Maybe you've enlisted a personal trainer to expand your fitness knowledge, to keep you on track toward a certain goal or simply to kick your butt in a way you can't do for yourself.
Research suggests it's a good tactic: A classic March 2003 study in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine found that 10 weeks with a trainer led to significant improvements in motivation and performance.
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If that's the case, why are you sabotaging yourself?
Poor habits coming into the gym can make your workout much less effective than it could be. Here are eight things personal trainers wish you'd stop doing during a session — and what to do instead.
1. You're Always Running Late
Schedules get packed, and it makes sense that a meeting might run long or traffic was annoyingly slow. But if you're always breathlessly rushing into your session, that means you won't have the kind of buffer needed to shift your mindset into working out. Also, it can set a sour tone for the workout when it does start.
"What it says when you don't show up early or on time is that what we're trying to do isn't important to you," Rocky Snyder, CSCS, personal trainer and author of strength training guide Return to Center, LIVESTRONG.com. "It's disrespectful, and it makes it more difficult to maximize the time we have."
"This could be a way to say that you find the training too difficult and it makes you uncomfortable," he tells LIVESTRONG.com. "If that's the case, your results will be elusive."
The remedy? Talk to your trainer about adjusting your program so you look forward to workouts instead of trying to get them over with.
2. You Haven't Disclosed Past and Present Injuries
This is a huge issue because if a trainer doesn't know about your dodgy knee, rebuilt shoulder, chronic low back pain or plantar fasciitis — even if they happened years ago and don't feel relevant now — your training program might be putting you at risk for re-injury or worsening current problems, Snyder says.
It's not a weakness to have to work around an injury. In fact, it can be very beneficial because your program will often emphasize strengthening muscles around an old injury to protect that area more effectively, he adds.
Before coming to your session, you saw an influencer swinging kettlebells while balancing on a Bosu ball, or doing box jumps while draping a sandbag across their shoulders, or attempting a pull-up with a weight plate squeezed between their knees. You think it looks fun, but your trainer probably disagrees.
"Results come from steady progression in a program where it's possible to gauge your progress," Reda Elmardi, CSCS, strength coach and trainer in New York City, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
While it can be fun to play around with different variations occasionally, he says it's not helpful to constantly change the exercise mix in favor of the latest trendy workout.
4. You Put Yourself Down Constantly
Self-doubt and negativity can crop up more often in situations where you feel uncomfortable. When it comes to a workout, you may gravitate in that direction, Snyder says. But it's counterproductive.
"Letting that self-doubt dictate how you move through a workout makes it challenging for your trainer," he says. "As trainers, we're there to lift people up, motivate and educate. However, if clients choose not to meet us at least halfway, it's not going to be a successful journey."
Another hallmark of self-doubt is putting in only minimal effort. You usually don't pay a professional trainer to help you maintain a fitness plateau. Instead, the goal is to improve in some way, and that requires hard work, according to Lindsay Ogden, CPT, personal trainer at Life Time Eden Prairie in Minnesota.
"You won't know what you're capable of if you don't try," she tells LIVESTRONG.com. "Assuming your trainer is providing an environment where you feel safe and confident, you also have to believe in yourself and know progress is on the other end."
5. You Don't Admit When Workout Instructions Are Confusing
Although trainers focus on keeping you motivated, they're also there to make sure you do a workout safely — and for that, it's crucial to speak up when you don't understand instructions regarding variables like which muscles to engage, how to move in compound exercises and how you should be breathing.
All of these are part of proper exercise form, and when done correctly, they can aid in injury prevention, Snyder says. Even if you're in a bootcamp-style workout or you're doing a timed HIIT session, he suggests pausing if you need more instruction.
6. You're Not Honest About Your Lifestyle Habits
It's common for the first two weeks of a workout program and training relationship to feel like a honeymoon phase, where you've ditched some less-than-stellar habits and you're committed to a full-scale change, says Amberly Griesse, CPT, senior performance coach for the Future training app and trainer at O2 Fitness Clubs in South Carolina.
The problem? Honeymoons end.
"After a couple weeks, we see individuals fall off their new routine and go back to old behaviors, and they're reluctant to admit that to their trainer," she tells LIVESTRONG.com.
What people don't tend to realize is that trainers have extensive knowledge about better lifestyle habit development and can help you shift toward the behaviors you want in a realistic way that can be maintained.
"Trainers can also assist in understanding why your new lifestyle habits may have failed," she says. "With that insight, you can make meaningful changes that stick."
7. You Don't Give Honest Feedback
One of the most quoted bits of wisdom with personal training is "the best program is the one you actually do." If you're not honest about what you don't like or you hide the fact that some exercises may have caused pain or discomfort, you're less likely to keep up with training sessions, says Sam Turner, CSCS, senior performance coach at Future in Atlanta.
"As a coach, post-workout feedback is super important so I can make adjustments or modifications for the next workout," he tells LIVESTRONG.com. "If a client gives me the green light and says everything was great, but in reality, they hated the workout or the movements were too challenging, we start having a disconnect."
Eventually, this tends to lead to missed workouts and possibly the end of training altogether, he adds.
8. You Compare Yourself to Your Past Self
It doesn't matter if you used to be a collegiate athlete, an Olympian or just someone who could go up a flight of stairs without being winded — there's a natural tendency when starting a workout program to think about how fit you used to be, instead of where you are now. That attitude might be the biggest saboteur of them all, Turner says.
"So many struggle with this, and it's hard to feel like you're starting over," he says. "It's just as destructive as comparing yourself to others. But the fact is that constantly sizing yourself up based on where you were 10 years ago is a distraction. I'm not saying we can't get back to that fitness level or even surpass it, but you have to start where you are and build from there."