One of the most frequent issues I see come up among trainers and strength coaches is programming. What works, what doesn't, how long should each phase last, less volume, more, etc... and that's a good thing in my opinion. Healthy debate means people are thinking, both about their clients and improving their own knowledge. And that's really what this whole industry should be about, right?
Alwyn Cosgrove, who travels around the world teaching other trainers says that poor trainers argue about what kind of training is best, average trainers debate differences in programs, and great trainers look for underlying similarities.
He did however leave out one category that is all too common: Trainers that don't bother to program at all.
I'm sure you've all seen them. These are the ones that tend to shout out a rep count and go on about how this or that "functional" movement is gonna get their client jacked. You might also notice they don't carry any sort of printed program with them, and tend to jump from one thing to another in a desperate effort to fatigue the client as much as possible so the person thinks they've gotten a great workout.
Problem is the next time the same client comes in the trainer doesn't have a record of exactly what the person did last time, and will just try to run them into the ground again instead of a workout based on progression.
Now I'm as much of a fan of Matt Foley as anyone, but I'm not going to pay for a motivational speaker to train me. I want someone that can lay out a plan and help me reach my goals. And based on the dozens of these types I've seen come and go it's obvious their clients also notice a lack of progress and soon go on their way.
In no way am I claiming to be the best trainer around. I know I have boatloads to learn. But if you are a trainer and aren't looking to improve your knowledge and skill at programming, then do you have your client's best interest in mind?
And if you are currently hiring a trainer, then ask to see your program and ask why and how it will help you reach your goals. A good trainer should be able to explain why you are doing such and such an exercise and why a given intensity/volume is appropriate. Beware of bodybuilding terms and trendy functional movements on bosu balls - a warning sign that there may be no logic behind the program (unless you are a bodybuilder or rehabbing an injury).
If your trainer doesn't have something planned out weeks in advance then you are likely wasting your money.
Currently residing in Portland, OR, I am the director of training at Edge Performance Fitness. My approach to training is to integrate the formal (I'm an NSCA CSCS as
well as a coach with the American Kettlebell Club and the IKFF) with the
practical. I've studied martial arts in Japan and the U.S. for 15 years,
and have put in my time in the gym, in the water, on the snow, and on the bike.