Remote Coaching and Personal Training
Train with a pro that lives a thousand miles away
Coaching is preplanning and sophisticated athletic planning is called periodization
Why do people go to the time, trouble and expense to diet, exercise, join gyms and hire personal trainers? What is it they seek for their efforts? They seek a dramatically renovated body. They seek to transform their physique, from what it is currently into what they envision, what they mentally picture their renovated body to look like. Dissatisfaction provides the initial motivation to train and diet. Once the diet and/or exercise program commences, results need replace dissatisfaction as the fuel for future motivation. Without motivation the effort dies. Without results motivation dies.
What are the defining characteristics of a transformed physique? There are two benchmarks that define the renovated physique…
- a significant increase in lean muscle mass
- a significant reduction of body fat
Those that are successful in their quest to add lean muscle and reduce body fat automatically acquire new levels of strength, health, athletic performance, endurance, vitality, and energy. All these fantastic benefits are acquired when the trainee successfully muscles up and leans out. The skilled personal trainer guides students and clients to a successful conclusion in their individualized quest to create a new, better body.
Classically, traditionally, the personal trainer meets with and guides the trainee through resistance training and cardio exercise sessions, teaching, making technical adjustments, offering poundage, rep and pacing suggestions. The elite personal trainer adjusts and fine-tunes the exercise and diet variables as the ongoing process unfolds. This partnership between the student/client and the personal trainer is a pact: I will do as you say, follow your system and approach, and in return it will deliver on its promised results.
It is the student/client’s duty to follow the dietary and training precepts the personal trainer has custom designed for them; it is the personal trainer’s responsibility to provide a sensible, doable, realistic methodology that, within a reasonable timeframe, delivers on the promises of a renovated physique.
When it comes to designing personalized, customized training and nutritional templates, one size does not fit all. Every trainee deserves a customized training and nutritional template. Everyone’s life situation is different; intelligent allowances and adjustments are needed to create an exercise and diet regimen that melds and fits with the realities of the trainee’s life.
An elite personal trainer makes “in-flight corrections” to frequency, volume, content, and intensity, as needed. The pro PT anticipates stagnation before it occurs. Subtly and overtly. The PT makes timely tweaks and adjustments to weight training, cardio, and nutrition, various adjustments that nudge progress ever onward. Every trainee seeking dramatic results needs to have a systematized plan of attack in three interrelated disciplines…
- Resistance training
- Cardiovascular training
Every student-client deserves a customized strategy within each of these three related disciplines. The personal trainer’s job is to ascertain realistic goals, set reasonable goals into reasonable timeframes, reverse-engineer a battle plan, and systematically get the student/client off center: time to turn thought and talk into action. The goal is to achieve small weekly training improvements and attain weekly bodyweight goals. Small weekly improvements in performance and physique compound over time.
The skillful use of technology allows those unable to train in the presence of the personal trainer to do so remotely. The possibilities are numerous…
- Record sessions: transmit video to the personal trainer of top sets and/or aerobic session highlights. The video enables the personal trainer to give the student-client detailed feedback on exercise technique, breathing and pacing. With the proper camera angle, the personal trainer sees body position and can determine the degree of intensity exerted, this is invaluable data.
- Live Zoom: train while the personal trainer watches in real time. If schedules allow, the personal trainer can guide the trainee through a workout, explaining what is expected, watching, then critiquing in real time, just as if the coach was standing in the room with you. The Zoom session puts the PT in the gym with the student-client a thousand miles away.
- Heart rate monitors and high-tech monitoring devices: the sophisticated personal trainer makes use of the available technology. The purchase of a $15 chest strap allows the PT to use a phone app to see how hard the client’s heart is working in relation to the work being done. A heart rate monitor enables the user to access and compare aerobic intensities: how does 30-minutes of jogging compare to 30-minutes of swimming?
How does it work?
Each week, the remote client knows what is expected of them heading into the resistance training session: what exercise are to be done, what highly specific techniques are to be used? The client/student understands how many sets they are to do, how many reps per set, and how much rest they are to take between sets.
Each week, aerobic mode, frequency, duration, and intensity are agreed on ahead of time. Select a mode – is the pacing steady-state or interval-style? The cardio goal is to elevate the heart rate to a predetermined level for a predetermined duration. Every session that goal is the same: achieve the session’s predetermined benchmarks; each successive week, slightly more is asked of the trainee in their training efforts.
