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Running a program vs just training

hollyhomhollyhom Posts: 142Member Member Posts: 142Member Member
I work with a trainer 2x a week. Mostly for aesthetics and to get stronger. We do legs one day and upper body on the other day but he switches it up. So one week we’ll do squats/leg press/pistol squats/single leg TRX squats for leg day. Another week we may do deadlifts. Goblet squats/kettlebell lunges/hip the etc. same with upper body. Pull ups/push ups/rows. But the exercises vary week by week. Is that a non-productive way to work out? I’m always sore the next day and have progressed in weight used but was wondering if I would be doing even better with a formal program.

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  • jeraldt6jeraldt6 Posts: 20Member Member Posts: 20Member Member
    I have serious bone on bone back problems along with having my knee scoped twice in the last 13 years. My health has gone down hill over the last 5 years. I have gained 30 pounds, lost flexibility, had my blood sugar rise to the point of being diagnosed diabetes. Doc sent me to Physical therapy, ( 6 years or so ago) for months. Therapist gave me lots of silly little exercises and told me not to work out, not to go cross country skiing, not to go snow shoeing, or anythng else that might cause my "fragile back to go goofy". two months ago, after all the above listed problems having settled in, me in a pretty depressed state, having been on pain killers for the duration, decided all or nothing. Last chance. I joined the most reputable gym and hired the best trainer to work with me twice a week. I will never see or trust a physical therapist again. In 8 weeks I have lost 4 percent body fat, 8 pounds, lost inches from the waist and very visibly gained muscle. My core and back is stronger by far. I can spin for more than an hour at a time. I can do all the strength training upper mid and lower body that he has taught me to do and do it with confdence. I now strut into the free weight area where as before I limited myself to the machines. It doesn't seem that we are working on a program but he is taking great care to program my training to fit my needs. I am going to send you a friend request as I hope to hear more on what you find or figure out on this topic as time progresses.
  • cupcakesandproteinshakescupcakesandproteinshakes Posts: 474Member Member Posts: 474Member Member
    It depends on your goals. If u want to build muscle it’s not gonna be optimal in my opinion. You need to get in a programme which has progressive overload built in. There’s a thread at the top which lists lots of beginners lifting programmes.
  • cupcakesandproteinshakescupcakesandproteinshakes Posts: 474Member Member Posts: 474Member Member
    I should add that what you describe is fine if you are enjoying it. It sounds like a circuit training type session. I do this type of thing sometimes for my cardio. But my main focus in the gym is on hypertrophy and so I am doing a programme designed to achieve that. Muscle building doesn’t come easy and so 75 per cent of my gym time is spent on the programme.
  • ryanflebberyanflebbe Posts: 187Member Member Posts: 187Member Member
    Exercises can vary, but in the big picture they should be the same exercises used to rotate in and out. Otherwise, how do you know what weight to use on the endless array of different/new exercises, and how do you track your performance and know if you're making progress?
  • ChieflrgChieflrg Posts: 8,128Member Member Posts: 8,128Member Member
    hollyhom wrote: »
    I work with a trainer 2x a week. Mostly for aesthetics and to get stronger. We do legs one day and upper body on the other day but he switches it up. So one week we’ll do squats/leg press/pistol squats/single leg TRX squats for leg day. Another week we may do deadlifts. Goblet squats/kettlebell lunges/hip the etc. same with upper body. Pull ups/push ups/rows. But the exercises vary week by week. Is that a non-productive way to work out? I’m always sore the next day and have progressed in weight used but was wondering if I would be doing even better with a formal program.

    2× a week might work for a very short time for a untrained person. Adding a day will be needed in most cases but if you're progressing, it isn't a needed yet.

    I wouldn't find switching exercise selection every week a optimal way of training for somebody with a goal strength or hypertrophy. Being active is good though compared to not.

    Soreness does not equate how well you performed.

