T Nation

First Client!!! Help!!!


Hey everybody. I just got my first client as a trainer at World Health Club (don't freak out at the words "trainer" and "club", this club is awesome. They fully expect all of their trainers to, among other things, become Medical Exercise Specialists and certified olympic lifting coaches (and they PAY for it!). The head trainer has my 53 year old mother doing full, barbell, shin-scraping deadlifts first thing on her "legs and core" day!!!).

The client's critical info:

13 yr old male
Hockey player (Didn't ask his position. My bad. First-client jitters.)
5' 7.5"
125 lbs
9% bodyfat

Goals: Strength! I asked him about power, agility, and speed on the ice or size and six-pack for the ladies, he said, "No, no, no," to all of them. He wants to be stronger.


I may only have three sessions with this kid as the 3 sessions were a Christmas gift package and his family isn't exactly made of cash. I have to give him movements I know he can duplicate on his own unsupervised. This means I'll give him the bar to play with squats, rows, deads, and bench for warmup, but have the actual strength portion of the session on machines (gasp!) for the first 3 weeks.

He's a beginner and hasn't stopped growing yet. For his AA phase, 2 sets of 12, for his hypertrophy phase, 3 x 12,10,8. For his "strength" phase, 3 x 8 and that's as low as I'll go rep-wise until he's about 16 or 6' 2", whichever's first.

Has 1 1/2 hours to complete the session

If he wants further training for speed-strength, strength-speed, plyometrics, agility, and so-fourth, he'll have to convince his big sister to buy more training. :wink:


  • Technique in basic lifts
  • Strength
  • Agility/Transfer to Hockey

Tentative plan for Anatomical Adaptation:

Warmup 5 minutes cross-trainer

Technique circut:
2 x 12 deadlift w. bar
2 x 12 bench press w. bar
2 x 12 bench/box squat w. bar
2 x 12 bent row w. bar

Crossover Box Step-up & Knee pull-through 2 x BWt + 10%
Dumbbell Incline Bench Press - 2 x 12RM
Dumbbell Incline Bench face-down Row - 2 x 12RM

Dumbbell Box Squat/Deadlift - 2 x 12RM
Leg Curl - 2 x 12RM

DB Shoulder Press - 2 x 12RM
Weight-supported pullup - 2 x 12RM

Agility Ladder

Crossover-step across ladder & back
5 Burpees
Rest 30s
Step & drag step across ladder & back
5 Burpees
Rest 1 minute
(Repeat 2x)

Davies' Alternating Arm/Leg extended planks 2 x 30s/position

Floor crunches - 2 x Failure
"Superman" position - 2 x Failure
Dumbbell external rotation - 2 x 12RM

10 minutes low-intensity cardio &
Static stretching of pecs, lats, triceps, hip flexors, adductors, abductors, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves. 30s/each.

Feel free to comment, criticize, and ream me out. :smiley:


I agree with your idea of simply teaching him how to lift for now since he only has 3 sessions. 3 x 12 isn't the best option for teaching IMO, though, since it's pretty easy to lose concentration on that many reps. I'd start out with 6-7 x 5-7 with short rest periods to teach, then do the higher reps for beginner anatomical adaptations once he knows what he's doing.

Why no weighted ab/back work? Crunches to failure are pretty useless most of the time. I'd teach him sidebends, weighted crunches, and weighted back extensions instead.

I'm also curious why there's 10 minutes of light cardio at the end. What purpose does it serve? A cooldown isn't necessary for anyone except sedentary grandmothers after resistance training. He'll already be warm enough for stretching after lifting.

I'd also include some wrist-specific work, especially extensor work. Need to keep those wrists strong and healthy as a hockey player.

You may also want to PM CT, he works with a lot of hockey players.

Have a good one,



The 10 minutes light aerobic work is for lactate clearance.

Since I'll be working him in the area of 12RM, we'll be producing a lot of lactic acid which will need to be cleared out if he's to perform well during hockey practices and games for the rest of the week.

20 minutes at ~40% vVO2max clears 90% of lactate produced during a heavy lactic training session. At least that's what my textbook learnin' tells me. :wink:

This wasn't exactly a pass-out-and-puke lactate session, so 10 minutes should be more than plenty.

Thanks for the suggestion about the technique work. I think I'll switch it up to 5 x 5 with the bar in a continuous circut and have it replace the aerobic warmup.


looks good. You nailed it right on the head that since you won't have much time to train him, focus on teaching him lifting technique


first off, congrats on your first client. An awesome feelin, eh?

