Mike: [00:00:05] Hello and welcome to episode nine of the How To Become A Personal Trainer podcast. We’re your hosts Mike Vacanti.
Jordan: [00:00:09] My name is Jordan Syatt, and this episode was a lot of fun. Uh, we basically spoke about troubleshooting client problems. So, if you have clients who are swearing up and down that they’re doing everything right but they’re not losing weight, or if–
Mike: [00:00:21] Clients who are getting frustrated that they’re not getting stronger at the rate that they want to.
Jordan: [00:00:26] And if they’re, uh, getting hungry all the time and they don’t know how to resolve their hunger. These are the issues that we spoke about and how you can resolve them.
Mike: [00:00:34] Enjoy the episode.
Jordan: [00:00:44] Hello, Michael. Good morning.
Mike: [00:00:46] How are you?
Jordan: [00:00:48] Feeling good. Feeling good. Just got back from jujitsu. Was a good session
Mike: [00:00:52] One of the best that you’ve had.
Jordan: [00:00:54] It might’ve been my best session thus far, which I was really excited about because two days ago I had arguably the worst session I’ve ever had.
Mike: [00:01:01] But that was coming off of at least a few days of not going, right?
Jordan: [00:01:06] Yeah, I– ’cause I was in Calgary and, uh, so I took about four days off, which is the longest I’ve taken off in several months. So, it’s so crazy how quickly, when you’re learning something new, the skill acquisition just goes away, but also comes back super-fast.
Mike: [00:01:22] Yeah. Which is, is reassuring.
Jordan: [00:01:25] Yeah, exactly.
Mike: [00:01:27] And is it public knowledge that you have a competition on the horizon?
Jordan: [00:01:31] Well, if it wasn’t, it is now. Yeah, I, uh, I said I was going to do a competition. I didn’t make a big deal out of it. I think I’m going to start making a bigger push– I’m actually, it’s for, they’re doing, it’s called Tap Cancer Out, so it’s like they’re cancer fundraising. So, I want to try and contribute to that as much as I can, but, uh, yeah. First competition, March 28th and uh, yeah, I’m excited, man.
Mike: [00:01:57] That’s great. So, what time did you wake up to get there this morning?
Jordan: [00:02:00] Uh, 6:20. Alarm went off at 6:20 and then, usually I wake up and I’m a little bit groggy, but I dunno if this is good for me or not, but I literally, the first thing I’ll do is just open up my phone and turn the screen on as bright as possible and it wakes me up immediately.
Mike: [00:02:17] Just a flood of blue light.
Jordan: [00:02:18] Well, literally, because if I don’t do that, it’s so easy for me to stay groggy, but if I turn the brightness on the screen up and just sort of look at it, I get up immediately.
Mike: [00:02:31] It works.
Jordan: [00:02:32] Yeah. It works really well.
Mike: [00:02:33] Especially when the sun– because, uh, I guess even in the summer, the sun wouldn’t be up up at 6:20, although don’t quote me on that, but…
Jordan: [00:02:43] Yeah, I don’t think it is at all. But yeah, either way, wakes me up really quick. So how are you feeling?
Mike: [00:02:50] I’m tired. We have not recorded a podcast right away in the morning, and I just woke up. Gary’s in El Paso, so I had the day off of training him, so I was up late doing work and now here we are.
Jordan: [00:03:02] Last night, podcast didn’t happen.
Mike: [00:03:04] We planned the podcast.
Jordan: [00:03:07] We were going to do the podcast last night and then we were like too tired. So now we’re doing in the morning. We have a good one. I’m excited about this.
Mike: [00:03:13] Yeah. So am I: troubleshooting client problems.
Jordan: [00:03:18] So, this podcast came to be basically because as we’ve been putting out more and more about coaching, we’ve been getting more and more questions. Which we love, by the way, and if you have any, please post them in the reviews on iTunes just so we can, we can know what to cover, but what we were thinking about covering in this episode is a number of the most common client problems you might face as a coach and how you might be able to address them. Uh, not just from the planning perspective and from like the physiologically accurate way of doing it, but equally, if not more important, from the discussion aspect and from how to approach it and speak to your clients about it.
Mike: [00:03:58] Mmhm. You want to jump into an example?
Jordan: [00:04:01] Yeah, I mean, I think we’ll, we’ll start off with probably the most common one. The most common one that– if you’re dealing with gen-pop, especially, it might not be the same thing with, with higher-level athletes, but I think most coaches are really dealing with gen-pop.
Mike: [00:04:16] Should, should I be the client and you can be the coach?
Jordan: [00:04:19] You want to do some role play. Okay. Um, yeah, sure. I mean, so, well, the first problem is we’re– is it going to be: the client is swearing up and down they’re doing everything right, but they’re not losing weight. And this isn’t someone who’s already 8% body fat and, and really struggling to lose like the last little bit. We’re talking about someone who’s 25, 30, 40, 50% body fat, relatively high and they’re just not losing weight no matter what. And it’s been a week, two weeks, three weeks. They’re telling you they’re eating on point with their calories, like everything is clean and they just don’t know what’s going on.
Mike: [00:04:55] And a lot of times this comes from a good place. Like, I remember my initial instinct as a coach, or one of them was like, this person has to be– well, my first instinct was, wow, metabolic damage is a real thing. People can eat 1100 calories per day. If a client says they’re massively under eating and still not making any progress, like their metabolism just must be broken.
And this was six, seven, eight years ago, and a 240-pound individual who’s drastically under eating is not plateaued, there’s something else going on. But my next thought was that they, uh, simply were being dishonest, and I think a lot of times it’s unintentional. Like I think a lot of times it’s calories– like a binge at night that there might be ashamed of and might even mentally block out from their mind. It might be not tracking for an evening or two evenings or a weekend or a weekend day, um, and rationalizing that “I’ve been so good and so perfect on my nutrition for so many days that this one day shouldn’t throw off my progress, so I don’t really need to mention it.”
Jordan: [00:06:19] Yeah. It’s funny. My first instinct when I got into coaching was actually: I must suck as a coach. Like, when a client wasn’t making progress I took it very personally on myself and was like, “this must mean I’m not a good coach,” which was like, it created a lot of stress and a lot of anxiety and– but the more you actually look into the research on this, and this goes very much into what you were saying, in which they’re not lying, usually, not always.
