How To Be Your Own Personal Trainer

Not everyone has the luxury of being able to hire a personal trainer, in fact, only 10-15 percent of members of gyms with PTs ever make use of their services.

So, what are your options if you want to get all the same benefits, but can’t afford a personal trainer? Well, I guess your best bet is to be your own personal trainer!

Good news my friend, this article will explain everything you need to get the exact same quality of workout and achieve the same results you’d get if you hired yourself a top-notch trainer.

Sound good?

Let’s go…

Here’s a sneak peek of what we will be covering in this article

  • Assessing where you’re at before you begin
  • Setting your fitness goals
  • How often you’ll need to train
  • How long you’ll need to train each session
  • Dietary requirements

These are just a few of the tips I’ll be covering in this article, you’ll know everything you need to get yourself in the best shape of your life without having to fork out on a trainer by the end, so keep reading!

how to be your own personal trainer

How to be your own personal trainer

Assessing where you’re at before you begin

No training regime should start until you have your starting point noted down, unless this is done correctly, it’s going to be really difficult for you to track your progress and make sure things are heading in the correct direction.

Before you begin your solo fitness journey, I recommend you take the following measurements; your weight, circumference of the stomach, middle of the thigh, arm, bust, and neck circumference. It might also be worthwhile taking pictures of yourself so you can see the progress visually as your regime progresses, just remember to take the pictures in the same place each time, lighting makes a massive difference to your appearance in a photo.

When weighing yourself, a good tip is to do so first thing in the morning. You should do this each time you weigh yourself. Your weight will change dramatically throughout the day, so keeping your weigh-in time the same will ensure you get an accurate reading.

Bioelectrical impedance

Nowhere near as scary as it sounds, bioelectrical impedance scales allow you to weigh yourself, but also give you the option to get statistics such as skeletal muscle %, visceral fat, metabolism, and BMI. The great thing about this is that by having more stats to look at, you’ll be able to see results coming along more easily, which can help motivation when times get tough.

You can buy your own set of bioelectrical impedance scales, or some gym chains will have them in changing rooms.

Setting your fitness goals

Being your own personal trainer means you have to act exactly as a trainer would, this means you’ll need to set clearly defined and achievable goals.

Decide exactly what it is that you want to get out of your training sessions, if it’s weight loss, don’t leave it as vague as this, decide how much weight you want to lose and by when. The same applies to muscle gain.

Setting these goals will help you to focus and maintain your motivation as you progress, but in order for them to motivate, they need to be realistic. For example, if you’ve got a wedding to go to in 2 months’ time and you decide you need to lose three stone by then, you are almost certainly going to end up disappointed.

Instead, decide what it is you want to do, when you want it and how a realistic goal for this could be. Going back to the wedding weight loss scenario again, you may decide that you want to lose weight, you know that you have 8 weeks until the wedding, and after a little research, you see the safe amount of weight to lose each week is 2lbs.

Taking these stats into account, you can see that if you stick to your training regime and diet, you should be able to lose 16lbs (7kg) before the big day.

How often you’ll need to train

Whether you’re training with a personal trainer or by yourself, you’re going to need to exercise on a regular basis, and more importantly, you’ll need to be consistent.

Getting the results you want requires you to be training often enough and hard enough to force your body to change, which is why you should be aiming for at least three to four sessions per week.

There’s nothing wrong with missing a session here and there, but do your best to make up for it when you can. A great way of being consistent is to add your workouts to your diary, very soon it will become a normal part of your day, and not something you feel you’re forcing yourself to do.

How long you’ll need to train each session

You’ll often hear of people training for an hour on their lunch breaks, or before and after work. However, it’s not always necessary to train for this long. If you have the time to spare, a 45-minute session will get you great results as long as you are putting in constant effort during the session.

Many people have busy lives, so even a 45-minute session may be out of the question, in this case, a 30-minute session is the answer to your questions, but bear in mind that the intensity will need to be kept high in order to get best results.

