Rant-o-rama returns: Bad Trainers/Coaches by Nick McKinless

This rant is simply about Personal Trainers and ‘so called’ Coaches.

Anyone can become a trainer these days and then be let loose on the unsuspecting public. I’m amazed more people aren’t getting sued for malpractice because what I see on the internet and in gyms is a farce.

I was first qualified back in 1988 with BAWLA and later with UK Athletics. I have always been a student of the Iron Game and have read (and own) hundreds if not thousands of books, journals, magazines, studies and other literature that I have cross referenced and used to train myself and my trainees over the past 25 years. There are a few things I haven’t tried or tested myself but not many.

I still read and try to learn something new from the better authors and coaches around (Dan John, Ross Enamait, Scott Abel, Steve Shafley, Jedd Johnson, Dave Draper, Jim Schmitz) but most of the current crop are god awful.

Here’s why I CAN’T ABIDE most trainers/coaches/gurus:


This absolutely boggles my mind.

As a coach or trainer this should be one of your highest, if not THE highest priority. Your job is to train someone to get stronger and more conditioned for their goals NOT to injure them with your stupidity.

I honestly am amazed when I read this after a ‘coach’ posted a god awful deadlift video….

“Not pretty but training isn’t supposed to be ballet!”

Really? Well I don’t think it’s meant to be an abomination either. If teaching the deadlift at this gym involves straps, snatching, fully rounded back, hitching, extreme leaning back and whatever else then I suggest you go elsewhere because at some point in time you are due a major injury. No one should get injured in the gym if they are lifting correctly.

Here is just one of this ‘coaches’ lifts for you to admire. No doubt I’ll be hearing from him.



Nothing, let me repeat that, NOTHING beats basic training with barbells, dumbbells and some cables for physical development. I am not averse to variety myself but on the whole my training revolves around a bar, weights, a power rack, dumbbells and cables. The rest is gravy.

However, what is with the current trend to have people doing strongman or gymnastic events!? I have done both sports and both tore me apart and I was actually quite good at one of them (not gymnastics!). There’s only a handful of events in Strongman worth using for conditioning purposes. Farmer’s walks or holds, loading heavy objects (stones, sacks, barrels) and sled pushing and pulling (arm over arm, backwards dragging, pushing a car etc).

No one needs to do heavy yoke walks or flip tyres or push a log overhead. All these exercises are fraught with danger. There’s a reason strongman picked these events. They are brutally hard on the body. You don’t need them. Do your squats, your deadlifts or power cleans and your military presses in good form and you are building ‘functional’ strength. The other exercises are too risky unless of course your doing strongman as your sport.

Same goes for gymnastic exercises. You don’t need all the variations. If you do chins/pullups and dips/pushups and perhaps handstand pushups the rest isn’t required. Doing cheat versions of muscle ups is pointless if you can’t do 20 perfect chins and 40 dips first.

Stick to the basics they’ll look after you in the long run.


“Franco, you crrazzeee bastaad!”



Don’t copy the genetically gifted and the chemically enhanced especially if they are under 30 years old. Being young is a huge advantage but you’ve not learnt anything about your body until you hit 30 plus.

People want to copy Rich Piana or Mike O’Hearn or (still) Arnold  but let me tell you it’s not going to happen unless you have their gifts. For gods sake, Arnold could probably have done Crossfit and still got big!


I heard ARNOLD got big with Crossfit (said no one ever)




This seems like the current thing to do. Find a resource that justifies your latest article and proves your point.

The problem is that actually doing a program is where it counts. And I mean doing it for 12-16 weeks consistently with programming in place for a specific set of goals.

Science forgets one major factor when it comes to hitting the weights – EFFORT! Intensity of effort is one of the keys to results in the Iron Game. It’s what makes average people awesome. It’s what makes the genetically gifted Champions and it can make you better than you ever believed.

Train hard and consistently for 5-10 years with a variety of solid, barbell and dumbbells programs and target specific goals and you’ll literally change the way you look.

Forget science. Study by doing.

(Note: Being bigger and leaner isn’t a specific goal. Squatting 400lbs for 10 reps and having a visible 6 pack is!)


Do I have to even go there? As a coach or trainer you should be an inspiration or at least look like you train and take care of yourself in a healthy manner. Fat coaches? Fat Trainers? Fat gurus? Even heavyweight Powerlifters are getting lean and mean these days. I’m not saying you need to be sub 10% but at least look like you care because then your clients will too.



This one is VERY popular with the new breed of trainers. They have to do everything to make gains and boy do they try!

I’ve seen you with your tupperware and your bag full of supplements. You have to have a pre-workout and a peri- workout and post-workout drink ready in case you lose a 1/2 pound. You got your creatine and your aminos and your fat burners all ready to guzzle with your tri-blend protein shakes! And of course because you’re also a ‘sponsored athlete’ (No, no you’re not but I’ll save that for another time) so you get all your poor clients attempting to do the same so they can to look as beautiful as you.

What a crock of shit!

If you read the incredible ‘Muscle, Smoke and Mirrors’ by Randy Roach you’ll understand why supplements on the whole are worthless.

Only a few things really have any significant effect.

  • A HIGH quality protein powder (purely as a supplement to food and not instead of)
  • Creatine (Although it did nothing for me)
  • Amino Acids (high quality)
  • Basic Vitamins (high quality multi-vit for example)
  • Fish oils (I like krill for joints and connective tissue)

There are literally thousands of products out there. By all means buy them. I have no problem with anyone making a few quid but I promise you this stuff is simply the icing on the cake.

Cake’s a supplement right?



This one ties into the last point and to what I am basically trying to say in general.

You do not need to do ‘deficit, paused, 301 tempo’ deadlifts to get stronger and better conditioned. You do not need to do Klokov presses. You do not need to do pistol squats. If your trainer is getting you to do these things you should look for someone else to train you. Someone who’s been around a while, looks great, makes progress and has read a few books on training from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

What you actually need to do is add 100lbs to your squat and deadlift and 50lbs to bench and overhead press and be able to do 20 chins. That is done by simple single or double progression, basic barbell training.

Stop making it so hard for everyone!

Eat right. Train right. Recover right.

Do the basics right first and all the additional bells and whistles ‘might’ give you a few percent on top.



NOTE: Please leave a comment here or on FB and tell us what you think a good coach should be getting you to do. 

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