The vast majority of people, when they’re struggling to lose weight, are significantly underestimating how much they’re eating. And it’s not a malicious lie or a lie trying to deceive you. It’s literally, they just don’t know. They aren’t aware of it. Um, in the same way that, if you look at the research around people who struggle to gain weight, they consistently overestimate how much they’re eating. People are– they’re swearing up and down they’re eating a lot, they eat so much and all this stuff.
Mike: [00:07:18] And it’s 2,400 calories…
Jordan: [00:07:20] At most. I mean, I remember my buddy Tucker, in high school, he would always say he’d– he had really struggled to gain weight and he ate so much and I asked him what he ate for breakfast and I swear to God, he said “an egg.”
That was my response. I laughed. I was like– my buddy David was with me, we were like, “what’d you just say?” He was like, “I had an egg.” We’re like, “how many?” He was like, “one, I had an egg.” I was like, “number one, who the hell takes the time to cook one egg?”
But, it’s, it’s so funny he’s in medical school now, he’s one of the smartest people I know, but he’s, he’s, he comes from a very, very lean, skinny family, and he’s an incredibly lean, skinny kid. And, uh, and he just, he was swearing up and down he was doing everything right, but, but he would just get full super easily.
And it’s, you know, some people go, “oh, I’d love to have that problem,” but it’s like in the same way it can really suck to not be able to lose weight it can suck to not be able to gain weight, as well. Um, so once I realized that people weren’t usually maliciously lying or, or lying to deceive me, it– number one, it took a lot of the pressure off me in terms of, okay, so it’s not my fault per se, it’s not like I’m doing something wrong. It’s more, okay, how can we help these people become aware of how much they’re eating? That’s really the mindset that you have to go into here because I think a lot of the– a lot of the first response is to say, “well, clearly you’re eating too much. No, no, no. You’re eating too much.” You have to tell them what they’re doing wrong.
Mike: [00:08:48] What you want to do and what you do very well is make them aware in a way that doesn’t make them defensive.
Jordan: [00:08:56] 100%. And so, there’s many strategies you can do to try and get to this point where they’re aware of it first. Um, I think the first one that I usually do is, if they’re swearing up and down, number one, obviously look– have them write down everything they eat.
I think that’s the easiest thing to do. If you’re not already looking at their food logs, then you– they can either do a food log, they could send you a three-day food log. I generally like to have at least one weekend day in there. So, I have two regular days, like a Tuesday and a Thursday, and then one weekend day as well, something like that.
If you want to do seven days in a row, that’s fine. Uh, but also you have to be realistic and some people, they’re not going to do it for seven days straight. So, starting off with a three-day food log with making sure you get one weekend day in there is really important. And going over– above and beyond to say everything you eat and everything you put in your mouth. I don’t care if it’s an ice cube, write it down.
Mike: [00:09:47] And, and this is when a client swears up and down that they’re doing everything right, their nutrition is on point, but the scale simply isn’t moving week over week, waist measurements aren’t moving, they aren’t making any progress. And as the coach, you kindly request a three-day food log.
A lot of clients simply aren’t going to send that log. I shouldn’t say a lot, but more than you would expect simply aren’t going to send that food log, which leads to the answer. Right there. But, but many will…
Jordan: [00:10:21] And I would say before even doing the food log, I’ll actually– I should have mentioned this first, there’s a series of questions I’ll ask, one of them being– if they’re, if they’re getting frustrated with it. ‘Cause sometimes people won’t be even frustrated. They’ll be like, “oh no, I’m doing great.” And, but you’re looking at their progress and you want to say something, but you also– they’re doing great, like, where do you go from there? But for now, we’ll stick with the, if someone’s really frustrated. Like, I don’t know why it’s not working I’m doing perfectly. One of the first questions I’ll ask is, “how’s your hunger?” On a scale of 1 to 10, like 1 being not hungry at all, 10 being ravenous all the time, where are you?
And a lot of the times they’ll come back with, “you know, I’m really not that hungry. I’m like, maybe it’s a three, but it’s pretty standard.” And that’s the first telltale sign that they’re not hitting their calories, that they’re not in a deficit, because we all know with the calorie deficit, it comes some level of hunger, some increased level of hunger.
And if they’re not hungrier than usual, then it’s a really good sign that they’re eating more than they think they are. And um, so from there, then have them write down all their food. And then from there if they are writing down all the food– and a lot of times you’ll look at the, at what they’re writing and you’ll be like, “this looks great, like, this looks really good. This doesn’t make sense based on what I’m seeing.” Then you could say, all right, cool. Take pictures of everything you eat and send it to me for three days now, or for seven days, whatever it is. Because if, if the, if the writing comes back, sometimes they’ll be like, “Oh wow, like, I didn’t realize I was having this. I didn’t realize I was having this.” That might be enough for them to realize “I didn’t realize how much I was eating.” Then if that doesn’t work, the pictures is a good way to see the portion size. Or maybe there are sides that they didn’t actually write down and you’d be like, “well, what is that?”
They’re like, “oh yeah, I forgot to tell you I had lasagna.” It’s like, it’s like even though they were writing it down, but now you see pictures of it.
Mike: [00:12:05] Or, or, like you just said, portion sizes, which is so huge because, especially if you don’t have someone weighing and measuring their food — which often is extremely inconvenient and might not make sense for many clients — but if someone is eyeballing, uh, anything, let’s say lasagna. Let’s say they do record the lasagna, but they record it as– exactly.
Jordan’s doing a funny hand motion that one of our previous clients would, would say when– that Gary would reference.
Jordan: [00:12:39] Yeah, we got Gary. He would be fine with us saying it.
Mike: [00:12:42] There were many times Gary would come downstairs in the morning and, uh, I’d say, “how was dinner last night? What’d you eat?” Or “how was the game yesterday? What’d you eat?” And he’d kind of scratch his head, think and say, “you know, it was decent. I picked, I picked a little bit. Um. There were beans there were…” and then he would hold two of his, his thumb and his forefinger up and kind of move his hand back and forth, like, like a one-inch size bean. And kind of make a face and say “like this, like this beans” “like, okay. Anything else?” “Is there anything else? Protein. Uh, shrimp. Shrimp.” “Okay. Shrimps good.” You know, it was a little bit like pulling teeth some days.
