Training Tips

Ultimate Guide to Weight-Loss Workouts - At Home or On the Go

Reading Time: 7 minutes 58 seconds


Date: 2020-06-12T00:00:00-04:00

As a certified personal trainer, you want to make sure you and your clients are maintaining your fitness no matter where you might be.

Many fitness trainers know that when clients go long periods of time in between sessions, the likelihood of them keeping up with their workouts on their own diminishes. Some clients will be self-motivated, while others need a lot of follow-up to get in their workouts.

One of the best ways to keep clients exercising at home is to provide them with a plan that is simple, effective, and one that they are confident in.

As many of us travel on our weight loss journeys, it's important to balance someone's whole life. Weight loss is so much more than simply working out consistently. In fact, it can be really complicated to get right—at least, in a way that's sustainable in the long run.

So how do you balance these two things together? Well, it turns out that if you do it right, you can supercharge your clients to be incredibly successful at burning calories to lose weight fast—just not too fast!

Basic Principles of Weight Loss

There is a lot of literature out there about weight loss. The overarching concept of weight loss is pretty specific—calories in, calories out. The calorie deficit that this creates is what causes your body to lose weight.

Simple, right? Not quite.

Whereas this is true, there are many other factors that play into this. For instance, most people only think about the calories they burn during a workout in terms of their goals. This can be self-defeating with the primary goal of weight loss.

This is because focusing only on your burn in the gym will leave out the real force multiplier in personal weight loss—increasing your basal metabolic rate.

Basal Metabolic Rate and Training Workouts

Your metabolism runs at your basal metabolic rate, or BMR. This is the number calories your body burns just living your life, not counting the calories burned in a workout. Although it varies slightly between men and women, the average person's BMR is around 1,500 calories a day.

So, let's say you burned 300 calories in a cardio workout. Add that to your 1,500 calories burned in your BRM, and you get 1,800 calories burned that day. So, if you only ate 1,500 calories, you would have a calorie deficit of 300 calories.

This is a fine way to lose weight, but it isn't the most efficient. Imagine if you took the 30 minutes of cardio, and instead performed high-intensity exercise.

Not only will this burn more calories in the same amount of time, your body will also need to expend more energy in rebuilding itself afterward. As you increase your muscle mass, your BMR will increase as well.

If you burn an extra 25 calories an hour in this type of recovery, that can boost the average BMR by an additional 600 calories per day.

So, with the same time spent, just with a different exercise, your increased BMR would be 2,100 calories per day, plus the additional calories of the more-intense workout. Now, pair that with a 1,500-calorie intake per day, and you have a much more extensive calorie deficit every day. You might even need a few extra calories to fuel your body in this situation.

Don't Let Clients Focus on "Specific Areas" When Losing Weight

One tact that is popular in fitness mythology is that by working out your core, you will develop six-pack abs. Most fitness professionals understand that abs are created in the kitchen, not in the gym.

In other words, you aren't going to magically lose belly fat by just doing crunches and targeting your obliques. Your body metabolizes fat throughout, and targeting muscle groups (while helpful for building muscle) won't remove fat from a specific area in the body.

So, if your client's goal is weight loss, the most important part of this is increasing lean muscle mass with full-body exercises to increase their BMR. Once they've lost enough body fat to reveal the muscle tone underneath, you will see that targeted toning of muscle groups can be a little silly.

Furthermore, those with extra weight to lose will benefit from stronger muscles and will help shield the client from injury.

Weight Loss Doesn't Happen by Exercise Alone

Activity is essential to being healthy and to losing weight. You can't out-train your diet. So, for this, make sure you are communicating with your clients about eating a balanced diet. Remember that it's outside the scope of practice for a certified personal trainer to give specific dietary needs, but you can give general advice on a balanced diet.

So make sure that your meal plan accountability is in the works, too. This is equally as important as workout logs, especially if there will be a period of time when you won't be able to meet in person.

At-home Exercises for Weight Loss

When it comes to getting in the workouts your clients need, it's always best to start with their goals and work backwards. Put together a plan, and let the specific workouts fill the space they need to fill in terms of targeting major muscle groups.

And, as always, find the path of least resistance for your client. If they do well with workout videos to keep them focused and motivated at home, then use that! But, independently of that, here are some great exercises to help them meet their goals.

Strength Training Workouts

For weight loss, these are going to be critical. Resistance training in general is important for muscular and skeletal health.

Some people will have equipment like free weights, medicine balls, or maybe even a TRX suspension trainer at home, but this isn't everyone.

