Client Strategy: Middle-aged Male
In October, I shared My Training & Nutrition Program which 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.
I will be releasing four articles looking at the training and nutrition strategies we use with the different clients, in the following order:
The aim of these case studies is to demonstrate the strategies and considerations used by these clients, in a setting that is relevant to you. As 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 is 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 I have worked with, not a wider generalisation of gender and/or age.
CONSIDERATIONS FOR THE MIDDLE-AGED MALE
Body composition: decrease fat mass and increase muscle.
Training: increase strength - mostly general strength, but sometimes specific exercise (often starts as bench press, but then moves to something else); learning how to exercise with correct technique.
Most have experience with exercise and sport from 5-30 years ago, but have been unable to maintain consistent physical activity of recent.
Unlike female middle-aged clients - who tend to start a program or personal training elsewhere, then approach trainer if it doesn't work - the middle-aged males tend to hire from the onset... or at least I think so - maybe they just don't tell me about other trainers.
Most are moderate/long-term recomposition programs and rarely have a specific date in mind. Whilst body composition goals are important, they are not priority number one. These clients often accept that progress will not be rapid due to times of decrease training volume and sub optimal nutrition intake, usually related to work and/or travel.
Typically we will go through an introductory phase where we get technique down and build some fitness. This can last 3-6 weeks, depending on previous experience, starting fitness and exercise progressions. Nutrition stays reasonably similar - the main goal is to establish what current intake is, before making changes during a transformation phase.
These clients tend to do well with goals that have a short or medium time-frame, such as setting a weight loss target of -4kg in six weeks.
LIFESTYLE (INCLUDING KIDS & EMPLOYMENT)
Tend to be working five or six days per week, for long hours, and travelling up to twice a month.
If travel is a significant part of their work, we will put together several training sessions that can be completed anywhere, in hotel gyms or simply bodyweight exercise. These programs can be an excellent reference for strength increases.
A client took a two-week business trip after 6 weeks of training, so we develop a 3x week body weight training session that could be completed in his hotel room, with just resistance band and bodyweight. When he returned, we got back into his standard resistance training program. A few months later, he travelled again for one week and we decided to use the same training program. Push ups had increased from 6-8 per set to 18!
3-4 training sessions per week. Three of these sessions are supervised in the gym, whilst the fourth might be a cardio session or walk/ride to work.
There are rarely any additional scheduled exercise - we often rely on kids and sport involvement for any extra physical activity.
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 males 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
Touch football and is the only other sport my clients have played. I count running as training, since we can integrate it into a training program to allow it to be managed.
leave something in the tank, release it as necessary
- none have expected to go from 15kg overweight to a Men's Health cover in six weeks
- once the process has been explained - particularly the introduction phase, where body composition won't change massively - they buy in
- monitor stress
- they will rarely mention that stress is building
- need to enquire in a roundabout way and try to ascertain stress or loads. Take notes or remember key events such as project deadlines, conferences and presentations.
- adapt training as necessary - long term goals are more important than one session.
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.
Big energy intake overloads tend to be work-related - lunches, dinners and meetings. Eating during meetings is easy to manage, by having an idea of foods that suit current goals or simply not eating.
Lunches and dinners - particularly those with a set catering menu - come with less control. However, if we factor these into weekly energy intake they can be managed.
Accurate nutrition reporting or simply recall is an important component for such occasion. Fostering accuracy and trust is the role of the trainer, not the client. If you berate a client every time they deviate from 'the plan', I can assure you they won't be upfront and honest with you ever again. Simply take the information on board and move on.
- yoghurt, oats and fruit
- fruit & nuts OR smoothie
- grilled chicken wrap
- 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).
The need for such meals depend on the individual. Most plans are quite flexible and therefore do not need dedicated breaks.
An exception could be someone who is sticking to a strict meal plan, wherein I have ordered all of their meals through a meal delivery service. These clients might have a planned 'off night' where they are going out for dinner, or simply want to incorporate some different foods and/or snacks.
Adding sugar to coffee is an issue, particularly for those with a high coffee intake (4-6 per day; the most I have seen is 8!). Switching to a Stevia or low-energy option is a good place to start. It's easier to limit sugar while maintaining caffeine then it is to cut both at the same time. Read: The Control & Variable Approach.
I have never advised anyone to cut their caffeine intake, but have developed strategies for those who have decided they want to decrease it. The approach we have used to to wave-load (usually associated with training) coffee intake.
Example: someone drinking six coffees per day and wanting to reduce intake to two. Most consider cutting to five coffees per day, then four coffees per day, and so on, will be the most-effective method. Wave-loading might go 6,5,5,6,5,5,4 for the first seven days- incrementally decreasing the overall intake. I did not invent this idea - I heard it at a Phil Learney seminar, in London - in reference to helping a client quit smoking.
Soft drink intake has been low, among these clients.
Intake is often moderately frequent (2-3 time per week) of moderate-high volume (2-6 drinks). Cutting down this intake and having a limit can be useful however, this is very individualised. Usually, we don't change alcohol intake and results come from training and nutrition. A few months in this might plateau, at which point we can look at some changes to make including alcohol intake.
Many of these clients prefer a blanket no-drinking plan instead of reducing intake, and adherence to such plans is high. I tell them I am happy to take the blame when they need to explain choosing not to drink to family, colleagues or friends. Such clients find not drinking relatively easy, but the real challenge is explaining your reasoning to others, which is interesting.
Whey protein powder, usually consumed post-workout, after three months of training. The clients that I have worked with were not big into smoothies so we typically consume it with water, immediately post workout.
About half have enquired about testosterone boosters during the early stages of training, but we never use them. Losing body fat increases the ratio of testosterone to estrogen on it's own. Besides, most of the supplements have no impact.
This group tend to enquire a lot about supplements and are happy to trial them, due to financial freedom. However, unless training and nutrition is consistent and on-target, we rarely use them.
We often use a meal delivery service to provide lunches and sometimes afternoon snacks. These are cost-effective (less than a pub/fast-food meal), simple and healthy. Also, I can pick them and send them straight to their workplace or home!
Many of these client are running on little sleep (averaging only 5-6 hours), which would ideally be increased. However, with busy workloads and family commitments, this will often not change.
If we can positively impact their fitness and nutrition, body composition and health can be improved.
I enjoy working with middle-aged male clients. Typically they have sought me out from their own research, and they are sold when they walk through the door to meet for the first time. This means they have confidence in me from day one, which facilitate adherence and progression. Beyond a straightforward acquisition process, they tend to train hard, enjoy a challenge and build confidence quickly.
I have also been lucky enough to work with some business leader both in Canberra and overseas. The advice and connections of these individuals has been something I have very lucky to access.
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!