How up to date is your personal trainer in terms of research?

According to my man Nick Tumminello, possibly not that much, based on a lot of what he’s seen over the last 15 years, and almost certainly not, based on what I’ve seen over the last 20. Click here to see his post on this subject.

So why is that?

Basically it comes down to three issues:

Number 1: Trainers don’t read the research, they read someone else’s interpretation of it. Now, in and of itself, that may not be a bad thing if the someone else is really, really good at interpreting research. (As a side note, my two go-to guys for this are Bret Contreras and Alan Aragon, both of whom are way better at extrapolating data and interpreting it than I am). But often, research gets spun or misinterpreted by the person summarising it. A great example used by Nick in his blog post linked to this article is the whole TVA activation craze. Without getting into that can of worms in detail, if you want to activate your TVA, go have a poo. If you want a strong and stable trunk when lifting stuff, trunk stiffness and ‘bracing’ are more important.

Number 2: Research is not straightforward. Understanding how to differentiate between a well-executed study, with good parameters, controls and protocols, and a sponsored piece of crap takes a very specific skill set. Not only that it’s a skill on a gradient. My skill level in this is above average, but the two gents mentioned above are exceptional, (hence why I defer to their findings in many cases, and because having followed and checked their work for years, I now trust them). Suffice to say, if you’ve never actually had to conduct research in a scientific setting, your understanding of the process won’t be as good as someone who has.

Number 3: A preference for experience over academia. Which is a nice way of saying some people are lazy when it comes to professional development through education. Nick explains this very succinctly in his post, but the reasoning in my mind is – “When all a trainer has is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. Experience is only valuable if it’s tested, challenged and re-tested, (and VARIED), otherwise it’s just memories or nostalgia. Experience implies a lesson and sometimes it’s easy to get caught up with proving ourselves right, which I’ve been guilty of on many occasions, (I still am from time to time).

Bottom line: If you’re a trainer, stay up to date with good research, not what some guy on some course says, (if you’re a trainer that has come on one of my courses, that includes me). Check out Bret Contreras’s monthly research review here and Alan Aragon’s website here.  If you’re a client, ask your trainer what challenges recent research have prompted to their tools and techniques.

My thanks to Nick for a great post and if you want any more information see below for where to get it.

Coach Nick Tumminello has built a reputation as the ‘Trainer of trainers” through his workshops at conferences and fitness club around the world. And, for his consulting work with pro/college sports teams and with exercise equipment/ clothing manufactures.

He’s the owner of Performance University international, which provides hybrid strength training & conditioning for athletes and educational programs for fitness professionals. Based in South Florida, Nick is a Fort Lauderdale personal trainer who works with a select group of athletes and exercise enthusiasts.

 You can check out Coach Nick’s articles, DVDs, seminars schedule, mentorship program and very popular hybrid fitness training blog at