If your clients have them, then make use of that in your programming. But if they don't, there are some great bodyweight exercises they can use.


The push-up is one of the best upper-body exercises because it really engages all of your body, from your hands and forearms, through your chest and core, all the way down to your toes. By combining a high plank with the motion of the exercises, you will get a lot of bang for your buck with push-ups.


Always make sure that your clients are using proper form. But there are few exercises like squats to engage everything from your core to your quads, hamstrings, and calf muscles.

For those who lift a little heavier in the gym, this is a way to maintain, by giving larger numbers of reps. For those who are newer to lifting, make sure to gauge that by how they feel over time, start low and slow, and increase reps as you go.

Pilates & Yoga

Holding body positions for extended periods is an incredible way to develop muscular strength and endurance.

Cycle through several options and exercises, from planks, to balancing on individual legs, deep breathing, and holding poses.

Stretching exercises will also help your clients to recover and feel less sore. This is another great component of both Pilates and yoga that can help with at-home workouts.

Cardiovascular Exercise at Home

Just because muscle mass is important doesn't mean you should ignore total-body health. Cardio is essential for keeping your heart and lungs functioning at their optimal capacity. Gains in muscular strength can help gains in cardiovascular strength and endurance, but cardio gains can also help your muscular strength.

It isn't an "either/or" thing, so make sure to give your clients robust programming that focuses on everything.

Brisk Walking

This is a great way for clients looking to lose weight to get in cardio without risking injury. It's low-impact, and can really move the needle with just 30 minutes of walking a few times per week.

Elliptical Trainers

Some people might have access to an elliptical trainer or other piece of cardio equipment at home. If they do, they've likely paid a pretty penny for it. They will love you if you help them get even more mileage out of this equipment than they initially thought. Ask and see if they have home cardio equipment, and if they do, get them to try using it again!

Jogging & Running

For those who have strong joints and a lower body that can handle the impact, few cardio workouts are as effective in fat loss as running and jogging. Just remember that your body will eventually seek to achieve homeostasis in terms of calorie deficits. So, make sure you are mixing up training to keep the body guessing and pushing beyond plateaus.

Jumping Rope

A jump rope is one of the easiest pieces of fitness equipment to acquire. They're cheap, durable, and incredibly effective.

More than that—they're fun!

Sure, it can get frustrating early on when building the coordination necessary to really burn it out on the jump rope, but once you've got it, you're good to go for life!

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

With HIIT workouts, you've got several directions to go in. These are going to be major metabolic boosters, and if your clients can handle them, they can be a great mixture of strength training and cardio.


For these, think exercises like burpees, mountain climbers, and other such intense workouts. They often will target most of your body and will really supercharge your heart rate.

Find the right times for exercising and resting, like in Tabata, alternating 20 second and 10 second intervals for 8 rounds per exercise.

Kettlebell Training

This can include a high risk for injury, so make certain your clients use proper form. With kettlebell swings, snatches, clean and jerks, and many more, kettlebells can be used for a series of compound explosive exercises that will push strength and conditioning to new bounds.

Running Stairs

Whereas this would also fit under the cardio section, it sort of works better as HIIT. It's more like sprint work, and the up-stairs travel will burn your lower body and core up completely.

Make sure that your clients' joints are healthy enough for this workout, as well as that they're wearing the right type of shoe to support their kinetic chain.

Circuit Training

This is only included last because you can take pieces of the exercises mentioned above and make any kind of circuit you want. For instance, you could alternate sets of stairs with burpees and mountain climbers at the top and bottom.

Or, you could jog around a track and at particular intervals, stop and perform various calisthenic exercises.

The world is your oyster!

Safety First—Always!

The biggest issue you will encounter is an at-home injury. This can stop a client from training for long periods of time, which is neither good for them, nor for you.

So, check in with clients when they complete workouts at home. You want to know what they're doing in their off time so you can more effectively plan their workouts when you're meeting in person or over a digital device.

Use the check-in as an option to ask about the whole picture—are they working out? Are they eating right? Are they recovering ok? Are they sleeping ok? Are they drinking enough water?

These are all essential components in weight loss, no matter where they train. So, make sure to keep checking in on them and inspiring them as they move along.

If you would like to learn more about how lifting weights can help with weight loss, check out ISSA's article on this here!

Want to learn more about coaching your clients from home? Sign up for ISSA's Online Coaching course, the fastest way to get your personal training business online so you can get client's the results they want while increasing your income.

Download this FREE handout here.

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