Pro natural bodybuilder and personal trainer Brandon Lirio breaks down all of the signs that you have an ineffective coach.

In 2022, we are living in an ongoing fitness boom. The bodybuilding industry is bigger than ever before, gyms and fitness centers are prevalent, and information about health and fitness is everywhere. The human race is more aware about the importance of fitness and have more options than ever before to seek it out.

Unfortunately, with the rapid growth of instant content via social media and the web – there is more misinformation available than ever before as well. When it comes to coaching, that means everyone and their mother claims to be a coach. The important reality to understand is that most of these online coaches are scammers at worst or simply unknowledgeable at best. In our latest episode of the U-Natty States Of America podcast, Brandon Lirio breaks down key signs your bodybuilding coach is a fraud.

Beyond being a Natural Olympia bodybuilding champion, Brandon Lirio is also a personal trainer and has been for quite some time. So this week’s topic is a very important one to him. Working in the personal training field – he is more than aware of how many unskilled and scam coaches exist that are taking people’s money. Even worse, they can be harming clients .

The problem is two-fold. First, there are some bodybuilding coaches who know they are lying and see personal training as an easy way to scam people out of money. Second, there are athletes who believe their personal success is enough to help train other people. This isn’t always a bad thing – but can be if, let’s say, your coach is a bodybuilder who only won a single pro show and instantly jumped into coaching.

Brandon Lirio wants to make it clear that not everyone is out to get you – but that doesn’t mean those trainers are actually good bodybuilding coaches. At the end of the day, the responsibility lies on you, the client, to do proper research and know what is essential in a professional coach or trainer. Let’s break it down.

“Trust me. Just because you bench well and you entered a bodybuilding show does not mean you know what you are doing in terms of powerlifting.”

– Brandon Lirio

The importance of coaching certification… and how to properly evaluate them

Brandon Lirio finds it essential that all fitness clients look for coaches who are certified. This is the first step in finding some form of legitimacy behind a coach’s claims. It proves that a third part has evaluated the person.

However, the unfortunate reality is that most certifications are easy to get. Like many tests, most aspiring bodybuilding coaches only train to beat the test rather than actually retain the knowledge. That’s why Brandon Lirio emphasizes actually looking at the kind of certification your coach possesses.

he National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) requires that their certification exam be proctored. This means that an expert is on site overseeing the exam to ensure that the person isn’t just going through the motions – but doing it well and that they actually understand the concepts. 

On the flip side, the International Sports Science Association (ISSAand American Counsel on Exercise (ACE) do not require proctored exams. So that is a very basic first step to look for when seeking a bodybuilding coach. In Brandon Lirio’s opinion – it’s always better to go with a NASM certified coach due to the proctored exam.

At this point – these certifications still don’t mean the coach is a master. It’s just the beginning. Many of these certificates are covering the intermediate to basic info. But it’s  good start. At this point, like any other doctor or therapist. The client must see if a coach is a good fit. You may have to run through a handful of different coaches before finding the right one. It’s frustrating, but vital if you want success and to get your money’s worth.

Warning signs of a bad coach

Brandon Lirio breaks down three key things to look out for when you start the process of seeking a bodybuilding coach. Below are red flags and warning signs. If your coach shows any of these signs – you might want to consider switching to a new trainer:

  • If they don’t ask questions
  • If they ever ask you to pay in a strange or sketchy way
  • If you bring up a medical issue or medication and then they shrug it off or not take it into consideration.

The last bullet point is extremely important. We can’t expect our fitness coaches to be doctors. But their advice may intersect with pre-existing conditions you have or medications you may be taking. If your coach shrugs this off when you bring it up, or doesn’t take it seriously, you have a coach that may be risking your health.

A bodybuilding coach doesn’t need to be an expert on medicine (unless they are offering you protocols on powerful drugs and PEDs), but they should be willing to have you confer with a doctor to see if their training regimen will work safely with your situation. If they don’t even consider that or worry about that – the coach doesn’t have your best interest in mind.

Wrap Up

In the modern world, it’s all too easy for anyone to claim they are a bodybuilding coach in their Instagram bio. That’s why it’s more important than ever for potential training clients to do their research and be serious about how they vet their trainer. The power of the consumer is real – but it only works if the consumer draws the line and is knowledgable about what to expect.

Brandon Lirio understands it’s easy to blindly trust a coach – because you are likely seeking a coach because your own methods have hit you up against a wall. But blind faith in anything is dangerous. Be prepared, use this information Lirio provides to help guide you, and do the diligence to find the right coach before you waste time, money, and possibly your health on a scam.

You can watch Brandon Lirio’s full comments on modern day coaching in fitness by watching the latest episode of U-Natty States of America above. Make sure to check back every Wednesday for new episodes only on the Generation Iron Fitness Network, or wherever podcasts are downloaded.

Derek Dufour
Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.