By Houston Personal Trainer, Scott Southworth

There’s a lot of hype in the fitness world about how coaches can change your life. Everyone claims to be super successful and 5 star testimonials rain from the sky. But how much of this can actually be trusted and how much is savvy marketing? I’m a science guy and when I got into this industry I looked at the research.

The Research

An article published back in 2010 in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research titled “Influence of Supervision Ratio on Muscle Adaptations to Resistance Training in Nontrained Subjects” studied the effects of having someone oversee your workouts. In this study, 124 participants were grouped into either high supervision or low supervision groups. In the high supervision groups, 25 participants were supervised by five coaches. In the low supervision groups, there was only one coach per 25 participants. After being divided into these groups, every participant was placed on the same training plan and tested. Coaches for the study were not told the purpose of the experiment and were tasked with maintaining attendance, improving technique, and encouraging maximal effort from the participants.

What They Found
At the conclusion of this study, the researchers found the high supervision group showed an 11.8% improvement in knee extension maximum strength and a 15.9% improvement in bench press maximum strength. In the low supervision group, there was no improvement in knee extension maximum strength and a 10.22% increase in bench press maximum strength.

What It Means to You
The takeaway from this piece is that having someone supervise your workout directly improves the effectiveness of your exercise and the progress you will see. This finding is consistent with other research on the topic. If you want some extra reading, here is another article that comes to a very similar conclusion.

From my personal experience, there are two major factors that create this advantage: accountability (my clients rarely miss a workout or have easy days) and aggression (I encourage my clients to work harder than they would typically push themselves). If anecdotal evidence isn’t enough, there’s research to back up my own experiences. For example, there is this one that demonstrated clients who worked with coaches were very likely to build better fitness habits or this one that found clients pushed themselves harder when working with a coach.

The bottom line is that while coaching is an investment, the research shows it will pay off for most people. Having a coach will help you build better habits, be more consistent, and reach your goals faster than you would on your own.


Scott is a certified personal trainer in Houston, TX. Contact Scott today to schedule a free introductory session.

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