Um, but many clients simply are misestimating portion size. So even if in their food log, they’re writing down everything that they’re eating, if they think that they’re having four ounces of salmon and they’re really having 12 ounces of salmon, the caloric difference they’re extrapolated out to various meals is going to lead to enough that they’re not making progress.
Jordan: [00:13:57] Especially if they already reduced their portion size, like maybe reducing their portion size would be, instead of having two helpings, they only have one, but that one helping is actually three servings, right? It’s like– and I think a lot of– this is one of the reasons why weighing your food is such an eyeopener for people, even if you only do it for a week, because it will show you what a true portion size looks like.
And if someone looks at what a true portion size of lasagna is, it’s very disheartening because it’s not a lot. It’s a, it’s a very small portion. So, they might be telling you, “Oh my God, no, I’m having like barely any lasagna at all.” But it’s actually two or three servings of lasagna.
Mike: [00:14:32] And it actually feels like barely any from where they were previously coming from.
Jordan: [00:14:36] Exactly. So, so then you get the pictures and then you can start to see, okay, so you can ask them– I won’t tell them. I won’t just be like, okay, well you realize that’s like a 1200 calorie plate right there. And you told them you had 1100 calories on the day, but I’ll say like, “how many calories would you estimate that plate to be?”
And they’ll come back and they’ll be like, “I don’t know, 400,” I’ll be like, “okay, this is where the issue is.”
Mike: [00:14:57] Yeah. And oftentimes there’ll be grateful, a little bit shocked…
Jordan: [00:15:01] Or they’ll be like, “what!?” And you’re like, “yeah, well get a food scale. Just weigh it out. Like test it out.” But this is, I think such an important learning process that– and it’s, I think the important thing to highlight here is from asking them where their hunger is, to ask them to write down the foods, to ask them to send pictures, this is a several week process. Like, this doesn’t happen in two days. This is over the course of several weeks where, I mean, first you have to go through the, the period of them not making progress, which can be at least two to four weeks.
Then you ask, “okay, cool, how’s your hunger?” Then you get them to write down their food. Then you get them to send the pictures. I mean, this is a period of, it could be two months where you’re progressively going and you might get really frustrated and get upset and just want to tell them what’s going on, but if you’re really a coach about sustainability and long-term results then what’s the rush?
If you’re preaching, “there’s no rush,” then act like it as the coach. There’s no rush and you can’t rush the conversation. You can’t rush the discussion. You can’t rush the learning process. A great coach doesn’t tell people what to see, they show them where to look. And so, if you can create that– and I didn’t make that quote up, by the way, that’s not my quote. Someone else is much smarter than I did said that. But the– if you can ask the right questions in the right way over the right period of time to help them come up with the answer on their own, they’re far more likely to succeed.
Mike: [00:16:23] Because when someone learns that way, they actually comprehend it. It actually has an impact in them, they internalize the lesson and they can apply it going forward. Compared to– I’ve probably been told correct things countless times in my life, but when it comes bluntly in one or two sentences, just in my face, I’m much less likely to take that message and apply it.
Jordan: [00:16:49] Exactly. 100%.
Mike: [00:16:51] You know what’s interesting, and if we have more to say on this, we can, but something you mentioned there was the client who’s a little bit disgruntled about their, uh, their lack of progress and how it’s almost an easier conversation because they’re initiating it and you can get to the bottom of what’s going on a little bit faster.
Jordan: [00:17:09] Yeah.
Mike: [00:17:10] I want to talk about the client who’s plateaued and is pretty content and is not really saying anything because that’s almost more, maybe not more interesting, but I think more difficult.
Jordan: [00:17:24] Yeah. Let me– I have one more combination of questions that I’d ask, and then we’ll go to that.
The last question I would ask, and this is the one that usually gets a really good response, like with a really, really– the clients that are struggling, the clients that are giving you a lot of problems that are like, they’re swearing up and down, they’re sending, they’re writing it down, the pictures, everything looks like it should be perfect.
Um, the next question that I go to is, first, “tell me one thing that you think you’re doing very well with your nutrition,” and second, “tell me one thing that you can improve with your nutrition.” And I like this combination of questions because it gives them an opportunity to be proud of what they’ve accomplished, to be proud of the changes they have made, and through doing that, now they’re also a little bit more open and can be a little bit more honest with, where they might be able to actually improve.
That one line with where they can improve, it will open a can of worms that otherwise might not have ever been even been seen or discussed.
And one of the more common ones is where they’ll say, “Oh, I’m super proud. You know, I’ve been eating way healthier food. You know, the quality of my food is improved,” which is great. And usually, and this– I’ve, I’ve done this hundreds of times. The most common is “I’m eating way healthier foods. And being way more consistent. The issue might be is that on the weekend, I’m not really tracking as well as I could,” or “the weekends aren’t as good as I could be doing,” something to that effect.
And my answer to that to that is not, “oh, got it. So, it’s the weekends!” From there, another follow-up question and be like, “oh, got it. So, tell me more about the weekends. What do you think is going on? What can you improve on the weekends?” “Oh, well, you know, I could probably track better,” or you know, “I could plan ahead better,” or, you know, “I’m drinking a lot and I’m usually going out and having a lot of chips and guac,” or whatever it is. And so literally– and I’ve had conversations with clients in one single thread where six messages up there swearing up and down, they’re doing everything right and then six messages down and they’re saying, “okay, yeah, you know, on the weekends are really not doing very well.” “I’m not actually tracking,” and it’s one of those things that goes back to what we said at the beginning where they’re not consciously or deliberately or deceivingly lying to you, it’s, they actually believe they’re doing everything right and it’s your job as the coach to lead them to the point in which they can finally realize, “oh, this is where I’m, I’m not being as accurate as I think.”
Mike: [00:19:37] And lead them there, not point at them.
Jordan: [00:19:42] Exactly.
Mike: [00:19:43] Which, which can be the default, especially for newer coaches.
