Tips on Programming Workouts for Clients post Quarantine
4 min read

Tips on Programming Workouts for Clients post Quarantine

Laura Su
Jun 30, 2020 4 min read

Shelter-in-place orders have lifted a bit in some areas of the USA. Here in Seattle, we are resuming one-on-one personal training as well as workout builder programs and some counties down south have reopened private training facilities for members to come train. 

Get ready for workout builder programs post Quarantine
Get ready for workout builder programs post Quarantine

One glaring commonality between all of my clients who are now back in the gym with me is that… Phew, we are all outta shape! 

Yes, my clients were doing home workouts. But home workouts with minimal equipment can’t compare to the gains you make in the gym with a well-planned workout builder programs. Plus personal adherence? While I give my clients the benefit of the doubt, it can be questionable.

The Road to (Fitness) Recovery..

How can we bring clients back to where they were before COVID left them without a gym?

I often see trainers make the mistake of being so afraid of injuring a client or making them think that the workout builder program is “too hard” that they end up giving them workouts that treat them like fragile creatures. And while this is probably a good thing for maybe the first session or two, especially if you don’t know your client yet, your job is simple; get your clients the results they want and deserve. This applied before and during quarantine and it applies after quarantine as well.

1. Talk with your client.

Focus especially on the ones who think they can jump back into doing what they were doing before the quarantine. 

2. Discuss how short-term goals. 

Goals may have changed, so it’s important to strategize with your client to get them back to where they were befor

3. Don’t worry about fancy workout programming.

When it comes to the programming side of things, don’t worry about fancy exercises or glorified mobility drills to “help get people moving correctly again”. After ~3 months of doing virtually nothing or working with bodyweight workouts in the living room, people need to rebuild! They will feel winded, weaker, less explosive, and will be surprised how hard it is to get back into the gym. This is completely normal!

So how can we get our clients back to where they were pre-quarantine?

Are you ready for this?

Do what got them to where they were.

That’s right. Nothing crazy or extraordinary.

A well-structured program should be able to work on the same fundamental movement patterns and strengthen major muscle groups without all the fancy fluff exercises that we so commonly see on social media. 180-degree burpee tuck jumps? No thanks, stick to goblet squats.

Get both clients and yourself ready for workout builder program post Quarantine.
Get both clients and yourself ready for workout builder program post Quarantine.

There are six fundamental movement patterns that I train throughout the week with every client. The exercise or modality to train each movement pattern may vary from person to person and varies in intensity/weight used depending on experience level. During each week, we train:

  • Squats
  • Hinges
  • Lunges
  • Pushes
  • Pulls
  • Carries 

All of these movements are advanced regularly with progressive overload to keep seeing improvements. This often breaks down into something as simple as picking just one movement from each category and performing 8-12 repetitions at a moderate RPE. If someone was working out more than once or twice a week, I could split up these movements to work them over the week.

For example, here’s a workout builder program that one of my clients did her first training session back in the gym:

  • Warm-up: 3 minutes on the rower, full-body dynamic stretches
  • Prehab/Movement prep: Banded lateral monster walks 4x10e
  • A1) Barbell Romanian Deadlifts 5×8 (Hinge)
  • B1) Bench Press 4×8 (Press)
  • C1) Step Ups 3x8e (lunge)

… And that was all she did because her first workout back was ROUGH and she had to take breaks more often than usual! And that’s fine.

Any workout can feel hard and any trainer can make a client feel tired. Don’t be the trainer who makes people run, jump, and roll “just because”. Have a rhyme and reason behind why you program what you program. You have an invaluable responsibility; making sure your clients get the results they deserve safely and without wasting their time. Since most people will have experienced some level of muscular atrophy from quarantine inactivity, building back up their base strength is one of the most effective ways to get back their pre-quarantine fitness.

The Basics Work

If you click on this post to read some revolutionary, ground-breaking way to program and get your clients accelerated results to get them back to pre-quarantine shape, I’m sorry to disappoint you. At the end of the day, basics work. 

  • Train fundamental movement patterns
  • Teach your clients to move and train smart
  • Value simple over fancy
  • Implement progressive overload.

Don’t be afraid to scale it back down when your clients get back into the gym. Slowly progress back up and implement the same awesome methods you used to get them to where they were!

If you have any questions about what I said in this article or want to discuss programming, please reach out! My email is – I’m always looking to connect with other professionals in the industry!

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