I’m presently corresponding with several personal trainers around the world as well as within the United States. The trainers vary in experience between having less than 1 year experience and two with nearly twenty years of experience.
The trainers’ range in age between their early 20’s to the early fifties. Three are coaches in areas which I am not qualified to teach.
All but one has asked me about exercise programming for weight loss.
Before assumptions are made, no it was NOT the CrossFit coach. She too is trying to help a client lose weight and CrossFit and the Paleo diet are her preferred methods. She also happens to be a personal trainer and is used to working with clients outside of the box.
What this international cast of trainers is asking boils down to a few common things;
1. Exercises that work best
2. Getting, and keeping the clients dietary compliance
3. Tips and Tricks I use for body composition clients
Today on MyTrainerChris we have a blog within a blog. (Because I love you guys!)
MyTrainerChris on Body Composition clients – The Broad (B), Medium (M) and Fine (F) strokes.
“The BMF method” explained. BMF is my layered view and approach when working with body composition clients.
(B) Client Screening. Based on personal correspondence and experience I know that there is a wide difference in the screening methods used by personal trainers. Some trainers simply rely on whatever screening form the gym the hands them, some are quite in-depth and others don’t even know how to screen.
There are many different screens out there, but the two most widespread versions are the Medical Screening and the Lifestyle Questionnaire
Although I’ve developed and simplified my screening methods over the years, I’ve always gone into designing the screens with the idea that the client should be able to pass it and to design for what needs to be done for the clients long term benefit.
My current screen includes performance and functional movement components so that I can observe how the client moves, their strengths and weaknesses, to see what type of motivation connects best with them and if we are a good client-trainer fit.
(B) Is the client a current athlete/aging athlete? Yes or No
Former athletes do not count if they are far removed from their competitive years. What they accomplished 10-20 years ago doesn’t count as much as what they’ve been up to since.
I believe that athletes/aging athletes have a slightly different type of mental toughness and response to physical training than non-athletes. I’ve seen this first hand even among longtime former athletes as well, not so much in their performance abilities but in how they view and respond to training.
If the answer is no, they are considered “everyone else.”
Just because the client is considered “everyone else” does not mean that as the trainer you cannot tap their inner-athlete. A lot of people have one, they just don’t know it. In some cases it was your unknown inner-athlete that led you to becoming a trainer in the first place.
The remainder of this blog is focused on the “everyone else” category clients.
(B) Take the clients’ waist measurement at the widest part. I know that some anthropometric standards require measuring x amount above or below the belly button and this is fine so long as you get the “biggest” measurement as well.
(M) Multiply the clients’ waistline x2. If that number is more than they are in height then the client is a body comp client regardless of their stated goal.
For example, I am 68 inches (172 cm) tall and my last recorded waist measurement was 30.5 inches (77 cm.) My doubled waistline equals 61 in / 154 cm so I am well within waist-to-height ratio. If my waist measured 35 inches (89 cm) I would be slightly above. With a waistline over x2 my height, weight loss/body composition is the actual need, even though I want to build my pecs and biceps to look good at the pool parties.
Can you as the trainer help put slabs of beef on my chest and pump my pythons while still cleaning up my diet? Sure! But remember, I wasn’t that far off away from my goal. If my x2 waistline was considerably more than my height then THAT is the priority,
(F) Think multi-cultural. Western/African/Latin male waistlines over 40 inches (101 cm) and females over 35 inches (89 cm), Asian male waistlines over 35 inches (89 cm) and females over 32 inches (81 cm) are cause for concern. These clients may, or may not have other health co-morbidities. The initial goal is to get the waistline measurement down. Remember, we are thinking long-term client success here.
Current Body Weight
(B) Clients that weigh more than 300 lbs (136 kg) have biological statistics and risk factors different from their lighter peers. Clients over 400 lbs (181 kg) may not fit in all exercise machines or could exceed the safe weight limit on cardio equipment.