Jordan: [00:19:49] Do you want to talk about that client who is basically, okay with not making forward progress?
Mike: [00:19:57] I don’t even know if I have anything to say about it other than from a coaching perspective it’s a weird place to be in, especially if it’s a client that you’ve been working with for a longer period of time. Because on the one hand, this person’s paying you money and you want to help them make the best possible progress based on where they are in their life, based on where they are in their training career, based on all of those factors.
Um, but on the other hand, like, I understand periods of not making progress because that’s part of life. So, going– like, I’ll go months myself without make– like maintenance is a win at times. Um, and so it’s tricky knowing exactly when to push and when to let someone coast because you can’t always be pushing, uh, that just doesn’t make sense. That’s not how any kind of long-term progress is made. Um, there’s always going to be periods of relaxation. There’s always going to be time you spend at maintenance calories. There’s always going to be times where you deload or let off the gas with volume, and that can be based on a season in that person’s life, or it can just be based on, “okay, we’ve been going this hard for this long, we can’t continue making this much progress.”
But finding that balance between letting someone– I guess the best word is coast. Um, versus saying, “okay, like should we get back to sending daily food logs?” Like, “should we get back on track with whatever the longer-term goal of, of getting down into this range when it comes to leanness and, and where you want to be and where you feel best?”
Jordan: [00:21:56] Yeah. And this is where I think it’s really important to know your client. Not just, not just the physiology of what’s going on and the progress they “should be making.” Are they a parent? Are they a single parent? Did they just get laid off work? Do they have a stressful job? Are they sick? Is their parents sick? Are they struggling financially? Whatever it is. If someone– we all know training is a stressor. We all know that, that if you, if you’re lifting very, very heavy, if you’re working really hard, or if you’re focusing really hard on your nutrition, it’s adding another stressor to your life.
And if you have a lot going on in your life elsewhere, then you can’t keep stacking on these stressors and expect to keep making progress. And I think one of the things that I’ve learned as a coach is you have to realize the value of something being very consistent and having a support system there and an accountability of some sort.
And I think there’s a tremendous amount of value if someone is in a period in their life in which focusing on losing weight or focusing on really being meticulous with their calories is not going to be good for them. And as the coach, it’s your responsibility to be there to support them and to provide them with some sort of structure and order, even if it’s not necessarily making “forward progress” on the scale, or in the gym, or at least just keeping the habit intact, I think is incredibly valuable.
And so I know as a coach, especially as a coach who wants to make sure everyone gets incredible results, it can be– you can almost feel like an impostor when like you just see this the same weight coming in every day, you know, they’re not really that excited about training necessarily. They’re just sort of giving you updates now and again, maybe they’re not even giving you that many updates. Maybe they’re, they’re not that in contact with you, but you get the new program every month and they’re like, “yep, everything is good. Thank you. I appreciate the program. It’s all set.” I think it’s, it’s in us they’re like, “listen, they’re paying us. We want to make sure they’re getting the absolute best.” But sometimes the absolute best in that point in time is just being there and giving them something to make sure that they can get in the gym and to focus on their nutrition in some way without necessarily over-focusing on it or overemphasizing it just being there if they don’t have to think about it.
Mike: [00:24:17] Yeah, that’s absolutely right. And that’s something that I, when I was first starting out coaching, really could have used that advice. And I think this is quite common among new coaches because one of the reasons that a lot of people get into personal training is, they are on the tail end of a very successful and very enjoyable fitness journey for themself.
And when you are coming out of a multi-month or multi-year phase of your own life, where fitness was one of the top three, if not the biggest focuses in your life. Like, you just talked about: single parent, getting laid off work, all these different stressors in life, and training might be 11th in someone’s life.
But if I’m in a position where I’m coming out of a place where I had it number one, two, three, kind of juggling between those positions for a couple of years and then decide to become a personal trainer, it can be hard when you’re in that mindset not to, uh, to put that on your client or to, to have that expectation of your client.
And for most people during most times, fitness just isn’t going to be that high on their priority list. And so yeah, like you said, providing the structure and kind of the, let’s call it a bare minimum framework to keep them going and keep them moving in a positive direction, or at least not let them back slide for certain periods of time in life, is an important skill to have as a coach.
Jordan: [00:25:59] Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. And I think it can be very difficult as a coach– and I think one of the more common questions coaches will ask either in their head or to their client, will be, “why did you hire me?” They’re like, “why? Why are we doing this?” And I think, you know, as someone who has done that in the past, regretfully. I would implore you–
Mike: [00:26:25] You mean asked that?
Jordan: [00:26:26] No, not ask that, but in my head thought that. Regretfully, I would have that feeling, be like, “why are you hiring me?” And I, and I think in some cases it’s warranted. If they’re not doing the workouts at all, like if I’m sending them a new workout, if they’re just not following the nutrition guidelines, if they’re not checking in at all, if they, if they’re just not doing it.
There’s a difference between someone not doing it and someone who is doing it, but not doing it with an intensity to try and be the best. There’s two different things: there’s someone who is not using your service at all and someone who is a using you to help improve their health and their life and maintain a healthy habit. Two different scenarios and I think because, like you said, a lot of coaches are either in the phase in which fitness is everything to them. They wake up, eat, sleep, breathe, dream fitness. Deadlifts, squats, movement, nutrition, whatever. They just assume when someone hires them, they want the pinnacle, they, they want that and some people will.
Mike: [00:27:27] Coming from such a good place.
Jordan: [00:27:28] Yeah, exactly.
Mike: [00:27:28] Because they want them to experience what they just went through.
Jordan: [00:27:31] Exactly. And the reality is, there’s a huge spectrum of what people are hiring you for and there’s a huge spectrum of, of where people prioritize fitness. And just because someone might prioritize fitness fifth or sixth or seventh on their list and not one or two like you, doesn’t mean that it’s not beneficial and doesn’t mean they’re not using you and not taking advantage of what you’re giving them. It just means that they’re not going to take it to the degree that you have, which, realistically, if they were going to take it to the degree that you have, then they’d probably be a coach in the first place. Which is why it’s like, we have to think about the net effect of what we’re doing.
