I’m back home in Illinois right now (assuming all flight plans went accordingly,) but wanted to talk to you guys today about how I write my programs for clients whose goal is fat loss.
Now, these are just some general guidelines, as every single client I train has a different program. I’ve never written and used the exact same program for any two clients, nor do I ever anticipate it. Even if I have two clients who have the same build, the same fitness level, and the same goals get a different program. They might be similar, but never the same. One client may sit at a desk all day while the other one works retail, and that changes a lot. Just as the one client might also cycle a couple times a week, while the other one doesn’t, whereas that also would change the programming.
But I’m getting off on a tangent with that. My point is today I’m going to discuss the main guidelines I use when writing a fat loss program for a client.
The Warm Up
No matter what the goal of a client, I always start the workout with a warm up. Typically this involves 8-10 exercises that focus on foam rolling, stretching, mobility, and activation. I do about 6-10 reps of each exercise, and it typically takes 10 minutes. Here are some of my favorite warm up exercises I like to use:
foam rolling (especially in tight areas)
stretching – chest, hip flexors, glutes, etc.
These are my favorite exercises, but I wouldn’t always use them. For example, while training an extremely obese client, or a very deconditioned client, I wouldn’t have them do squat to stands or reverse lunges right out of the gates. That would be something to work up to. While sometimes the warm up can definitely feel like part of the workout, especially on a day you’re tired or dragging, it’s just getting you prepared for the work.
For fat loss, I like to keep the volume for strength training fairly low, especially in the beginning. I also don’t typically go super high rep. I like to stay around 10-12 reps. I also really like to use body weight exercises (especially at first) for fat loss. Sure, we’ll get to working with dumbbells eventually, but using your own body weight for exercises is a very powerful tool. This is a good example of a body weight workout for beginners.
I won’t go too into specifics for the exercises I use, because there would be a long string of “depends” in this section. Exercise selection very much depends on the individual client, but I’ll usually do some form of the following:
- Hip and knee exercise (squats)
- upper body horizontal push
- lower body unitlateral exercise
- upper body horizontal pull
- hip dominant exercise (glute bridges, deadlifts, etc)
I don’t typically include vertical push or pull upper body exercises until the second or third week, and then we’ll do some overhead press variation and perhaps an assisted chin up. I’ll also include a knee dominant exercise (reverse lunges, co-contraction lunges) if the client is successfully activating their glutes for the rest of the lower body exercises.
Finishers are typically at the end of the workout, and are usually only 5-10 minutes. This is where we get to play. Depending on the client (there’s that D-word again!) we’ll do anything from squats to burpees to mountain climbers, etc. Usually, I’ll introduce finishers after the first month of training, or whenever I feel the client is ready for them.
One thing that helps me determine the intensity of the finisher is the client’s diet. If his or her diet is on key, then I’ll typically keep the finisher less torturous. Finishers tend to crank up the appetite, and for someone who’s already eating great for fat loss, I don’t want to send them home ravaging for food as soon as they enter the kitchen.
On the other hand, a client who does excellently with their workouts, but just can’t get the hang of nutrition, I’ll set the intensity pretty high for the finisher. This way, they burn a few extra calories in their workout, and a few extra for the hours afterward.
For fat loss, I never typically go BALLS to the WALL on the finisher, as it doesn’t seem to help with the goal. If athleticism is the goal, however, that’s another story I wrote about one of my favorite finishers here, which includes kettlebell cleans and front squats.
After every workout, I take the last 5 minutes and stretch my clients out with assisted stretching. I’ll spend a lot of time on their glutes and hip flexors, or really, wherever they’re especially tight.
Eventually, I’ll prescribe metabolic conditioning workouts (like finishers…kind of…but a little longer,) but that’s a little later down the road. As far as cardio aside from metabolic conditioning, I have the clients keep it moderate (duration) with intervals for about 30 minute sessions a few sessions a week. Then there’s the whole nutrition thang, but that’s a whoooole ‘nother ball game!
What’s your fitness goal at the moment, and what does your workout format look like?