For more information about the pros and cons of session length, click the links below.

How Long Is A Personal Training Session?

Can 30 Minutes Of Personal Training Be Long Enough?

Dietary requirements

Without a shadow of a doubt, the biggest factor as to whether or not you’ll achieve your fitness goals is your diet. Without understanding what you should be eating, how much, and what types of food, you are pretty much guessing the whole way, and that’s a great way to guarantee failure.

A trainer will help you out by recommending food types and possibly explaining the ideal number of calories you should be eating each day (if they are certified to do so).

Without a trainer’s help, it’s easy to become daunted by nutrition, what I would recommend, is to keep things as simple as possible.

If you’re looking to gain weight, you’ll need to be eating more calories than you burn each day, and for weight loss, the opposite is true.

Your starting point should be to use a calorie calculator to see how much you should be eating to reach your desired goal. The one I always recommended to my clients is the calculator from Don’t be put off if you’re not interested in bodybuilding, it’s a very easy tool to use, and it will give you a clear idea of how many calories you need to be eating each day to stay on track.

Here’s a link to the page – Calorie calculator

Once you have got your calories sorted, I would recommend downloading an app for your phone that lets you get a very accurate measurement of the calorific values of your foods.

Myfitnesspal is the app I recommended to all my clients, and it’s still what I use every day. Simply fill in the details in the goals section, input your food for the day, and it will tell you if you have gone over or under, it’s very simple to use and I think you’ll love it.

Writing your training program

When writing up your exercise plan, you’ll need to take a look back at the goals you’re setting for yourself, and take into account the number of sessions you think you can fit into your week and how long each session will last.

Deciding which exercises to use can be fairly complex, as there are many factors to take into consideration, however, the best tip I can give here is to keep things as simple as possible (you might start to see a pattern emerging with my recommendations here).

If you’re looking for weight loss, you should have push, pull, leg, and shoulder exercises in each session, usually around three to four sets of fifteen to twenty repetitions. For example, a leg press, chest press, seated row, and standing dumbbell press would work nearly every muscle in your body, giving you an excellent full-body workout.

For weight gain, it’s a little different, because you may be working different body parts on different days, in that circumstance you’d be looking to work the specified body part with around four to five exercises, using three to four sets of eight to ten reps.

Writing a training program is an article in itself, so I’ve only briefly covered the topic here today. A really fantastic resource is’s workout routines page which takes all the hard work out of program design. Click the link below to be taken to the site.

Muscle and strength – workout routines

Keep a training diary

Making sure that you’re keeping on track with your training and measuring your progress with each exercise is vital to your success. This doesn’t have to be complicated at all, and it’s certainly something a personal trainer would do for each of their clients.

Make a simple list of the workouts you’ve completed, the exercise, and the weights you used, and make sure you are updating this each session. As soon as you have got to the point where an exercise starts to feel even slightly easier, make sure you’re adding more weight and track that on your diary.

Walking into the gym and getting started on your workouts is a great first step, but you need to make sure you are consistently pushing yourself in order for you to make progress, keeping a training diary is a great way to make sure this is happening.

Keeping your workouts fun

Remember how I said that consistency is key to your progress? Well, if you’re getting bored of your training, you’re going to want to start skipping sessions and you’ll lose motivation at a rapid rate. That’s a fast track to failure right there!

Your workouts should be changing every four weeks to keep things fresh, it also gives you something to look forward to if you start feeling boredom creep in. The style of workout should not change in the early stages of training, you’d stick to the same reps and sets you have been using already, but change around the exercises to make your body need to adjust to new movements.

At later stages of your training, you might want to look into something called periodized training, which is a way of cycling through workout styles in order to keep progress happening. If you’d like to know a little more about periodization and how it works, here’s a great article from explaining it in detail.

