It’s the first day with your new fat loss client. They’ve tried working out before, with and without a trainer, but stopped because life got in the way. This time’s different, though. This time they’re committed. That’s why they hired you.
You, in turn, sold them on the benefits of metabolic training. That’s why they bought a package of training sessions. If you can prove your worth by delivering the quick results you promised, you’ve probably got a long-term client.
But what, exactly, did you sell them? You told them metabolic conditioning gets the heart rate up for the whole workout, and heard something about an elevated metabolism after the workout. It sounded cool and sciencey, so you repeated it to the client with confidence.
Cool and sciencey doesn’t cut it
The term “metabolic workouts” needs to be excised from the English language. I’m not here to argue its definition. What I’m going to do is give you some science behind the three most common types of metabolic conditioning.
HIIT is an acronym for high-intensity interval training. The premise is simple: Intersperse bouts of high-intensity aerobic work with lower-intensity bouts. As studies have consistently shown, this style of training helps to stimulate the sympathetic nervous system to burn more fat when compared to steady-state exercise. Better yet, your clients achieve these superior results in less time. How cool is that?
But wait, it gets even better from a fat-burning standpoint. Not only does HIIT optimize fat burning during the exercise session, it actually keeps your client’s metabolism elevated long after they’ve stopped. This is due to EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), which is sometimes referred to as the afterburn.
A high EPOC level is associated with elevated metabolism and increased secretion of growth hormone and noradrenaline. These hormones help break down stores of fat and increase their use as a fuel source. In a nutshell, there’s a significant caloric cost for the body to return to its resting state. This includes replenishing energy reserves, repairing cellular damage, clearing metabolic byproducts, and facilitating tissue growth. The net effect lasts as long as 36 hours after exercise, burning as many as 150 calories a day beyond resting levels.
The catch: You need to work out intensely to maximize EPOC. That makes HIIT a a fantastic tool for slimming down and shaping up. But it’s also quite advanced. You need to make sure your client’s ready for it.
2. Circuit weight training
Most people train with straight sets: Lift, rest a minute or two, lift, rest, and continue until you’ve finished all your sets for that exercise. Then you move on to the next one. There’s certainly nothing wrong with training this way. It’s an excellent way to build strength and muscle mass. But for a client who’s most concerned with fat loss, circuit training is often a better choice.
Circuit training is carried out by performing a set of an exercise then moving directly to a different exercise and then another and then another…all with little or no rest between sets. The idea is to keep your client’s heart rate elevated so they continue burning a maximal number of calories as they lift. They’ll still get the benefits of strength training, but you’ll sacrifice some gains in strength and size for the opportunity to burn more calories and improve overall conditioning.
The best way to approach circuit training is by structuring the workout so you work an agonist muscle and then its antagonist. Thus, you could set up the routine like so: Perform a chest exercise, follow it with a back exercise, then a shoulder exercise, then a biceps exercise, then a triceps exercise, then a quadriceps exercise, then a hamstring exercise, then a calf exercise, then a core exercise. After your client completes a circuit, you can have them perform the entire sequence one or two more times.
You might not have heard the term “compound training,” but I’ll bet you’re at least familiar with the concept. Simply stated, compound training involves combining two different exercises into one movement. While technically any two exercises can be employed, it’s generally best to pair a lower body exercise with an upper body move. A squat into a shoulder press, a lunge into a biceps curl … you can come up with an almost endless array of moves.
Compound training increases the amount of muscle mass used in the exercises. The number of calories burned is directly related to how much muscle is stimulated during training.
With or without compound movements, you want to use as many multi-joint exercises as possible, for the same reason: More muscle used, more calories burned.
Another benefit of using compound movements with relatively short rest intervals: You can get the same amount of work done in much less time.
Stop selling on emotion
Fat loss is an emotional concept, especially for clients who’ve tried multiple times without getting the results they want. It’s easy to sell, especially when you use terms like metabolic conditioning to make it sound like your programs have a science-based foundation. But it only works if you understand what it means and how to apply it. Once you do, your satisfied clients will be happy to attest to your ability to deliver on your sales pitch.
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