Is my trainer giving me the runaround?

I’ve been in a personal training program for 6 months. The majority of the work has been wrapped around bodyweight movements, low weight, 1 minute rest between sets – high reps around 10 – 15 per set. I feel much more fit now and would like to progress to a weight lifting program. I proposed the []( ‘5 ways to gain 15lbs’ program to my trainer and mentioned that I wanted to follow this program. He said that I need to first prove to him that I can meet his Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced bodyweight exercise requirements which he had well defined. He did not however commit to a timeline goal as to when I could start a weight training program and I feel like I didn’t get a straight answer. Is it time to find another trainer?

**EDIT: Thank you for the feedback. To fill in with some more color as to my situation / capabilities:**

• I did have ACL surgery a year ago and was cleared by my physical therapist to start working out, with no restrictions.

• I was having really bad hamstring tightness on my non-operated side which was causing nerve pain but seems to have resolved itself through dynamic stretching in the past few weeks.

• I’ve had an older shoulder injury that popped it’s head up in the past couple of months, but is now getting stronger and no more pain.

• I’ve lost 15 lbs in the past 6 months while working with my trainer and this is what prompted me to start the discussion of going up in weight, I was more focused on the lifts in the BB article that I referenced, I certainly won’t be doing anything crazy like waking up in the middle of the night for a protein shake.

• All of my coworkers who have seen me walking over to the gym have asked me if I’m going for a run, which is an indicator that I’m not showing any substantial progress in my lifting program.


**All that to say, yes I’ve had minor setbacks along the way – but I don’t see anything that should stop me from starting a serious barbell weightlifting program with at the very least, light weight and rep ranges around 10x.**

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85 thoughts on “Is my trainer giving me the runaround?

  1. You don’t need to be able to do advanced bodyweight movements to get on a weightlifting programme and build mass. Tell him this is what youre doing, he can either help your form for a month or you’ll find someone else, ie. YouTube

  2. Ultimately you are paying for his services so if you feel like he isnt willing to work with you or you feel like he doesnt bring you the value you want than yes it is time to find a new trainer.

  3. He should be working with you and helping you achieve your goals. You shouldn’t need to meet his expectations whatever those are in order for him to help you do what you want. You also don’t need to be an expert by any means to do that program. He’s jerking you around 100%. Let him know that you pay him for his knowledge but at the same time his knowledge should be working for you and your goals not whatever goals he made for you.

    Some trainers need to realize that everyone wants something different, and that they need to work with their client and not just throw together a program and say “this is what your doing”.

    If I were you I would find a trainer that wants to help you

  4. He is giving you artificial barriers so he keeps making money off of you. Fire him immediately


    Also, don’t set an alarm for 5 hours into your sleep to drink a protein shake. That’s just fucking stupid

  5. What the fuck is an Advanced bodyweight exercise requirement, does he need you to be able to do a flag pole before he can teach you to squat? Pls, dump the trainer.

  6. I don’t think he’s stringing you along for profit, I think he’s probably just lazy and has a routine that he wants to stick to because that’s what he knows and that’s what he does.

    If you want to do something different, then I’d find someone whose background is doing exactly what you want to do. It’s silly to pay someone to do something that doesn’t align with your goals, or to have to convince them to start you on a program they don’t have a comfort level with

  7. Setting arbitrary requirements like that makes it sound like he’s jerking you around. Ditch him.

    Although, if you want to get into weights, you’d be better off with a routine from the wiki.

  8. A friend of mine was paying her trainer $400 a month for over 2 years. When she told me how much it was costing I completely lost my shit. That trainer is gone now. It might help to have someone check your form or your program but paying someone on a routine basis to essentially “motivate you” is bullshit. Find something that works, ask the sub for help, find some good youtubers, and do the program that makes you happy.

