6 Conditioning Finishers for New Personal Training Clients

TAGS: conditioning finishers, Brandon Smitley, personal training

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I’ve been fortunate enough to be personal training for more than a decade now. With many training options moving toward the online training space, working with clients in person is becoming more challenging. Compound this with new clients who get into the personal training space, most of whom are wanting results now, and you’ve got an even bigger challenge.

Over my years of training clients and now running my own training facility, I’ve learned some tricks not only to help to deliver results more efficiently but also to help to create buy-in from your clientele.

Just as with any personal training client, make sure that you’re doing your homework and implementing some kind of needs assessment and consultation with a health history questionnaire. This will be your first piece to help you to set up a training program with the client’s goals in mind. Most personal training clients are coming to you to lose weight. We all know that strength training is an important part of this puzzle to help to improve body composition and movement quality, but 90% of clients are a bit skeptical when it comes to lifting weights. Provide your information on how this will aid the client in reaching his or her goals.


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An important factor I’ve learned over the years is to end a training session with a client with something that he or she enjoys based on his or her goals. Most clients are going to remember the beginnings and ends of their training sessions. They want to leave knowing that they got great workouts, but this will also help to keep you on their minds later in the day. With new clients, though, this can be a challenge because exercise selection needs to be safe but also easy to learn and adopt early on.

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For example, when I work with clients who want to lose weight, I always implement finisher and conditioning components that work the areas they want to improve. This will vary based upon what your clients want, but generally, they’re looking to improve the following areas:

  • Glutes and hamstrings
  • Shoulders
  • Arms
  • Abs

As trainers and coaches, we know you can’t “spot reduce” an area. Weight loss doesn’t work that way. We can educate our clients all we want, but if they don’t feel that the areas they want to improve are being worked, they can at times feel that they are leaving their sessions on a bad note.

Below are six conditioning finishers that I’ve used to help clients to end tremendous sessions but also give them swift kicks in the asses, coming back for more.

Finisher #1 - Full Body

3 Rounds - 30, 20, 10 Reps

  • Split Squats
  • Band Pressdowns
  • Band Pull-throughs
  • Hand Elevated Mountain Climbers

This finisher is known as a “chipper” in the CrossFit space, but for each round, the reps for each exercise decrease. The following exercises are relatively easy to coach and execute for most clients. We’re addressing single-leg work, glutes and hamstrings, the triceps, and abs with an upbeat tempo.

Finisher #2 - Full Body

6:00-Min AMRAP

This finisher gives us a time cap with performing as many rounds as possible, with the reps decreasing for each exercise. This will allow us to use some weight for stronger clients but also to stick with bodyweight exercises if needed. I really like this finisher, as it hits a tremendous amount of big movement patterns in a safe manner.

Finisher #3 - Ab Focused

3 Rounds

  • 25 Yard Suitcase Carry (Per Side)
  • 10 Deadbugs (Per Side)
  • 10 Band Pallof Presses (Per Side)
  • 10 Toe Touches

This finisher is for the client who is wanting all of the “core” work. We have a plethora of exercises that resist movement, which will help to aid our clients in more real-work applications. Toe touches can be used to help them to feel their abs contract. I’ll admit that I’m not big on toe touches, but if I can have the client do three exercises I really like, for one that he or she likes - that’s a win in my book.

Finisher #4 - Upper Body

3 Rounds

  • 25 Band Face Pulls
  • 20 Band Pressdowns
  • 15 DB Curls
  • 12 Lateral Raises

When I get male clients who want to fill their shirts out, I love sending them home with finishers that blow their arms and shoulders up. These aren’t really big exercises, but if they are performed at an upbeat pace, the newer client who is detrained will have his or her heart rate spike relatively high and leave with a pump that he or she won’t forget.

Finisher #5 - Lower Body

5:00-Min AMRAP

  • 12 Walking Lunges
  • 12 Goblet Squats
  • 12 KB Swings
  • 12 Glute Bridges

We all get that female client who is wanting to improve her butt and legs. A finisher like this will do wonders to have her realize that her butt is on fire the next day and her legs feel like Jell-O. We also get a chance to coach up good-quality exercises and build on good movement patterns. These five minutes will have her leaving highly satisfied.

Finisher #6 - Ass Kicking

3 Rounds

This finisher is designed for the client who is just wanting an ass kicking. Obviously, no conditioning-based finisher is complete unless you give your clients the taste of the Prowler. Add in some rowing, med ball slams, and band pull-aparts for active recovery while they catch their breath, and you’ve got a finisher that will have your clients leaving drenched with exercises that they can immediately pick up on and get to work.

In Summary

Although these are just some of the conditioning finishers I’ve used, you can certainly come up with your own using similar ideas. When I’m creating these, I always try to ensure that I’m picking exercises that are safe, are easily coachable in a short amount of time, aid in quality movement patterns, and meet the client’s goals. Understand that you might have to meet the client halfway sometimes, and that’s okay. If the main part of your training program did its job (addressed big movements, focused on weak areas, and aided in building some muscle and strength), this will be icing on the cake that helps to sell your clients so that they keep coming back for more.

Header image credit: Wavebreak Media Ltd © 123rf.com

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