Many individuals that hire me have never spent a day training in their lives. Through some epiphany or revelation they decide to hire a trainer and start making positive changes. Even individuals who have spent time in the gym usually have not taken the time to learn how to train correctly. Here are the basic areas I address with all new clients. No matter what the goals of the individual are, these basics must be learned first in order to begin a proper training regimen that will carry them forward in the future.
Nutrition – I often begin with nutrition because this can be started outside of the gym, or even over the phone. On the most basic level I make sure the individual is eating the correct macro-nutrient breakdown for their goals. If an individual is looking to cut fat above all else, I advise them to focus mostly on getting about 1 gram of protein for each pound of lean mass they would like to weigh. I also advise them that the rest of their diet should come from healthy fats and green vegetables (no sugars.) If the individual focuses on these basics, this is usually enough to get them eating a lot better, and start making substantial progress. Depending on the goals, the macro-nutrient breakdown might change, however the base of protein, healthy fats, and green vegetables remains the same. If an individual is not looking to cut weight, and perhaps has goals that are more performance-based, I would advise them to eat some peri-workout carbohydrates. I do not even start looking at calories whatsoever until the individual has a strong grasp on macro-nutrient ratios.
Main Compound Lifts – When it comes to training, the first thing any individual should learn, regardless of goals, is the mechanics of the main lifts (Squats, Pressing, Deadlifts.) Training these lifts correctly will allow individuals to train proper intensities at all different levels; they will ensure the best possible success. These are basic movement patterns that we repeat in everyday life frequently, so it is in our best interest to learn and train these lifts.
For more information for proper mechanics on Squats and Deadlifts see also – Proper Squat Mechanics for the Beginner
Corrective Work/Warm-up – Once your mechanics have been trained and tested through learning the main lifts, a Corrective/Warm-up plan and specific accessory exercises should be chosen that also coincides with the individual’s goals.
Bodyweight – I am a firm believer in bodyweight exercises. Proper form for bodyweight squats, pushups, lunges, and pullups should be learned next. The appropriate variation of these exercises should be chosen for the individual to get them progressing to the next level. No matter what the starting point, there is a variation of these exercises that you can train to help you achieve your goals. The purpose of training the variation with the proper intensity and frequency is to continue to move on to a more challenging level. Progress is made when the body is challenged.
For information about proper form for bodyweight exercises and variation see also – Proper Squat Mechanics for the Beginner, Proper Pushups, Proper Lunges.
Specialize – Once all these basics are learned, a specialization program should be designed to accommodate the individual’s goals. This is usually the area that everyone jumps to without learning the basics first, which is a mistake. It is imperative that the individual learns the basics of training first.
It is very important to remember than you are always working towards mastering the basics. The day you forget about the basics is the day you stop making progress, or get injured. It usually takes 1-2 to weeks for an individual to solidify these basics so that they can move forward to a specialized program; however we continue to work towards mastering the basics for as long as we train.