  9. I cannot do a pullup yet because I am too heavy (see: fat) however, I can still squat 225(approximately 90% of my weight) after only being 4 weeks in the gym after an extended break spanning close to a year. I likely won’t be able to meet your trainers expectations for bodyweight fitness because I have too much extra weight and lack in muscular endurance. I can do a few burpees but will get winded very quickly, I’m working towards fixing my stamina slowly but surely but that isn’t my primary goal.

    I want to pick things up then put them down again and so I do.

  10. Alright well I’m gonna go a bit against the grain here but:

    1. What are the trainers bodyweight exercise requirements? This can really change things, cause to be honest if you don’t have an athletic background its not a bad idea to learn how to use and move your body before you start loading up big compound movements. I can see in your post history that you have had ACL reconstruction within the last year, and you have posted before about pain and injury, so maybe your trainer is being extra conservative to help you avoid injury. You really haven’t included enough detail to indicate whether your trainer is stringing you along. If the trainer defines “advanced” as something like 50 pushups, and 20 split squats showing good hip and pelvis control then they might have a point. If they define advanced as “Dragon flags and planche pushups” then run.

    2. Don’t do the 5 ways to gain 15 lbs. That article is garbage. The science behind protein quantity suggests .6-.8g/lb is fine with 1g/lb really being near the upper limit of protein requirements. Waking up in the night to have a protein shake is dumb, that sleep will do more for muscle building than the shake will. The article is just bullshit to sell more whey protein and mass gainer.

  11. As a personal trainer myself. He doesn’t have your best interests in mind. He’s after your money. Get rid of him/her.


    A basics for the movements can be established in like 1 to 3 workouts. From there the focus could go straight to the customers goals. He’s after your money,

  12. The most common mistakes that beginner lifters make is poor technique combined with excessive weight resulting in injury. Depending on what sort of shape you are in and your level of experience and age, he may be doing what he believes to be in your best interest long term. I went to my first personal trainer at 40 and I regret leaving it so long as getting my technique right led to massive gains in strength.

    IMO, any program that says gain x in x days is not the way to go and I applaud your trainer for shooting it down. Consistency is always going to net the best results. Your trainer may be milking it, but he may have your best interests at heart. If you are unhappy with any part of the service you are paying for he should take the time to explain his reasons to your satisfaction and if he can’t, then ditch him. If he does explain himself well, then make him commit to a time frame that suits you – again, if he refuses…ditch. It is his job to keep you happy and moving in the right direction while keeping you safe. The trainers that are just in it for the money (lol) tend not to last or keep clients for long.

  13. If you want to run something off the interwebs you don’t need a trainer.

    If you want a trainer, and you’re asking the trainer’s advice, why are you then not listening to it? You know exactly what this subreddit is going to say with the very limited information you’re giving.

    Either do what your trainer says, or stop using that/a trainer. This isn’t rocket surgery.

  14. A good trainer will be flexible to your goals and abilities. Sounds like this trainer has a stock program that they put everyone through as if people were all the same and have the same goals. Inability or unwillingness to modify and work with your goals feels more like a large group fitness class and less the personalized experience of a trainer, doesn’t seem worth the money.

  15. It seems like there is a lot of horrible “make your trainer get on board with what you want to do” advice on this thread and it is completely idiotic. If your trainer has no clue how to coach lifting or brosplits or whatever it is you are wanting to do you don’t want them doing that.

    Tell them what your goals are. Whether that be general fitness, improving specific lifts, aesthetics, sport, whatever. Then listen to what their plan is to get you there. At that point either do their plan OR If you think that’s crap or not what you want to do then shop around for a different trainer and see what other options there are.

    Sure, maybe he’s not a good trainer. And if that’s the case you definitely don’t want to have him out of his comfort zone trying to train you. He also might be fantastic with a proven approach to get you exactly where you want to be.

    Fwiw I think mastering certain basic bodyweight movements is a great first step to strength trainng.

  16. I’m not as experienced as probably 99% of everyone here, but here’s my layman’s perspective.

    Your trainer has gotten to know you and planned out a program that he thinks is best for you based on his expertise(probably bodyweight exercises?). You are following along great and there seem to be good results from the training. Then out of nowhere you bring him a completely different program that he doesn’t know and will interrupt the program and schedule he has already planned out for you.

