February 2, 2015 by unclespike218
I may have to find a new personal trainer here soon. Or just branch out on my own.
Don’t get me wrong. This guy is – well, on a personal level – truly awesome. He used to be a competitive bodybuilder back in the day. He knows whereof he speaks. But you’d never guess it, not with the loose shirts and sweats he wears, not with the shaggy, graying hair, and not with the unaffected cool California surfer attitude he has. He’s about as laid back as they come, always with a smile, and always great to chat with. He has jokingly threatened to dump me as a client because he is a true cinephile, while I don’t really care much for movies. But at least we have a common love of music, and share recommendations all the time.
However. That’s not what you go to a trainer for. His equipment, with little variation, is mainly circuit equipment. The squat rack – where I spend roughly half my time – is a Smith machine. And with one exception – me – his clients are exclusively people who are looking to tone, and wanting to lose weight and keep it off. Tend to be older men and women, established in their careers or retired, and rife with money. He’s good, no doubt…he has a long waiting list. But is he great for me?
That I doubt. My goals are to increase strength and size, to respect and increase the testosterone pushing through my veins, and to avoid injury (but who isn’t?). And I suspect that my own workouts away from his have brought me most of my gains. The omniscient “they” say that Smith machines are awful for preventing injuries. Sure, the barbell is much more controlled for you, should you slip, but at the same time, those tiny accessory muscles that help maintain stability get to relax because the machine is providing that stability itself. And I suspect this lack of support gave me a back spasm a month ago that incapacitated me for nearly a week.
It was the classic story: a small movement – in the Smith machine, no less – that gave me that tell-tale, cautionary twinge that something had just gone horribly awry. I had just completed a squat that couldn’t have been any more than 180 pounds (when typically I go to 230+). I hesitated for about ten seconds, then did another squat just to see if my instincts were correct. No issues on that last squat, but it still disturbed me. And within three minutes, I was hobbling around the gym in pain. Even despite my arsenal of goodies (cell salts, ginger, turmeric, and other ordnance), I still suffered for days. Ironically, a happy hour on a Friday brought me blessed relief the next morning. Guess I just needed to relax more.
I tried to do squats a few days ago in my own free weight squat rack. I stayed around 100 pounds for 3 sets. By the third, my adductors were screaming in pain, so I stopped. Good pain, I think, but those were muscles that had long been able to just hang out. And this is what I need to get stronger – all over. For all my trainer’s other clients, machines are just fine. But I need something more.
We’ll see what happens when I advertise my desire for a personal trainer who won’t engage me in much cardio, who won’t do the Cross Fit or P90X routines, and who is fine with working with meatheads who like to pick up heavy things and put them down and grunt with the effort. I like the sound of iron on iron. We’ll see what happens.
And for that matter, we’ll see if I have the backbone to tell my trainer that I’m moving on.