about 40lbs to lose) but she didn’t want to do any strength training because she didn’t want to get big and bulky. No problem, I said; women don’t generally grow huge muscles unless they are trying really hard specifically to grow huge muscles, and even then it’s not easy to do. I went on to explain some of the reasons why strength training is an important part of any woman’s fitness program but she interrupted me mid-sentence by poking me roughly in the shoulder. “Look at your shoulders,” she said. “You see how they stick out like that? That’s ugly. That’s not what I want.”

Now, this happened long before I started powerlifting and at the time my shoulders were not noticeably huge. I didn’t think so, anyway. I did my level best to keep a straight face and assure her that her exercise program and mine weren’t going to look the same but she was adamant: there was going to be no strength training.

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Anyway. Any trainer worth their salt is not going to give you their own exercise program (unless that’s what you want, but even then we are all special snowflakes and any cookie cutter program will need some tweaking to make it more effective). Can you get good results from a program that some hack is giving away on Instagram? Maybe. It depends on how well the program fits you. Look at it this way: getting a program out of a magazine, or online, or wherever is like buying your jeans at Costco. You can’t try them on; you just have to guess that you have the right pair – I mean they’re Calvin Klein for cripes sake and they’re only twenty bucks, how can you go wrong? – and only when you get them home and put them on do you find out that they are horrible Mom Jeans that cover your navel, have pleats at the waist, and after taking six steps in them they’ve ridden up and caused moose knuckles. Not cool, and now you’re stuck with them until you can take them back (at least Costco is good about that) but you still need a pair of jeans.

Now, if you were to throw the store idea right out the window and go straight to hiring a tailor to make a PERFECT pair of jeans just for you, would you be somewhat taken aback if that tailor took their own pants off and passed them to you? You bet your ass you would.

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Which is a very long way around to saying, finding the right trainer/coach is worth it, whether you are just starting out or you’ve been doing this fitness thang for a while. We can make sure you stay safe, healthy, and get to your goals – YOUR goals – the right way, and if we can help you enjoy the process that makes it even better.

Stay tuned: how to find that coach is up next!

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