It sounds very "textbook-ish" too. How do you determine 40% vVO2max in the gym anyway? I think this is one of those things that sounds ideal, but it tricky to implement in reality.

Also, I totally agree with Buffalo on the technique and ab/wrist issue. For the technique work, 5x5 would be better (like you said), or even 6x4. As for abs, muscular failure would be overkill. And I'd like to see some kind of rotational movement. Maybe rainbows, wood choppers, or full contact twists. As for the wrists, farmer's walks would be tons o' fun.

Lastly, don't forget to emphasize how important food will be to his performance (especially breakfast and post-workout). I'd prefer to add some meat to his bones, as 125 is kinda thin, isn't it? If he adds a bit of weight, as long as he keeps up with his technical practice, his hockey skills shouldn't suffer much at all.


New plan for AA:

Technique Portion:

5 x 5 box deadlift w. bar
5 x 5 bench press w. bar

5 x 5 box squat w. bar
5 x 5 bent row w. bar

Strength Portion:

Crossover Box Step-up & Knee pull-through 2 x BWt
Dumbbell Incline Bench Press - 2 x 12RM
Dumbbell Incline Bench face-down Row - 2 x 12RM

Leg Press - 2 x 12RM
Leg Curl - 2 x 12RM

DB Shoulder Press - 2 x 12RM
Weight-supported pullup - 2 x 12RM

Agility Portion:

Crossover-step across ladder & back
5 Burpees
Rest 30s
Step & drag step across ladder & back
5 Burpees
Rest 1 minute
(Repeat 2x)

Core Stability & Strength:

Davies' Alternating Arm/Leg extended planks 2 x 30s/position

Serratus crunches - 2 x 12RM
"Superman" position - 2 x 60s

Dumbbell external rotation - 2 x 12RM
Medicine Ball Twist - 2 x 12


10 minutes low-intensity cardio &
Static stretching of pecs, lats, triceps, hip flexors, adductors, abductors, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves. 30s/each.


Hi AlbertaBeef..

OK, Im not trying to piss on you too much here... :wink: BUT it kinda strikes me as odd that you are a trainer and you are posting in the BEGINNERS forum, and are asking for advice on how to train your very first client...

Maybe I could understand it if it had been a particularly unusual/difficult case. hmmm...

In any case, you seem on the right track with him...


Well, Mr. Smartypants,

Seeing as my client is an absolute beginner AND 13 years old with especially soft growth plates and tendons, I really don't want to screw up. :stuck_out_tongue:



Look, I commend you for the thought you are giving your client - you obviously have his best interests at heart, which is great.

But if that was your concern then you haven't discussed growth plates in this thread. If how to train young people wasn't covered in your training, then it is probably better to seek the assistance of a doctor specialising in sports medicine than asking strangers on the internet.

(P.S: Sorry to hihack your thread though.... my bad... I guess I'm just playing consumer watchdog, and what I would think if my trainer was asking random people on the internet for assistance.)


I don't think coming to a T-Nation Forum constitutes "asking random people on the internet" for advice.


You'd have a hell of a time causing a growth plate injury - they don't happen short of blunt force trauma (think car accident level here) or if you could somehow manage to get him to support 300% of his true max overhead. The forces involved in causing the injury are just too great for kids to produce. That's what the literature has pointed to, anyway :slightly_smiling:

I do still kinda think the whole lactic clearance thing is a waste of time that could be better used in a session - how much faster does the slight bit of extra blood flow clear the extra lactate anyway? 5 minutes? Also, why would it be a concern? What problems would slightly elevated transient blood lactate cause?

Just curious, what book are you working out of? I'd be interested to read what it says on the subject.

Have a good one,



Three sessions isn't a heck of a lot of time to get much done.

If you aren't that busy, maybe you can spread them out a bit, unless the client is there for handholding instead of progress?

1) Go through some basic compound exercises and learn form. Give a simple workout plan. Talk about nutrition being important... eat protein at every meal. Just some simple basics.

2) Now that the client has worked on form for some period, review form on one set and then give 5x5 plan, or whatever you settle on. Client needs to keep form with added weight and know when to adjust weight. Add some other lifts. Check up on nutrition, talk about pre/post workout needs.

3) After doing this 5x5 plan for some period, check up on nutrition and hopefully some progress. Introduce some more advanced stuff like HIIT cardio or whatever is appropriate. You can't introduce everything at once.

Anyway, I'm not a trainer. Take anything I've said with a grain of salt.


