I'm trying to follow the Starting Strength program, and need some help with the exercises. The trainers at the gym want you to do a fancy circuit, using some freeweights but mainly machines.

Should I:

  1. Just listen to the trainers?
  2. Ignore them and just use the book?
  3. Tell the trainers I want to follow this program (Squat, Press, etc.), no circuit, no machine, but ask them to help me with my form and spot?
  • 6
    I'd opt for #3. :)
    – VPeric
    Commented May 6, 2012 at 9:04
  • 1
    If the trainers are not too stubborn and are willing to help you with form then i think go with option 3. Commented May 6, 2012 at 14:54

4 Answers 4


If they know what they're doing - and not giving obviously bad advice - go with 3, otherwise you can always go with 2.

If you do go with 2, and if your gym allows it, it might be helpful to record your lifts via your phone so that you can make certain you're not doing something wrong. This is far safer than trying to look in a mirror while, for example, dead lifting.


After reading the Starting Strength book, you're probably more educated at programming for strength training than the trainers at the gym.

The fancy free-weight/machine program will have you "feel" like you've done a lot of work at the end of the session. Your muscles will be sore from high-rep exhaustion, and you'll have done a bunch of different exercises (rather than the focused few that Starting Strength prescribes), but you know better.

To let them know your goals, you can mention the program (they probably have heard of it), or tell them you're interested in powerlifting lifts.

  • After experience, I can say that you're right Commented Jun 3, 2012 at 22:26

If a circuit is good enough, then follow their program. But it seems pretty clear to most people that a barbell program similar to Starting Strength, while perhaps not perfectly ideal, is vastly superior to a circuit of machines. If you believe that, and the trainers can't help you with that, why listen to the trainers?

It's entirely possible that they'll tell you to half-squat, deadlift with a rounded back, press with a knee push, or do power cleans with a donkey kick. Listening to that kind of advice would be dumb. You need to trust that their form is correct before you listen to their advice about the exercises from the book.

So: 2, or if you're confident that they know their stuff, 3. If they balk at 3, screw them and do 2.


You should go with 3. Make sure to explain to the trainers why you want to follow that program. If they are dead-set against your using it, find out why they feel that way.

If the trainer refuses to spot you and help correct your form, find another trainer. If none of the trainers at the gym are willing to do it, then find another gym.

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