Online Coaching vs Online Training Programs

Online training has been booming for the last few years. Covid has also made a huge impact on the number of trainers selling programs. But what is the difference between buying a workout program from a trainer, and buying continued online coaching from an online coach?

Most online programs are simply a group of workouts put together for a goal, without any real thought about the specific person completing the workouts. These programs are meant to be bought by hundreds of people, so they come with a smaller price tag. Many online coaches sell personalized programming, these often have a higher price tag which might worry you. But these programs cost more because they are only meant to be sold to one person, you.

I like to explain the difference between these types of online training by comparing them to houses. The first option is a 3000 square foot house. 3000 square feet is how much space you think you need, but this is all you know about the house. It could be perfect for you, or it could just be a big 3000 square foot house with no bathrooms or kitchen. The second option is a house built specifically for you. You meet the designer, talk about your needs, and wants, and he builds it. The custom house costs more but is likely going to leave you much happier. Online coaching works a lot like the custom house option

Now we understand that there is a difference between buying an online program and hiring a coach, is it really that big of a difference? The short answer is yes. With an online coach you normally get direct access to the coach when you have any questions or need any guidance on something, as well as the ability to modify the program to better fit you as you go.

There are so many individual variables between you and someone else that could cause any program to be less successful than it should be. Some people can handle a ton of volume and others cannot. Some people just can’t handle much volume on a certain body part. For example, my hamstrings are toast after around 10 sets of volume each week. That’s my sweet spot. Any more volume and I will never feel recovered, and any less will leave results on the table. With an online coach you begin to learn how much volume your body requires and when it becomes too much. An online program may be too much volume or simply not enough.

Anatomical differences will also play a roll in online programs as some exercises just don’t fit you as well as they fit others. When you can’t seem to complete the exercise well enough, you aren’t going to see the results from it. If you don’t have the skills or flexibility to complete an exercise, an online coach can swap that exercise out for one that bypasses any issues, but still provides a large stimulus for results.

Your own workout experience also plays a huge roll in how your program should be developed. The longer you have been workout out, the more volume your body likely needs. You likely need to be pushing much closer to failure as well. As you continue to workout for longer periods of time, you body becomes more resilient to damage and recovers quicker between workouts, allowing you to workout more and workout harder. A beginner may see results working out 2 days per week, whereas someone with much more experience may require 5 or 6. A beginner may only require 4 sets per muscle group per week to see changes, while someone more advanced may need 20 or 25.


Online training programs and online coaches can be vastly different. When you really think about it, they are worlds apart. Each one has a value, but the question is which one you value more. Both options could be great for you and provide tremendous results. Online coaching is more often the better choice when it comes to any sort of online training and, in some cases, can have more advantages than hiring a personal trainer for 1 on 1 training.


Chris Still

BS in Exercise Science

CSCS, USAW-L1SP

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