If someone is going to the gym two to three times a week, if someone is now thinking more about the quality of food they’re putting in their body, they’re not shredded, they’re not losing tons of weight, but they’re exercising and they’re actively thinking more about the food and they’re, they’re looking to improve in some way, and you’re helping them be more consistent, the net positive is infinitely greater than you being like, “what are we doing here? Like, we should end this because you’re not shredded and this has been six months.” It’s like. And this is a difficult, difficult place for a coach, but you really have to think — if you’re not working with them, if you’re not giving them their program, if you’re not there for their accountability and for their support system, then who will be? Either someone who might not have as good as intent or nobody at all. Which means, like, it’s your job to be like, “you know what? Me being here is better than not being here.”
Mike: [00:29:00] And you’re comparing kind of maintenance progress or, or keeping your head above water is the term that’s coming to mind for me to this elite pinnacle of fitness, like getting shredded, being an unbelievable shape, when the way you should be looking at it is: what could or what happened to that client if you weren’t there?
Keeping their head above water, getting some workouts and keeping some semblance of a reasonable diet versus letting it all go to hell and not working out at all and letting nutrition completely fall off.
Jordan: [00:29:35] 100%.
Mike: [00:29:36] Yeah. It’s interesting. What else do we have on our, on our list of common client problems?
Jordan: [00:29:44] How long– how long has this so far?
Mike: [00:29:46] We’re, I think we’re almost a half hour in.
Jordan: [00:29:48] Okay, good. Do you want to talk about– this is a less common one, but still relatively common and I think very important to discuss. The common issue, which is a lot of clients will have, when they say they’re not getting stronger– they like, they’re getting the gy– they’re not making progress.
And there, there are many, many forms of this, um, for example– and, and we have one on the board. We’ll talk about that one in a second. I have another one that just popped in my mind where, for example, someone will be like, “I’m just, I’m just not making progress on my bench press” for example. “I’m just not getting stronger.”
And I’ll be like, “okay, well, how much did you bench press today?” And usually it comes after a session, which wasn’t their favorite or wasn’t their best, right. It was maybe less than the week before. And all my clients, I have them track their weights used and all that stuff. Like, “okay, cool. So, what’d you bench press today?”
And they’ll tell me, and then “what’d you bench press last week?” And they’ll tell me, and “what’d you bench press the whole month before?” And I’ll look, I have all the numbers and we’ll look and I’ll be like, “okay, so three weeks ago, you hit a personal record. Today, you didn’t hit that personal record. How often do you expect to be increasing your bench press or your squat or your deadlift?”
And they’ll be like, “I dunno,” “like, like, do you expect it to go up every single session?” And they’re like, “well, no.” I’m like, “okay, what about every two sessions?” “Like, no.” I’m like, “do you expect to be your strongest every single time you go in the gym?” “No.” “Okay. So, you know, it’s like this is pretty normal.” And one of the ways I love to phrase it is if you increased your bench press by 10 pounds every month. Then at the end of the year, you’d have a bench press 120 pounds heavier. In two years, it’d be 240 pounds heavier. That’s an insane bench press. Most people never bench press 240 pounds. Not to mention, like if you’re already benching ,we’ll call it a hundred pounds–
Mike: [00:31:39] Yeah, they’re not starting to zero.
Jordan: [00:31:40] Right. If you already bench a hundred pounds, which is like a relative– I’d say that’s a standard weight for, for men and women. A hundred pounds. Like, most women can, can do that within several months to a year of training. Um, what, you’re going to be benching another hundred and 20 pounds on top of that?
So, 220 pounds, like, no, I mean some– most, most of women never had to 220 and I’d actually say most men never get to 220 pounds. Like, it’s a lot of weight. And when you frame it that way: 10 pounds a month would add 120 pounds to your bench press it’s all of a sudden like, “Oh, okay.”
So, if it’s 10 pounds a month and like your– like that would be if you added five pounds every month, that would be huge. But now that changes a huge perspective shift in terms of how much you can expect to gain every session, and which means that you’re going to go in and most sessions you not going to get stronger.
I think that the beginner phase of training can sort of set people up for disappointment because when you go in, when you’re a beginner, you’re adding weight almost every time, like almost every week, and then after that, it’s maybe every couple sessions, then after that, maybe every month and when it slows down, it’s like, “what’s going on?” But you’re just not going to– you’re not going to get that much stronger every time, and you have to frame it in a way that is sticky enough for them to understand, like, if you add 10 pounds a month it’s 120 pounds a year and that’s not going to happen.
Mike: [00:33:03] Right. Yup. And setting that expectation is huge. And adjusting the expectation when they’re beyond the beginner phase is huge. And giving your clients something else to focus on other than the amount of weight they are using, um, such as a double progression rep scheme. If they’re lifting in the 8 to 10 rep range, getting all three sets in at eight reps, and if they can use the same weight and get all three sets in at nine reps, or even one or two of their sets in at nine reps and the other set at eight reps with the same weight. That’s amazing progress. And reframing strength gains outside of just putting more plates on the end of the bar, using heavier dumbbells, but onto, you know, things we’ve talked about on this podcast: decreasing rest time, uh, increasing time under tension, um, integrating things like pause reps, uh, adding another set per exercise, adding reps on a given set. These are all forward progress toward the goal and nice little markers of strength gain that come between actually seeing the weight go from 185 to 195.
Jordan: [00:34:27] And I think this is one of the most important reasons why you need to get technique videos from your clients.
Because if your client is bench pressing 135 for 5 and then a month later or two months later they’re bench pressing 135 for 5 and they send you technique videos and they’re upset that they haven’t gotten stronger, but you can compare the first time to 135 for 5, and they’re dropping the bar on their sternum and it looks like they’re going to go to the hospital, versus now a month later, two months later or whatever, they’re controlling it down, it’s nice and it’s easy. Like, their technique is great. You make a side by side comparison. You say, “are you kidding me? Look at this. Here you look like a flopping fish, here you look like actually like a really strong lifter,” and I think– I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt: getting technique, videos and also progress pictures– but technique videos and doing side-by-sides and sending them to clients does a couple things.
