The Consequences of Having a Personal Trainer

trainer for squats

One of the consequences of me hiring a personal trainer is that, having done overhead presses, deadlifts, and bench presses yesterday, I decided to do squats today, but taking Chase’s advice, I decided to go lighter and do more sets and reps in order to practice, practice, practice my form.

The lower right area of my back was somewhat tender this morning, but nothing like what I felt yesterday when finishing my deadlifts. I felt I could manage squats as long as they were sufficiently light. In fact, I decided to start with just the bar (45 pounds or 20.4117 kilos) and gradually work my way up until things started to feel uncomfortable.

I also decided to do 10 reps per set as long as that seemed reasonable, and then slowly reduce the number of reps until, again, things started to feel uncomfortable.

So here’s what happened with my squats.

Barbell Back Squats in Squat Rack

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg
10x 65lbs/29.4835kg
10x 75lbs/34.0194kg
10x 85lbs/38.5554kg
8x 95lbs/43.0913kg
8x 105lbs/47.6272kg
8x 115lbs/52.1631kg
6x 125lbs/56.699kg

This is obviously a low intensity but higher volume workout than what I’ve been used to, but it’s also pretty much what I do when I’m with Chase, except my weights never get that “high”. Basically, the volume during training just exhausts me.

I was actually feeling pretty optimistic as I kept increasing the weight and was still able to do 10 reps with good form and get way, way down into the squat with my thighs hitting parallel to the floor pretty much all the time. Remembering to take a wider stance with my feet angled out a bit, going down and moving my knees to either side, sticking my butt back as I lower myself, and keeping my knees from drifting too far forward makes a big, big difference.

With each rep and set, I was paying attention to my lower right back to make sure there was no pain. Also, as the weight increased in small increments, I was also seeing how much effort it took to push myself back upright from the bottom of the squat.

It got more difficult at 95 pounds, so I eased back to 8 reps instead of 10. That worked at 105 pounds and then at 115 pounds (though I was tempted to only do 6 reps at 115), but not so much at 125 pounds. Up until that point, I thought maybe I’d go as “high” as a 135 pound barbell or 2 big wheels, one on either side of the bar, but when I was encountering resistance along with the first small twinges of discomfort in my back, I called it. I was done.

personal trainer squat

However, that was a full 8 sets, and if you count them up, I did 70 reps just doing squats. Believe me, my glutes and quads are sore right now, especially the area directly on the outside of both thighs.

Here’s another consequence of having a personal trainer. Everybody in the gym sees that you’re working with a trainer, sometimes it’s one that they work with, too.

I didn’t mention this before, but yesterday, when Chase was demonstrating proper form doing deadlifts, one of the regulars, a woman, was looking at him pretty intensely. I don’ think she was admiring his looks so much as his form. I have to admit, I look at other lifters, both men and women, to see what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.

Another consequence is one of the weight room regulars approached me today between my squat sets. He’s a guy I’ve mentioned before, somewhere in his 30s. He uses the squat rack for back squats and the overhead press and he’s pretty good.

Anyway, he came up to me and said something like, “Your trainer told you to do deeper squats.” I said something like “Yeah.” Then he told me some of his story. He’s basically a bicyclist but has done crossfit during the winter to keep in shape when he can’t ride as much.

He said that when he first was learning good form on his squats, he started with just the bar. Apparently, he also has limited flexibility, basically because his body’s used to the sorts of motions you perform on a bike and not so much for squats.

We shared how we both had to use pretty light weights when learning. It was a nice “bonding” experience and I felt just a little more acceptance as a weight room denizen. I also didn’t feel so bad for having to back way, way off of heavy weights.

I still had plenty of time left, and since I wasn’t going to do any more lifting, I figured I could get in some ab work. I went to a different part of the gym to grab a mat so I could do floor work and a couple of guys from Chase’s morning class who were on row machines asked how my training was going.

I told them Chase was trying to kill me and they acknowledged that he’s tough and works them pretty hard. Yeah, but he’s also fair and backs off when he knows I’m tired, so I don’t have a problem being pushed a bit. they asked if I was sore, as if I’m not normally sore when I work out. Yeah, I’m sore, but like I said, it’s from the volume, not the intensity. I guess sore is sore.

It was so freaking weird getting so much attention because I’m working with Chase. Seems like it’s positive attention, so I can live with it.

spine supported crunch
Credit: Dean Somerset’s YouTube channel

Anyway, since my back was still feeling tender, I decided on the following:

Spine Supported Ab Crunch (Bodyweight)


I knew I wanted to get some cardio in, but before that, I did a little more bodyweight work:

Body Hang w/Shoulders Engaged

x35 seconds

Dead Hang

x30 seconds

When I first pulled myself into the body hang and engaged my shoulders, I was surprised at how strong I felt. In fact, I pulled myself a little higher than usual and held that position. I let myself drop into a dead hang at 35 seconds but I felt like I probably could have hung on a little longer.

I ended the dead hang at 30 seconds, not because I couldn’t hang on anymore, but because I felt it was sufficient.

Since my time is a tad more flexible now, I could still get in 30 minutes on the elliptical, well 25 minutes of cardio and a 5 minute cooldown.

I’m pondering what to do on Sunday. Should I start week one of the 5/3/1 routine over again (for a second do over)? Maybe I should temporarily treat all my main lifts as assistance lifts by lightening the weights and doing more sets and reps, just so I can practice my form and turn practice into habit before going heavy (for me) again.

rack pull

I’ll decide when I see how I feel on Sunday morning.

My cardio session taught me that I haven’t been spending enough time on the elliptical. I’m losing my tolerance for extended effort. My working heart rate was fine but it didn’t recover as well as it should have.

Just moving around in my chair right now, I can tell my lower right lumbar area continues to be sensitive. Maybe I’d better baby it by staying light so I don’t crap out on Chase next Thursday either doing squats or deadlifts. I really want to learn to kill those deadlifts.

If you’re bored with life, if you don’t get up every morning with a burning desire to do things, you don’t have enough goals.

Lou Holtz


2 thoughts on “The Consequences of Having a Personal Trainer

  1. Great story keep killing it! One of my favorite quotes is “stimulate don’t annihilate” by Lee Haney. I prefer mind to muscle connection over weight all day. As far as your lower back pain id suggest to try foam rolling on it if possible. Best of luck!


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