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My Trainer Pushed Me Harder Than I Wanted (And It Was Just What I Needed)

I worked out on Monday night at our Northeast Minneapolis location. Prior to the workout, I reviewed my workout card with my trainer.  I told her that the leg sequence in this workout was daunting. Prone Leg Curl to Leg Extension to Gluteator to 20 reps on the Leg Press; all performed with absolutely no rest in between exercises.  Each exercise was slated to be slightly heavier than last time.
 I was dreading the leg sequence but was pretty excited about the upper body portion.  I told Maria that I was fearing the workout a bit and I wanted to stop at the goal of 12 reps on each exercise and 20 reps on Leg Press. The increase in weight and the sequence of the exercises would be demanding enough.  I told her I didn’t want to truly be pushed beyond the goal number of reps. I also didn’t want any surprises at the end of the set. On the six upper body exercises, I told her she could push me as hard as she wanted.
Maria did exactly what a great trainer should do
She pushed me 6% harder than I wanted to be pushed.  On Leg Curl, I did the 12th rep and she had me attempt a 13th rep and then had me lower the weight for 30-seconds.  Next, on Leg Extension she had me lower the last rep for 30-seconds while she continued to add weight. This leg extension is a “plate-loaded” leg extension so she can make it heavier throughout.  Then, on Gluteator she had me perform three, 10-second “negatives” at the end of the set.  By the time I got to Leg Press, she let me stop at 20 reps; and they were among the most difficult 20 reps I’ve ever performed.
Maria listened to me.  She had empathy for where I was at mentally and physically that day.  But she didn’t simply accept me where I was at.  She pushed me 6% harder than I wanted to be pushed.  It was one of the best, most exhausting, and invigorating workouts I’ve done in months.  To be clear, Maria didn’t ignore me and push me 86% harder than I wanted to be pushed.  She listened and expertly “read” where I was really at.  She did this moment by moment throughout the workout.
Whatever our mental and physical state as we enter a workout, I think a great trainer should push us 6% harder than we were really prepared to be pushed.

If you are ready for the easiest workout of your life (and there is a time and a place for an “easier” workout; you’ve been ill, had a lay-off from training, or are lacking sleep). Or if you are ready for the most challenging workout of your life, (you are feeling like Stallone in Rocky 4) your trainer should still up the ante by 6%.  Just 6%.  Not 26% or 56% (this would display a lack of empathy, listening, ability to “read,” and potentially a disregard for safety).


Take home message: This is the value of a great trainer and coach.

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