Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The First 50%

Kyle over at APT Physical Training forwarded me a discussion on the Starting Strength blogs.

This post, where Kyle quotes another (unnamed) trainer, sums up personal training in an interesting way:

"elite coaching is about getting the last 5% out of a person's performance, personal training is about getting the first 50%."

(Warning: the rest of the thread contains a lot of NSWF language)

I think that's a good way to look at what a personal trainer can get you.

- the trainer can get you started.

- the trainer can teach you the basic movements you'll need to master.

- the trainer can give you the basis of current and future training improvements.

I do think the trainer can really get you from 0% to 100%, but most clients need the first 50%. They need that first correct pushup. They need to learn what a proper squatting motion feels like. They need to be able to recognize the different between "trained" and "tired."

I've been there both as a trainee and a trainer. I've learned what a good squat felt like versus a bad squat, and what appropriate training volume really was. I've taught people their first real pushup and gotten people who couldn't stand up without holding on to something to stand up with ease.

The hardest parts of the journey are the first step and the last step. Elite coaching is that last step, but personal training is so often about that very first step in the right direction.


  1. The guy who said actually wasn't a trainer, he was a lifter - quite strong - who was trying to insult me, or PTs in general. He later apologised, but I said, "you know what? You're right - and that's not a bad thing to get someone their first 50%."

    As you say, the first 50% is pretty important. If you can get someone to do 10-20 goblet squats, deadlift their bodyweight, and do a chinup - in most cases you've changed their life.

    You say that they need to know the difference between trained and tired, then add, "They need" but never finish the thought...?

    1. I fixed the error.

      And yeah, I think the first 50% is the hardest part. Getting someone from 10 pushups to 20 is a lot easier than getting them from 0 to 1. Or from 0 "stands from a chair without using your hands" to 1.

      Plus, it is very personally rewarding!


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