    I would recommend to do a formal training program. When completed, access how you responded and if you are happy with results, you might choose to run it once again or move onto more advanced programming.

    edited February 5
  • hollyhomhollyhom Posts: 142Member Member Posts: 142Member Member
    Thanks. I’m nervous about doing a program on my own. Especially with squats. The weight intimidates me. I can’t get past 95lbs for my working sets. I go to the gym when I have a break from work so I don’t have a workout buddy. Maybe I’ll ask my trainer to stick to the main lifts on the barbell until I’m more confident and not jump back and forth on variations until I can start a program on my own. I do HITT and weighted cardio 2x a week as well which I really enjoy so I’m not willing to go to straight weight training 3/4x a week yet.
  • happysquatterhappysquatter Posts: 48Member Member Posts: 48Member Member
    hollyhom wrote: »
    Thanks. I’m nervous about doing a program on my own. Especially with squats. The weight intimidates me. I can’t get past 95lbs for my working sets. I go to the gym when I have a break from work so I don’t have a workout buddy. Maybe I’ll ask my trainer to stick to the main lifts on the barbell until I’m more confident and not jump back and forth on variations until I can start a program on my own. I do HITT and weighted cardio 2x a week as well which I really enjoy so I’m not willing to go to straight weight training 3/4x a week yet.

    That sounds like a good middle ground. Get your trainer to walk you through all the lifts and get tons of practice on them.

    Good luck! Keep us posted here
  • mreichardmreichard Posts: 235Member Member Posts: 235Member Member
    hollyhom wrote: »
    Thanks. I’m nervous about doing a program on my own. Especially with squats. The weight intimidates me. I can’t get past 95lbs for my working sets.
    Do you squat in a squat rack? If not, does your gym have one? If yes, then have you practiced failing at squats? Once you can comfortably bail on a set, they are much less intimidating.

  • cupcakesandproteinshakescupcakesandproteinshakes Posts: 474Member Member Posts: 474Member Member
    mreichard wrote: »
    hollyhom wrote: »
    Thanks. I’m nervous about doing a program on my own. Especially with squats. The weight intimidates me. I can’t get past 95lbs for my working sets.
    Do you squat in a squat rack? If not, does your gym have one? If yes, then have you practiced failing at squats? Once you can comfortably bail on a set, they are much less intimidating.

    This.

    Google it. Then practice failing with the empty bar. Once u have done this in a rack with an empty bar you should no longer be afraid
  • cwolfman13cwolfman13 Posts: 37,599Member Member Posts: 37,599Member Member
    hollyhom wrote: »
    I work with a trainer 2x a week. Mostly for aesthetics and to get stronger. We do legs one day and upper body on the other day but he switches it up. So one week we’ll do squats/leg press/pistol squats/single leg TRX squats for leg day. Another week we may do deadlifts. Goblet squats/kettlebell lunges/hip the etc. same with upper body. Pull ups/push ups/rows. But the exercises vary week by week. Is that a non-productive way to work out? I’m always sore the next day and have progressed in weight used but was wondering if I would be doing even better with a formal program.

    I've run formal programs and they can be good and produce results. In my experience though, I've never had better results than when I was working with a trainer. He was very good and now I'm working with his wife because my wife is training with her and we get a discount on me if we go together. They both always mixed things up and we did different variations of this and that...the important thing was that we were hitting all of the muscle groups...that's how you progress. Programs are generally kept pretty simple because that's easier for the masses to follow. I had good results with an off the shelf program...but I've had fantastic results working with my trainers. To that end, there are also good trainers and bad trainers. My trainers train Joe Schmoes like my wife and I, but they also train professional athletes...so yeah...they're pretty good.

    From an all around fitness aspect I also got way better results working with my trainers because we weren't just lifting weights...we worked on mobility, balance, jumping, speed, power and explosiveness, etc. Of course, that fits with my and my wife's goals. We're not trying to bodybuild or be power lifters or anything like that...we just want to be able to perform as best as we are capable of physically. We were both sport athletes growing up and my wife played soccer and rugby collegiately so we prefer athletic training to things like bodybuilding and power lifting and such.
    edited February 7
  • ChieflrgChieflrg Posts: 8,128Member Member Posts: 8,128Member Member
    hollyhom wrote: »
    Thanks. I’m nervous about doing a program on my own. Especially with squats. The weight intimidates me. I can’t get past 95lbs for my working sets. I go to the gym when I have a break from work so I don’t have a workout buddy. Maybe I’ll ask my trainer to stick to the main lifts on the barbell until I’m more confident and not jump back and forth on variations until I can start a program on my own. I do HITT and weighted cardio 2x a week as well which I really enjoy so I’m not willing to go to straight weight training 3/4x a week yet.