(M) Non-Athlete Clients over 300lbs/136 kg = Referrals.
(F) My ideal referral list would looks like this:
A Medical Doctor (General Health, blood panel review and clearance)
A Dentist (Highly obese people often seem to have poor teeth, which might explain why they don’t eat too many crunchy vegetables since that would hurt their teeth while soft carbs do not.)
An Eye Doctor (Can check for early signs of Diabetes.)
My minimum-minimum is the approval of a medical doctor for physical training.
Trivia note: India is ahead of the game on T2D as they have Dr.’s that specialize in Diabetes. I personally don’t know how bad T2D is in India, but they’re not playing around. Hopefully the world catches up with them.
Diet and Mental Toughness
(B) Weight loss isn’t a fight, it’s a battle. Battles are won by initially overwhelming the opponent then sustaining actions to maintain the victory.
The first 4-6 weeks must focus on “what” and “how much” food is going into the hole located under the clients’ nose.
(B) People usually know what food is healthy and which food is not. When it comes to food, clients often have the habit of telling the trainer what they think we want to hear.
(M) Food Journals and a provided list of healthy foods are key. Keep the clients cultural/religious or medical dietary needs in mind. Medical diets are the responsibility of Doctors and Registered Dietitians, not Personal Trainers.
Do not screw with a medically prescribed diet. If you have input, ask the clients Doctor/Registered Dietician.
(F) The food journal and the 4-6 week dietary commitment helps build the clients mental toughness needed to overcome possibly the most difficult thing to do…to change ones lifestyle.
(F) Good Food is pretty easy to recognize. Typically it only has one ingredient. Presently the trainers I am corresponding with hail from Canada, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and three different U.S. States. If you were to take a look into the pantries and refrigerators of these trainers, or even among athletes in their countries you would probably see many of same foods.
Exercise and Mental Toughness
(B) Everything will work, but nothing works forever. Initial programming should be 4-6 weeks strict dietary control and 4-6 weeks of creating movement patterns (Squats, Pulls, Pushes, Bending and Pressing.) I recommend 3-5 days per week exercise with 1-2 days dedicated to active recovery.
(M) Inefficient movements typically burn the most calories and lead to greater EPOC. Inefficient movements can also have higher odds of injury. The client must be watched carefully at all times.
Inefficient movements include sprinting, barbell complexes, loaded carries, interval training and circuit training divided into large muscle groups. The results of a proper movement screen can help you design your program
Efficient movements could include flat surface walking, low-no impact cardio, slow paced movements, isolation resistance machines for small muscle groups and long slow cardio. This is better than nothing at all and may be the start point for your client. They need to eventually progress to bigger things.
(F) It is my opinion that continually training to failure leads to more harm than good. Failing to scale in CrossFit, vomiting mid spin class and barbell wrecks because the load was too heavy/lifted too many times is never fun.
(B) Standardize your measurements and track the clients workouts down to the lb/kg lifted and the workout date/times. Try to standardize the frequency and time you measure your client.
(M) Psychology trumps Physiology. Each week find SOME program variable the client improved upon. To walk away from a workout with some small victory is awesome no matter who you are.
(F) If you’re not measuring and tracking then you’re not managing…you’re just sort of directing and counting.
Taking a big view my BMF method you’ll note the following…
The Medical/Lifestyle Screen drives Referrals (if needed), Referrals drive Diet+Exercise
The Physical Screen drives Referrals (if needed), Referrals drive Exercise.
In either case, the Screen is the foundation.
Diet+Exercise with early heavy emphasis on the dietary half. Both drive mental toughness.
Mental Toughness drives exercise program progressions and diet adherence.
Management ties everything together.
The weight loss client will sooner or later freak out when they look at the scale and see something they don’t like / didn’t expect. While the fact that the scale doesn’t tell the whole story has been blogged at length on MyTrainerChris and around the web it still comes up. Here’s a chart that can hopefully provide some guidance and launching points.