Congrats on your first client. There are a WHOLE set of different rules for working with kids. First off, their form usually goes to shit with 12 reps on big lifts. Teach PERFECT set-up for DLs. Go easy on the quick feet stuff and spend some time on hip mobility (hurdle steps, etc.) OHS will tell you alot about flexibility and muscle imbalances that must be addressed.
Full contact twists (landmines) are great for hockey players.

Get a hold of "Powerlifting for sports - a practical appoach" by Larry Shepperd, Ontario Weightlifting Association. EXCELLENT book.

Remember: "All overnight success take at least 7 years." Be patient.



Sorry. "A Practical Approach to Powerlifting" Larry Sheppard and Bill Jamison. Craig Rivet and Darren Turcotte are featured in the book.
I found most hockey players to have poor ankle flexibility. Probably due to the type of skates that are worn today.

I start everybody on OHS. Then proceed to front squats and when they can do both of those back squats are a piece of cake. You can't use shitty form on OHS and FS and get away with it. It's kinda self correcting. It takes a LONG time.

You will need patience and so will the athlete. Kids can't understand why they don't get instant results. They have a hard time grasping the concept of doing 1-3000 reps to get something just "pretty good". All my kids start with broomsticks. Then move to empty 15 lb. bar.

As far as the issue of joint injuries. He probably causes more damage to his joints playing hockey than he ever will lifting weights. And don't worry too much about them lifting too much.

Nowadays kids have a really shitty grip. Too much keyboarding and thumb stuff. He'll complain of sore hands for at least a month. All the best.
You'll either love it or hate it.



concerning the technique portion - why bother with boxes? If he's just learning imo teaching him the full squat, full dead etc would srely be mre beneficial and give him a feel of what he needs to be doing.

I think your strength portion is good - the supersets allowing a lot of work in a short space of time, however your agility section seems to be resembling a gpp/active recovery session.
Maybe simplify and stick to ladder/cone work? Then stick in a farmers walk as a "finisher" somewhere along the way.

Im not having a pop at all, just throwing a fe ideas at you. After all we're all guilty of analysis by paralysis fromtime to time so id be tempted to keep it real simple and fun.

Good luck man



I just wanted to say "congratulations" on your first client!

(Be sure to take a pic of you and him together and frame it as a memento...seriously.)

Personally I think that your desire to "get it right" is outstanding!

Good luck!



Thanks to everyone for the advice, opinions, and criticism. :smiley:

Just a few short responses:

Q: How much does slightly elevated blood flow clear lactate anyway?

A: 20 minutes of aerobic exercise at middle-aged-woman-reading-her-novel-on-the-recumbent-bike pace (ie somewhere around 35-45% vVO2max) clears out 90% of intramuscular lactate whereas if no activity is done it takes over 24 hours to clear the lactate from the muscle cells.

Lactate is an indicator of H+, and H+ interferes with muscle contraction, which he will need for hockey practice.

Q: What problems will slightly elevated transient blood lactate levels cause anyway?

A: See above. It's not blood lactate levels that are the problem but intramuscular lactate levels. If residual lactate were to impair his performance in practice it might make him less inclined to come back for more training, which means I don't get to pay the rent. :frowning:

Q: What book are you working out of?

A: I'm about 2/3 of the way through a BSc Kinesiology. All the "good" courses unfortunately are offered in the last 1/3 to 1/4 of the degree. Up to that point, it's all theory and no practical (ie; second-year "Exercise Physiology" vs. third/fourth-year "Applied Resistance Training"). So my "textbook" is 2 1/2 years of Kines education, a few years of T-Mag readership, my own training as an athlete, as well as "Can-Fit-Pro" guidelines.

Wish my luck for our first session this Saturday! :smiley:




Could you point me to some of that literature on how resistance training to young kids will not cause injury. I may need to show it to some people that still are in the "phobia of any lifting over 10 pounds" stage.

(sorry for the highjack)


Hey, it would be great if you could post it to this thread.


?Bodyweight Before External Resistance
I've said this before in a bunch of articles. Other coaches and trainers have said this before in a bunch of their articles. Yet this remains the step that most people will ignore.

Regardless of your goals, one thing is for sure: You have no freaking business using a load if you can't stabilize, control, and move efficiently using only your bodyweight!

Unless your bodyweight is way too much or way too little resistance, then there's very little room for external loading. This is not to say that external loading isn't important. Of course it is, but it has definitely been overemphasized.

Unless you can perform twenty pushups in good from, get your ass off the bench press. Too easy? The same rule applies to the single leg squat. If you can't perform 8-10 good reps, then why are you using two legs to squat with external load??
--Alwyn Cosgrove