As a personal trainer, Karen Schutters develops a plan based on a client's individual needs.
While muscle building is a goal of some male clients, most aren't looking for large gains in muscle size initially, she says. Instead, they are concerned with losing body fat and getting their bodies toned - something that requires a unique plan of action for that individual, she says.
"There can be a huge variation between clients' programs," says Schutters, who owns Priority Fitness Personal Training Center in Munster.
Because preferences can vary among workouts, personal trainers draw from many sources to create that individual plan.
"Upon learning a client's goals, many times we will perform several fitness tests based on this information," Schutters says. "We may test body fat percentage, one-repetition max bench press and a cardiovascular fitness test."
This gives the trainer an opportunity to set objective, measurable goals and to set a re-test date to compare growth.
"Our plan of action is constructed based on goals and a time frame for reaching them," she says.
Terry Peckat, a personal trainer at Franciscan Omni Health and Fitness in Schererville, says many men also are concerned with nutrition and the proper foods needed to fuel the body, which include good fats, protein and carbohydrates.
A man's personalized workout plan also may include a daily calorie goal and amounts of protein ingested at each meal, especially if the goal is to gain muscle size, or hypertrophy, Schutters says.
"Each person, male or female, has different needs as far as vitamins and minerals, and those are addressed if necessary," she says. "More importantly, we educate all clients on how their current diet may be preventing them from experiencing the fitness gains they seek."
While exercise protocols vary widely, most should also stress great posture and how to control the body while imposing instability, Peckat says. Workout plans require attention to detail, something Peckat says personal trainers can help clients maneuver.
"Exercise is medicine," Peckat says. "It has to be applied in the right dose at the right time with the correct recovery time needed between doses."
When looking for a personal trainer, Schutters recommends looking at the trainer's experience, personality and personal success.
"To me, personal success is described as walking the walk and talking the talk," she says.
In her own personal fitness program, she has utilized a variety of training methods, diet manipulations, supplement programs and workout routines, she says.
"This gives me a strong foundation of knowledge to pull from in building a client's workout routine and diet recommendations," Schutters says.
While the personalities of the trainer and client don't need to match perfectly, they shouldn't conflict, she says.
"Personality is important because so much of our job as a personal trainer comes down to motivating our clients to constantly make sound choices in their level of physical activity and diet," she says.
Clients should also be specific when outlining their goals with their personal trainer, but be open to variations as well.
"Sometimes clear-cut fitness goals are defined weeks or even months into their workout program," Schutters says. "Regardless of the amount of detail offered by the client, the personal trainer is responsible for developing what he or she believes is the best path toward improving the client's life."