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PT told me I can't lift...yet

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So I eagerly went for my first PT session on Friday with a copy of NROLFW in my hands and showed it to my trainer.

He immediately told me I wouldn't be doing squats and deadlifts for at least 2 months because of the stress the movements exert on the body. 

Then he got me to do some body weight squats and illustrated that my ankles/calves/hamstrings are too tight for me to achieve proper form (I assume from cycling).  Proper form is important to me, its why I got a PT in the first place.

Now I'm pretty bummed out about this, (especially as he wanted me to start using the leg press extension machine).  I went to the gym with free weight dreams and a desire to be stronger and I feel like been told to go away and do some cardio and use the machines, which is completely opposed to my primal viewpoint.

I can appreciate what he is saying, but what is your opinion on not doing squats/deadlifts at the beginning of a program?  I'm not unfit at all and I've been working out regulary since the beginning of the year, I'm not overweight, nor do I have any medical issues that would stop me in any physical activity.


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It sounds like your trainer is crap.  If you learn to lift properly, then the "stress" of the movement should get you stronger and healthier.  You need to learn how to squat before you can add weight a lot of weight to it, but two months seems arbitrary.

The leg press is okay, but compared to squats, it's insufficient, and why pay a PT to use machines that you can use on your own.  They have pictures on them, and I assume you aren't blind.  

You learn how to squat by squatting and your learn how to deadlift by deadlifting. "my ankles/calves/hamstrings are too tight for me to achieve proper form" this also sounds like complete horse****. If you're tight, then warm up and stretch, repeat as often as necessary.  

 If you don't have any friends who lift who can help you practice your form, I would watch videos-made by real trainers-not the joe schmo's of youtube and practice in the mirror at home. 

Why pay a trainer if he's not going to teach you what you want to learn and instead is going to have you do machines that you can do without him?


Oh I read PT as in physical therapist instead of trainer. Haha! I was wondering why a therapist would tell you that. I agree that this PT sounds lazy. Only benefit of the doubt I can think of is they want you to use the machine to feel exactly what muscle you should be working (but a lot of times I feel the secondary or opposite muscle more than the primary). Honestly though, a good trainer should help you feel the exact muscle and help with modifications until you could do the full exercise. Can you get a second opinion from another trainer? I know I went through two before because after one week one got lazy and kept talking to everyone around but me while I was working out and the other didn't seem to want to work with my weak knee or the fact I had gotten pregnant. Hope either your trainer wises up or that you can find a better one. Their whole purpose is to help you move forward, not just maintain your current status. Otherwise we'd all just do the same thing and they'd become unnecessary. Good luck!

I would say that your PT is trying to keeping you paying him for at least another 2 months... You may have to mention this to him -- the fact that you signed up to learn proper weight-lifting technique, and that if he isn't going to be able to offer that without a long, drawn-out, and probably unnecessary process, then perhaps you should look for someone else -- you are his client, he is not your boss.

Stay away from the machines.

Thanks for the replies, its good to get more opinions.

Coach, I didn't even think they would be trying to get me to draw out the training as long as possible to get money out of me. Hah, colour me naive. 

I have a session with him tomorrow night, when he said he would lead me through the first workouts in NROLFW, i've already told him I wouldn't be using machines.  I might go and see how that works out before ditching him.

And sure, even if I don't have perfect form, i should just be doing the exercise until the point where my form is compromised and work from there?

I'd love to hear more opinions on this!

I think that's absolutely ridiculous. When I started with a trainer I was 235 lbs and he made me do everything. The point of a trainer is to be there to motivate and ensure u have proper form. If h can't do weights with a trainer then u probably shouldn't do them according to him. I also agree it could be to guarantee you as a client for a longer time. A good trainer should listen to his client and be able to give what they want. There is no reason to not do something unless a dr said so. Tell your trainer you want to do weights that is why he was hired of he can't do that then ditch him and get a new one.

Like the others said - time to ditch that trainer or tell them you do not think he knows "squat about lifting" and want your money back or have him teach you the lifts you want to do.

I really hate seeing PT's using machines with their clients, when I know that person is capable of the real stuff - rehab yes ok but I've seen them lift before and now you got them on a machine- doesn't make sense.

From my readings in some weight lifting books the leg press can cause a lot of back issues.  

I hope you didn't have to sign a contract with that trainer and will be able to find one who is willing to work with you.

Personally I never used a trainer, just the books

When I read the title I thought "Physical Therapy" and thought you might be recovering from an injury. Even then I was going to tell you to challenge your therapist to defend his/her program. Given that it's just some guy in good shape trying to make a buck, I'd say challenge, challenge challenge, dump.

I felt my form was weak when I started NORLFW so began with goblet squats and that seemed to work well for me.  No reason that I see that you would have to start on a machine :(  I don't have access to a trainer so study videos on line and read articles by reputable trainers.  I am really enjoying this program and starting to see some results.  I am in Stage 2.  Hope you like it too!


I think all the comments are too premature as the trainer might have something in his mind. As, we haven't heard his side of story or his approach towards your training. These legs exercises are "not" a necessity when one designs a workout, though they are important. It can be possible that he might be trying to get extra bucks from you, but it is equally important to get a trainer/spotter in your formative stage at the gym so that you learn the art of body building.

Who cares what the trainer has in his mind?  He's a trainer, not a coach. If she were on a sports team, I would say, listen to your coach even though you don't know what his reasons are or if his reasons are any good, but she's hiring him to learn what she wants to learn.  If he doesn't want to teach her, hire someone else.

Agreed, I think I have been misunderstood by people

My point is this, that she should talk about her training with the trainer and ask for his course/approach towards training

Then one can give correct opinion in this case

Nothing wrong with it. If you can't do a bodyweight squat with decent form and sufficient range of motion, you need to start with leg presses. You should be able to add weight every single session, and you should be able to squat/deadlift when you can leg press your bodyweight.

Now, if you can bang out a set of leg presses at bodyweight, or you can do a bodyweight squat below parallel, then I'd agree there's no point in having you start on the leg press machine.

Update: I got rid of the trainer,and have an app with a new one on Weds.

I felt a little bad until last night when I went to the gym for a body Pump class.  I immediately felt justified when the first exercise we did were BLOODY BARBELL SQUATS.


13 Replies