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A guide to going it alone in the gym… with ease.

If you’re too busy to exercise, you might think you need a personal trainer to help keep you accountable.

Well, that always struck me as a short-term, bandaid solution.

Instead I’d want to do something about the fact that you're having trouble maintaining a fitness habit in the first place. Unless your plan is to hire a personal trainer for the remainder of your life, the underlying problem should be addressed.

Consider this: I never needed a personal trainer.

Now consider the fittest person you know - do they have a personal trainer? I'd be willing to bet not.

Why is that?

Trainers do 4 major things for you.

  • They get you consistent,

  • They help you follow a plan,

  • They help you progress,

  • And they make sure you have good form.

In this post I'm going to show you how to do all of those things for yourself, so you can learn how to be your own trainer. Using this guide you’ll be able to train yourself, the same way I, and many others, are able to.

1.) How to get consistent

Most people struggle with consistency. Don't feel bad if you've started a plan, rocked it for a number weeks/months, and then slowly fell off. It's a a common occurrence, and it's happened to the best of us.

My advice for achieving consistency - probably one of the most IMPORTANT elements to being your own trainer, lies in your schedule. I like to tell people to ask yourself this basic question: "What's the minimum number of workouts I can do, every single week?"

Even if it's just once per week. Go with the answer that you can do on weeks that are easy, and weeks that busy. 

Once you have your number, start looking at that number as your non-negotiable, minimum number every week, so pick a number that is doable. For most people I'd suggest one, or three times per week.

2.) How to follow a plan

Alright, so you have an idea for how consistent you can be, NOW it's time to have a plan for what you're going to actually do during those days.

I've written extensively on this in the past. For now, I'm going to keep it very simple for you guys. If you already have a plan, go ahead and keep doing what you're doing -just make sure its in line with your “minimum” number.

If you'd like something a little more in line with the rest of this guide, or would just prefer to be given a premade program - I've gone ahead and put together a couple plans for you guys to use. Drop your email in the form and you'll get a PDF with 3 ready-to-go plans, made for hectic schedules. Just pick the one that best suits you, and you’ll be good to go.

3.) How to get results and make progress

Probably the single biggest thing that beginner to intermediate trainees get wrong is the lack of a progression format. This is extremely upsetting to someone like myself who knows it really isn't very complicated. But it is something that can produce consistent and great results, with a little bit of structure.

A progression format is exactly what it sounds like. It's how you plan on progressing from session to session.

In this post I’m going to focus on weightlifting programs.

Here's how it works.

  • Do a workout, lets say you do 3 sets of 10 at 45 lbs on the bench press.

  • The next time you do that workout, your goal should be to do 2 sets of 10, and 1 set of 11 (all still at 45 lbs). Then 1 set of 10, and 2 sets of 11.

  • Continue like this until you've progressed up to 3 sets of 12.

  • Now go back down to 3x10, at a new weight of 50 lbs.

A good rule of thumb is to work up two extra reps for each set, before progressing the weight. Doing so almost puts your progress on autopilot, and really takes the worry out of knowing when to increase the weights/reps for a given exercise (use an app like Strong to help keep track of things)

4.) Having good form

Lastly is the issue of form. You may be wondering, how can I learn how to do an exercise properly without a trainer next to me in person? Well, it may make sense to start by asking, how have others been able to?

  • Fnd a buddy who knows what they're doing. Workout with them for about a month. You may need more time than that. But in general that'll be enough time to get a handle on the basics. OR…..

  • YouTube. The resources available to you on YouTube are way too good not to use. The truth is that the depth of knowledge available in these free videos will far outmatch the information you'll get from working face-to-face with the majority of “trainers”.

Where can you find these videos? I wrote a full post on this previously. But the quick answer; for any exercise that you're shaky on - go to the Athlean-X channel, and simply type it in. Hands down the best fitness content currently on YouTube.

In summary:

  1. ) Start with an exercise frequency that is doable.

  2. ) Follow a plan that fits with your availability. If you don't have a plan already use one that I've provided.

  3. ) Focus on progression every single week. that means trying to do a little more each session - either in reps or weight.

  4. ) Use other knowledge people as a reference point for good form. More importantly use YouTube as a resource to learn how to do exercises properly.