There are so many training systems used in gyms around the world that are fantastic tools to get clients amazing results. However, most coaches fail to understand how to really make these systems work for their clients. Rather than using a training system in a one size fits all capacity, at Clean Health Fitness Institute, we teach how to design training systems around clients in our Performance PT Coach Certification programs.
Some of the training systems we use at Clean Health include:
- Heavy Light method
- German Volume Training
- 8/8/16 Method
- 6/12/25 Method
- Wave Loading
- Pre/ Post Exhaustion
- Giant sets
These are just some of many systems we implement on a regular basis with our clients. However, the art of coaching is understanding your client and not just throwing a popular training system at them, but rather knowing how to manipulate that training program to the client’s level. Understanding the client’s ability is paramount when designing a program and selecting a training system.
Key factors we assess before designing a program include:
- Ability – e.g. beginner, intermediate or advanced
- Training age
- Stress levels
- Frequently of training
How to match the training system to your clients ability:
Using the classic method and my own personal favourite, giant sets as an example, I will show you how to adapt a program to your clients ability. A giant set contains minimum of 4 exercises continuously back to back in a superset manner. The goal is creating a large amount of metabolic stress in the workout – metabolic stress is a powerful mechanism to creating hypertrophy and fat loss adaptations. How we choose to implement the 4 exercises though, will greatly dictate the training effect, the difficulty of the program and also whether it’s the correct system for that client.
A beginner giant set should have all 4 key moment patterns met. Quad dominant, upper push, posterior chain, upper pull. Beginners do very well on whole body work and can handle the large amount of muscles worked in the superset due to the low amount of load being lifted. The less weight we lift, the less taxing the program. Beginners also need simple exercises, the last thing a client needs is complicated movements that you over teach.
Beginner – upper/ lower supersets
A1) lower posterior – trap bar deadlift
A2) upper push – incline DB press
A3) Lower quad dominant – Pendulum Squat
A4) upper Pull – Neutral grip Lat Pulldown
With Intermediate clients, I like to drive intensity of the program by turning the giant sets into antagonist supersets. Antagonist supersets involves partnering opposing muscle groups together. Eg chest/back, quads/ hamstrings, biceps/ triceps. This will create a more localised blood flow effect, compared to the systemic effect in the full body giant sets workout. This will allow for a greater metabolic stress component to the muscle groups being worked. The other key difference from a beginner to intermediate plan is the more advanced exercise selection. As training ability goes up, as does exercise selection options.
Intermediate Giant Set
A1) Chest – Incline Bench press
A2) Back – supinated Pull Up
A3) Chest – Dips – chest emphasis
A4) Back – Seated Row pronated Grip
For the “advanced” trainee, giant sets can be used for both fat loss and hypertrophy adaptations. Combining 4 plus exercises together leads to a huge amount of metabolic stress, which is a key mechanism to hypertrophy and fat loss. The large amount of time under tension in the workout will lead to an increased amount of density for the workout. Density = work per unit of time. Advanced giant sets, not only do i pair even more advanced exercises together, i also add an additional exercise to make it an A1-A5 giant set. For beginners, we paired upper/ lower supersets. Intermediates we pair antagonist supersets of opposing muscle groups. Now for Advanced clients i pair the same muscle group together in the form of agonist supersets. 5 exercises in a row of the same muscle group.
Quad focused giant set workout for advanced trainers
A1) quads – Front Squat
A2) quads – heels elevated high bar squat
A3) quads – Walking DB lunges
A4) quads – leg press Peterson feet
A5) quads – leg press duck stance
All training systems, need to be tailored to the client. A system can be made as easy as possible, or as advanced as possible. It primarily comes down to exercise selection and also the partnership of exercises back to back. For beginners, I like to introduce advanced systems, but in a manner suited to their ability. The art of coaching is what separates whether a training system is going to be a failure or a success.
Remember program to your clients ability over any other factor.
Yours in health,
Mark Carroll / Clean Health Fitness Institute Head Coach
Clean Health Fitness Institute
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