    He’s probably thinking that you are not happy with the level of results you are getting and decided to look for something that can get you faster results, and you pulled up something that promised you something faster and better. He doesn’t know the program and how it works, so he doesn’t know what kind of actual results(or lack of results) it would give you. He wouldn’t want to stand by a system he doesn’t know, so he suggests you finish the program you are already on before hopping on that program.

    I think the better approach might have been to let him know that you are interested in weight lifting and if you guys could move towards that goal. It would require him to restructure out the program different from what he is used to and had laid out for you already, but at least it would be a program he understands and can stand behind. He might still not be willing to do that because it’s probably not the best programming in his belief(otherwise his original programming would have included weight lifting) and because it would require more work on his side. If this is the case, and you are very set on weight lifting, then you could find another trainer more aligned to what you are looking for.

  17. I took strength training classes that included a progression toward barbell exercises. For example, kettlebell swings to get the hip action needed for a deadlift. Or dumbbell chest presses before going to a barbell. And having decent bodyweight squat form before adding weight. So it’s not crazy to not jump in with barbells if you have never used one before. It wouldn’t be crazy to do mobility exercises, either.

    What sounds suspicious here is no timeline and sticking to bodyweight only exercise without giving you a reason why that’s necessary. After six months of working with you, he should have some idea.

    This also sounds like a change in your goals from six months ago. Is it? If your trainer thinks you have the same goals as you discussed then, but you want to change to a program that doesn’t meet those goals, then I can see his resistance. If you have changed what you want to get out of going to the gym, then that’s worth a discussion. If he doesn’t support those goals or can’t explain how long it will take you to reach them and why, then you should find another trainer.

  18. Sounds a bit like the “must learn accoustic guitar before you can learn electric guitar” drivel my guitar teacher was feeding me. Which he did because he didn’t like electric guitars at all. Half the time during lessons, he wouldn’t teach me at all but play some flamenco.

    Anyway, don’t put up with it. There’s no good reason for this, and if he doesn’t respect your wishes, find someone else.

  19. Personal trainers usually make their own programs etc. You could say it is about profit, but also from his perspective it is about focus – it is probably difficult to tailor his well defined program for your goals.

    Anyway, I would ditch him if you are not really that interested in bodyweight training. Look for something else which matches your goals.

  20. Body weight fitness is cool and all and can definitely get you strong, but it’s not weigh training. If you want to do weight training, don’t feel forced to do body weight training and vice versa.

    If you want to strictly put on mass, using weights is the easiest way to do that, for sure.

  21. Wow. Seeing some hate for trainers in this thread. Please remember that we as trainers see some of our clients only once or twice a week. But when i get a client, i work something up in line with their goals. In the gym, in the kitchen. Even on vacation if needed.


    When i see that person 1 or 2 times a week i don’t have control over what they are doing in their own time. And even though they mention they’re following the program, it doesn’t mean they actually did.


    Before you lable us as dumb and inefficient and a waste of money. Do remember that we plan for the client but the client needs to put in the work. In my 7 years of working experience i’ve had more people fail than succeed.


    Makes the people that ARE motivated an absolutely joy to work with though.

  22. Just tell him, “This is what I want to do. You can help me do it and I can keep paying you, or I can find another trainer that will help me and pay them. It’s up to you.”

  23. I would have just given him a “WTF?” look and just walked over to the squat rack and put some weight on the bar and then say to him “You gonna help with this or not? I’ll find someone who will if you’re not.”

    Like, I think a good weightlifting trainer will have you do other things, things that will increase your mobility and strength that will translate to your performance under the bar, but you don’t need some program of unspecified length to get under/over the bar and start lifting. In fact, as technical as squatting and deadlifts are, and as much having a good trainer/coach/friend/whatever help you, you really only get better if you practice doing them.

  24. The idea that you have to hit some kind of “qualifications” to start lifting for real, is the dumbest PT let’s squeeze more money out of you, tactic of all time.