    This in general isn't a bad strategy if load management is good.

    There are many ways to overload and achieve an adaptation to move more weight.

    Not knowing your current training or training history it makes advice very generic and less optimal.

    Its not unusual for people to be intimidated by a number. One thing that is key if Its the correct load on the barbell with relation to recovery and accumulated stress. We can determine this many ways but unfortunately not easily over in a forum.

    When you say, "you can't get past 95lbs for working sets" do you mean you're maxing out?
  • hollyhomhollyhom Posts: 142Member Member Posts: 142Member Member
    We do work in a squat rack. When I say I can’t get past 95lbs I mean, my trainer will try to throw 10 more lbs on and I’ll be lucky if I get 2 reps in with good form and I’ve been stuck there for about 2-3 months now. So, maybe that’s my max?

    I’ll google how to fail and maybe give it a shot.
  • ChieflrgChieflrg Posts: 8,128Member Member Posts: 8,128Member Member
    hollyhom wrote: »
    We do work in a squat rack. When I say I can’t get past 95lbs I mean, my trainer will try to throw 10 more lbs on and I’ll be lucky if I get 2 reps in with good form and I’ve been stuck there for about 2-3 months now. So, maybe that’s my max?

    I’ll google how to fail and maybe give it a shot.

    What is the target for reps per set you only get two?

    Adding weight to the barbell should be done when you've accumulated enough useful stress to force an adaptation.

    What adjustments has trainer done to volume, reps, sets, or frequency in the past 2-3 months?
    edited February 8
  • hollyhomhollyhom Posts: 142Member Member Posts: 142Member Member
    Chieflrg wrote: »
    hollyhom wrote: »
    We do work in a squat rack. When I say I can’t get past 95lbs I mean, my trainer will try to throw 10 more lbs on and I’ll be lucky if I get 2 reps in with good form and I’ve been stuck there for about 2-3 months now. So, maybe that’s my max?

    I’ll google how to fail and maybe give it a shot.

    What is the target for reps per set you only get two?

    Adding weight to the barbell should be done when you've accumulated enough useful stress to force an adaptation.

    What adjustments has trainer done to volume, reps, sets, or frequency in the past 2-3 months?

    Target reps wss 5 reps/5 sets last time. I think the issue is frequency and consistency (or predictability) Like I said, we may only do barbell back squats probably 2x a month bc I only train legs with him 1x a week , and one week we may be doing front squats (don't remember the last weight), another week kettlebell goblet squats (last time at 22kgs), etc. so I think bc there's is so much variation week to week, progress on each type of squat is slow and hard for me to see/trak. Which is why I wonder if I should ask that he stick to one or 2 main types so that it's easier for me to actually track progress.

    He also varies volume, tempo, and reps so I kind of feel like I never know where I stand other than I'm pretty confident I'm stronger.
  • ChieflrgChieflrg Posts: 8,128Member Member Posts: 8,128Member Member
    Well yes. With the info given sounds like he/she is a typical commercial gym trainer or possibly most crossfit trainers who are no where in the ball park of what is needed to hit goals of strength a optimal level.

    I'd hazard you' assumption on what is possibly wrong isn't far off. Frrequency is more than likely is way too low and exercise selection is random. Not a way to gain strength or develop better technique.

    If one wants to become stronger or better technique at back squats, one performs the lift 2-3 week with intelligently written programming. Volume is very consistent for the most part and adjust very slowly to find the correct dosage.



    edited February 14
  • happysquatterhappysquatter Posts: 48Member Member Posts: 48Member Member
    Chieflrg wrote: »
    Well yes. With the info given sounds like he/she is a typical commercial gym trainer or possibly most crossfit trainers who are no where in the ball park of what is needed to hit goals of strength a optimal level.

    I'd hazard you' assumption on what is possibly wrong isn't far off. Frrequency is more than likely is way too low and exercise selection is random. Not a way to gain strength or develop better technique.

    If one wants to become stronger or better technique at back squats, one performs the lift 2-3 week with intelligently written programming. Volume is very consistent for the most part and adjust very slowly to find the correct dosage.



    Seconded.
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