Personal Training Programs

We have people coming into The ABS Gyms every day looking for a consultation with a personal trainer.

I really like these consultations and I feel people get a lot from them and leave with some direction. Without a doubt, the consultation goes something like this.

We ask for a rough idea of what they were used to doing and where they were training and it turns out they had just gotten a programme from a fitness instructor or inexperienced personal trainer.

Unsurprisingly they had the EXACT SAME program. Keep in mind these two gyms were at opposite ends of the city and the people had completely different fitness goals. i.e. one wanted to gain some muscle and the other wanted to lose fat.



I will repeat that just in case you didn’t catch it the first time. One of the people was a girl in her thirties who wanted to LOSE weight and the other was a guy in his late 20′s who wanted to GAIN muscle and they were both given the exact same program.

Here’s the program in question in all its glory:

Warm up:

10 minutes on treadmill


30 mins on cross trainer / elliptical level 5-7

15 minutes on stepper or stationary bike

(Guy had 30 mins running on treadmill and girl had 30 mins incline walking too)

Weight training/ Resistance Training

Machine chest press

Machine shoulder press

Bicep Curl

Tricep Extension

3 sets of 12-15 repetitions of each

Abdominal/Core Work


3 Sets of 25

Look Familiar? 

I bet you probably went to the gym and got one of these programs before and the ‘trainer’ told you it was tailored to your needs etc. I’m afraid not.

You can’t really blame the fitness instructor either. They are reprimanded if they spend too much time with people. So even if the fitness instructor genuinely wanted to help you they aren’t allowed.

Crazy right?

As for the programme, the reason they will give you something like the above is because it doesn’t require that much instruction.

It gets worse.

In one gym in South Dublin the trainers are encouraged to give the new members basic cookie cutter programs that yield minimal results on their first day, this ’free personal training program’ is advertised as a perk of a new membership.

Then the trainers are told to patrol the gym and show them a ‘new revolutionary exercise’ so that they’ll be sore the next day and then think that they need more personal training. The trainers themselves even try and poach clients on each other.


This is quite obviously not a good environment to be training in and the member’s results are not a priority.

Back to the program.

10 minutes warm up on a treadmill?

Boooo, that does not make any sense. Yea you might be sweating after it but that doesn’t mean anything. A warm up should be a range of mobility exercises (bringing your joints through certain ranges of motion) preparing you and your joints for the exercise to follow. Arranging these exercises in such a way that you are alternating between upper body and lower body movements will recreate the ‘warming up’ feeling you get from running on a treadmill and get you sweating too. Win-win.

As for the rest of the training, it doesn’t address either person’s goals. Let me explain.

The woman looking to lose weight will be okay initially if she was completely untrained beforehand. Their fat loss won’t be optimal but they will lose some. In the first few weeks she may drop a few pounds but in the long run, as she gets better at all of the cardio exercises she will have to increase the times on each machine which is already excessive. Week after week she will have to increase the time spent on each machine to burn the same amount of calories… where does it end?

The guy, on the other hand, is in trouble if he wants to put on weight.

Cardio is catabolic (breaks down fat and muscle) and burns calories.

In order to gain muscle, you need to eat more and move less so that those calories can be used to build new muscle tissue. If you are doing cardio and resistance training/ weights together in the same session in an effort to pack on muscle then you need to go back to the drawing board I’m afraid.

The above situation is like two people going into a doctors surgery/ GP with completely different problems. The girl could be compared to somebody who goes in needing stitches on a very bad cut and the doctor giving her a plaster/band-aid instead, it will probably help in the short term but long term she’ll still need stitches.

The guy’s program could be compared to somebody going into the doctors with a broken arm and coming out with the same plaster/ band-aid on the broken arm. It would do nothing. Although because the program is so counterproductive for him I would go as far as saying it as bad as a guy with a broken arm leaving on crutches.


For more info or to book in for a consultation click here.


Bryan Kavanagh BSc CSCS


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