Number one, they’re shocked at how much they’ve improved and how much better their lifts look. Also, it makes them trust you and it makes them really happy that, like, you’re with them and that, you know, you go back to a video they might’ve sent you six months, eight months ago, you show them, “look, like, look at how far you’ve come.”
They forgot they even took that video. They forgot they even sent that, but you still have that on file. It’s super important to have those because it builds trust and it builds– it, it lets them know that they’re not just a number on your list of clients, that you actually care about them and that you’re monitoring their progress, and I think it’s super important.
Mike: [00:35:55] Yeah. Both of those points are amazing, especially the fact that you’re a personal trainer. Like, you are an expert or as close to expert in this field. You’re very close to an expert in this field will say, um, your client isn’t going to be able to pick out those nuanced forms of progress.
And so, showing them and shedding light on that for them is really going to be encouraging and help continue to keep high levels of motivation and keep a positive attitude in their training and in their outlook on their fitness journey. Which is huge because without that, it can be easy to let it all fall by the wayside.
Jordan: [00:36:46] On that note, and sort of switching gears a little bit. I would have clients send me progress pictures and they would look remarkably different, and they’d be like, “I don’t see the difference,” and I’d have a conniption. I’d be like, “what do you mean this doesn’t look different? Like are you looking at the same person that I am?”
And you have to realize if you’re looking at progress pictures on a consistent basis, you’ve spent time studying to see what certain body fat percentages look like. You have a trained eye in that you know what to look for. You know what body parts look at, you know what to compare them to. They might– and not to mention they’re looking at themselves, so there’s already a distorted view.
One of the things that I would do whenever I would send progress pictures is, number one, I would ha– I would actually get front view, side view, and back view. If you’re only getting front view, you’re screwing yourself and your client because sometimes you’re not going to see a drastic difference front view — you will see it side view or back view, depending on where they store their fat, depending on how they’re built, whatever it is.
One of my favorite things to do with people who would look at their pictures and not see a difference is I’d put them side by side. And, for example, if their belly came out a certain amount far, then I would draw a line from their belly straight down, all the way to the floor and show them how far their belly came out to the floor, and then do it with the newer picture straight down, like from like the apex of their belly down to the floor or whatever it is.
And you could see the distance is now significantly closer to their feet or whatever it is. They’d be like, “oh my God, I never would have seen that if you didn’t draw that picture.” It’s like, it’s super important and you can’t just– in the same thing that Mike was talking about with technique videos: don’t just show them their bench press from before and after and expect them to see what you see. Say like, “look here in the first one, your elbows are flared out, your tech– you barely even touch your chest, or you’re dropping the bar with no control. Here, your elbows stay under the bar, you control it all the way down to your chest, you use a full range of motion, your butt stays on the bench,” whatever it is. “Now you have a very good bench press,” and they’re looking at it like, “I didn’t know any of that,” like, or “I knew it because you just said it and it all makes sense, but I didn’t know enough to recite it myself to pull those out on my own.” Really important to understand.
Mike: [00:38:52] Yeah. Waist measurements are another one because– especially with certain types of clients, the types of clients who have a propensity to recomp: a beginner, uh, someone who has strength training experience, but has recently taken time off and then gotten back into it with you.
That person is likely to stay around the same scale weight, depending on where you have calories, but that person has the capacity to build muscle and lose fat in the same few month window and they might be nowhere near their expectation on how much weight they’ve lost, but their waist measurement is down three inches or four inches.
And so, having clients track that metric, um, is something that has helped me shed light on the amount of progress someone is making, especially in situations where they’re building muscle and losing fat.
Jordan: [00:39:53] Yeah. The other common scenario in relation to not getting stronger with clients is– and this is just the most common one that I’ve heard, but there are many variants of it.
Basically, a client will get very frustrated when they feel like they’re not getting stronger. Specifically, with shoulders, I see this a lot. And lateral shoulder raises really piss people off, where like “I’ve been using the twelves or the fifteens for six months and I’m not getting any stronger.” I’m like, I use the fifteens.
And I always say, “go look at professional bodybuilders or lifter videos online. What they’re using for lateral shoulder raises.” It’s not much. Like, I think the most I’ve ever seen anyone uses 40s and that’s insane, and that was like a 300-pound dude doing those, like, for 6s. Like, not a lot.
And I think, um, having a video like that of a, of a high-level lifter using a very light amount of weight is very beneficial to show them. You can tell them all day, “well, yeah, you know, it’s a smaller muscle group. Like the leverages are more difficult.” Whatever it is, show them someone who’s high-level doing it with a certain amount of weight and show them this is normal. Like, you can explain the biomechanics all you want. You can explain how like the differences in muscle type and isolation exercises versus compound movement– show them.
Mike: [00:41:11] That’s the kind of thing that’s going to be more interesting to you or me or another coach. But for a client, seeing Dorian Yates in his prime, a video of him doing lateral raises with–
Jordan: [00:41:22] 30s or whatever it is. Yeah, and it’s really important as a coach to remember: most of your clients, not all of them, most of them don’t give a– I was going to swear, but I’m trying not to cuss as much– don’t care as much.
Mike: [00:41:37] Interesting.
Jordan: [00:41:38] Just because, especially with the podcast– and I’d do it on my, my last one, because a lot of people listen to podcast with their children around, in the car and stuff.
Mike: [00:41:48] Bro. In 2016 that was the one piece of feedback I was getting on YouTube that was– this is a slight derail of the conversation, but that “I really like watching you with my kids and I feel like you have a lot of good things to say that I want them to hear, but all the F-bombs and all the swearing,” and that was the one thing that actually hit.
Jordan: [00:42:11] That’s exactly why. That’s exactly why I changed. My, my ratings on my own podcast were great, but the only ones that people were a little bit upset were like, “I want to listen, but the only time I can do it is like when I’m driving my car with my kids or whatever it is, and I just can’t.” And I’m like, it’s not worth it for me to swear and not have them be able to listen.
So well, slight derailment on that, but uh, yeah, most of your clients won’t care. They won’t care about the biomechanics. They won’t care about the leverages. They won’t care about isolation versus compound exercises. They won’t care about the anterior pelvic tilt. They won’t care about the book that you just read.
