While it may be obvious to some that hiring a personal trainer is the fastest route to success in your fitness journey, what is less obvious is just how often you will need to see your personal trainer to accomplish your goals.
Factors such as time, cost, goals, timeframes, and lifestyle factors all need to be taken into consideration when deciding how many sessions per week you should be seeing a fitness professional.
The good news is that I was a trainer in the City of London for over ten years, so I have plenty of experience in client deadlines and budgets. knowing how often you’ll need to be seeing your trainer to see the results you’re looking for helps to set realistic and achievable goals, making it more likely that you’ll reach them. Today, I’ll be helping you understand everything you need to know when considering how many sessions you’ll need each week.
Here’s a sneak peek of what we’ll be covering in this article
- How many sessions you should go for with your budget taken into consideration
- If you’ll need more or fewer sessions depending on your experience
- How to decide on the number using timeframes and upcoming goals
These are just a few of the tips I’ll be covering in this article, there are a bunch more, so keep reading. By the time you finish, you will have a thorough understanding of just how often you need to see your personal trainer to gain the maximum benefit, without always needing to break the bank!
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In a nutshell
You should see a personal trainer one to three times per week to get a balance of consistency, intensity, and cost-effectiveness. Goals and timeframes should be discussed to allow a trainer to prescribe the correct number of sessions for you to reach your goals within these timeframes.
How often to see a personal trainer based on your financial situation
Cutting to the chase, personal training is not cheap, and the cost of sessions is the number one factor that most people consider when deciding how many times they will see their trainer each week.
Even if you have tight deadlines such as a wedding coming up or you’re hyper focussed on looking good in a bathing suit for your holiday in a few months’ time, you still need to be able to afford the sessions, or it’s irrelevant. That’s why it takes the first spot on our list today.
The easiest way for me to break this down is to lay it out in tiers of budgets and how often I think you should see your trainer depending on that budget.
If money is no expense and you have plenty of time to train, as and when you like. How often do I think you should see a trainer? 5 times per week or 20 sessions per month.
Even though you could certainly afford to train each day of the week, your body still needs rest and time to recover, without adequate recovery time, you will not only hamper your results but you could make an injury more likely to occur, which could set you back months!
Intermediate budget (most people that use personal trainers)
Most people that consider hiring a personal trainer know they aren’t cheap and have already decided if they have the budget for it or not. For people with a good salary and without lots of overheads to consider, I would suggest training from 3 to 4 sessions per week (if possible), but 3 sessions would still get you some great results.
How you split these sessions through the week is of course, up to you, but a good suggestion would be to ask your trainer to have the sessions on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. If you can bear the idea of going to the gym on a Friday, you will have time for a weekend of rest, with one rest day mid-week.
If going down the three sessions per-week route, your obvious split would be Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I really do advise against back-to-back days of training unless you are working specific muscle groups, as your body does require a good amount of recovery time if you’re training hard.
Lower budget (a lot of people using trainers)
People understand the benefits a personal trainer can provide, but they can’t always afford the luxury of training multiple times per week. In this case, I would suggest you do your best to stretch your budget out to be able to afford at least one session, but preferably two sessions per week.
With two sessions per week, your trainer could split your workouts into upper and lower body training sessions, or solely focus on the bigger compound movements (like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses) that get you the most bang for your buck, but that also need the most supervision.
This way, during the rest of the week, you can focus on the smaller muscle groups yourself and complete any prescribed cardio without the need for supervision.
Next to zero budget
In the case that you have done your maths and decided that much as you’d love to, you can’t afford to train even once per week with a trainer, I would recommend you save up some cash and ask for a training program to be written for you by a certified trainer and pay for one session to be shown how to do the exercises correctly and safely.
Most trainers would be happy to do this, as it’s pretty easy to squeeze a one-hour session in their schedule somewhere. A training program won’t cost you the earth, and you’re looking at about £50 ($60) for a one-hour training session to show you the ropes, so it should be fairly budget-friendly, but still worth every penny.
How often to see a trainer based on your skill level
How new are you to the gym? Is it the first time you’ve stepped onto the gym floor, have you been training in your lunch breaks, or are you an exercise enthusiast that’s been training consistently for years?
Each of these scenarios would dictate how many times you would need to see a trainer each week to get the most out of your training.
Let’s break these down one by one to keep things simple.
Brand new to the gym
If you’re learning a new language, would you learn it fastest if you studied once, twice, or three times per week? Obviously, the more you study the faster you learn, right? So three as a minimum would be best.
The same applies to training in the gym, when you are just starting out, you really have no idea what you are doing, and much as exercise may sound simple at its core, you’d be surprised at how much there is to learn.
In this scenario, I would suggest training at least three times per week with a trainer if you can afford it, but twice per week would still be fine. Remember that a lot of the early days in your sessions would simply be showing you how to perform new exercises safely and showing you how to use pieces of equipment properly, so there is a pretty steep initial learning curve.