    There are obviously so many good PTs that will help you get to whatever you goal is (I want to run a mile in this amount of minutes, I want to deadlift 4 plates, etc etc), but your run of the mill PT who is probably working at some shit chain gym only has one goal, and that is to make sure you never reach your goal so that you can keep paying him in belief he will help you get there.

    I think weightlifting can be intimidating, but ultimately it’s not fucking rocket science. So many people have started out doing all kinds of lifts without anyone giving them advice all on their own and they have done just fine (not all this life threatning, you’ll break your spine if you don’t squat with perfect form shit PTs will tell you).

    Dump his dumb ass, get out there and work your ass off, you’ve wasted 6 months doing something super subpar crap, take your fitness in your own hands and get shit done.

    Good luck.

  25. What gym do you go to? Most personal trainers at chain gyms (PF, Anytime, Lifetime) are absolutely just stringing you along for more $$. Their job is to extract money from you.

    I cannot speak for a local gym or any independent trainer.

  26. light weight improves stamina and muscle growth, and in the glutes with heavier weight, and when the weight feels too light, then increase it; there are supporting muscle groups like triceps in pushups that need to be improved before weightlifting, and bodybuilding is better because it makes the muscles stand out

  27. Most serious bodyweight programs are far more technically challenging than basic resistance training. You are either getting the runaround or your trainer is seriously locked into a limited mindset.

    You the boss, if he won’t help train what you want, find another.

  28. You said you made good progress so they can’t be totally useless. But of course you’re ready to lift weights now. Ultimately his goal might be to progress you to their advanced body weight standards, but if your goal is different you need to communicate it to them or find another coach. Some people prefer body weight training and might prefer your coaches style, but it sounds like you’re looking for something different.

  29. A trainer who doesn’t train you to be able to without them is not doing you a service, they are turning you into recurring revenue. If you have the movements down, move on from the trainer.

  30. Out of curiosity, how long have you got left with him? I have found there are a lot of opportunistic PT’s who’s aim is to keep you around for as long as they can. If he is telling you he wants you to keep working with him but only doing his other plans then he is likely just trying to keep you as a paying customer.

  31. Yes absolutely. I could walk into a training session tomorrow at 100kg having not worked out for 2 years and say I want to lift weights and they would put me straight on them. Probably mixed in with other things but why would you need to do expert body weight training before you do weights? Find someone willing to work with you.

  32. Personal trainers are working for you and what you want. If you lay out your goals for them, they should help you get there. The fact he said he has all of these “requirements” makes me think that he can spend as much time as he wants in each program for as long as he wants (aka $$$)

  33. I am more surprised at his lack of reaction to showing him that you wanted to start a []( workout regime. The personal trainers that I know don’t really believe in cookie-cutter programs from the web. The ones I know that run online business over and above their personal training still cater their programs specifically to the needs, goals, weight, the experience of the client, among a plethora of other factors when building a program.

  34. Seems he decided there is a one-size-fits-all approach to fitness. Thank him for where he’s gotten you and find a trainer who will take you where you want next.

  35. > He said that I need to first prove to him that I can meet his Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced bodyweight exercise requirements which he had well defined.

    It sounds like he has his own programs and has spent a lot of time making them, so he wants his trainees to follow them.

    Whether this is what you want to do, is another issue entirely (and is your choice to move to someone else if he doesn’t).

  36. PSA: the gain X lbs in Z time articles are all the same cookie cutter, likely ghost written, articles used to push supplements or promote a trainer’s/coaches brand.

    Your trainer MAY be paywalling your progress.


    Your trainers MAY have requisite standards for progression.

    Personally, I don’t have clients do kettlebell swings until their deadlift is decent. Could take a month. Could take a year. Depends on the person.

    He could also be trying to dissuade you from program hopping, which stifles beginner gains.

  37. If you’re not willing to take responsibility for your training, you need a trainer. If you are, get on some beginner program from the wiki.

