You think you’ve got it: the perfect blend of strength training exercises that’ll help your client achieve their dream body.
What happens when the document is sent to your client? They aren’t entirely convinced.
And when probed, they reveal that they’re “desperate to lose weight” and “because the plan only contains strength training exercises, it doesn’t seem like it’ll help me get back to my pre-pandemic weight.”
Ouch. Read on for suggestions on how to respond to your client’s concerns—and the six exercises you should consider including in their workout plan to help with their weight loss efforts.
Highlight the Benefits of Strength Training for Weight Loss
You should first address your client's misconception that strength training wouldn't help them lose weight fast.
And when doing that, you’ll want to build your message upon the following points:
- Energy balance is the ultimate determinant of weight: Many clients mistakenly believe special workout programs or exercises geared toward weight loss exist. But the truth is that weight loss comes down to sticking to a calorie deficit.
- They can’t lose weight too fast: Make it clear that you understand your client’s desperation for weight loss. Then, remind them that getting all “fast and furious” about shedding the weight can do them more harm than good. Losing weight too quickly (i.e., more than one to two pounds weekly) puts your client at risk of many health problems, including muscle loss and nutritional deficiencies.
- Muscle mass maintenance is crucial: Cardio burns more calories per session for sure. But it doesn’t help with (and could even potentially hurt) muscle mass maintenance or growth. That isn’t ideal. Muscle mass preservation in a calorie deficit helps with not only metabolism rates but also appetite regulation. These are crucial for helping clients maintain their weight loss efforts.
6 Calorie-Intensive Exercises for Weight Loss
Awesome. Now your client’s fully aware of the benefits strength training exercise can bring for their weight loss efforts.
That said, that doesn’t mean you can leave their program be.
The following six exercises could help them “shift the needle” toward effective weight loss (while remaining within the recommended, safe limits, of course)—so to speak.
The exercises are a combination of resistance training and cardio, which allows clients to effectively use cardio's calorie-burning power, along with strength training's muscle preservation benefits.
A quick note: You shouldn’t program these exercises into your client’s workout routine exclusively. They’re intense and can cause recovery issues when done excessively.
There’s a reason skipping is well-loved by pro athletes everywhere—from MMA fighters to famous footballers, from bodybuilding legends to CrossFit competitors.
This is an excellent exercise for conditioning, and it's extremely versatile.
To turn the rope, your client will need to utilize their arms and shoulders. While their legs (think quads/hamstrings/calfs) are working hard, their glutes and glutes must work hard.
Core involvement is also required for this exercise.
So, is it any surprise to know that skipping can help an average 140-pound woman burn up to 318 calories every 30 minutes?
That said, your client might become bored with the movement’s repetitive nature. So here are three things you could do to up the “fun factor” for your client:
- Add intermediate or advanced skipping movements (e.g., double-under) once your client has mastered the basics of jump rope.
- Your client should perform this exercise using HIIT (e.g. 30 seconds all out skipping followed by 20 second rest).
- You can mix it up by having your client do it in a HIIT format.
Does your client struggle with a history of knee injuries? Rowing If your client has suffered from a history of knee injuries, you might consider rowing to help them work at the most intense intensity with minimal impact on their joints.
As a full-body workout, rowing targets 85% of the body’s muscles—including the legs, arms, back, and core.
What does this mean? Meaning?
What does all this mean for its ability to burn calories? This works astonishingly well.
Research It's clear that interval rowing is similar in metabolic demands to MMA training. Additionally, an individual weighing in at 183-pounds (83kg) will burn approximately 377 calories during a 30-minute session of rowing.
Unfortunately, though, many people in the gym perform the exercise with poor technique—reducing its effectiveness while significantly increasing the likelihood of injuries. That’s why you should make sure your client does the following when they row:
- Keep a neutral upper back: If your client rounds their upper back, they’re letting their shoulders do all the work. Instead, ask them to lower their shoulders and connect their core. A good coaching cue to give them would be “open your chest.”
- Pull the oar to the region below the chest: The overreliance on the rear delts (one of the smallest muscle groups around) means that your client wouldn’t last long enough on the machine to realize its weight loss benefits. Your client should instead pull the oar towards their stomachs. This shifts the burden to the larger, more powerful mid-back muscles.
