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How to Choose a Good Personal Trainer for Bodybuilding

Updated on July 24, 2013
Abby Campbell profile image

Dr. Abby Campbell is a Naturopathic Doctor & President of 911 Body ResQ, an online store providing organic and non-GMO supplements.

About the Author

Abby Campbell, BSc, SFN, SSN, CPT, is a leading professional fitness and nutrition expert, researcher, and published author of One Size Does NOT Fit All Diet Plan, one of Amazon's Top Gluten-Free and Weight Loss Diets. (You may read more about Abby at the bottom of this article.)

Choosing a good personal trainer for bodybuilding is essential to your goals.
Choosing a good personal trainer for bodybuilding is essential to your goals. | Source

What Makes a Good Coach?

We've all admired the lean yet muscular physiques showing off their beautifully tanned pecs and biceps at the beach. Maybe you've even wished you could look like the figure models on covers of popular fitness magazines. Bodybuilding is a form of art in the fitness or athletic realm. The free dictionary defines bodybuilding as:

"The process of developing the musculature of the body through specific types of diet and physical exercise, such as weightlifting, especially for competitive exhibition."

Nobody and no "body" was born naturally to have such an artful frame with all the curves in the right places. Bodybuilders have to work hard to develop such beautifully musculature lines. Anyone can accomplish his or her wishes of being a bodybuilder, whether male or female. That's right! You can even pursue that dream and achieve it. You can do it with a little dedication, hard work, and the right coach.

Unfortunately, personal trainers come a dime a dozen. As with most professions, you will find good, bad, and mediocre professionals. So, what makes a good coach and where do you begin to find one? To help you find the best coach, below are 10 qualities of good personal trainers for bodybuilding.

Bodybuilding is an athletic form of art for both men and women.
Bodybuilding is an athletic form of art for both men and women. | Source


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CHARACTERISTIC #1: A Good Coach Is Knowledgeable

A good coach knows and does what he is coaching. He should know how to teach bodybuilding, and he should have a history in helping others become bodybuilders. Not only should he tell you that he's successfully coached others (and possibly himself) in bodybuilding with both nutrition and exercise. He should be the part as well as be able to provide testimonials from past clients and their successes upon asking.

Example: In teaching a new bodybuilder a squat, a good coach might "show" his client how to perform the squat. Then he may "describe" how to perform it. Finally, he may "supervise" the client in performing it.

CHARACTERISTIC #2: A Good Coach Teaches and Communicates

A good coach is a skilled and patient teacher. She should also have the wisdom to know that every bodybuilder learns differently. Strategies that may work for a 20-year old male visual learner may not work for a 40-year old female kinesthetic learner or a 65-year old verbal learner. To be an effective teacher, a coach must have a variety of communication skills. Different ways of demonstrating, describing, and supervising must be designed for the individual client as this will enhance the learner (bodybuilder).

Example: A bodybuilder needs to know what types of foods to eat and when to eat them to build his muscles and give him the physique he desires. A good coach will provide him with practical application by giving him a diet to follow with the appropriate amount of calories, foods to eat, along with meal times. A poor coach will launch into a physiology and biochemistry lesson of the structure of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Only the coach needs to know this information, not the client.

CHARACTERISTIC #3: A Good Coach Controls Given Information

A good coach is careful about overloading his client with too much information. He needs to know how to control the flow of information given to his client by giving his client only what he needs. A bodybuilder needs practical application with little theory. Though some coaches may get excited about his own learning and want to teach it to his clients, minimizing the theory lessons is most appropriate.

Example: A female bodybuilder may be motivated by the prospect of looking great in a pair of jeans. Her bodybuilding husband may be motivated by something totally different such as improving his health. A good coach understands these motivations and taps into them when the client is discouraged.

CHARACTERISTIC #4: A Good Coach Understands

A good coach understands how to effectively motivate her client to learn and perform better. To do this, it is critical that the coach understands her clients inner desires and motivations so that she may tap into them to maintain interest in progressing towards goals.

Example: A beginner bodybuilder may not know how to make his body move in a specific way to perform an exercise. A good coach will know if his client learns better visually, verbally, or by written instructions.

Example: There's nothing worse than having an overweight and unfit trainer or a nutritionist with lifestyle-related diseases. A good coach will be in shape and an example to live by.

