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Stop Your Fitness Failure: A 5 Point Check List to Start Your Training Right

If you’re tired of starting your new “fitness lifestyle” over and over again, then you need to listen to a trainer that knows what he’s talking about. That trainer is Dave Hedges.

First things first, it’s an honor and a pleasure to be back writing with this team of great coaches and trainers. I worked with Mark de Grasse back in the days of My Mad Methods and was sad when it was shut down, although I understand the reasons. So, when he got in touch telling me that this publication was launching, I didn’t even think twice before agreeing to write for him again.

#1 Assessment

I can’t emphasize this enough! Every week in my gym I get people coming in the door broken up, hurting, injured from following this program or that program without ever receiving good technical instruction specific to who they are, their injury history or their goals going forward.

I consider it my job to watch every movement a person makes and see where their weak points lie, where they’re compensating and then help them find the best ways to move past their issues.

I help them build a training plan that moves them towards their goals while also clearing out the poor movement patterns and old injuries from their past.

Point 1 is to get a solid assessment from a good coach so they can help you build out a plan.

#2 Instruction

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Technical instruction is essential. The old adage that “the devil is in the details” is so true. And it’s something that most people only realise when it’s already too late.

If you study the work of the top coaches and performers, you’ll notice a massive emphasis on technique.

Seemingly small technical adjustments can make a world of difference to your performance. If an instructor/trainer isn’t constantly harping on about technique, repeating the key cues over and over like a broken record, bin him and find someone who will.

#3 Patience

By this I mean your patience and also your trainer’s patience. Forget that “drop a dress size in 4 weeks” nonsense. Bypass the 6 minute Abzzzz (or 4 minute or whatever number is hot right now).

Instead, think long term and look down the line. All good coaches will have you build up slowly, starting with seemingly too-easy training that builds subtly.

If you follow this idea you’ll bypass all your old PB’s and keep on accelerating, very often while not working as hard as you think you should.

With my client base, my role as coach is very often to hold people back so that they don’t push themselves too hard, too far, so they don’t burn out.

Too many instructors are more interested in “beasting” their clients. While this may be fun and exciting at the time, training must be sustainable and based around building you up, not breaking you down.

#4 Focus

You need to focus on the training, not the kit. Many trainers identify themselves by their equipment, they’re the Kettlebell Guy, the TRX Guy, the Sandbag Guy, the Mace Guy, the Bodyweight Guy and so on and so forth.

But what if their preferences don’t suit your wants and needs, can they adapt?

No matter what our preferences may be with equipment, all tools are there to train the person. Our priority must be the person in front of us, not the tools available to us. Tools and exercises should be selected according to the body presented to us and the wants and needs of that body.

And yes, I’m a kettlebell guy who has clients who think they are just weird dumbbells!

#5 Progression and Regression

Endless progressions and regressions on everything! Are you doing the right variation of an exercise for you? Do you need to advance? How are you advancing? Maybe you need to regress, what is the step down?

The best coaches recognize the need for regression; that very often we need to regress before we can progress. That not everyone can do the same movements, and adjustments must be made on a case-by-case basis.

It’s tough starting out in fitness; it can be even tougher finding a decent coach or trainer to learn from.


I hope in writing these 5 pointers I gave you a checklist against which to check your gym and your trainer. In doing so it gives you the best chance at getting the training you need to get you to the place you want to go and the results that you deserve.

The only thing we haven’t talked about in this article is you. But if you’re open minded, honest and willing to both work hard and learn well, you shouldn’t be a problem!



This article was originally featured in Mad Fit Magazine. Mad Fit Magazine is a print and online publication featuring the top trainers of Unconventional Fitness. Each issue features articles, workouts, trainer profiles, and more. Subscribe by CLICKING HERE

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Dave Hedges

Dave Hedges began training in 1989 when he took up Karate. As he grew into a lanky, skinny teenager, his Karate instructor told Dave he needed to get stronger in order to compete more effectively. This started a lifetime pursuit of efficient and effective training methods which ultimately lead to the methods he teaches today.

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