Congratulations Chris Dickerson on being our Personal Trainer Of The Month! Chris was awarded the Bodybuilding.com Personal Trainer of the Month for his health and fitness contribution that he provides for his clients and beyond!
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[ Q ] Can you tell me a little about yourself?
I started bodybuilding after college at the age of 23. It was
Bill Pearl, the former Mr. America and Mr. Universe winner, who watched me lift my very first dumbbell.
Bill was my coach for 20 years... right through to my biggest victory, the Mr. Olympia contest in 1982 at age 43.
During my thirty year competitive career I celebrated several "firsts":
- Breaking the bodybuilding "color barrier" on the cover of Strength & Health Magazine in 1965.
- Winning the AAU Mr. America as the first African-American to do so.
- Competing in all four major bodybuilding associations, the AAU, NABBA, WBBG and IFBB.
- Winning the 1982 Olympia as the oldest competitor to ever do so.
- Appearing on the cover of the first issue of Flex Magazine.
- Receiving the first Ben Weider Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.
It would also appear that I am the first personal trainer, as we have come to use the term today, at the original Gold's Gym in Venice in 1979.
Click Image To Enlarge.
Chris Dickerson Receiving The First Ben Weider
Lifetime Achievement Award In 2008.
[ Q ] Does being a former Mr. Olympia help you to be a better trainer? If so, why?
Being a former Mr. Olympia does help make me be a better trainer. However, it is my entire body of training and competition experience, dating back to 1963 that has provided me with my comprehensive knowledge of not only the evolution of
exercise methods but also the changes in approach to both
diet that have occurred over the years.
[ Q ] Why did you become a trainer?
I became a trainer because it concerned me to see so many young people in the gym working harder, by doing a given exercise wrong, than they would have to if they could be taught to employ proper technique.
I was always aware of the unique advantage that I had gained by having been taught proper technique from the very beginning by Bill Pearl. Proper coaching is very important. It saves time and you're apt to avoid injury.
[ Q ] What is your training style? What methods do you use?
My training style is to work from the inside out ignoring "cosmetic" concerns at the beginning. This is the athletic approach and it gives the client his (or her) foundation.
You need to start out with lighter weights and learn to do each exercise properly while extending the joints fully. This is your foundation.
[ Q ] Do you have examples of success stories from clients using your methods?
I DO have "success stories" among many of my clients, some whose names you might be familiar with - including
Bronston Austin, Joe Distinti, Victoria Paris and
[ Q ] If so, what programs (diet, nutrition, and supplementation) did you use on those particular clients?
The diets and supplementation that I prescribe are geared to each individual's needs. Some clients are in contest preparation, others need to gain muscle weight, while still others just want to maintain the body mass they already have.
I have always been a big proponent of using the B-Complex vitamins along with Vitamin E and a quality Multiple Vitamin/Mineral tablet. Diet and proper nutrition are at least one third of the entire equation. Supplementation, of course, depends greatly on the individual client's goals as well as their age and sex.
[ Q ] What are the most common mistakes newbie's make?
Most novice bodybuilders make the mistake of
overtraining and neglecting their nutritional needs. More attention should be given to
recuperation and nutrition.
[ Q ] What is your approach to nutrition and supplementation? Do you set your clients up with a full diet plan?
I do set up a complete nutritional program, depending upon the client's goals. The only exception is when a client comes to me with their own diet intact and only wants help with their posing or overall
[ Q ] How do you keep your clients motivated?
motivated both by seeing a physical change in their body and by the progress made in their workout program.
I mix-up the workouts, use different equipment, change the combination of body parts being worked together and move workouts around to various days of the week.
This constant novelty is crucial for keeping up their enthusiasm and also makes for a better body response to the workouts.
[ Q ] What is the average length of a client?
I have had clients stay with me for as long as six years and some for a period as short as three weeks (for
Many of my clients have chosen to stay under my instruction for an indefinite period of time, even though they have gained the knowledge that would allow them to go it alone.
[ Q ] How have your changed your approach to clients over the years of experience?
I pay more attention to
cardio than I did many years ago. I have also come to believe that a good "warm-up" increases the
testosterone level so that any exercise that follows will provide more benefit.
I also now make sure that the ligaments and tendons are completely stretched during movements since they tend to shorten as we age.
Also, as far as style goes, I now understand that by being a good listener and giving your client your undivided attention, you become a much more effective trainer.
[ Q ] Who are you working with currently and in the future that people may have heard of?
One of the clients that I am presently working with and very proud of is Bill Neylon. He is a Master's competitor in the South Florida area as well as an NPC judge. He is currently ranked second the State in his division.
[ Q ] How do you start a client on a new program? Do you do some kind of assessment?
I always start a new client with a private consultation. I evaluate their body and then it's on to the gym floor where I can observe their range of motion.
After about three weeks I will know how they respond to training. Each client's workout and nutritional plan has to be "custom made" after all of these factors have been considered.
[ Q ] Do you prefer to train male or female clients and why?
Male clients are more challenging and tend to question what you tell them more than women. Women tend to be more trusting and thankful for their progress and more apt to stay with it, even if the progress is slow.
Men tend to want it NOW and are less patient for the results that you promise them. However, it is hard to generalize this way, having seen the exceptions often enough. So, I have no real preference in regards to training men or women, but I do see the differences for what they are.
[ Q ] Do you feel just as much like a psychologist as you do a personal trainer?
Well, it does make me glad that I majored in psychology in college because I am sure that it comes in handy with my personal training clients.
Never forget, there is a person inside of that body that you're training, with insecurities, "hang-ups", feeling of self-consciousness about certain body parts, etc.
The initial consultation and the gym-floor talk between exercises helps me get to know the specific individual that I'm working with. Listen to your client and be aware. Stay present and you will both succeed.
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