They won’t care. They just won’t care. And why should they care? It’s like they’re coming to you so that you can tell them what to do because they don’t care enough to be able to do it or learn it on their own or because they have other things in their life they care more about it.
It’s like if you went to, I don’t know, uh, if you went on a boat, on a boat cruise and the captain of the boat wanted to tell you about how all the, like, the boat is working and why it– like whatever it is. Like, “listen, I’m just trying to get across the river. That’s all I care about.”
Mike: [00:43:14] My accountant just came to mind and I was like, “I don’t care about changes in the tax code or what new law was written in. Like, I just want to save as much money as I can, please.”
Jordan: [00:43:23] That’s it. It’s like “I just want to lose weight and get stronger and I don’t want you to tell me about Shirley Sahrmann and Upper Cross Syndrome. I don’t care.”
Mike: [00:43:35] So, lateral raises.
Do we have anything else to say on, on clients who are feeling like they’re not progressing on strength?
Jordan: [00:43:46] I think the biggest message that we can get across is to figure out a way to frame it in which it– that they can see it and figure out on their own logically that it doesn’t make sense for them to be gaining an insane amount of strength, hand over fist, session after session.
Mike: [00:44:03] And it’s important that we make the caveat that this is within reason, meaning if you have a client who is in a calorie surplus trying to gain strength and muscle and their bench press hasn’t gone up in six months,
Jordan: [00:44:17] That’s a problem.
Mike: [00:44:18] Yeah. We’re not saying that you should show them videos and kind of like skirt around the issue. We’re talking about clients who have, for whatever reason, unrealistic expectations about the rate at which they should be gaining strength.
Jordan: [00:44:32] That being said, maybe we should talk about another scenario in which they should have been getting stronger, but they’re actually not. And I think some of the more common ones I see– so here’s what I see. I see, generally speaking, men tend to be more willing to sacrifice technique in order to be able to lift heavier, and women tend to be, tend to be more willing to sacrifice rest time and go jump too early into a set ’cause they want to be moving very, very quickly.
And a lot of times women will be very upset that they’re not getting stronger, I’m like, “okay, well how long has your rest period?” And they’ll be like, “I don’t know, 30 seconds.” I’m like, “okay, we gotta about quadruple that. And, and rest a little bit.” And it can be very difficult, especially if they’re coming from a more cardio-based background or a classes background, and they’re coming into the strength training world because they’re expecting to be super sweaty and they’re like– and one of the questions I’ll ask like, “how long did it take you to finish your workout?”
They’re like “25 minutes.” Like, “okay, we got to double that.” And it’s like, “I want you to slow it down. Really focus on lifting heavier weight.” One of my favorite sayings is, you know, “lifting weights isn’t supposed to tickle, like it’s supposed to be difficult. It’s supposed to be hard.” If you’re not finishing your last two to three reps with a struggle, then you’re not lifting heavy enough.
You should be aiming to finish your sets where it’s very, very difficult. Where, when the set is over, your heart is pounding, like, you might not sweat– some people sweat more than others. I sweat peeling an orange, but like– that was, that was a line from, what was his name? Kevin James. You know Kevin James?
That was from his stand up. That was one of the funniest lines I ever heard. He was like, he was like, “big guys don’t need a reason to sweat.” He’s like, “I sweat peeling an orange.”
Um, but sweating isn’t necessarily an indicator of whether or not you’re lifting hard. It can be, but your heart rate should be jacked up by the end of a heavy set. I think one of the more common questions or areas of concern or uncertainty from, from newer clients is “this program isn’t hard enough.”
It’s like the program can be as hard as you’re willing to make it. You have to be willing to lift heavier weight. And I think especially, I’ve seen this more with women where, they get nervous to lift heavier, whether it’s because they think it’s going to make them bulky or because they, they’re scared of getting injured.
And really, you know– this is, again, why videos are so important. Say, “hey, send me a video of your goblet squat for 10 reps,” and they’re doing it with 20 pounds, and like it’s just breezy and there’s no problem. It’s like, “cool, so go up to 50,” and usually the response is like “50?!” It’s like, “yeah, go up to 50,” “like I can’t do that.”
“Yeah, you can. Do it.” And then the next response is usually like, “Oh my God, that was amazing. I loved that. It was so hard. I felt empowered.” It’s like, “yeah. Cool.” And you can’t really know that unless you, you can watch it. ‘Cause a lot of times, especially if you’re using an RPE scale and they’ve never used an RPE scale and they’ve never actually lifted before, they might say it’s like a seven or an eight when in reality it was more like a three or a four.
Mike: [00:47:30] Mmhm.
Should we move to clients who are always hungry?
Jordan: [00:47:37] Yeah. But not losing weight?
Mike: [00:47:39] But not losing weight.
Jordan: [00:47:40] Yeah. You wanna take that one?
Mike: [00:47:43] So there are going to be a lot of similarities to this, this issue to the first one that we discussed. Um, but the biggest solution that stands out in my mind for a client who is not losing weight, is tracking their food, is on point, and is starving all of the time. Uh, comes down to the timing and food choices that they’re making and more food choices than timing. There’s some variability from person to person in what meal timing schedule works best for them. And you can play with different meal sizes and frequency.
But, um, for clients of mine that I’ve coached who are in a reasonable deficit where, not an extreme calorie deficit, they shouldn’t be starving, but they are, for whatever reason, is often a result of a lack of micronutrient dense, fiber dense food. They’re just not eating enough fruits and vegetables, or any.
Um, a lot of calorically dense foods. So, getting carbs from candy or simple sugar, uh, a lot of processed foods, a lot of, like, fast food, even if they’re working it into their calories and their macronutrients. Um, just basically eating foods that are so much less satiating and not because they feel like they’re getting away with something or for any other reason than the don’t know that eating more fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, more traditionally healthy foods is actually going to lead to them feeling more full and feeling better on the same number of calories.
