Client Strategy: Young Adult 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.




Body composition: decrease fat mass and increase muscle.

Training: increase strength (deadlifts, bench press, squat, chin ups).



Experience has ranged from none to multiple years of training (but minimal nutrition planning). While the beginner clients learn technique from scratch, we often need to make technical adjustments for the experienced trainees.

These clients can be hesitant to changing technique, particularly in the early stages. A lot of young males will have prioritised weight over technique, which leads to a 100kg 'bench press' where the bar is barely reaching halfway to the chest.

Since the bench press is the go-to gym exercise ("how much do you bench?") there is a bit of ego management when decreasing the weight to spend time on improving technique. Adding lifting tempos and varying the lift can be good ways of improving the technique with lighter weights, without having someone do a standard bench press with less weight than before. 



Most are long term clients with no specific timeframe in mind. We will develop a timeframe for a specific goal (body composition, strength, etc) and then go about programming that during a 4-8 week period.



Most are working full-time and around 45-55 hours per week, but have few other ongoing commitments outside of this (ie. kids, study, etc).

This allows us to develop an advanced training program that includes additional training to the three sessions in the gym with me. With the time and motivation to complete these sessions, we are able to increase the workload for these clients during certain training programs.



3-4 training sessions per week. For personal training clients, three of these sessions are supervised in the gym, whilst the fourth might be a cardio session, circuit-style resistance training, or playing sport with friends.

A few play recreational sport (Australian Rules, Oztag, Touch Football) but these usually have minimal training commitments. We treat the game as an interval training session and monitor recovery, but that is about all the consideration needed.




This will vary for the individual, but here is an example of a training session for a intermediate-level trainee in the gym three times per week. The emphasis is on technique and introducing a range of movements (hinge, squat, press, pull).

Beyond this program here, I have found great success with young male clients using other methods such as German Volume Training, 5/3/1, and bodybuilding rep ranges of 8-15). 


Lower Body

  • Back squat - 5 x 6-10 with 120s rest
  • Romanian deadlift/terminal knee extension - 4 x 8/10 with 75s rest
  • Bulgarian split squat/RKC plank - 3-4 x 10/40-60s with 90s 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.


Upper Body

  • Barbell bench press/band pull apart - 5 x 6-10 with 120s rest
  • DB chest press/face-pull - 4 x 10/10 with 70s rest
  • Snatch-grip high pull/seated lateral raise - 3-4 x 8-12/8-10 with 90s rest
  • Ring inverted row/DB row - 3 x 8/12 with 60s rest
  • Conditioning: bike/row - steady state


Full body

gym training1.jpg
  • Deadlift - 5 x 5 with 180s rest
  • Chin up - 4 x 4-6
  • Walking lunge - 3 x 12
  • Conditioning: modified strongman - sleds, carries, slams, rows, press, core, etc


Coaching Observations:

  •  Emphasise technique in the early training phase
    • once there is good technical base, then the strength improvements come rapidly
    • it is worth being patient!
    • the first training phase will be ideal for this
  • more sets, less reps, more rest
    • these clients tend to be more strength-orientated than females of the same age, or my middle-aged clients. As a result, they lift heavier weight with more rest.
  • they recover well
    • most of these clients recover pretty quickly between training sessions, particularly in comparison to the middle-aged male clients. 




This is very general advice and is not personalised.

The main goal is to get a consistent intake and ensure we are hitting energy intake goals.

It should be noted that these clients have high energy requirements (muscle mass, activity level, age) compared to other clients, which is further enhanced when they are trying to build muscle.

To put this into context, I am working with a client who is 100kg @ 15-17% body fat, who is predominantly in an energy deficit. He trains hard 5-6 times a week and is active outside of the gym. His daily energy intake is over 3000kcal/day and he still loses fat.

If progress halts, these meals might need to be altered. However, that will only occur if the client wants to progress to the next level and they would be reasonably lean at this point (which is often the end goal).

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.

Breakfast: yoghurt, oats and berries

Snack: fruit & nuts OR smoothie

Lunch: grilled chicken wrap

Snack: tuna and vegetables

Dinner: steak and vegetables

Snack: slow-release protein source (cottage cheese; casein powder)



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 for these clients are biscuits, chocolate, and lollies, nothing dissimilar to other client groups. Since these clients have no children that need to occasionally bribed, snacking on these foods can often by avoided by not purchasing them.



The need for such meals depends on the individual. Most plans are quite flexible and therefore do not need dedicated breaks. 

The off-the-plan meals tend to be weekend brunches, lunches and evenings. These meals are the cheat/flexible meals that suit these clients and their goals.

For those trying to put on muscle and struggling to consume enough energy intake, we might use a higher calorie meal 1-2 times per week to boost overall intake. Even though these are not 'clean' foods, they are part of the plan and I would therefore not call them a 'cheat'.



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. 



Intake is often infrequent (1-3 time per month) but of a high volume (4-8+ drinks). Cutting down this intake and having a limit can be useful, however, this is very individualised.

Initially, we rarely change alcohol intake and allow results come from training and nutrition. If results begin to plateau after a few months, the alteration of alcohol intake might be considered.

In saying that, abstaining from alcohol during a transformation phase is a popular option. Since intake is mostly infrequent, it seems to be relatively easy for this client to do so.



Whey protein powder is usually consumed post-workout, after three months of training. 

Creatine, casein protein powder, and brain-chain amino acids/leucine are other supplements that might be trialled on an individual basis. These clients tend to have the disposable income and adherence to their program which allows them to use supplements and monitor their effect.



We often use a meal delivery service to provide lunches and sometimes afternoon snacks. These are cost-effective (less than a cafe/fast-food meal), simple and healthy. Also, I can pick them and send them straight to their workplace or home!




Most are sleeping pretty well, if not slightly erratically.

In the older clients (previous two articles), they will get up at the same time every day, whether they are training at 5:45am or not. The younger clients tend to get up early for training, but sleep in more on other days (fair enough).

They would probably feel a bit better if the woke up at the same time every day, but I understand that if you have nothing scheduled, why would you want to rise at 5:00am...




The young adult male clients I have worked with have been hard working and motivated, leading to great results. Provided we invest the time in developing sound technique in the initial stages, these clients can see massive strength improvements in relatively short periods of time.

Just last week, we had a client complete their fifth month of training and setting a massive personal best on the back squat. In that time, he progressed from using bodyweight/goblet squats to build a technical base, to lifting 3 x 130kg with more left in the tank! 

He could have lifted more, but we called it quits at that weight because of either: a) I had set the goal of 110kg, which had been massively surpassed; b) he was getting a bit too close to my numbers - and I have been training for four years!

It might have been a bit of both..


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