7 Things Your Personal Trainer Does That You Should Do, Too

Stay motivated and get fit with these personal trainer-approved health tips.

Medically reviewed in December 2021

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Do you ever wonder how personal trainers stay so fit? Surprise: you don’t need to jump into power lifting or shell out the big bucks to work with a personal trainer to get in shape. Start with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity and two days of muscle-strengthening activities per week, plus these other ways real-life trainers stay fit.

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Eat Right, Not Rigid

Rigid diets may not be the best approach—they leave little room for foods you enjoy, make eating feel like a chore and are difficult to maintain. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and protein—with the occasional treat—will keep you on track and eating healthily. Try dietitian, Frances Largeman-Roth’s approach of 90% fuel, 10% fun, so you don’t have to miss out on all the foods you love.

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Take The Day Off

Your body is an amazing tool, but it needs rest, too. Taking a day off from the gym or skipping a workout won’t sabotage your weight loss–it can actually help. Overworking your body can lead to injury and ineffective workouts. If your body is overtired—more than the usual post-workout fatigue—you can’t exercise your best, meaning you’ll burn fewer calories and build less muscle. Not feeling motivated? Taking a day or two off can help you reassess your goals and get back on track. Don’t take more than two days off in a row—it could be harder to get back on your schedule.

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Learn The Techniques

Technique is important, especially for weight training. Good technique can maximize workouts and help prevent injuries like sprains, strains and fractures. Plus, it’ll help you better target the muscles you’re trying to build.

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Make A Schedule

Creating a workout schedule will hold you accountable. Ideally, an adult should get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity five days a week—but it’s less likely to happen if it’s not penciled into your busy schedule. Try walking, running, biking or swimming to get your 30 minutes each day, and don’t forget to mix up your workouts—personal trainers utilize different muscles each day to keep their bodies guessing and give their muscles a chance to rest.

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Try HIIT Training

HIIT, high-intensity interval training, combines short bursts of exercise performed at 80% to 95% of maximum effort, with periods of active recovery. HIIT training allows variability and can be utilized during any workout—from running, to biking, to swimming. Not only do HIIT workouts improve anaerobic and aerobic fitness and cardiovascular health, but they can help increase weight loss—without decreasing muscle mass—too. The best part? You’ll keep burning calories long after your workout is over; HIIT may increase the body’s metabolism for 24 hours or more. Try incorporating HIIT workouts into your routine once or twice a week, but give your body enough time to recover.

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Set Goals

Deadlines are motivating, so set short-term weekly or monthly goals. Goal setting provides a sense of direction and motivation, and encourages strategy refinement, or continually creating strategies to reach goals. Get SMART when setting your goals—specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timed—to keep yourself on track. One principle of fitness is progression—setting goals, exceeding them and setting new ones is a great way to keep moving forward and avoid weight loss plateaus.

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Plan A Post-Workout Meal

Just because you spent an hour in the gym doesn’t mean you should binge as soon as you step off the elliptical. Planning your post-workout meal beforehand can prevent overeating. A great post workout meal is a protein shake with 15 to 25 grams of protein (one scoop of protein powder) and fruit. Greek yogurt with fruit or graham crackers with peanut butter are also great options. After intense exercise or a strength-training workout, your body needs the combination of protein and carbs; some common advice is for every gram of protein, you should consume two grams of carbohydrates. Portion the ingredients before you head to the gym, so you can enjoy your snack right after your workout.

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