I have been working out for the past 5 months and gains have been moderate (I am an ectomorph, very skinny), have gained around 5 Kg following a workout plan given to me by a trainer. I select weights to which I can do the desired repetitions with full range of motion, usually to failure.

Today, a personal trainer approached me and started selling me the benefits of personal training, we did the same routine I follow but he pushed me very hard with weights almost 70% more than I usually do, he was like supporting me after 6-7 reps of the second set.

My question is which is better, to self train with weight you can do comfortably or start pushing yourself with help of a trainer?

  • 4
    Just as an FYI, somatotypes (ectomorph, etc) have pretty much been debunked.
    – JohnP
    Mar 18, 2014 at 16:38

4 Answers 4


I will give you the same answer that I give people when they ask me if they should hire a coach for [insert sport here].

If you are progressing towards your goals, and you are happy with your progress, then there is no real need to hire a coach/trainer. Now, that being said, even if you are progressing, then there are some valid reasons to hire a coach/trainer.

  • Time/Expertise: You may not want to spend the time to review past workouts, come up with new workouts, exercises and changes to existing routines. You may not have the anatomy/physiology knowledge to know WHAT needs changing to get better results.
  • Motivation: Many people get better motivation if there is someone else involved in the workout process, either indirectly (planning), directly (assisting), or both.
  • Accountability: For some, just the fact that you are spending extra $$ makes more of a commitment level, and you may be more likely to either do the workout or try harder during.
  • Effectiveness: You may be progressing well, but it's possible that working with a coach/trainer may boost your workouts, and you can get to your goals faster. Not guaranteed, but a possibility.

As a personal example, I have a background in exercise kinesiology, and have coached/trained for many years. I still hire an outside coach for some of my sports, simply because I don't have the experience in that area, and I find that having that outside accountability makes me less likely to skip a workout when I'm tired.

So if money is not a constraint, and you want to give it a try, you can certainly give it a go and then reassess in a few months to gauge your progress. If you aren't really increasing any faster than you were on your own, you can save the $$ and move on.

  • After reading your answer I feel I don't need a personal trainer, thanks! Mar 18, 2014 at 18:09

If cost is an issue, Why not see a Personnal Trainer once a month when your program needs changing, or every other week. If you get a good one, you will benefit greatly, not only from their motivation, but from their vast knowledge bank. Personal trainers vary greatly,(some are definitely better than others, and may specialise in areas of training you are interested in) and if you find one that suits you, it will help no end. Make sure when you have a session, you ask all the questions you want to know re diet training methods etc... Most strength program's would need changing after 4-5 weeks otherwise your progress will level off... Hope that helps

  • I only found the personal trainer was able to push me a lot harder even though he was putting in too much support, and sometimes my form was getting wrong. That said the exercises were same that I have been following for the past several months. If correct form is considered, I was mostly doing everything right, thanks to youtube videos. I will certainly ask him about once a month sessions, but the trainer was more of a salesman and i can imagine he would push for a monthly subscription.. Mar 18, 2014 at 18:08

If you can afford the help of a personal trainer, go for one. A good one should be able to motivate and help you perform better.

However, if you cannot afford one or your time schedule doesn't allow you to have one, you can continue your self-training; however, you might need to join a fitness community (online or in person). It's much easier and cheaper to have workout buddies who motivate and challenge you.

So, everything deals with the cost (time, effort, and money).

Whatever you do, just ensure you don't stop working out. Ensure 2 days doesn't pass without working out.

  • The cost of personal trainer is very high, 1 month of a personal trainer is almost equal to 70% of one year gym fee. Which fitness communities are you referring to? Some links would help. Mar 18, 2014 at 16:22
  • Well, this site is one. Do you have friends who like to workout or do you know people who like to work out? Also, Fitocracy and LiveStrong . Personally though, I would recommend physical interaction over online ones. You can also join a crossfit gym; the options are endless :) Mar 18, 2014 at 16:32
  • 1
    @Kneel-Before-ZOD - I would not recommend Livestrong as a good workout reference, there is a LOT of questionable and outright wrong information from the science/academic side on there. Lots of "broscience".
    – JohnP
    Mar 18, 2014 at 16:55
  • Fortunately or unfortunately I have been watching a lot of videos on youtube from Livestrong for the correct form of exercises. Can you point out some of their questionable stuff for example? Mar 18, 2014 at 18:02
  • @JohnP; no, it's not a workout reference; it's a fitness community reference. There's a lot of broscience out there and some of them work our perfectly. However, the key thing is that one joins a community that encourages one to continue in the process of working out. Mar 18, 2014 at 18:11

You mentioned in one of your comment responses that after being reviewed by a personal trainer, you were found to be "mostly doing everything right."

That tells me you are an effective self-learner and self-researcher. You are able to correctly grasp what you read or see in videos and you are able to translate that knowledge into correct physical actions.

Unless you have in mind competing at some professional level, where no doubt a keen eye for personal refinement would most definitely be beneficial, I would not bother with a personal trainer.

It sounds like you may be weak in the area of really pushing yourself. In that case, perhaps writing down certain goals that you want to achieve would be helpful.

For example, keep a journal of how many reps and the amount of weight lifted, and set goals to beat your last mark during your next workout. In other words, compete with yourself. Aim for a better, stronger, faster you.

It is also helpful to have a training partner. There's nothing like a good training partner to push you harder. I realize that a personal trainer would be similar to a paid partner, but I'm talking about someone else who shares similar goals who could spot you and push you during your workouts.

I can make good gains on my own, but working out with a friend definitely amps things up even more.

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