Training Strategies For The Five Kinds of Clients

by Nick Tumminello on Feb 08, 2016

Most fitness professionals tailor their programming to five kinds of clients, who have five distinct training goals.

Reviewing the client types and their specific workout needs is helpful because it illustrates a divergence between what most trainers like to do and what most clients actually want. If we’re honest with ourselves as an industry, it’s probably true that we most readily identify with athletes, bodybuilders and people trying to lose weight, while our clients are most likely regular folks who want to be more fit and healthy.

To become more successful, we have to focus more on what the majority of our clients want.

Most fitness professionals’ clients fit into one of five categories based on why they’re exercising: physique, performance, physique + performance hybrid, fat loss, and general fitness and health. (This, of course, leaves out special populations such as people struggling with obesity or those going through postrehabilitation training.)


  • Create a training environment that triggers the three mechanisms of hypertrophy: mechanical tension, muscle damage and metabolic stress (Schoenfeld 2010). To create this environment, use a mix of set/rep ranges by working with different loads.
  • Dedicate more weekly work volume to bringing up less-developed muscle groups.
  • Do standard sets and paired sets.
  • Use body-part weekly training splits or total-body workouts.


  • In the offseason, use a more traditional linear periodization training approach: hypertrophy/base, strength, power and power endurance. The final power-endurance phase “peaks” the athlete so he or she is conditioned at the start of preseason and can focus on skill training.
  • During the competition season, use a concurrent model with a mixture of power training, strength training and hypertrophy training.
  • Do tri-sets and quad-sets.
  • Use total-body workouts to minimize fatigue in specific muscle groups.


  • Use a concurrent model with a mixture of power training, strength training and hypertrophy training.
  • Use a mix of set/rep ranges by working with different loads.
  • Do paired sets and tri-sets.
  • Use a push/pull/lower-body training split or total-body workouts.


  • Emphasize achieving a caloric deficit primarily through dietary habits.
  • Emphasize the 3 C’s of metabolic strength training—complexes, circuits and combinations. They create a high metabolic demand because they require more extended, high-intensity, total-body efforts than traditional strength training methods do (Tumminello 2014).
  • Maintain consistency with basic lifts, to monitor any potential loss in muscle and strength, but continually add some movement variety to keep things fun and interesting.
  • Use total-body workouts.


  • Integrate power training, strength train- ing, bodybuilding, 3D movement training and body weight applications.
  • Use a wide spectrum of sets and reps, along with a variety of training tools, from basic free weights and cables to bands and balls.
  • Maintain consistency with basic lifts, to gauge progress, but continually add some movement variety to keep things interesting and enjoyable.
  • Use tri-sets and quad-sets.
  • Use total-body workouts.

To read in more depth about how to tailor your programs to these five types of clients, please see "Training the 5 Types of Fitness Clients" in the online IDEA Library or in the October 2015 print issue of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at (800) 999-4332, ext. 7.

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Schoenfeld, B.J. 2010. The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24 (10). 2857-72.

Tumminello, N. 2014. Strength Training for Fat Loss. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

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About the Author

Nick Tumminello

Nick Tumminello IDEA Author/Presenter

Nick Tumminello is the director of Performance University and is a nationally-recognized coach and educator who is known for his smarter approach to strength and conditioning. He is the developer of the Core Barâ„¢ and has authored numerous best-selling DVDs. Nick lives in Ft.Lauderdale, Florida, where he serves as the conditioning coach for Team Ground Control MMA. Certification: ACE CEC provider for: ACE