Is it better to train your abs at the beginning or the end of a workout?

I always recommend that you train your abdominals at the end of a workout. Why? Your abdominals both protect your spine and stabilize your rib cage. They are also the powerhouse of the body. If they are functioning properly, your energy, or strength, should be transferred through your abdominals to your limbs. By not fatiguing these muscles, it will allow you to exercise the rest of your body more intensely and powerfully. I should also say that I believe that you should learn how to properly engage your abdominals through each exercise, which in turn will not only teach your body to function properly, but will also strengthen your midsection during your entire workout. In short, train them at the end, but don’t forget to train them.

I read an article on how to select a personal trainer, but the gym I went to won’t show me the trainers’ certifications. Is this common or should I be alarmed?

To be honest, I don’t know how common it is for a facility to keep their trainers’ certification handy. I know many years ago when I worked for the old Gold’s Gym in town, I had to supply proof of a current certification before they would let me train. The management left it up to me to get the necessary documents to post my certification on the wall, so the responsibility was upon me, not the facility. I can tell you that if someone would have asked me, I would have had copies for them by the next day. With that said, I do know of several trainers that work at the local clubs that aren’t certified at all or at least they weren’t the last time I spoke with them. It’s also important to note that there is no state law that requires a gym or health club to hire certified personal trainers.

When friends or relatives of mine who live out of town ask me how to get a good trainer, I always tell them that they should walk into a fitness facility or private studio and ask for a list of the trainers available and their background: experience, education, and certifications. If they don’t have them handy, they should be able to get them for you. If they’re not willing to do so, then go elsewhere. It’s your body and you don’t want just anyone manipulating it.

Once you have your list, and I recommend visiting many places, then do a little research or your own. Is this a well recognized certification? Do they have specialties? Are they continuing their education and if so, in what areas? Is this a job for them or a career? These are all very valid questions to ask before deciding where to invest your time, money, and your health. Don’t be afraid to interview your potential trainer or fitness professional either. If they are truly interested in helping you, then they should be able to devote a few minutes to answer any questions you may have.

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