NOTE: The following information is for educational purposes only and does not reflect the opinion of Glanbia Performance Nutrition, nor is it intended for product marketing purposes.
During my time as a Personal Trainer, ‘weight loss’ goals have seen some of my favourite client programmes and transformations. I typically branch weight loss into two categories, ‘weight loss’ or ‘body-fat reduction.’ Whilst the two are very similar in principle, it refers more to the clients starting point and end goal. Weight loss programmes for me typically apply to an individual who leads a sedentary lifestyle and is looking to develop their fitness and reduce their BMI. Body-fat reduction applies to an individual who leads an active lifestyle, but wants to improve their body fat % and overall appearance. The difference in a nutshell is creating a lifestyle versus achieving an aesthetic goal.
For me, one of the most satisfying parts of my job is seeing a weight loss client create a sustainable, healthy lifestyle. Typically most of the clients I work with in this area have not exercised in years and as a start point I think it’s vital to gradually re-introduce them to exercise. The first session I take the client through, is focused on simply seeing how their body works. I want to understand if the client can complete movements such as a bodyweight squat, or assess how long they can maintain a fast walking pace or jog for. This really gives me the basics to programme both safely and efficiently. It’s also a great opportunity to record their stats and use them as motivation. I record the results and will often re-test in 4, 8 or 12 weeks’ time to highlight progress and give credit where it’s due. In addition, I think progress photos are a great tool for seeing progress. Of course, this is completely at the discretion of the client and should they not wish to then it has to be respected.
With regards to programming for weight loss clients, I will always set ‘improving fitness’ and ‘moving more’ as the initial goal. The reason why, is because this gets the ball rolling for the client to create a calorie deficit without necessarily having to change diet in the early stages. The deficit is achieved through exercise rather than food. I suggest that clients start to increase their daily steps (to increase TDEE) and make sensible swaps such as walk to the train station instead of getting a cab. From my experience of personal training, I have found that by not making overwhelming changes to lifestyle all at once, the client feels like they are achieving success without too much sacrifice. I do however start to introduce language such as portion control, balanced plate and food types. Usually during the 4-6 week point, we have introduced weights and discussed the role of resistance training in weight loss. The programme becomes split between weight training and functional training.
I usually start by introducing compound movements and mastering technique. During the first month, we also are likely to have gained an understanding of the likes and dislikes of our client and these should be factored into the programme. For example if a client loves boxing, then it’s a no brainer to box with them rather than put them on a cross-trainer for their cardiovascular work. Around this point we should be seeing progress with our client towards their goals. If the client is continuing to progress without change to their diet, I usually will keep them eating as they are but again emphasise the importance of the aforementioned. Should the results slow down for the client or be slower than expected, then I think it’s the right time to start to look at the calories consumed. Ultimately if the sessions have been completed, movement increased, but results not showing, then the client is most likely to be over consuming when it comes to their diet.
As the client becomes confident in lifting weights and as fitness improves, I will focus on three key principles; strength, hypertrophy and endurance. I feel that a programme that incorporates all 3 is pretty well balanced and the change in rep range (with explanation to the client as to why) keeps it varied and enjoyable. Having a week of ‘strength testing’ is also a nice idea to focus goals away from weight loss and more towards performance. When we hit this point with a client, a habit tends to have been created (around the 3 month point). It’s one of my favourite times to train clients because exercise has now become less of a ‘have to’ and more of a ‘want to.’ It’s now that the fun really begins to continue pushing the clients towards new goals such as building muscle or improving strength!
Weight loss tends to shift towards body-fat reduction and goals become more aesthetic around this time. Clients will continue to lift weights and focus on fitness, but may have more specific goals in mind such as ‘reduce my body fat to 10%.’ It is at this point we may wish to look at the foods being consumed. I am always cautious of ensuring that I advise within my qualifications and act as a personal trainer rather a nutritionist. However, I will continue to support my client to achieve their desired results by following the key principles of fat loss.