When I began my journey to become a personal trainer almost two years ago, I didn’t realize that being a trainer did NOT necessarily translate to being a good COACH…little did I know…

What I’ve realized in the past couple months (which seems to be in the front of my mind daily) is that having training knowledge doesn’t count for all that much in becoming a successful coach. For me at least, acquiring and understanding all the information on training and anatomy/physiology is the easy part. I find the hard part (which also happens to be what I believe will be more integral in my professional success) is knowing how to COACH.

For me, knowing how to coach is largely a matter of communicating with people EFFECTIVELY. Different ages, different skill levels, different personalities all make this something which I have to continually focus on in order to improve. Funny thing is in certification courses I’ve taken, this “Art” of coaching stuff isn’t mentioned! When people are entering into the fitness industry, they’re never taught to take a certain coaching approach with this personality type and another with that personality type.

Working at SST has opened my eyes to this, and it is something that I believe will bring me closer to my dreams than trying to memorize every supplement protocol or some training text. Some of my biggest professional goals have become to interact effectively with ALL people, and teach the client something/make THEM think and become an active part of the training process. These are things I believe  make a successful coach.

Fortunately I’ve realized this very early in my professional career.


If you do single leg exercises, you simply cannot go wrong! The benefits are numerous, even when compared to the classic double leg (bilateral) lower body exercises the squat and the deadlift!

Single leg exercises help improve balance, work more stabilizing muscles (due to the higher joint stability demand), are more specific to sports as running and skating are performed with one foot pushing off the ground at a time, help correct side-to-side assymetries that often develop in sports which favour a dominant side for most actions (think baseball, golf, football, hockey, etc). And this is only the tip of the iceberg!

They are also incredibly HUMBLING, both from an external loading viewpoint and a metabolic viewpoint. The latter of which is what I want to talk about.

Not only are single-leg exercises metabolically demanding every single time you do them, but after a couple weeks away from them, you come back crank out some sets of split squats and are already gassed during the first exercise of your workout! The workout becomes more mentally challenging than physically challenging!

In the end though these exercises will do more for your athletic endeavours than all those sets of squats and deadlifts which you love so much more! (I’m not even going to discuss leg extensions and leg presses here)

The take home message is that even though they will make you question your sanity at first, stick with them and the results will speak for themselves!


Its always interesting when some real-life experience differs from what is commonly found in a book. I’ve also come to realize that these moments serve as wonderful lessons learned. Let me explain why I bring this up…

It is widely accepted that to build muscle, one must employ higher rep sets (usually around 8-12 reps) for a large number of sets (for non-newbie trainees this usually varies from 4 to 10 sets). This is all well and good and obviously it works or else it would have been removed from updated editions of weight training resources. However, my issue is when this is seen as some iron-clad rule.

I have an issue with this mainly because I have experienced some of the best muscle gains from either lower rep training phases (under 6 reps per set) or phases in which I limit the number of sets I perform (sometimes as low as 2 per exercise). Now I’m not about the come across and say that these methods that worked for me will work for everybody, because then I’d be just as ignorant as the 100%-High Volume proponents. However I will say that creating a muscle building program (just as any other) requires careful consideration of the trainee: what’s their training age, body type, what are THEIR specific goals, etc

Jason Ferruggia, a trainer known the world-over for getting his clients to add slabs of muscle while on his programs has found through over 15 years as a fitness professional that generally skinnier body types tend to build muscle more successfully with lower rep training, higher load training. I first found out about lower volume for hypertrophy through some of his articles, and it taught me that there was more than one way to build muscle.

So if 4 sets of 10 reps per exercise isn’t giving you the gains you’d like, try 5 sets of 5 reps.

You may find that lowering the training volume may be somethign that works for you.


To the uninformed person, this question might seem very easy…they would most likely answer yes. However after starting to work at SST last year, it became apparent to me how different that training environment was to the health club gyms I’d been in since I was 16. Here is simply a closer look as to why the answer is really “NO, all gyms AREN’T created equal”

In most health club gyms, there will be a disproportionately large number of weight machines compared to free weights…at SST, this is the opposite. Our equipment is by far free weights, with a couple machines to perform movements which could not be performed with free weights. Now, we do primarily work with athletes at SST, however adults and older adults should not be told their bodies are inferior and relegated to the weight machine culture alive in health club gyms.

The main argument for the use of machines is that they are “Safer” than free weights. Safer because the trainee isn’t in danger of dropping the weight on their body because they are not required to stabilize the load they are lifting while they lift it. On the surface these people are right, however let’s look at it closer:

The proponents of machine-based training are essentially arguing that older trainees are not skilled at using their stabilizing muscles to stabilize loads they are lifting so we are not going to stress these smaller muscles because we could be putting the trainee at risk of injury.

I hope you can see how strange that sounds! Wouldn’t it be safer to TEACH THEM HOW TO STABILIZE loads they are lifting? If a trainee isn’t skilled at stabilizing external loads or their bodyweight, shouldn’t we as trainers be developing this stability instead of ignoring it and crossing the trainee off as a lost-cause?

You can probably tell I definitely think so!

And the only way to train these stabilizing muscles is with free weights…not with any of the numerous machines seen in health club gyms.

…unfortunately this doesn’t even scratch the surface of reasons why all gyms are NOT created equal.

Hello world!

May 23, 2008

Hi all!

Having worked at Sports Specific Training (here in called SST) for now my second summer, there’s things that I notice while training clients, reading, and interacting with people that get my brain tickin’. This blog was created simply to give me a space to jot these things down that concerned strength training, nutrition, and occasionally just life. So here’s to having a voice…