How do you Develop the Perfect Weight Loss Program?


If you have been personal trainer for any length of time, you should already know the goal should never be to develop a weight loss program. Your goal should be to develop a fat loss program! If you have been reading the IFPA FITBITS on a regular basis you already know that there is a plethora of research on the health and fitness benefits of strength training. Strength Training not only improves health by accelerating fat loss, but by tremendous improvements in the body’s endocrine system by increasing the quantity and quality of the body’s anabolic hormones.

For any beginner client, the ideal weight loss or fat loss program should begin with a Hypertrophy Phase. The hypertrophy phase is typically 1 or more sets of 15 reps and once you pass the initial training weeks, they would be 15RM (Repetition Maximum) sets. Your first week of training should be relatively easy with the first workout not going to concentric failure. If the client has no complaints of pain, the second workout can be a 15RM(achieves Concentric failure on the 15th Rep, but make sure the client can maintain perfect form and timing for all 15 reps. The first week, the client will only perform one set of each of the foundational exercises:

1. Squat
2. Leg Curl
3. Chest Press
4. Lat Pull Down
5. Heel Raise
6. Shrug
7. Shoulder Press
8. Bicep Curl
9. Triceps Extension
10. Crunch

The correct form and technique is described in detail in the IFPA Personal Training Manual: The Book of Personal Training. The movements are demonstrated in the IFPA Personal Trainer 7 DVD Set.

If the client has no complaints of pain, the client can begin 2 sets of each exercise the second week. If the client has any pain issues, it will typically be only one or two muscle groups so you will adjust the load on the responsible exercises, not the entire program.

Most of your clients will request quick response so it is up to you and your ability to communicate the risk vs. the return on what quick response means. Using healthy nutrition modifications and some daily aerobic exercise of walking, biking, jogging, etc. of 30-60 minutes/day the personal trainer can expect a healthy client to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

Quick response is when the client wants faster results. Fast results require much more dedication and more sacrifice on the clients’ part and this will require the personal trainer to clearly communicate how much work, how much time and how much sacrifice in some of their favorite foods will be required to achieve fat loss of greater than 2 pounds/week.

It is highly recommended the caloric intake never go below 1,500 calories/day, especially when the client is training daily. Since 1,500 calories/day will severely restrict the amount of nutrients the client ingests, it is highly recommend they be under doctor’s supervision at that caloric intake level.

You can mathematically calculate the clients’ caloric intake and out-go by using the charts in the back of the IFPA Personal Training Manual and Sports Nutrition Manuals and the calculations provided for RMR, Resting Metabolic Rate.

If the clients’ RMR comes in at 1,500 calories/day and they are scheduled to consume 1,500 calories/day, without any physical activity, they would maintain their weight. Most nutrition texts report that there are 3,500 Calories/ pound of fat and 2,400 Calories/ pound of Carbohydrate. In the lab, this is true, but in the body, both fat and carbohydrate contain water, so the good news is, it will only take your client about 2,900 calories to burn off one pound of fat inside the body. The problem with most of your clients that are very out-of-shape overweight and have very sluggish metabolisms is that the water is retained in the body. To speed the water removal, which is removed through the Lymphatic System you can DRINK MORE WATER! Strange as it may seem, when you drink more water, the body expels more water, so drinking a minimum of 64 ounces of pure water/day will accelerate fat loss! You can add to the benefit of water by squeezing lemon or lime into the water. Water, means pure water! Carbonated or flavored waters, sodas, etc. upset the equation.

Using 2,900 Calories/pound of fat in the body, you will need to burn 5,800 calories above the RMR to burn 2 pounds/week. If you want to exercise every day, and as long as you vary the activity, this is perfectly healthy strategy, you will need to perform about 800 calories/day of physical activity.

When you get to 2 sets of 10 exercises in a weight training session, you can burn about 500 calories/session. Depending on how good of cardio shape you are in, you will burn 200 (Beginner) to 800 (Marathon Runner) of calories during cardio sessions.

For those interested in the fastest possible fat loss, in as safe and healthy programming as possible, you can split the upper body exercises on one day and lower body the next. In intermediate and advanced Program Design, you can pick a different body part everyday and workout every day, but this is very intense training program, far too demanding for a beginner.

For the High-Low Split Program, your Upper Body exercises are: Chest Press, Lat Pull-Down, Decline Press, Seated-Row, Shoulder Press, Bicep Curl, Triceps Extension and Shrug.

Lower Body Exercises are: Squat, Leg Curl, Dead-lift, Stiff-Legged Dead-lift, Heel Raise, Crunch and Seated Heel Raise. Personal Training sessions always require great form!

The Aerobic Exercise Program will also vary to increase intensity. You can do low Intensity Aerobic Intensity aerobic exercise 5 days/week and have High Intensity Cardio exercise 2 days/week. This would be a High Intensity interval training program of:

Frequency: 2 days/week, 3-4 days of rest between sessions

Intensity: Start at 50% of MAX and gradually build Intensity to near max of 100%

Time: Work interval of 10-15 secs. Building to 30 secs. Rest interval of 4 mins., decreasing to 1-2 minute.

Type: Begin on a Recumbent Bike, eventually and gradually increase to SPRINTS.

The higher you can get the clients’ intensity, the more you will increase the clients’ RMR. After high intensity training, the clients’ RMR will increase and they will be burning more calories every hour. Now the RMR will eventually decrease, so to keep the RMR elevated you will need more physical activity. One answer to keep the calories burning is to perform “BELL Protocols” throughout the day. You can keep the RMR high, just by taking a 5 minute “BELL Protocol Break” every hour-on-the-hour.

Bell Protocols are low intensity exercises designed to activate nearly all the mitochondria in the body in nearly every muscle group! Not only do Bell Protocols increase your RMR and fat burning, but they will provide you with immediate energy!

Just a 10% increase in RMR, maintained for 10 hours can be an additional 1,500 calories burned/day! That is a real secret to fast results. It will require a big commitment and discipline to do it every hour, but that is the way to achieve your goals as rapidly, safely and healthy as possible.

Best regards,
Dr. Jim Bell, CEO IFPA

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