CHARACTERISTIC #5: A Good Coach Asks Good Questions

A good coach will ask good questions to learn more about his client. The answers to these questions will help him tap into his client's motivations. Therefore, a good coach will be a good listener. He will learn his client's learning style, personal motivation, and emotional triggers which will direct his coaching style.

CHARACTERISTIC #6: A Good Coach Leads By Example

A good coach leads by example and doesn't display an arrogant attitude of, "Do as I say, not as I do." She must be fit, following her own guidelines of exercise and nutrition.


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CHARCHARACTERISTIC #7: A Good Coach Is Committed

A good coach is on time, organized, and committed to your life and goals to bring out the best in his clients. He must be prepared for meetings and workout sessions, meaning he should always be on time and expect the same from you. He should also demonstrate that he follows his own exercise and nutrition plan with no excuses.

Example: A bodybuilding client may need to lose 15 pounds of body fat. Instead of allowing the client to focus on "losing 15 pounds," a good coach will turn her client's attention to the process of excellent execution of the nutrition plan. She may suggest 90 to 100 percent compliance.

CHARACTERISTIC #8: A Good Coach Focuses on Excellence

A good coach must be committed to excellence, and she should turn her client's attention to excellence on execution of exercise and nutrition plans. Specific outcomes such as winning or attaining a specific goal should be secondary to excellence. After all, success is a nice side effect to excellence.

Male bodybuilder.
Male bodybuilder. | Source

CHARACTERISTIC #9: A Good Coach Credits Success

A good coach credits success where it is due. Therefore, he should set milestones for his client. When they are achieved, a reward or celebration for the client should be provided. This could be a gift such as a charm, book, or gift card. It could be a celebration by dining out for a "treat" meal. It can even be a free workout session. Whatever it may be, credit should be given.

CHARACTERISTIC #10: A Good Coach Takes Responsibility

A good coach takes responsibility for her client's failures and knows that she can do better as a teacher, coach, and mentor by always looking for better ways to reach her client. She believes she can make a difference. When she relays this to her client, it can make a huge difference. When there is a bigger dream at stake, everyone involved in the process usually makes a greater effort in making that dream a reality.

Reputable Online Personal Training Schools With Higher Education Accreditation


  • Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA)
  • Ashworth College
  • International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)
  • Penn Foster Career School
  • Professional Career Development Institute (PCDI)

Degree Granting

  • American College of Healthcare Science (ACHC)
  • Aspen University
  • Huntington College of Health Sciences (HCHS)
  • U.S. Career Institute

Other Higher Education Accredited Bodies

  • Check with your local college or university as many of them now have Personal or Fitness Training degrees and certifications

Personal Trainer Certifications

As stated earlier, personal trainers come a dime a dozen. Therefore, it would be wise to check them out prior to handing them a check or cash for services. After all, there's no time to be wasted when working on your goals to be a bodybuilder or figure athlete.

Many personal trainers may tell you they are certified when they are not truly educated. Unfortunately, there are many scam companies online that will charge a few dollars and this is enticing to a new wannabe personal trainer. The effort and money invested is very little, and this makes for an anxious trainer.

With that being said, some reputable certifying schools for personal training do not have higher education accreditation. They only have accreditation for National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) which is primarily for examinations - not for institution or education programs. Even so, many gyms do allow trainers to work for them with these certifications.

The most reputable schools are those that are accredited by higher education accreditation agencies. That would include the United States Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) as well as 51 other higher education national accrediting bodies. Most of these bodies are also recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). To your right are a few certifying schools you may want to consider when hiring your personal trainer for bodybuilding. Be sure to ask the person trainer(s) you are considering where they received their certification(s).

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Helping those who desire it!
Helping those who desire it! | Source

About the author

Abby Campbell, BSc, SFN, SSN, CPT, is a leading professional fitness and nutrition expert, researcher, and published author. For the past 10 years, she has coached thousands of women locally and online to lose body fat and lead healthy lifestyles. Her clients have lost thousands of pounds, reclaimed health, and call her “Coach No Gimmick.” She is from Northern Virginia but now resides near Charlotte, North Carolina. Abby has been married for 20 years and has three grown daughters, one of which is autistic. She is a 19 year cancer survivor.


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