    Also: pop by /r/weightroom (read the rules. Lurk a couple years before posting.) from time to time to get a feel for the kind of mentality and training you need to actually succeed at this. /u/mythicalstrength has a good blog on mindset and Chaos and Pain (Very NSFW) is probably the best blog on training I’ve ever read.

  38. Quite honestly, after 6 months you’ve learned the basics, you understand the importance of weight-load management and proper form. If you’re questioning the ethics of personal trainers, then it’s time for you to drop personal training and start motivating and teaching yourself. Which is possible with the vast amount of knowledge on the internet. Stringing along clients to keep steady income and profit is the only way trainers make money.

  39. We develop certification courses and I was a trainer back in the 80’s. There are a lot of factors to consider. Could he be milking it? It’s possible but he may also know your limitations having worked with you for a while.

    What I suggest is that you ask to meet a little early to discuss things. Explain to him that you want to progress and that you appreciate his concern but you’re paying him to help you meet your goals. Your goals are now expanding and he needs to meet your expectations or you’re going to go elsewhere. Ask him to explain to you why he’s hesitant about taking you forward in detail. If his answer don’t meet your expectations then thank him for all his help and let him know you’ll no longer be needing his service.

  40. What is your age, sex, and goals?


    In general, there is no reason to do bodyweight training only, but some people swear by it. If you don’t want a dogmatic trainer then find another. Best advice I have is to find a trainer that suits you and will guide you in how to do it yourself so that you don’t always need a trainer. If you don’t feel you can perform or plan your own sessions after 6 months with a trainer, then likely your trainer has not been teaching you properly. A good trainer teaches you more than how to perform exercises but how they program exercise, basic nutrition, and why they chose the exercises they choose.

  41. If he’s a personal trainer then most likely. Anything they can teach you can find out yourself for free. From what I know they mostly just try to make you feel sore after sessions so you feel as though you got your money’s worth. Even pure beginners can jump straight on to barbells you don’t need to master your bodyweight, certainly not for 6 months.

  42. This is a perfect time to move to barbell and dumbbell movements. Take them slow and feel the mind-muscle connection. Don’t start going heavy to soon until you have your form down very well.
    Your pt is milking you for money. That’s literally all.

  43. At a minimum it seems like he should start teaching you/integrating the lifts so you can develop proper form. I’m all for core and mobility work (in theory, albeit limited in practice lol), but after 6 months you should be able to work in some basic strength training if that’s where you want to end up.

  44. Commenting again to address the edits:

    OP you have substantial recent injury history, a trainer who wants to develop movement competency before transitioning you to barbell movements, and you’re a beginner with little to no experience or knowledge. It’s not unreasonable for your trainer to keep you from barbell excercises for now. Keep going, and if you see tangible progress towards your trainers goals in the coming months you should stick with it.

  45. i mean how often a week are you in the gym? if you only go once or twice and for the rest of the week you eat whatever you want then yes, you’re going to be stuck doing the basics for a long time and will get little improvement. Also what are the requirements? if they’re in the range of 60 sec plank, 30 push ups, 20 body weight squats and you can’t do those, then yes you are too weak to seriously consider lifting the heavier weights (but ofcourse the 2-5 kg dumbells can be used by almost everyone).


    it’s very important to have a solid foundation so that you don’t screw up/have bad form doing the exercises with actual weights, because especially for someone who has had a lot of injuries in the past doing a bench press wrong or a barbell squat is way worse than doing your body weight squats wrong or your push-ups.


    from the way you wrote your post i can already sense some dissatisfaction with your trainer, and instead of going to the internet for help, how about you sit down with your trainer and have a indepth discussion, ask what he thinks you’re still lacking, clearly tell him your goals also ask him for specific reasons for his training schedule. if that doesn’t work out just find another trainer or train on your own (maybe go see the physical therapist once every few months if you do)

  46. > • I was having really bad hamstring tightness on my non-operated side which was causing nerve pain but seems to have resolved itself through dynamic stretching in the past few weeks…(and the other points)

    Your story is that what you’ve been doing has been working well…and you want to start doing something totally different? Regardless of the “prove yourself” b.s. I’d stick with what’s been working for you.

