Home > Hiring the Right Personal Trainer > Hiring the Right Personal Trainer…Part 4

Hiring the Right Personal Trainer…Part 4

When meeting trainers for the first time, one of the ways I can gauge their knowledge and ability as trainers is to listen to the terminology they use. If they sound like a late night infomercial and liberally use the terms “muscle tone” or “lengthen muscles,” I know they are absolutely clueless. If a trainer throws these terms at you, know that they are telling you what you want to hear, not what you need to hear.

Lesson One

Muscle tonus- The muscle in a steady partially contracted state caused by the successive flow of nerve impulses. 

 Even at rest, most of our skeletal muscles are in a constant state of partial contraction called tonus.   Tonus is maintained by the activation of a few motor units in the muscle at all times, even in resting muscle. For instance, while you are standing in line at the grocery store, numerous muscles are partially activated to keep you upright and from falling to the floor. 

When a trainer uses the term, such as “We are going to improve your muscle tone by performing high reps,” they are either confused, misinformed, or worse, telling you what you want to hear.

In this instance, the trainer is misapplying the word tone. What the trainer really means to say is to reduce your body fat, so that the underlying muscle becomes visible. For instance, we all have abdominal muscles, but not everyone’s are visible because they are hidden beneath a layer of fat.

But this is not to say that tonus is undesirable, as a partially contracted muscle is more visually appealing than a flaccid muscle and performs better. The only way to improve tonus is by performing low reps with heavy weights. For men, this means working in the 1-6 rep range and for women, 1-8 reps.

Lesson Two

My biggest pet peeve is when a trainer tells a client they’re going to “lengthen their muscles.” The ONLY method for lengthening a muscle requires a surgeon to cut you open, detach the muscle’s tendons at both ends, stretch your muscle apart and re-attach the tendons to the bone. Not what you were expecting?  As with tonus, what they mean to say is to lose body fat so your muscle becomes visible. 

It may appear as if I’m making mountains out of mole hills, but the implications are important. Either the trainer does not understand the terminology or does understand, but is using “buzz words” to tell you what you want to hear to put more money in their pocket.  Which one is worse? A trainer with a limited grasp of his profession or one who practices deceptive techniques?  Remember, how you do one thing, is how you do everything.  If your trainer uses these phrases, you may want to go elsewhere.

If the fifth and final installment, I’ll reveal the most abused training technique trainers use to impress their clients…too bad it causes more injuries than Lindsay Lohan driving a runaway Toyota.

Earlier Installments: Part 3

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