I just started training my first client at my new job. She is a 50 y.o. female who is overweight and undertrained. I met with her last week and took her through a 20 min walk w incline on the treadmill, followed by some basic body weight exercises. I had her do 6 lunges on each leg and afterwards she said her quads were cramping so bad that she couldnt walk or stand. I wasn’t sure what to do so I had her just sit and do some bicep curls. Later we did some crunches on a large ball and she said her abs were cramping the same way. I guess I’m not really sure what to do in this situation… I find it hard to believe that such little movement could cause such a negative reaction. I’m drawing a blank about what to do the next time we meet because I don’t want to overwork her, but she wants to lose weight and get in shape so she’s going to have to do SOMETHING. Like I said, she’s my first client and I’m used to training myself… so any advice for training super beginners would be great! Thanks!!!
I agree with what Harris said. With a new client, always “dip your toe in the water”, until you know what they can & cannot handle. Her muscle cramping could have been due to dehydration, so make sure she knows to drink water throughout the day and during her workouts. Make sure she also knows to have a small meal or snack 1-2 hours before her workout. Sometimes people who are trying to lose weight skip meals, thinking they’ll burn more fat during their workouts; they’ll sometimes get lightheaded or nauseous, so be sure she’s eating, too.
Some things I’ve found *most* deconditioned clients can do:
Squats (or half or quarter squats) with a stability ball behind the back *or* holding TRX straps (TRX preferred; sometimes new clients are scared the ball will roll out from behind them)
Wall push-ups or TRX chest press (from an easy position)
Resisted torso rotations on a cable station (or with a resistance band)
Rows with a cable station or resistance band or TRX
Lat pulldown (to the front only)
Bridging on a mat or BodyWedge
Dumbbell Hammer Curl with overhead press
Step-ups on a low aerobic step (4-6″)
“Pointer Dogs” in all-fours position, if knees aren’t an issue
Always give your client the option to veto any exercise that doesn’t feel right. (She may not be ready for it yet, but in 2-3 weeks will be fine with it.) Don’t try to train her the way you train yourself; always remember, you are not your client, and this client needs to start from Square one.
One thing you can try: Do tri-sets, where each group of exercises has one for the lower body, one for the upper body, and one for the core. While one body area is resting, she’ll be working something else. Circuits also work well for deconditioned clients if the moves are alternated in like fashion.
Good luck, Randi. Your asking the question today shows that you care, and you’ll be a great trainer.