Personal trainers make it look so easy to stay in shape, don’t they?
But how? Most of the time you see them they are sitting around in the gym reception on their phones or mucking around with the other trainers, so how much do personal trainers work out to stay in shape, and are they doing anything different to you?
Well, I’ve been a personal trainer for years, so I can give you a pretty good account of how much I and other trainers around me used to work out to keep ourselves in shape. I’ll also give you a few diet pointers we used to use too, just for good measure, because I’m nice like that.
As a general rule, personal trainers will workout 5 to 6 times per week for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Trainers use different methods that align with their specific training styles and preferences, and a healthy diet is maintained to make sure they achieve the body shape that would attract clients.
Now, before we start this article, I need to make a couple of things clear. Firstly, not all fitness instructors and personal trainers are walking around gym floors with enormous biceps, 50-inch chests, or perfect glutes and thighs, some of them are a little larger and very rarely, a personal trainer might look out of shape.
A lot of trainers do keep themselves in pretty good shape, and we will get into why they do that a little later on. For now, let’s learn a little more about fitness coaches and personal trainers’ workout regimes.
How often do personal trainers exercise?
Personal trainers will aim to exercise every day, or at least every other day if the training is intense. Whenever they have free time in their diaries they will fit in short 45 minutes to 1-hour sessions. Throughout their day they may also take classes or on occasion train with their clients.
The ideal goal for most trainers is to get at least one training session in each day they work, usually with the weekend taken off to recover. Remember though, that if we are asking about how much personal trainers exercise in general, then it’s an awful lot.
Most trainers will have days lasting at least 12 hours, so when you take into account demonstrating exercises for clients, classes being taken, and their own training a fitness instructor or personal trainer burns a lot of calories in a day.
When I was training people on particularly long days (14-16 hours), it was always fun to count my steps for the day. I would very often clock up over 30,000 in a single day. So in answer to how often personal trainers exercise, the answer is “they exercise pretty much all the time”.
What kind of workouts do personal trainers do?
From my own experience, time is of the essence when working as a trainer, if you’re busy, you’re lucky if you manage to find half an hour in your day to eat your lunch, let alone do a workout.
This is why when I did manage to slip a cheeky workout in, it was always a free-weight workout that made use of big compound exercises like deadlifts, squats, bench presses, and rows. This gave me the most bang for my buck, as I could work my entire body fairly intensely in a very limited amount of time.
I’d easily be able to finish 3 sets of 10 deadlifts, rows, bench, and shoulder presses as long as I didn’t get distracted and wasn’t going overboard on my rest times.
Of course, that was my preference, but if a trainer prefers to teach people how to train for marathons, they would usually go for long runs around town whenever they had space for it and used HIIT (high-intensity interval training) when they were more limited for time.
Why does it matter if personal trainers work out or not?
Sure, trainers usually get a little space on the wall with their photo and a list of what they specialize in, but I can tell you that pretty much nobody ever reads those profile boards. What really makes a difference is gym members seeing you walking around with the body shape they would love to have.
By being in good shape, a trainer is showing gym members that they know what they are talking about, their training is effective, and that they could expect the same results. They are essentially walking billboards for their own businesses.
Can you get clients without being muscly or really lean? Yeah, of course, you can, but it really helps you to stand out if you are particularly well defined. In a dog-eat-dog world like personal training, every little advantage you can get, you need to take.
Personal trainers pay close attention to their diet!
It’s really hard for trainers to make sure they eat enough food. I know that sounds like the best problem in the world to have, but in reality, it’s a bit of a pain.
For example, imagine you are trying to build your body up so that you can become really defined or increase your muscle mass, well you need to be eating more calories than you are burning each day to build muscle, so a trainer needs to eat enough to make sure they cover the calories burned completing a tough day of near-constant exercise and then some on top of that to be able to build muscle.
Using Bodybuilding.com’s calories counter, assuming I’m working out 6 times a week and have a very active job (which being a pt certainly is) I’d need to be eating 2977 calories just to maintain my weight, and 3,477 if I wanted to build muscle.
