5 Tips when Choosing a Personal Trainer in Anchorage


Let’s face it, trying to find a personal trainer ranks up there with some of life’s most difficult decisions. Choosing a college…starting a family…what to watch on Netflix this weekend?

A good personal trainer should always be a good listener, explain why you are doing specific workouts/exercises and will always prescribe a plan that will help you reach your fitness goals. Daunting as it is to choose a trainer, there are a few key areas to help you start your search.

1. Experience
Experience is an important factor in choosing a trainer, but first you have to define the specific experience needed for YOU. Because a trainer has been “in the business” for years doesn’t mean they’ll know the area you’re looking to improve. Instead consider some other forms of experience:

Look for experience showed by happy reference-able clients. Each trainer should have stories of past clients they helped.
Ask yourself, has this trainer worked with people who look, act, or sound like me?
Look for experience outside the fitness environment. This could mean a trainer who has proven success in business, academics, military service, or personal endeavors. Top performers tend to bring their work ethic and attitude to all areas of life.
Look for shared experiences or similar backgrounds. A trainer who happens to be a mother of 3 children can offer invaluable experience to a new mother who is nervous about returning to training.

2. Knowledge
Experience can take many forms, but you want to make sure that your trainer is in fact knowledgeable. The best trainers are lifelong learners and their resume should speak to that. If you are having a hard time locating their credentials, it’s important to ask. Most trainers will open the floodgates about their inspirations and influences. Some leading questions could be:

How did you start your fitness journey?
What are your biggest influences in health and fitness?
What certifications do you hold?
Do you recommend any websites or articles where I could learn more?
What systems or progressions do you use to help clients achieve their outcomes?

3. The 5 Chimps Theory
In zoology, you can predict the mood and behavior patterns of any chimp by which five chimps they hang out with the most. What does this have to do with choosing a trainer? It means find a trainer who you want to be like. Consider what personal characteristics would best help you on your fitness journey:
Do you need a trainer who is serious and intense? Or are they quirky and can always lighten your mood? Keep in mind that you aren’t selecting the trainer you WANT, but the trainer you NEED!

Once you feel that a trainer has a background that aligns with your goals it’s time to explore how they engage with you.

4. You’ll know how much they care!
The initial meeting is the perfect time to gauge your trainers level of caring. A good trainer takes interest in your needs and listens to your concerns. They inquire about your health and fitness background as well as relevant personal information. Expect questions about injuries, conditions, and athletic background as well.

The trainer/client relationship involves more than planning a workout routine. It involves building trust, addressing challenges, and working together towards a recognized goal. Now the trainer should set clear expectations for what you can expect from training. The approach they use should have a clear progression and benchmarks to track your progress along the way.

5. Persistence trumps Intensity
As author Derek Sivers says, “If more information was the answer, we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.” Most people have an idea of what they SHOULD do, but generally struggle with what they WILL do. When you begin a new routine, adherence is key. For your first month or two, your trainer should be helping you develop habits around fitness and other healthy practices. When you choose a trainer consider the factors that will encourage your training as well as remove potential roadblocks.

Is it a convenient commute to the gym or park?
How often will you be able to meet? What times?
Is this a price that I am able to pay for each month/week/session?
Is this an environment that is safe and comfortable?

It’s easy to find an excuse why you shouldn’t call, but let’s face it, you’re still reading this for a reason. You’re reading because you care. Because you have a goal. Because you’re ready to do what it takes.

So instead of justifying why you can’t right now. Why it’s not a good time. Why next month would be better. Think about what your life would look like if today you made the choice that changed everything.

Squats vs Deadlifts


Squat versus Deadlift

Which lower body movement is “King of the Lifts”?

The squat and deadlift are the two staple movements of a lower body training program. The squat and hip hinge are also two fundamental human movement patterns and are important for normal daily function. They also require a large percentage of muscle recruitment making them essential for developing muscle mass as well as increasing neurological capacity and hormonal output.

The squat and deadlift are also both elegantly simple in theory yet technically complex in application which can make them intimidating for new lifters. The human body is capable of moving tremendous loads with these movements and to stay safe you must master the basics. After all, strength training should always be performed with the proper coaching, equipment, and environment to keep you safe as an athlete.

When it comes to strength training many athletes tend to prefer one lift over the other. There are many reasons for this. Comfort. Body type. Skill level. To name a few. Some people may have stayed away from performing either the squat or the deadlift from a negative past experience or injury.

Let’s take a look at:

  • Who should be training squats and/or deadlifts,
  • The benefits and muscle groups worked, and…
  • The Volume and Intensity you should be using.

General Population versus Athletes

If you are a recreational athlete or utilizing strength training to stay healthy and fit then it is essential that you learn the basics of squatting and deadlifting. After all the ability to squat and hinge are components of everyday life. The human body is an adaptation machine and responds to the demands that are placed upon it. When we spend a lot of time sitting in chairs instead of moving We begin to lose these human movement standards. Don’t worry, the gym is the perfect place to bring them back. When you first learn these lifts make sure to work with an experienced coach who can give you the visual, audible, and tactile cues to perform these lifts.

Athletes also need to hinge and squat to develop explosive power, muscle stiffness, and joint stability for their sport. They may prioritize either the squat, deadlift, or a derivative like the trap bar deadlift based on the demands of the sport on their muscles. Working with a strength coach on sport specific training will be key to choosing the right lifting program for you.

Benefits and Muscle Groups Worked

The ability to perform a basic body weight squat should be the first goal of a training program. The squat requires mobility of the ankles, knees, hips, and spine as well as the motor recruitment patterns to properly extend at the knee hip and ankle simultaneously. The primary muscles worked are the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. Depending on the squat variation being used as well as the depth and other variables you can increase or decrease specific muscle activation. Low bar back squats and box squats achieve greater posterior chain activation. Front squats and overhead squats require a more upright torso and are quad dominant.

The deadlift is the most effective exercise for working the posterior chain. The posterior chain is essential for developing strength and power as an athlete. Powerful hamstrings and glutes will make you run faster, jump higher, and lift more weight. The muscles of the back also benefit from deadlifting due to the powerful isometric contraction required to maintain a neutral spine during heavy pulls. The rear delts, lats, and erector spinae all will grow as a result of deadlifting.

Volume versus Intensity

As a general rule of thumb strength training programs should have an inverse relationship between volume and intensity. Since squats and deadlifts are both total body lifts that require intense focus and neural activation it is important to vary loading patterns, volume, and intensity.

Deadlifts tend to be great for intensity but can be problematic in large volume. One fix for this is to train the hinge movement pattern with other implements that remove the need for heavy loading. Kettlebell Swings, Romanian Deadlifts, and Glute Bridges all train this movement pattern and are great.

Squats on the other hand seem to respond better to higher training volume. With that said you can still grind yourself down with too much high intensity work in the rack. Sticking to Prilepin’s chart for percentages is a great way to stay on top of loading parameters to ensure progress without burning out!

There you have it. A breakdown of the squat and deadlift as well as the reasons you should train them. If you’re looking for help learning these movements and building a movement practice to change your body or get stronger we have a team of coaches who can help you reach your goals.