The goal in cardio training and the goal of resistance training is the same: train with enough intensity to trigger the adaptive response. Muscle growth only occurs when the training effort is past our capacity, in some manner or fashion. The elite personal trainer shows the student-client how to work up to some expression of 100% capacity (needed to trigger hypertrophy) safely and consistently. The body only builds new muscle in response to stresses past its current capacities.
Fat burning is triggered if nutritional preconditions are met and a capacity-equaling or exceeding cardio effort is undertaken: this combination triggers the aerobic adaptive response: in the absence of glycogen (emulsified carbohydrate) the body will use stored body fat as fuel. Ideally, the personal trainer shows the trainee-client-student how to set up the metabolic preconditions that force the body to use body fat to power activity.
The elite personal trainer periodizes body weight goals: no one trains to stay the same. What is the agreed upon bodyweight goal for the week? Add muscle and move the scale upward? Lose body fat and move the scale downward? The client-student knows exactly what is expected and every new goal is always well within their grasp: each weekly goal in each area slightly more than the previous week. Weekly expectations are set ahead of time.
Remote coaching: nuts and bolts
Once a week, every seven days, the personal trainer and the student-client talk by phone, Zoom or Skype. They review together the week’s training videos and make technical adjustments to form and technique. The duo will discuss and agree on the next week’s goals. During the weekly phone call, all aspects of the process are addressed. The training videos reveal the degree of effort required to complete the task and reveal any flawed techniques. The week’s aerobic sessions are discussed, regardless the mode (run, stationary bike, swim, play basketball,) cardio activity is monitored with a heart rate monitor. The four cardio categories are tweaked: mode, frequency, duration, and intensity, all are modulated. Skillful nutrition and consistent, intense cardio force the body to burn body fat for fuel.
Nutrition is the foundation that underpins training. Without some semblance of nutritional discipline, all our training efforts can be undone. Proper nutrition amplifies our training efforts. There is far more to nutrition than counting calories. The classic “fitness” prescription for losing body weight is always the same: more exercise, fewer calories. And a calorie is a calorie. The mainstream thinks one-size-fits-all and see no difference between 500-calories derived from salmon or 500-calories derived from Ben & Jerrys.
The one-size-fits-all mentality overworks and under-feeds adherents, resulting in stunted metabolisms and self-induced catabolism. When starved and overworked, the body eats muscle at a much faster rate than it burns body fat. The body seeks to preserve body fat as its last line of defense against perceived starvation. The smart way to lose fat is slowly and consistently. This way muscle is preserved while fat is melted. Conversely and logically, the best way to add muscle is to do so slowly and systematically, this was an unacceptable amount of body fat is not acquired.
The intelligent approach is to first, establish a direction: add muscle? get shredded? Pick one direction or the other and commit, otherwise you will be at cross-purposes. Adding muscle while stripping off fat is beyond the capacities of all but the most experienced of trainees. Pick a generalized direction: add mass? get ripped? Commit to an overarching goal for 10-12 weeks: cycle bodyweight to amplify and clarify the selected goal.
Why remote coaching works
Having a personal trainer accelerates the process. The PT eliminates the learning curve and, assuming the modes and methods are sound, puts the student-client on the path to dramatic physical improvement. The personal trainer plots the course for the trainee, devising the resistance training and aerobic training schedules and templates. The personal trainer guides the trainee helping them avoid the dietary pitfalls and dead-end nutritional strategies that plague the ill-informed or uninformed. The personal trainer holds the trainee accountable and brings out the best in the student-client. At the end of the process, the results obtained match the promises made.
About The Author:
Marty Gallagher is a national and world champion in Olympic lifting and powerlifting. He's also coached some of the strongest men on the planet including Kirk Karwoski when he completed his world record 1,003 lb. squat. Today he teaches the US Secret Service and Tier 1 Spec Ops on how to maximize their strength in minimal time. As a writer since 1978 he’s written for Powerlifting USA, Milo, Flex Magazine, Muscle & Fitness, Prime Fitness, Washington Post, Dragon Door, IRON COMPANY and now KB Fitness. He’s also the author of multiple books including Purposeful Primitive, Strong Medicine, Ed Coan’s book “Coan, The Man, the Myth, the Method" and numerous others.