T Nation

PT, testing a client

Any Personal Trainer’s here?

There are different strategies and methods for testing a client before making an individually program. What kind of tests do you use?

I know this much depends on the clients needs and wishes, but lets say he/she wants to become in better shape (get rid of excess body fat, less fat more musclemass to become tighter) and this is a relatively untrained person.

A program both in strengt, condition / fatburn and maybe some flexibility-excercise are then needed. But how do you measure the client form before staring a program.

Dude, if you’re telling us that you’re a personal trainer yourself then you’re really scaring me…

Before a “client” begins an individual training program, there are a number of factors to consider. Yes, you must be aware of their goals and needs, but first and foremost, a PAR-Q needs to be addressed. A thorough comprehension of this is necessary. A proper postural analysis is also mandatory, and be sure that you’re aware of the person’s activity history (i.e., previous injuries, etc) as this will help you in understanding their needs.

There are many factors in adressing a client’s needs. It’s simply impossible to narrow it down to a simple forum reply.

As Chris said, a Par-Q, a Postural Analysis, a Kinetic Chain Assessment are mandatory for proper individualization of the training plan.
Record all measurements, body comp, Resting Metabolic Rate.
Get detailed info on their current diet, workouts, supplementation, training experience, and goals/concerns.

Always start a client with an Anatomical Adaptation phase, following a higher rep, circuit type training for the first few weeks. Never start someone with 0 experience on a Strength routine. After the AA phase, follow it up with additional Body Comp work if needed. Following it up with a Hypertrophy phase, a MxS phase, and finishing off with a shorter Conversion to Power phase will ensure great results in terms of body comp, muscle gains, and Strength. The conversion to power phase will improve the Rate Of Force Development and is crucial if you’re preparing for a sport, but there are many many variations of this Periodization plan - and in the end you may not even choose to periodize in this way, but do make sure you always start a new client on an AA phase to prepare them for the following Maximum Strength phases.

Periodizing the loading Parameters is a great way to prevent overtraining and to allow full recovery of the CNS after very intense training. An example with this would be starting with 5 days of Low , followed by 5 days Medium, and topping off with 5 days High loading parameters; then come back down to Low-Medium and finish off with 3 five day microcycles with high intensity. At this point you might switch to a different type training (MxS, Hypertrophy, Power, Endurance…) at a low intensity. The key is to progressively increase the load and allow both the muscles and the CNS to recover maximally.

Personally I would progress from exercises requiring little stabilization such as a Chest Press machine to strengthen the main working muscle, before moving on to more challenging free weights.

A diet is essential if you’re looking for results in terms of body comp.

“But how do you measure the client form before staring a program.”

look at em!

Gee… I wonder if diesel has read any of Tudor Bompa’s stuff?

Well, Diesel is the master of the direct copy without references. . .


Nice reply Diesel23!

But what about testing VO2 max - and focusing on cardio for heart and lungs, what kind of tests do you use?

The result of testing a clients VO2 max, can tell much about the overall health of the hearth, lungs and the circulation system. The better VO2 max, the better fatburn under resting and activity. Most of the clients want to be in better shape and be more healthy. Therefor cardio training is also very important.

I mean if you are a profesional PT, you can’t just look at your client as P-Dog claimed… - you also should have different tests on your client before starting. And when you are done with your client (after a couple of months), you can show them their progress by taking new tests at the end.

(I’am not a a PT yet) :slight_smile:

A higher VO2 Max does not mean the a person will have a higher resting fat metabolism. VO2 Max refers to the body’s ability to deliver and uptake oxygen from the blood. It has little to do with resting fat utilization.

To the first question, I believe that there have been many good suggestions so far. However, it is important that you are measuring the things that you intend to alter during the course of your training. If you don’t intend to focus on changing VO2 Max through aerobic training then it is a useless measure. Test the things you intend to change (i.e., flexibility, strength, body comp, etc.).

Greater VO2max values have been associated with increased thermic effect of food. Some reading:

Hill JO, Heymsfield SB, McMannus C 3rd, & DiGirolamo M. Meal size and thermic response to food in male subjects as a function of maximum aerobic capacity. Metabolism 1984 Aug;33(8):743-9.

I bet a anyone $1,000,000 dollars that diesel23 does have that crap w/ testing his clients that he trains.

whoops I meant doesn’t not does.

Thanks Eric,

I’ll check that out. My apologies to mikeynorth. I stand corrected.

Actually, I think that if you’re an experienced (aye, there’s the rub) personal trainer, AND you’re dealing with a client that just wants to “get into better shape”, it is, in fact, very possible to just take a look at them, talk with them for a while and then start in.

Most people who have goals of this sort are in “average” shape (i.e., they’re neither anorexic nor morbidly obese), have little if any real weight training or correct dieting history, and do not have complicating medical conditions to worry about. So it’s relatively easy to set them up with a more or less generic program for the first few weeks to get them started, develop decent exercise form and start to make changes to their various systems. (After that initial phase, of course, it gets much more individualized.)

So you don’t need to worry about VO2 max and all that other stuff. (If you’re training an athlete, yes. But not your average couch potato.) While you do need to take initial measurements, most notably bodyweight and BF, the progress after three months or so should, given an untrained person, be very visually obvious. And, of course, the person should be much stronger at the end of that period than when they started.

One thing that I would strongly disagree with is the idea of keeping them on machines for the first however long. There’s no reason not to start a normally healthy person off on free weights from the beginning, so long as you’re there to make sure that they get the correct form down right.

Char - Well said!

Fitone - Not well said, but I get your point (it was a good one) anyway!:slight_smile:

Well put char. I agree I always used free weights with my clients. Very rarely do they do machine work if any at all.

I do do some testing like a simple push-up test to see where the upper body strentgh is and abdominal assesment test to see where the weakness are. maybe a postrial assesment, bf comp and I may even do a flexibility.

In health,

Silas C.