imagesI have a confession. I don't train a lot of NFL, MLB, or NHL athletes.

I also don't train a lot of post-surgical or post-rehabilitation clients.

This isn't to say I don't have a certain level of competency in handling either of those types of clients. I read a lot of content produced by people who do train the aforementioned types of clients and I also try to vary my continuing education so that my knowledge base is broad enough to handle a variety of client types.

But the simple fact is they aren't the majority of my clientele. Never have been and probably never will be.

I do train a lot of moms, dads, professionals, and in general busy ass people who want to look better, feel better, and move better. I train people who train to live not who live to train. They have many roles outside of the gym all with their own unique set of demands and are constantly squeezed for both time and attention.

All this typically means that at some point in these people's life nutrition took a back seat to convenience and exercise was just something they fantasized about. This led to excess weight gain and a state of being "out of shape"

These clients represent the majority of the people on earth.

This is the client type that lights a fire under me to train. I want to help them live better lives that they find more fulfilling and memorable. I want to help them, as Jen Sinkler might say, THRIVE!

For most of these clients all their goals can be accomplished through focusing on fat loss.

Want to look "more fit?" Lose fat!

Want to move better and with less pain? Lose fat!

Want to feel better? Lose fat!

Which is awesome for me as trainer and as a business owner because it means I can provide sound quality training that allows me to maintain my professional integrity, but also give the paying client exactly what they desire and expect.

Plus I get some extremely happy clients because who doesn't like to less fat?

The struggle though for me as a trainer when programming for clients is making sure that in addition to optimizing their wants which is losing fat that I also give them a little of what I have determined they need through a comprehensive assessment. This I think is an important balance to get right because if I can remove some of their limitations or dysfunctions that will allow them to perform better they will in turn get better results from their program.

In addition this balancing act comes with a time constraint of 60 minutes or less.

I have been working on getting this balance right for over three years now with over 75 different clients and I think I have found a pretty good system for structuring training sessions that gets the balance right. This doesn't mean that I am not trying to improve the system or that it will never change it just means that as of right now this seems to be what works best in the real world with real clients.

I don't want to forget to make note that most of what constitutes this system are things I have learned from other trainers and coaches most of which are much smarter and more experienced then myself. I will also say that I guarantee the way in which I structure training sessions is probably in no way unique and there are probably a ton of other coaches who do it the same way. Finally there are multiple ways to skin a cat and this structure is definitely not the only way to go about it it is just the way that has worked best for me.

The best structure I have found for training the majority of clients I work with looks like this:

  • Breathing/Self Myofascial Release - 5 minutes
  • A.M.M.P. - 10 minutes
  • Core Training - 5 minutes
  • Strength - 10 minutes
  • MRT - 15 minutes
  • ESD - =< 10 minutes
  • R&R - 5+ minutes depending on client and schedule

Granted this is a rough outline. More of an average than a reality. Some client's programs will have them spending more times in other sections than others as well as different emphasis on different days. But this structure allows me to give the client plenty of opportunities to work on things they need to work on while still giving them the opportunity to accomplish what they hired me to help them achieve which as we talked about above is primarily losing fat.

You really don't have to be a trainer either to use this structure effectively. If you are someone who is just looking to take the quality of their training to the next level this system and structure can definitely aid you. So let me expand a bit on what each portion of the training session is, what the purpose of it is, and an example of what you might do during it.

Breathing/Self Myofascial Release

This portion of the training session is about taking the client out a sympathetic nervous system dominant state which is typically how most of us currently operate to a more parasympathetic nervous system dominant state. This means we are going from a "fight or flight" state to a "relaxation" state. The overall goal being to reduce neural tone in the muscles so that we can get access to new range of motion and have an opportunity to reprogram dysfunctional movement patterns.

This we usually accomplish through a combination of a breathing drill and some foam rolling on areas that feel especially "tight", "stiff", or "sore". This shouldn't take much time. The breathing drill takes less than a minute or two and then a few passes on the foam roller per area does the trick pretty well.

Here is an example of what it might look like:

90/90 Supine breathing -or- Crocodile Breathing x 10 breaths