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Me vs ChatGPT. Mission: Full body workout.

Could ChatGPT replace a personal trainer when it comes to workout programming? Sam put it to the test.
Sam Brown Abreu

AI content has hit the mainstream. Specifically ChatGPT. It’s everywhere. 

According to UBS analysts, ChatGPT is the fastest growing consumer app of all time. It reached 100 million users in just 2 months.

For context, TikTok took nine months to achieve this number and Instagram a glacial-like two years. 

There’s a reason why this artificial intelligence chatbot has already reached such popular heights. It’s seriously impressive. 

One of the first questions on many peoples’ minds when facing such huge tech advances is: “Will this technology replace me?”

So, could ChatGPT replace a personal trainer, when it comes to workout programming?

To test this out, I took on ChatGPT to put it to the test when it comes to workout plans.

The challenge was simple: create a full body strength workout. Let’s see how we got on.

ChatGPT vs Sam PT: The Workouts

To test out Chat GPT’s workout programming prowess, I created a generic full body strength workout and then asked ChatGPT to do the same.

Let’s take a closer look at the results.

chatgpt vs personal trainer workout

Exercise choices

With the ChatGPT workout, all the big muscle groups are hit. Correct. This is a full body strength workout after all. 

But, it’s got you doing four out of the big five compound lifts. That’s a lot. Your central nervous system is going to be well and truly fried by the end if you’re lifting the right weight which pushes you but without compromising form.

Not to mention the workout length. By the time you’ve raised your heart rate and completed warm up sets, you’ll be working out for around two hours. Not great. 

I have to admit, doing a workout plan without knowing who I was doing it for or what their lifestyle, habits and experience was super difficult.

Every body functions differently so there’s no such thing as one size fits all, but I went with the next best thing. 

My approach was to carefully select a range of exercises to work your full body. For the compounds, I chose to include a conventional deadlift, bench press and squat variation.

Big lifts but not too overwhelming when put in one session.

Workout structure

Lifting order is important. Especially true with strength training. 

Who wants to start deadlifts five exercises in? No one. But that’s where ChatGPT has put them. It’s also put press-ups second, but dumbbell bench press as the seventh exercise.

If ChatGPT had ever tried to do those, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t choose them again. 

As one of the most challenging movements, deadlifts, as well as other big lifts, should be tackled when you’re fresh and energy levels are high. For this reason, barbell deadlifts were my first exercise. 

This is where ChatGPT is no match for us humans. Without any physical experiences on the web to learn from, ChatGPT will always lack empathy, particularly when it comes to the physical body.

ChatGPT does not understand why deadlifts and other big lifts should be done first and ‘easier’ movements like press-ups done towards the end of a session.

Why? Because our bodies need higher energy to tackle harder movements. But ChatGPT doesn’t understand the different levels of physical exertion required for different types of exercises.

Instead of barbell squats, I went for goblet squats as the second exercise. This takes a little pressure off the hamstrings and focuses in on the quads.  

I wanted to mix up the workout too. Within this one session, we have compound lifts, isolated exercises, supersets and a functional suitcase carry to finish things off.

You’re getting a real mix here, which is going to seriously work the full body but in a manageable, effective way.

Rep ranges

With a strength workout you have to consider rep ranges. Studies have consistently shown that lower rep ranges are better for strength gains. The idea is simple: fewer reps, heavier weights. 

ChatGPT has gone for 3 sets of 10 reps for everything. This isn’t proper strength training. This is more like one of the general workouts you’d see in a Men’s Health magazine 20 years ago. 

I always go with the science and what I’ve learned through experience. I selected slightly lower rep ranges for most exercises, particularly the compounds which is where the big gains are made.

Rest times

Rest times are essential for getting strong. 

Longer rests give your muscles more time to recover. Crucial for generating strength in the big lifts. Many studies have demonstrated the benefit of longer rest intervals when it comes to strength. 

ChatGPT has skipped over rest times altogether. This could be put down as an oversight, but someone new to strength training will not know this. And why would they? 

This lack of well-rounded education could be harmful and potentially dangerous when training.

Bigger picture

A ‘full body strength workout’ involves hitting as many different muscle groups as possible in one session. 

However, you’ve got to put the workout session into context. 

If you’re looking to build strength, you’re likely to be training several times a week.

Across this timeframe you’ll be hitting all muscle groups whilst combining lower, upper and core exercises.

So, what does ChatGPT vs Sam PT tell us?

On the surface of things, AI content appears to know what it’s talking about. But, dig a little deeper and you’ll notice gaps, generic information and a lack of true understanding.

With a ChatGPT training programme, you won’t get one matched to your true goals and current standing. It’s too general, and potentially harmful.

We can see here how ChatGPT got it wrong. Given a simple instruction, it’s not considered personal factors such as ability, equipment needed, time, injuries, safety and lifestyle factors.

ChatGPT hasn’t been lifting weights for years and trained hundreds of different types of people. PTs have.

You can’t swap this real life knowledge out for a language model that repackages already available information (much of which hasn't even been written or reviewed by qualified experts, before we even get into the ethical considerations of where the data comes from).

AI workout programming will always need human intervention. And this is where PTs come into their own. PTs have your back, want you to get fitter and want you to succeed in life.

An AI model doesn’t have a body or a mind; you can’t truly have personal training without a person.

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