That’s why you’ll pretty much always see a personal trainer tucking into a Tupperware box full of chicken and rice whenever they can, they need a lot of energy.
A sample Personal trainers daily diet
Breakfast – Oatmeal (Porridge) with cinnamon, peanut butter, and a banana with two boiled eggs
Snack – Huel meal replacement shake with whole milk
Lunch – Chicken, rice, and a small sweet potato (I actually don’t; like sweet potato that much, but it gets the job done)
Snack – Protein shake with meal replacement bar
Dinner – 2x Basa fillets with rice or wholegrain pasta and vegetables
Snack – Casein whey protein shake
I wasn’t exact on my diet every day, and yes, there certainly were cheat days and believe it or not, personal trainers are people too, so there were plenty of nights out with lots of beers. As long as I took these nights into account and trained a little extra over the next few days, it wouldn’t hurt my results too much.
A typical weeks work outs for a personal trainer
The easiest way for me to show what my training regimes looked like as a trainer, is to list out what I managed to get crammed into my schedule each week, so here we go.
Biggest workout of the week because I actually had about an hour and a half’s space in my schedule between 2 and 3:30pm. I’d do something called German Volume Training, which is ten sets of ten reps of bench presses superset between bent over BB rows. A superset means you go straight from working one muscle group, to then working the opposing group, in this case, the chest and then back.
I’d be pretty sore after the previous day’s GVT (German volume training), so I wouldn’t really be in the best place to do another hard weights session. Instead, I’d opt for a few short bursts of HIIT (high-intensity interval training). It’s pretty simple, I’d crank the treadmill to the highest incline it could go and sprint as fast as I could manage for 10-20 seconds and then rest for 20 seconds.
It sucked, but it’s great cardio, helped me keep my shape without cutting into my muscle too much, it also helps to increase growth hormone, and more importantly, I can get it finished in less than half an hour, which is good because Tuesday’s were always my busiest days.
Shoulders and calves day was always on Wednesday, still a little sore from Monday and legs pretty tired from the sprints the day before, I’d concentrate on only shoulders and calves.
Nothing too fancy here, usually 12 to 16 sets on shoulders (overhead presses, reverse flyes, etc) followed by 5 sets on calves (usually just calf raises on the 45-degree leg presses).
Leg day, the one everyone hates, but it’s super important if you want to keep your shape up.
I only had an hours space in my diary on Thursdays, which isn’t a lot of time to finish a leg workout, but after having several weekends ruined by excessive DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), I learned to get at least a day ahead of the weekend for legs so they could start healing.
4 sets of 10 Deadlifts followed by 4 sets of 10 barbell squats with 3 sets of 25 dumbbell lunges for desert, gross, but 11 sets of these big exercises is plenty for me, I’d go pretty heavy too.
Pretty chilled workout on Fridays as it was my quietest day (not many people want to train on a Friday). Arms, abs, and a little bit more HIIT training if I had the time/fancied it.
Usually, 4 sets of 10 DB bicep curls superset with cable triceps pushdowns, 4 sets of 10 seated DB curls superset with 4 sets of 10 DB overhead extensions would usually do me for arms, with 4 sets of 10 cable crunches followed by 4 sets of 20-25 slow swiss ball crunches would complete the workout.
Again, if there was time, I might do a little light cardio, usually walking slowly on an incline on a treadmill for twenty minutes or so.
Saturday & Sunday:
Nothing, nada, zip, I didn’t work on weekends, so I made sure I relaxed as much as I could over the weekend.
The only exercise I might get would be from walking to the shops or if I went out somewhere for the day, but certainly no “deliberate” exercise.
So there you go, hopefully, you can see from this article that personal trainers really do work out quite a lot. Even if they aren’t deliberately exercising, they are constantly exercising through their days anyway. They work out to keep in shape because for one thing, it’s healthy, but it’s also a great way of showing gym members that they know what they are doing and can get results which helps them pick up new clients.
Not every personal trainer will work out 5 times a week, but I’ve worked with tons of trainers over my career, and I can say that this is a pretty common practice.
Have a great day!
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