T Nation

Experts, Need your Advice!

Not sure if this is the appropriate forum but I thought I’d get the most response here. Looking for some qualified, articulate advice and suggestions from those more experienced than I.

I’m not exactly a fitness expert. I used to be fat. I made the paradigm shift that allowed me to drop nearly 80 lbs of fat, and gained a ton of knowledge along the way. I also had help from a personal trainer I know, who gave me lots of advice, and has the CSCS certification (he actually pointed me to T-Nation). So here’s the situation that I’m currently deliberating over:

There’s a possibility that I might start doing a little training of my own, primarily with beginner level clients, and under the supervision and guidance of aforementioned experienced trainer. Ideally this would be a way for me to transfer some of my enthusiasm and knowledge to those who can most benefit from it. As someone’s who’s lost a lot of weight and lived through that experience, I have a pretty good handle of the psychology of being fat, and what it’s like to create change in your life. I feel like I have a fairly comprehensive understanding of nutrition (excluding the subtleties of some of the biochemistry involved). My understanding of training is a bit more limited. And while I have a good idea of what worked for me, and the sorts of training I best respond to, I’m struggling to apply that to other people. Don’t misunderstand me and think I’m claiming to be an expert. Feel free to question or correct my claims. I’m happy to be humbled.

The immediate situation is thus. I’m a 22 year old student at the moment. My roommate is overweight and seems pretty serious about dropping body fat. He tells me that he’s pretty lost when he visits the school’s gym and asked for my help. I decided this is a pretty good opportunity to practice working with someone 1 on 1 and focus on designing a realistic program. Keep in mind that I’m not trying to turn him into a bodybuilder, but rather I’d like to help him enjoy exercising more, train more effectively, and skip the hour long cardio sessions from hell…

The basics of what I’m envisioning so far is a sort of light full body workout, dividing the movements into a split of upper body/lower body and core (further broken down into pushing and pulling movements). I don’t mean I would hit all of these areas in one workout of course. I’d like to include stretching, dynamic warmup and some limited interval training. I want to introduce him to free weights and also am leaning towards bodyweight exercises. I’m not going to use complexes but I’ve thought about chaining exercises together into circuits to jack up the metabolic value of each movement. (Thinking about dumbbell ‘suitcase squats’ into push press for example). What I need you guys for is some suggestions on how to fill up these categories! I know a handful of movements off the top of my head, though I’m not as educated about their official names. In otherwords I’m just looking for suggestions, warnings, and specifics. Feel free to list a bunch of good exercises for the beginner if that’s what comes to mind. I’ll definitely respond and post feedback should people actually participate in the thread.

Nice job on the weight loss. A few things I’ll say, just my opinion:

  1. Why a ‘light’ full body workout? Light=pointless. Unless by light you just mean something like 10-12 rep range, but still very difficult, which is fine.

  2. “full body workout, dividing the movements into a split of upper body/lower body and core (further broken down into pushing and pulling movements). I don’t mean I would hit all of these areas in one workout of course.” This is kind of confusing. Full body workout, but not all the areas in one day, is not a full body workout. But either a full body or an upper lower split could definitely have him seeing results.

  3. Good call on the interval training.

  4. “I want to introduce him to free weights and also am leaning towards bodyweight exercises.” There’s nothing wrong with some bodyweight exercises, but assuming he’s around your age, unless he’s very very overweight he should have no problem doing mostly free weight, compound movements. Squats, deadlifts, presses, rows, etc should all be included.

Finally, I’m sure you know this but his diet is going to make the biggest difference in his weight loss, so make sure he gets that in order.

That’s all for now, just some stuff to ponder.

All the helpful kind of information I was looking for. I guess full body was a term I should have edited out when I rewrote that paragraph :P. When I said light what I was really referring to was light weight, I’d still like to kick some ass but we’re not gonna be using 45 lb plates on day 1.

The diet stuff I have a pretty good handle on.

Obviously what I’m having the most trouble with is structure.
Thanks! Keep em coming.

You want structure, eh… If you want to do an upper/lower type split I’d do something like:
Monday: Deadlifts, leg press, split squats, Calf machine, abs
Tuesday: Bench press, Seated Row, Military Press, Lat Pulldown, Barbell curl, Close grip bench
Thursday: Squats, Lunges, Leg Curl, Calf machine, abs
Friday or Saturday: Something similar to tuesday, substitute similar exercises if you’d like.

Do the interval stuff at the end of any day or on the off days. Throw in longer duration cardio on an off day if you want.

There’s just an example that I think is pretty balanced, I’m sure just about anyone will have at least a few things to change about that.

For something a lot different, full body, search Starting Strength.

One of the best fat-burning and muscle building programs I ever tried (along with barbell complexes) is EDT by Charles Staley. I tweaked it a bit, in the following way, to make it a full-body WO, very good for conditioning also:

Day One:
A1) Bench press
A2) Row

B1) Squat
B2) Biceps

Day Two:
A1) Shoulder press
A2) Vertical pulling

B1) Deadlift
B2) Triceps

Three sessions a week (Mon A, Wed B, Fri A, Mon B, and so on…).

That’s how EDT works:choose a weight he can lift 10 times, and have him doing set of five reps, alternating between A1 and A2 for fifteen minutes (PR “zone”). Record the number of reps for each exercise, and next times try to beat the previous PR (personal record). Do the same for B exercises. When the total number of reps, of a given exercise, increase of 20%, increase load by 5% and start again.
Every EDT WO quickly become a challenge, which keeps the trainee motivated. You just have to carefully check his form and stop him if necessary (rounding back, bouncing weight…). Feel free to use BB, DB, Kettebells…Add abs and other stuff at the end of the second zone.