Once you’re happy with the kit and how to complete the exercises, you could ask to go down to two focused sessions per week.
If the gym is your lunch break location of choice (just like me), then you’ve probably got a pretty good handle on what you’re doing. You should know how to use most pieces of equipment, and you should have a good understanding of how to do things safely and what to eat, etc (if you’ve done your homework).
For an experienced gym-goer, I would suggest you see a personal trainer twice per week. The trainer’s main role here would be to help spot you on tougher exercises and to boost motivation when the training really gets tough. You shouldn’t need three sessions a week unless you have some really tight deadlines to work to (which we’ll get to later).
You may think that someone that’s been training for years would have no need for a trainer, however, the opposite is true. People that train regularly are often highly motivated people with a strong conviction to reach their goals.
It’s also highly likely that at some point, they have reached a plateau in their training and need an expert’s advice to break through it. In this scenario, I would suggest they see a personal trainer 3 times per week.
Plateaus are hard to break through, and there’s a good chance that new exercises or entirely new training regimes will need to be implemented in order to break them. A personal trainer will know how to use techniques such as periodized training to do just this, and it’s worth the price to see your goals finally being accomplished after months or even years of stagnation.
How your goals will dictate how often you need to train
There are all kinds of reasons people hire a personal trainer, but for the sake of simplicity, I’ll just take the two most common for this article, weight gain, and weight loss. These two polar opposite goals take completely different amounts of time and dedication to achieve, so let’s take a look at how often I think you’ll need to be seeing a personal trainer to achieve either.
You might be surprised when I say that I used to only have my weight loss clients train with me once or maybe twice a week if they could afford it. Why was this? Because weight loss is one of the easier goals to achieve (despite mainstream media trying to convince you otherwise).
I taught my clients the exercises they needed to be doing, talked to them about their diet and what kind of cardio they should be completing each week, and let them get on with it themselves. I wasn’t in the game for trying to rinse people for their money, so I saw these guys twice a week to make sure they were getting in at least two tough sessions, and your trainer should do the same.
Weight gain, on the other hand, is a whole other story. It’s incredibly difficult to make your body grow (and keep) muscle mass, as it really doesn’t want to. This means you have to train with a lot of intensity, consistency, and with meticulous attention to diet.
Training hard requires more use of very heavy weights and pushing your body to its extremes, which often requires someone’s help. A trainer can watch over you (known as spotting), to make sure you push yourself to your limit without running the risk of injury.
For weight gain, I would typically have my clients train with me at least three times per week, and for hard gainers (taller, thinner people), I would advise four sessions per week.
Timeframes and upcoming events
Before I start this section, I’d like to start with a piece of advice. Give yourself plenty of time to train before an upcoming event such as a wedding. It’s so common to hear people say they have a few weeks left before they are going to a wedding and decided to hire a PT to help them out.
This puts a ton of pressure on both the trainer and the client, so please remember to give yourself as much time as possible to train for events.
You’ll also want to know exactly how many weeks you have so your trainer can decide how many sessions you’ll need each week in order to accomplish your goals.
Let’s use the example of the wedding again, and let’s imagine my client has six weeks before the big day. That’s not a ton of time, but it should be possible to lose a good few pounds. In this situation, as we are trying to achieve a great deal in a short time frame, I would suggest training three to four times per week, with several sessions completed on their own.
Now, for a completely different example, let’s say my client was looking to run a marathon for the very first time. This kind of endurance event requires considerable training to avoid injury, and athletic training to make sure the body is working as efficiently as possible during the run.
I would ask them to give me at least six months’ notice of an event like this to give us time to fully prepare and would advise them to train with me at least twice per week to go through strength and conditioning work as well as biomechanics assessment and training.
How often to see a personal trainer based on your commitment/motivation
I’ll keep this short and simple because it’s not that complicated.
If you’re super motivated to train and jump out of bed at 5 am each day ready to go and start lifting, you wouldn’t need nearly as much help from a trainer from a motivational point of view. However, everyone has their off days and may still need a little extra encouragement on the dark, damp, and cold winter mornings.
With that being said, the highly motivated individual would only need to train once or twice a week with a trainer if they find themselves lacking in motivation for whatever reason. However, for a person who hates even the idea of going to a gym, ironically, they would need far more sessions, maybe even three or four if the budget permits.
The reason for this is that the more often an unmotivated individual goes to see a trainer, the more likely they are to see results, which will (hopefully) allow them to see the benefits of doing so, therefore increasing their motivation to keep going.
I really hope this article has given you a good understanding of how often you should be seeing a personal trainer. As with most things in life, it often comes down to budget, so I have tried to stay as realistic as possible here and not say you should be seeing a trainer five times a week for the next ten years.
Most of the time, as long as you give your trainer plenty of notice of upcoming events, and have clearly outlined your goals, there should be no need for drastic measures to be taken, most of the time, two to three sessions a week will do just fine.
I wish you the best of luck on your fitness journey.
Have a great day, and thanks for reading!
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