Periodization Training: A Beginner’s Guide

Keep a note of when the routine was changed in your training diary, and make sure you’re updating it every workout.

What to do if you lose motivation

Losing motivation is pretty common, but there are plenty of methods you can use to keep yourself on track when things start to get difficult.

Keeping your workouts fresh and part of your daily routine is a good first step, but you will also benefit from not being too hard on yourself. By all means, push yourself, but everyone has bad days, and there will be times when you struggle more than others. This is completely normal, and nothing to worry about.

Talking to your friends and family about what you are looking to achieve and why is another great motivator, it helps you to be accountable for your progress, as when you’re asked about how your training’s going, you’ll want to be able to give good updates.

Remember why it is that you’re exercising. Chances are that there are multiple factors to why you want to achieve your goals, so don’t forget these when times get tough. Maybe you’re exercising to lose weight and you haven’t seen the scales move in a week, but remember, you could be replacing body fat with muscle mass (a very good thing by the way), which weighs more, you could also be making massive improvements to your cardiovascular fitness, so don’t sweat the small stuff, focus on the bigger picture.

Tracking your progress

Keeping track of your progress shouldn’t stop at writing down your weights in the gym. You should be regularly checking in on your weight, body shape, endurance, whether you fit into clothes you haven’t been able to, or any other factors you’re using as goals.

It’s important to do this because firstly, it can be a great motivator to see things going in the right direction, but on the flip side, if something isn’t going the way it should, you can step in and make the changes needed.

I used to give my clients a full progress report at the end of each month so that they could see how things were going. I’d complete bodyfat measurements, weigh-in sessions, and strength tests and if they had agreed to it at the start of training, I would take progress pictures so they could see the difference in their body shape from one month to the next.

I recommend you carry out your own progress reports, and one of the most simple is taking pictures of yourself (as mentioned), but I would also suggest you purchase a set of bio-electrical impedance scales.

These may sound complex, but they are essentially a more technologically advanced set of scales that will pass a tiny current through your body as you are standing on them. The benefit these scales provide is a detailed report on your body fat percentage, weight, skeletal muscle percentage, and body mass index.

Personally, I’d ignore the body mass index as it’s been shown to be an inaccurate way of measuring people’s health, however, the rest are great measurements and these scales are a rapid and simple way of doing it.

One final point is to not “overdo” the progress tracking, weighing yourself every day isn’t a great idea, as your weight will naturally fluctuate. Instead, complete your measurements once a month, and you’ll see better results.

How long will it take to reach your goals?

Each goal will take varying lengths of time to achieve. It’s also down to a person’s consistency, the level of effort they put into each workout, and whether they have followed the dietary requirements closely enough.

However, if you do manage to be strict with yourself, you should start seeing results within a manner of weeks, especially with weight loss. For weight gain, it will take a little longer to see noticeable differences in the mirror or on the tape measure, so you’d be looking at more like a month or two.

I wouldn’t get too obsessed about seeing results as rapidly as possible, as this can hurt your motivation. You are better off trusting the process, give it time and it will come as long as you are giving it your all.

Giving yourself a time frame to work to is a good idea, but don’t let what should be a motivating factor because of a source of stress.


So there we are, it’s completely possible for you to be your own personal trainer. The main factors to consider are; planning, consistency, training to your maximum potential, and patience.

A very large part of a personal trainer’s role is to motivate and push their clients, this is what most people struggle with when trying to tackle their fitness goals on their own. If you can learn to organise yourself, see the progress as it’s happening, push yourself to keep getting your training sessions in and stay on track with your diet, you’ll get just as good results from your own training as a PT would get you.

I hope this article has helped you, and I wish you the very best of luck in your fitness journey.

Have a great day!

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Chris Walker

Chris Walker worked in the City of London as a fully qualified REP's level three personal trainer for just under ten years. He built and maintained a client base of 40 individuals and worked with several high profile clients, including actors, actresses, comedians and politicians.

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