Jordan: [00:49:35] You know? It’s been a huge learning experience for me, I’d say over the last three to five months. I don’t know when I started doing it, but I, I put on my Instagram when someone was like, “how do I not be so hungry all the time?” I said, “have one big ass salad every day.” One of the– this was probably one of the most impactful things I’ve said as a coach and that I’ve realized because the number of people who’ve messaged me like hundreds and thousands of people being like, “Oh my God, I can’t tell you how much this has helped me. I’m so much more full now,” and I’m like, it’s literally just adding a bowl of vegetables to your day. That’s all it is. And we’ve said forever, “eat more fruits and vegetables,” but it was the way that I said it, that finally made it stick. Where you could say, “yeah, eat more fruits and vegetables” and people are like, “yeah, yeah, yeah. I know.”
But when I say, make one of your meals a salad, all of a sudden, they’re like, “Oh. Okay.” And just doing that has been tremendously beneficial and people have been like, “I am so much more full now.” And it’s like, “go figure, you’re having a bowl of vegetables every day for lunch.”
Mike: [00:50:40] That’s like great lesson in marketing and in like thought and idea creation.
Jordan: [00:50:47] Yeah.
Mike: [00:50:48] Right? Because everyone knows that they should eat more vegetables, and many people might even have an idea as to why or what many of the benefits are, but by framing it the way that you did, and in like a made to stick kind of way, has more of an impact.
Jordan: [00:51:08] They think about it more, it’s much more concrete.
For example, everybody knows they should be exercising and walking more. I think of the 10,000 steps a day has helped a lot of people walk more because now they have a specific target to shoot for. I think, some people, that 10,000 step number might be almost too intimidating, so one way to do it is like walk around your house five times a day, like the perimeter of your house five times.
I don’t know how many steps that’ll be, but I guarantee it will be more than if they didn’t do any. And like that just– I think one of the main keys to making things sticky is concreteness. Like, a very clear idea of exactly what they can do to improve. And if someone’s struggling with, with hunger, number one is you can always ask, I think the best thing to as is like, “so, okay, so you’re always hungry.”
Rather than being like, “okay, well looking at your food log clearly like you’re eating like an asshole. So, here’s what we can do,” say, “okay, so looking at your food log, what is one thing that you think you’re doing very well and what is one thing you think that you can do to improve?” And they’ll be like, “well, you know, I, I’m having oatmeal for breakfast and I never used to have oatmeal for breakfast.” “That’s amazing. Awesome. What can you improve?” “Uh, well, you know what? I am, uh, I’m having at least two glasses of wine every night, and that’s taking up a significant number of calories. So maybe I could drop that to one glass of wine, or maybe I could drop that to four glasses per week or something like that.”
“I love that. Great. Now you’ve just dropped by like a thousand calories,” or whatever it is. So, then they’ll tell you some places they can improve and usually they’ll tell you something that they know in their gut they should be doing, but haven’t done yet. And because they’ve come up with the idea on their own, now they’re more likely to stick with it and now you’re there to hold them accountable.
And, from there, then you can also look at other things and you can progress. But again, just one thing at a time. You don’t have to change everything, but just usually when they make that one change and they see the improvement in the result from it, then they’ll want to make more changes from there.
So, I think whether it’s having a big ass salad every day or whatever, or reducing their alcohol intake, or, I mean, one of my favorite things, I think this is one of my all-time favorite tips. I think Dan John said this. 2010, 2012 something like this, “if you struggle to gain weight, have a protein shake after every meal. If you struggle to lose weight, have a protein shake before every meal.”
And I’ve loved that ever since. And it’s a very simple way of basically being like, “drink more before you eat, so you’re full if you’re trying to lose weight.” And then “here’s some easy ways to get calories after you eat if you get full and you need to get more calories in.” Super simple.
And you could say, “yeah, drink, drink water before every meal.” A lot of people aren’t going to do that. It’s just like, “oh, whatever. I’m not going to do that,” but for– there’s something about a protein shake now that makes it more interesting and more like–
Mike: [00:53:58] Psychologically stimulating.
Jordan: [00:53:59] Psychologically. Exactly.
Mike: [00:54:01] And also physiologically having some protein is going to blunt their appetite before a meal.
Jordan: [00:54:04] 100%. Yeah.
Mike: [00:54:05] That is great. I hadn’t heard that, but I really liked that.
Jordan: [00:54:08] Yeah. It’s one of my favorite ones. I made an infographic on that a while ago, and it did really, really well. Just like “for fat loss, do this,” “from asking, do this.” Some people got really mad at me being like, “oh, really? Like you just have to do that for fat loss?” I’m like, “no, it’s not what I’m saying. It’s just going to help with hunger.”
So, uh, and then some people are the, there’ll be like, well, “isn’t that much protein bad for you? Like you shouldn’t be having three protein shakes a day.” It’s like, “listen, I mean–”
Mike: [00:54:31] You don’t have to do it every meal for the rest of your life.
Jordan: [00:54:33] You don’t have to do that, and if you want, fine, I don’t care, have a chicken breast before every meal if you want to, I mean, I think it’s a little bit uncomfortable, but like, it’s the same thing, essentially. Chicken breast and water. Before every meal. Good luck.
Mike: [00:54:44] Enjoy.
We’re coming up on an hour.
Jordan: [00:54:50] I think that was good.
Mike: [00:54:51] Yeah. I think we had a lot of good ideas in there. I enjoy talking about client communication and, uh, more of the applicable coaching stuff. Um, again, Jordan and I are both interested to hear what you want to hear more of. So please let us know if you have thoughts or feedback or ideas or, uh, things you want to hear us talk about in upcoming episodes.
Jordan: [00:55:15] Yeah. I don’t know any– I mean, I don’t listen to podcasts, but I don’t know of any other podcasts that talk about this kind of stuff. So, I love it. I’m having a lot of fun and thank you so much to everyone who’s left a review already, they really do help a lot. So, if you haven’t done that, we would– it would mean a lot to us.
A five-star review would be incredible. If you hate the show, a one-star view would obviously suck, but tell your truth.
Um, and again, huge congratulations to everyone who has joined the mentorship. We’re wicked excited to have you. We did the first live yesterday. The first challenge is well underway. Uh, you’re more than welcome to join now if you’d like.
The sale is over. Um, it’s $1,000 to join in the $99 a month after that. Cancel anytime you want. The link is in the show notes and thank you so much.
Mike: [00:55:59] Have a great day, everyone.
Jordan: [00:56:00] Buh bye.