What is it that distinguishes great trainers from good ones?  Why are the Embody Fitness personal training team able to produce startling results in such short spaces of time , often with clients that far from fit the criteria of the ideal candidate for an incredible transformation!

With our world class facility being located in the heart of the city of London, a large portion of our personal training clients are busy career focused men and women, hugely time restricted and often with no training history what so ever. This certainly keeps us on our toes but with the correct approach even the trickiest of client can still achieve the seemingly impossible.

Common mistakes

I’m often asked by young enthusiastic trainers to comment on their client training programmes. More often than not what typically springs to mind are two things, “over complicated” and “who is this programme supposed to be for?” The latter is very common as many trainers tend to write programmes based on their own latest personal interests much to the detriment of their clients result. One of the best examples of this was personally witnessing a trainer apply a giant set to a beginner! Five chest exercises in a row including most amusingly a Bench Cable Chest Press (oh how myself and other trainers had to bite our tongues). I won’t divulge the back work out as some of you may be squeamish but needless to say it wasn’t pretty!

Over complication is another huge and common mistake. Some trainers wishing to make the point they know how to read, lose site of the real goal and instead opt to try and prepare there newbie client for the Olympic games.

So would it surprise you to learn when looking at the pictures below of Embody Fitness client Nick Holdstock that 90% of his incredible gains in size were accomplished with just a few basic exercises! Perhaps when you see his flat to full chest you’re imagining variations of grip, thick implements and chains, dozens and dozens of gut wrenching sets with pre and post exhaustion methods? Well guess again.

Strong understanding of fundamental strength training principles coupled with vast amounts of client experience leads to results


For some this will be a little disappointing as you are still seeking the ultimate training routine or new ‘best’ exercise to help attain this level of transformation. Putting nutrition aside and focusing solely on training the fact is the limitations in muscular gains are nearly always down to strength (or lack of it).

Progressing a client who Single Arm Rows 20kg for 8 reps to 60kg whilst improving their Deadlift from 90kg to 170kg will as if by magic cause their back to become unrecognisable. Taking their Db Incline Chest Press from 20kg to 55kg will ensure the pigeon chest taunts become a thing of the past, and if their barely squatting they’re body weight….Well you get the idea!

The figures above are not pulled from the personal trainers sky of gross exaggeration, nor are they simply based in theory. Rather they come directly from my training logs used to monitor and adapt my client Nick’s workouts over an 18 week period. Now whilst this is by no means as simple as I make it sound the principles in which it is routed are! Consistently striving to add strength to a given muscle group is by far the best way to avoid plateaus in size and aesthetic development.

At Embody our training principles are methodical but most importantly logical, ensuring we are consistently delivering results across the entire team. Whilst we always keep our eyes and ears open for new breakthroughs in scientific research, we will always keep one foot firmly planted in the fundamentals that always have and always will deliver results.

Written by Richard Phillipps

Director and Head of Personal Training at Embody Fitness