Don’t look down on this equipment-light exercise: A 2015 study found that just ten 15-second bursts of battle ropes can lead to the same degree of heart rate increase as an all-out full-body sprint in participants!
But what about calories?
Your client could burn 120 calories in as little as 10 minutes by using the battle ropes.
Here are a few pointers that’ll help your client maximize calorie-burn (along with safety) through the exercise:
- Ensure there’s slack in the ropes: The amount of slack in the rope determines the load—having your client move away from the anchor point decreases exercise intensity while stepping toward the anchor point increases it. That said, there shouldn’t be so little slack in the rope that your client’s shoulder ends up fighting just to stay in its socket.
- Use a variety of directions: Don't just have your client wave the ropes up and down. They can move the ropes in different directions. You can be creative!
A classic CrossFit movement, the wall ball exercise is a high-intensity compound move that requires maximum effort from various large muscles in your client's body.
Also known as a wall ball squat, the wall ball exercise is where you have your client perform a squat—then throw a ball against the wall as they’re coming out of the bottom position. They’ll have to catch the ball on the rebound with their arms overhead, then immediately lower right back down into the squat.
Yes: It’s an intense exercise that’ll target your client’s quads, shoulders, triceps, chest, core, glutes, and hamstrings, plus improve their explosive power and cardiovascular endurance.
That’s why it’s essential to keep an eye on your client's form.
It’s all too easy for their form to break down when they get tired. Here are a few things you could do to ensure they’ll maintain proper form through all working sets and reps:
- Choose the correct type of ball: Make sure your client uses the wall ball instead of a medicine ball or a slam ball. They are different!
- Have your client start light: Allowing them to perform the wall ball with lighter balls gives them the chance to master the movement—before progressively overloading on the exercise. The ball could be thrown at a lower height to make the exercise more manageable.
Let’s be honest. All of the mentioned exercises, i.e. rowing, wall ball slams and battle ropes, require good coordination skills. What happens to your client if they have trouble with coordination?
Is there an exercise that’ll help your client train all-out and burn as many calories as they possibly could without worrying about their coordination?
There is, thankfully. And it’s none other than the farmer’s walk.
Here, you ask the client to lift a large object such as a kettlebell, dumbbell or barbell. After that, they will need to be instructed how long it takes them to complete the task. It's that simple.
The farmer's stroll is simple but highly effective.
It works nearly every muscle group in your client’s body, particularly the legs, core (including the region’s deep stabilizing muscles, transverse abdominis), and shoulder muscles.
The exercise is also fantastic for improving your client’s grip strength—which, in turn, allows your client to lift heavier weights in the gym.
As usual, a few key points to note as your client performs the movement for maximum effectiveness and safety:
- Maintain an upright posture: Remind your client to stand up "straight and tall" throughout. Allowing their torso to lean over places unnecessary stress on the lower back—and could lead to injuries.
- Pick a suitable weight: The load should be challenging, but not so challenging that your client can't even complete one round without having to drop the weights on the floor.
- Switch up carry positions: If you’re having your client do multiple sets, get them to switch up carry positions (e.g., suitcase carry, at the shoulders, and overhead). This will prevent grip fatigue, which can interfere with the intensity of your exercise.
Prowler Sled Push
Looking for another exercise with low coordination demands but high calorie-burn capabilities?
You might consider the prowler-sled push as a suitable choice.
The prowler's sled push, which is similar to the farmer's walking, requires minimal skill and takes a fair amount of effort. Your client will need to push the sled (properly loaded) forward using their glutes and hamstrings.
That’s not all: Their core will be working overdrive, too, since it’s responsible for power transfer from the lower body—through the torso—and into the arms, then the sled.
Your client’s upper back muscles will engage too. It’s basically a full-body compound movement.
A critical coaching cue to use with your client is: "Keep arms close to your body."
Your client should bend his elbows while pushing the sled. Naturally, this will result in a more upright body angle of around 45 degrees.
This position is best for the initial stages of the exercise, as your client becomes more familiar with it. The exercise helps strengthen the spine and encourages good pushing.
While these exercises are great at burning calories, it’s important to emphasize to your clients that both diet and training need to work together hand in hand for effective and sustainable weight loss.
And if you’re interested in furthering your education as a personal trainer, consider AFPA’s various nutrition certifications and personal trainer specialty certifications—where you can learn how to optimize a client’s nutrition needs and fitness for weight loss.