Successful Personal Trainers Have Standards


Do you aim to be an average personal trainer or the best one you can be? To be the best and most successful personal trainer you need to set standards to hold both you and your clients accountable. Here, we’ll discuss three standards you can implement tomorrow to set yourself up for success.

Did you know that the average client will spend 180 minutes a week, 720 minutes a month, and 8640 minutes with you a year? In a world where all we hear about is not having enough time, and work-life balance, those are a lot of minutes for someone to choose to spend with you.

  • What do your 8640 minutes look like with your clients?
  • Are you giving your clients your all?
  • Are your clients giving you their all?
  • Are you sure?

Do you have standards for yourself to demand that both you and your clients are rising to the potential? If so, awesome! If not, it’s time to ensure you’re giving your clients the best of yourself as a trainer in those 8640 minutes.

Define Yourself

Setting standards can be a tricky thing. It’s critical especially if you’re part of a team or a studio where clients don’t always train with the same trainer.

To start you must know how you are defining yourself as a trainer.

  • What are your philosophies?
  • What commitments are you making to your clients?

From there you can begin the process of figuring out how you’re going to make sure you’re delivering against those things at each session.

Three Effective Personal Training Standards

  1. Ensuring that my team practices good coaching angles.
  2. That we’re always in control of the tempo.
  3. Technique is most important above all

By following these three standards, I can ensure that my client’s 8640 minutes are of high-quality training time and I feel good when they leave that they got the best out of my team and myself.

If you are without training standards, start with these three standards for yourself and your team. You’ll find your clients will respond very quickly and you’ll find you’ll enjoy your sessions much more.

Practice Good Coaching Angles

We’ve all seen the photo of the trainer standing (or in the worst case scenario sitting) side by side next to their client while a movement is performed. The biggest problem I have with this picture is that the trainer doesn’t have a good coaching angle to evaluate the movement, which could mean the movement isn’t being performed with maximum efficiency or worse it’s not being executed safely.

If you are not at the right angle for the movement you can easily miss out on faults when clients do exercises. To ensure you have the best coaching angle you should always start out at 45 degrees and be about 2 feet from the client.

From this point you should then adjust yourself to the height of the movement, you should adjust the space meaning you should move closer or further away. Don’t forget, sometimes you do need to put your hands on the clients, so do it.

Finally, you should make sure you’re on the inside side of the movement. If you’ve got the perfect angle, height, and space but you’re on the outside of the movement, you won’t be able to have the full view of the movement.

A good way to test how you’re doing is to practice finding good coaching angles. To do so, ask yourself how you feel after the session. If you are exhausted, and not because it was a difficult client or they talked your ear off, it is likely because you were actively working to find the right angles.

To find the best angles you will always be moving and adjusting your view. Another thing you can do test yourself is to see if you can find something you didn’t see before. You’ve probably seen this client do push-ups more than a dozen times, but I guarantee if you practice finding the good angle you will find something you haven’t seen before.

Control The Tempo

A good trainer should understand that controlling the eccentric part of the rep and having a pause for an isometric contraction forces the muscles to work harder which will lead to greater muscle hypertrophy and afterburn post-workout.

So then why are so many of us, allowing our clients to rush through the movements and sets? The truth, we’re too lazy to correct it and we’ve allowed our clients to take control of the session. Stop being lazy and take back control.

Have your clients count out loud as they perform the movement or you can count. If you’re training in a small group setting, be strategic and pick the client who has a good training tempo and have them count for the group. That will force everyone to stay on track.

The easiest way to assess yourself for tempo control is to look at how quickly your clients are getting through their workout. If it’s a 50-minute session and you’re getting through it in 40 minutes. Your problem is tempo.

And don’t fool yourself or think that you can fool anyone else by adding in 10 minutes of chit-chat time to get to 50 minutes. Give your clients what they came for, and what they paid for, a temp-controlled 50-minute quality workout. They’ll complain, but they’ll appreciate you more when they look their best.

Training Technique

Having a system of how every exercise should be done will make your life as a coach much better. This is the standard from setup to execution. Also having standards on what’s right or wrong will keep your clients’ progress more honest.

For example, if a client maintains a neutral spine doing a deadlift with 135lbs but is rounded at the back pulling 200lbs then are they really a 200lb deadlifter? The results and progress become more legit while keeping the integrity of not getting hurt.

Too often we forget the first rule of being a successful coach; Do No Harm. If clients do things the right way, they won’t get hurt, they will respect your expectations, appreciate your expertise, and will pay longer for your service.

At the end of the day, I would rather have my client perform one exercise correctly during our session than perform a bunch incorrectly. And I’ve done this. You can’t be afraid to stop the session and tell the client we’re stopping this because you’re not listening and you’re going to get hurt.

When we find ourselves here. You have to go back and you have to break the movement down. And you don’t move on until the movement is back on track.

Striv to be an above-average personal trainer. Have standards for yourself to ensure you’re being the best trainer you can be. Following these three training standards, will not only separate and help define you as a quality trainer, but you will also get the maximum effort and best results for your clients in those 8640 minutes.

Become a Master Fitness Trainer


Ian Nimblett, CFSC, CSCS, NFPT-CPT and is a functional strength & conditioning coach, personal trainer, and author. He is the founder and owner of Premier Fitness Group LLC in South Salem, NY, a world-class functional training facility that provides private, semi-private, and group training.