    You can really mess yourself up barbell lifting. I did. If what you’re doing is making the progress you’re looking for I think it would be a terrible idea to throw it away for something that “sounds cooler on the internet” where no one has any accountability for the results of their advice.

  47. I do agree with some of what has been said about your trainers expectations with “advanced body weight” requirement and how it seems to be a rip. Additionally his communication sucks. If he/she has any legitimate concerns he/she should be able to explain them to you and what you need to do to progress safely into a strength building phase. I do however want to add a contrary addition.

    If you’ve had substantial injuries, showed signs of major instability or imbalances I can perfectly understand why your trainer would want to see you complete some baseline assessments to show that you have advanced enough. This is in order to avoid training you into dysfunction.

    That being said clients tend to advance to barbell work in 6 months if that coincides with their goals. It really just depends on the person and how their body is progressing.

  48. Instead of insisting on what you want, dump him straightaway and either learn weightlifting yourself or look for another trainer. If you have a contract make sure you cut it by the book. And don’t be a dick about it.

    He obviously has an agenda, is either unwilling or unable to help you in weightlifting, and if you push the issue will be of grudging assistance at best.

    Best to look for a different trainer and possibly gym altogether where the atmosphere is more conducive towards your goals.

  49. The problem with PTs is that they’re not going to be interested in helping you learn to workout without them

    If I were you, I would cut ties and go at it on your own. After 6 months, you should be fit and confident enough to be self-supporting and it’s the way you’ll likely be working out for the rest of your life

    Plus saving money isn’t a bad thing

  50. If myself, a scrawny inexperienced male can go into the gym and start doing weights then so can you. I like Buff Dudes and Jeff Nippard for youtube videos, both positive and informing. Add the wiki from here and you’ve got plenty to start with after dumping the trainer.

  51. As others have said, he is wasting your time and money. He is stringing you along.

    The only time you EVER need a trainer is if you have a mobility issue you need help working around or if you are disabled and need to get to better shape. Even then, there are COUNTLESS resources if you do the work.

    I have NEVER seen a trainer worth their salt.

  52. I hope somewhere, somebody is already training an AI with body types shapes, YT training videos, form check videos, exercise list, so that we can get rid of those people and just get an app. I once got a personal trainer who told me I had to switch routine every month and it would took 3 lessons every month to show me the new routine. Yeah, sure.

  53. A trainer’s job is to string you along for more profit. They can be replaced by google and youtube so they’ll never push you faster than they’re comfortable losing money.

    Thank them for the good start, though.

  54. To quote Dr. Zoidberg, “Are you male or female?”
    Male: Start weights. Lift as fast, as much as you can for 30 minutes three times a week. Machines are good. Don’t drag it out. Don’t sit there logging it in on your goddamn phone. Start small, but at the end of 10-15 reps of whatever, you barely finish. Move to the next. Don’t dawdle. You should breathing hard and focused. You should be a sweat mop at the end of each session; wobbly, maybe crying ( am I alone here?) Look at yourself in eight weeks. You will look totally different. I am pushing 60 and hadn’t been to the gym or working out for almost 8 years. Boom. Started in mid April. The rhinoceros is coming back.
    Female: ? I think it will take longer. Nature pegged you to have a baby suckling a pound or so a day out of you. Not my fault.

  55. I read somewhere that if you decide to hire a trainer that you need to find one who is doing what you want to do. It sounds like this guy is taking you through some bs program only to keep collecting money from you. With all of the resources available for free I don’t know why anyone still pays losers like that. The only time I would pay anyone is a coach for a specific goal like a powerlifting meet or bodybuilding show.

    Go on YouTube, find guys to teach good form like athleanx, untamed strength or barbell medicine and start listening to podcasts like elitefts and you should have more information than you’ll know what to do with.

    Good luck

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