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What If Your Personal Training Client Isn't Seeing Results?

What If Your Personal Training Client Isn't Seeing Results?

Reading Time: 6 minutes 19 seconds


DATE: 2020-02-28

You can deliver personal training services in a variety of ways—in-home personal training, online personal training, or gym training sessions. You'll also work with a variety of clients. Every client needs a different training program. Although sometimes the results they want do not happen as fast as they would like.

Tracking methods can ease the transition of moving a client into a new program. Achieving optimal fitness does not start and end with just one program. The right programming and constant progression are what drives client success.

In this article, we explore how a personal trainer plans for an effective training program and how to adjust if clients stop seeing results.

Getting to Know Your Personal Training Clients and Their Expectations

Before designing a client's program, you must know their fitness goals. This means you must get to know your client.

General Client Information

Ask potential clients questions about their age, gender, and occupation. This type of pre-screening information helps you determine health risks, exercise intensity, workout length, and daily activity levels.

A client whose day to day life includes a lot of sitting will have a different program than someone more active. Prolonged sitting has many negative side effects that may take more work to overcome.

Knowing an individual's daily activity level allows the personal trainer to design meal plans and exercise routines and suggest lifestyle changes. This general client information affects the timing of meals and number of calories a client needs daily.


Next, you can perform a body composition analysis. Be sure to record their height and weight and talk to them about some of the key components of weight:

  • Body fat mass

  • Water

  • Skeletal muscle mass

  • Bone mass

Seeing this breakdown helps you plan out their workouts. Circumference measurements are not as popular as they once were but are still valuable. Bioelectrical impedance analysis machines have proven to be more accurate, efficient, and quicker.

Long- and Short-Term Goals

The long-term or end goal is important because it is your client's ultimate sign of success. It is probably the reason they first sought you out. Short-term goals though, add up to the end goal. You cannot achieve the end goal without setting smaller and more realistic goals.

Find out your client's main goal and then map out weekly goals to hit that final mark. Short-term goals provide a more frequent sense of accomplishment. This motivates a person to stay committed to the process based on the results they experience.

Workout History

A client comes to you because they cannot achieve their goals on their own. The strategies they tried in the past did not work or did not get them as far as they wanted to be. Plateaus discourage many people. Aim to avoid any style of training that has not worked to get them results in the past.

Eating Habits

Clients can follow the best workout program in the world. But the program does not guarantee results if their nutrition is poor.

The number of times a client eats during the day helps you figure out how big or small their meals should be. If the program does not compliment their lifestyle it becomes more challenging to stick to.

Trainers should complete screening questions with their client before setting goals and designing a workout program. Once you have the necessary information apply some of these tips to setting fitness goals.

Eliminate Factors Outside the Gym Affecting Physical Results

Most clients want to be in and out of the gym quickly. When they meet with you for their training sessions, you can monitor what they do. But the rest of the day influences their training outcomes also. Factors outside the gym should be a major concern, even with just regular physical activity. The time they spend without you is much more than the time they spend with you.

To help stay on top of things that occur outside the gym, use these techniques:

Food Journals

This will allow you to monitor what, when, and how much they eat. Poor nutrient absorption can lead to harmful effects. The least you can do is ensure they are working towards consuming the right foods. If they are not, then you can encourage adjustments.

You can store food logs in phone notes, apps, or a notebook. These will help you assess nutrition factors that either help or hurt training. You can also have clients record not only what they eat, but what they crave.

Food shopping adjustments, increased sleep, higher water intake, and stretching daily are key recommendations for lifestyle changes. Going food shopping with only a list of the foods you need helps you only buy those and nothing more. If bad food is not in the house your client is less likely to eat it.

Daily Check-Ins

Hold clients accountable each day by texting them. This lets them know that you are thinking of them, which is motivating and promotes accountability. Ask each day where they went wrong and what they are doing to stay on track.

Mood Charts

Before and after workouts, implement a mood scale. Have your client mark a mood expression to see how they feel before and after the workout. This helps them realize how much exercise changes their mood. It also helps you recognize any disruption in what seems to be a normal pattern.

Any red flags will trigger you to question why. For example, a client might typically mark the same mood before and after a workout. Then, one day they might mark differently at the start or end. This could be from something that they did differently or experienced that day.

Help clients overcome barriers to regular physical activity through these suggestions.

Logistics that Make a Big Impact

Each client has a different mindset about their goals. They might also have issues that affect their fitness level and ability to exercise. This can range from mental health issues to overall physical fitness.

You could encounter a client with diabetes whose blood glucose levels are too high or low to exercise. Health issues like these influence a client's ability to perform and recover.

Hormonal changes have a great effect on women's health. This includes weight gain, swelling and water retention in the body. Exercise can stabilize these hormonal changes, but it can still influence their motivation to start physical activity.

Client consistency stems from the way the trainer interacts with these issues. When programs do not fit a person's lifestyle, it is difficult for them to stay consistent. The better the program aligns with their daily routine and exercise abilities, the more likely they are to do it.

Consider assessing the following factors when planning a client's training program.

Time of Day

There is a difference between when the client can exercise and when they want to. Most of the time, if a client finishes their workout first thing in the morning it is beneficial. The evenings present a lot of distractions for some. These distractions can become excuses as to why they could not workout.

Duration of Time

High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a great form of exercise for busy clients. HIIT workouts allow someone to perform a lot of work in a shorter amount of time. These are quick and efficient, which is great for clients who do not want to be in the gym all day. HIIT helps ensure they get an effective workout done while making the most of their time. This training helps burn fat and build muscle.

Gym Accessibility

The gym might be convenient only on days they go to work. On the days they're not at work it might be more difficult to get there. You can prescribe at-home workouts on the days they cannot get to the gym.

Nutrition and Cooking Abilities

Help clients find foods they enjoy eating and are easy to cook. Determine the time of day they eat and how much they like to eat. Avoid making a client eat at times that are too busy for them. Provide alternatives for eating out and on days it is tough to cook.

Having a family fitness plan can help clients stay on track.

Motivating Your Client with a New Personal Training Plan

Transitioning into a new plan can be difficult. Clients become accustomed to the original program and do not always want change. You must be able to explain to them that their body is adapting to the training stimulus. To keep them progressing you need to adjust the training type. Highlight the hard work they put in and the results they have already achieved.

Keeping clients motivated comes through positivity, goal setting, and fitness challenges. These key principles help build and maintain client motivation. Tracking client progress also helps them realize the changes that have occurred.

Clients pursue training sessions with you to achieve their fitness goals. Exercise is intimidating for some, especially with new exercises. Keeping familiar workouts in a new plan can make them feel more comfortable during the transition. As a certified fitness trainer, your job is to motivate, educate, and inspire clients. Guiding them through programs that are not working and transitioning them into new ones is a huge part.

Looking to use your potential to help change a client's life? Learn more on how to help clients achieve results through ISSA's Fitness Trainer Certification.

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