Client Strategy: Middle-aged Female
I shared My Training & Nutrition Program in October and it has been one of the most-popular articles posted on this blog. In the article and on The Integrated Insider, I mentioned that is my program and how the training and nutrition principles apply best to me, right now. Copying this program would not be a good idea for someone else.
As a result, I had some questions asking about the application of these same training and nutrition principles to their goals and experience. Since I do not know enough about each individual to provide personalised recommendations, I decided to put together four articles outlining how we apply the training and nutrition principles to different clientele.
Over the next six weeks, I will be releasing four articles looking at the training and nutrition strategies we use with the following clients, in the following order:
The aim of these case studies is to demonstrate the strategies and considerations made for these clients, in a setting that is relevant to you. As a I mentioned in my program, those were the strategies for me, while one of these articles may be better-suited to you. However, these are still not personalised to your goals, experience and lifestyle, so be wary of implementing too many of the strategies.
These strategies are not advice or specific recommendations for any individual. They simply an insight into the successful strategies we have used with these types of clients.
The information used here in not specific or typical of each group. It is simply a reflection of the clients I have worked with and the strategies used. Any generalisation reflects that of experience with these clients, not a wider generalisation of gender and/or age.
Considerations for the Middle-aged Female
Body composition: decrease fat mass and increase muscle.
Training: increase strength - mostly general strength, but sometimes specific exercise (chin ups, squats, etc); learn how to exercise with correct technique; increase fitness.
Most have experience with sustained exercise and sport in the past, but often it has been 5-15 years ago since is was consistent. Of recent times, some have tried a few times to get back into it but were unable to adhere. The desire to use correct technique is often a reason for hiring a coach.
Most are long-term recomposition programs. Sometimes there is a key date - such as a holiday or wedding - which might be used as a intermediate or mid-program goal.
Lifestyle (including kids & employment)
Most have children aged 8-20 years and are working full or part-time. Weekends are usually packed out, so we put together training sessions early morning, daytime or the 8am/9am slot can be popular if training in the gym.
The morning training session seems to work well. However, this might be skewed for me as I only offer morning training sessions.... there could be a tonne of people for whom morning sessions do not work, hence they are not training with me.
Typically train at the same time each week. Although the schedule is busy, it is usually adhered to.
This will vary for the individual, but here is an example of a training session for a beginner-level trainee in the gym three times per week. The emphasis is on technique and introducing a range of movements (hinge, squat, press, pull).
Since the middle-aged females that I work with have beginner-level training experience, we typically start with a upper/lower/full body training split. There are a lot of bodyweight exercises while technique is being refined.
- Goblet squat - 5 x 8-10 with 60s rest
- Romanian deadlift/terminal knee extension - 4 x 8/10 with 75s rest
- Lunge/RKC plank - 3-4 x 6/20-30s with 70s rest
- Step up/ball slam - 3 x 8-12/6-10 with 60s rest
- Row - intervals or steady-state, depending on fatigue and how long training for.
- Knee push up/band pull apart - 5 x 6-10/10 with 60s rest
- Low incline DB flye/face-pull - 4 x 10/10 with 70s rest
- Seated DB press/seated lateral raise - 3-4 x 8-12/8-10 with 60s rest
- DB upright row/DB row - 3 x 8/12 with 60s rest
- Conditioning: bike/row - steady state
- Inverted ring row - 5 x 8 with 60s rest
- Chest supported DB row/DB reverse flye - 4 x 12/10
- Face pull with external rotation/BB row - 3 x 15/10
- Conditioning: modified strongman - sleds, carries, slams, rows, press, core, etc
Additional training - depending on the individual (goals, experience, timeframe, etc)
- steady-state cardio
- hill walking
- interval training
Social sports are popular - mainly basketball or netball - once per week. Since these are only once per week, and include no training, they have minimal impact on training. It is always useful to keep an eye on fatigue, but usually there is minimal impact.
- Enjoy training hard and have a strong desire to work
- Middle-aged females train hardest in the gym.
- No complaints - just get it done.
- There is research to show that females tolerate pain better than males, in the gym.
- For moderate-high rep training, middle-aged females train the hardest of any group.
- Progression, not perfection.
- Everyone is self-conscious is the gym during the initial stages, so avoid over analysing.
- Your squat does not need to become perfect during your first training session, but we do want to continually process.
Typical meal intake
This is very general advice and is not personalised.
The main goal is to get a consistent intake and avoid skipping meals.
- yoghurt, oats and fruit
- fruit & nuts OR smoothie
- fish, vegetables/salad
- lean meat, vegetables
For those unfamiliar with hyperpalatable foods , you might like to read this article on Trigger Meals & Hyperpalatable Foods.
During a program, we seek to identify hyperpalatable foods and manage their intake.
Common hyperpalatable foods are biscuits, chocolate and lollies, nothing dissimilar to other client groups. However, frequently these foods are purchased for children but then consumed at by the adult when looking for a quick treat. For this reason, a replacement strategy often works better than complete avoidance.
Since these foods will be in the house (kids want them/need to be bribed sometimes) even if we cut them completely from the nutrition plan, the temptation will be there (particularly later at night). Therefore, having an evening snack that contains a bit of sweetness without too much sugar (yoghurt and fruit/smoothie) can be a very successful strategy. As long as the replacement snack contains less energy than the snacks otherwise would have, it is a good change (for fat loss goals)
The evening snack works particularly well for parents eating earlier in the evening (6:00-6:30pm) to feed children, but then going to bed later (11pm).
Depends on the individual. Most plans are quite flexible and therefore do not need dedicated breaks.
Chai lattes (up to 400kcal per serve) are a common calorie bomb that we may need to diffuse. Most people had no idea how much energy they contained, are happy to switch them up. If needed, we can bring in a substitute such as whey hot (chai latte flavour).
A few people have come after recently
Intake is typically frequent low-volume (ie. two glasses, most nights). Cycling intake on/off works well by incorporating alcohol-free days, but is rarely the first change we make.
About 60% would be using a protein powder (mostly whey) a few times per week. Protein powder can be consumed post workout, as a quick snack or added to smoothies. Aside from that, supplements are very case-specific.
As the client advances and the emphasis moves from fat loss to muscle gain, we might consider creatine for the right goal and training phase. This has been used with great success in the past, and I maintain that creatine is an underrated/underused supplement for females.
Side note: the first magazine article I wrote was about nutritional supplements and published in Oxygen Magazine, where I mentioned creatine as a nutritional supplement for females.
We rarely use meal delivery services due to the need to feed an entire family. However, ingredient delivery services can be popular to save time and stress.
As most have older children, sleep tends to be unbroken but a little short. Working extra at night and watching TV with their partners are common reasons for getting to bed late. This would be a consideration that we keep in mind, particularly if training intensity begins to decrease, but this has never happened.
Middle-aged female clients are one of my favourites to work with. Typically they have been referred from friend, then have done their research into our services before they make contact. This means that upon making contact, they are committed, engaged and ready to go!
Most of these clients want to get a bit stronger, leaner and train effectively. Our role is to create a training and nutrition plan that is appropriate for their goals and experience, and then delivers results which feedback into the motivation to continue training.
The more we know about the client before they start, the better chance we can do exactly that!