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Lift More, Gain Strength with Fitness Trainers

It’s like the Heisenberg Principle applied to fitness: Exercisers supervised by professional trainers worker harder than those left to their own devices. Researchers at McMaster University used a handgrip to test exertion levels among a group of 50 exercisers — half of whom set their goals, the rest were assigned a goal by a strength trainer. The later group compressed nearly 3 pounds more than those working on their own.

According to study author Kathleen Martin Ginis, “when a fitness expert conveys goals to an exerciser, his or her vision can increase self-confidence in beginner exercisers by creating the belief that if an expert thinks I can do it, then I must be able to do it.”

Apparently this kind of encouragement is as effective with veteran exercisers as it is with novices. In a Ball State University study of men ages 18 to 35, those with professional supervision achieved strength gains 30-45% greater than the men who exercised solo. Plus, they got results 30% quicker.

No wonder 70% of respondents in a Weight Watchers’ survey picked having a personal trainer at their disposal as their perk of choice — with far fewer choosing nutrition consults or other expert advice. Worried that a professional trainer may be beyond your budgetary means? Try sampling their services by asking for a free — or discounted — first session, then see if your trainer will offer a break on a package deal (say a 10% discount on a series of 10). Other options include group sessions — working with a trainer willing to supervise two or more at a time in order to share costs. Finally, remember that working with a professional will yield significant returns on your investment, as you build muscle, boost metabolism, bolster bones and sculpt your body.

Published June 7, 2005

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