In my country of origin it is very difficult to find a good coach to supervise your training. Specially useless are those guys you find as gym staff with "ask me" written in the t-shirt, because they are usually not knowledgeable at all, they are simply people who got muscular. The next step in complexity and knowledge you mostly find are medical doctors who have no idea of sports and will put you immediately to walk or at most swim if you are over 35.

I moved recently to the States and I guess things are different here. I want to find a coach who is able to direct and supervise my strength training so that I get health benefits and avoid injuries, because I have tried hard alone for long time and I constantly find myself in a dangerous position, always risking injury (or actually injuring myself badly).

What is the name of such profession? Where should I start my search? What should I specially look for in such person and what should I avoid?

  • I want to thank Dave Liepmann and JohnP and other guys here who have tried to help me many times, and finally they have advised me to look for a coach. It is time for me to acknowledge that I must either look for a coach or abandon the gym altogether and restrict myself to swimming.
    – Mephisto
    Jun 19, 2015 at 23:54

2 Answers 2


Disclaimer: I was certified as a personal trainer from the organization I mention below.

The term you're looking for is Certified Personal Trainer (CPT). I strongly recommend, given your training history and comments, that you seek out a trainer certified by a reputable organization. I emphasize “certified” because they are required, usually through continuing education, to continue their study of health and fitness protocols, assessments, etc. Continuing Ed is usually a requirement for retaining certification. Be sure to carefully critique the organization and trainer you interview. Some organizations offer a one day, two to three hour class with a brief test for certification. Those organizations are akin to "diploma mills". While with others, it is much more extensive. The organization I recommend is the American Council on Exercise (ACE). Prepping for their tests are pretty involved and cover...

  • exercise science
  • screening and evaluation
  • methods of training
  • individual program design
  • injury prevention
  • and more

The test itself usually takes one half of a day.

You can expect to pay an hourly rate for a good certified trainer, but that will depend on your location and what you negotiate. You should make sure to express your training goals and concerns. You should plan to interview more than one trainer and choose the one that you feel comfortable with, and, the one that has the best experience to help you reach your goals. Organizations like ACE usually provide a search engine to seek out a trainer in your area. The ACE one is here.

Good luck on your search.


When I'm recovering from injuries, I look for:

  • people who have had the injury and were aggressive in returning to their chosen activities
  • sports medicine doctors (orthopedists, physical therapists) who are aggressive in returning athletes to a performant state
  • coaches who A) have high expectations and B) are familiar with rehab techniques for my specific injury

This generally involves a lot of trial and error: I try a session or two with a given person and ask a lot of specific questions about long-term expectations regarding return to activities. A lot of medical professionals will say "you'll never do X again" because they are simply not familiar with the techniques necessary. I do not find that any particular modality of practice (e.g. a sports chiropractor, certified coach in X, whatever) guarantees results.

  • Unfortunately I am not in a good financial situation. I know it is possible to bench press after a slap repair (unless this guy or this other one are lying miserably). I am not young and athletic as those guys, but I don't aim for heavy barbells either. My humble goal is fully horizontal bodyweight push ups, I think it can be achieved. I have slightly deloaded all exercises back to a safe volume and I have frozen the program indefinitely until I figure out what to do.
    – Mephisto
    Jun 23, 2015 at 1:47
  • Helpful answer anyway, as usual. Thanks, Dave.
    – Mephisto
    Jun 23, 2015 at 1:49

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