How to Plan Your Client's Fitness Program Based on Assessment Results

Since introducing our assessment calculator spreadsheet in another blog and now with the launch of our assessment feature in Trainer+, I have spoken with many trainers about how they use the numbers from the assessment to set goals, plan and ultimately, sell. While everyone has their tools and methods and knows the assessment is a key part of both their client’s fitness plan and their sales objectives, translating the measurements into a plan is not often a cohesive process. For example, maybe their goals are based around improving some of the findings, but the timelines and support packages they are offered are completely arbitrary.

Nowhere has this been more evident than in launching Trainer+. So many fitness professionals were excited to get it in their hands and start offering more online support for their clients, but figuring out how to actually adopt it into the business and use the data it captures to provide value have been more difficult for some.

With this in mind, I wanted to provide a more practical post about how to use the assessment calculators we have developed for you (specifically the body composition calculator), in a more practical way. We also have a complementary goal calculator and planning sheet! So, let’s look at how to use the calculator and the numbers it provides for a sample client: a female named Jane who is 5’6” tall and 150lbs and says her goal is to lose 15-20 lbs.

Initial Measurement

Measure body fat and get an idea of initial activity level. For our example, her initial body fat is 35.8% and she currently does not go to the gym, works a desk job, but walks her dog every morning and night (activity rate of about 1.3).

Initial results:

   Weight: 150

   Body Fat %: 5.8                

   Fat Mass: 53.7  

   Lean Mass: 96.3

   BMR: 1315

   Activity Rate: 1.3

   AMR: 1710

At this point, other than explaining what each measurement and calculation means, it is a chance to explain ‘calories in and out’ using her measurements:

1. Calories In

This will be a product of amount, type and time of calories, but what you can tell from this calculation is the approximate minimum amount of calories to not be in ‘starvation mode’ (for her that’s 1316 kCal) and the approximate maximum amount of calories that she can consume in a day before she starts gaining weight (1710 kCal).

2. Calories Out

The AMR is the approximate calories out, so in this case it is 1710 kCal given her current activity level. You can show Jane how she can increase her caloric output in two ways:

In this case, if she were to increase her lean mass by 3 lbs, it will correspond in an increase in 38 kCal per day increased output. Similarly, if she were to increase her activity level to a 1.6, then her output would increase by 395 kCal per day. This demonstrates why it is essential to both build lean mass and increase the type and frequency of activity to continue to raise the caloric output over time. This also helps set up goals and planning as you will see below.

3. Putting It Together

She should now have a better idea of what calories in and out is composed of, so now you can have a conversation about surplus/deficit. In her current state there is 3 possibilities for Jane:

  1. She is consuming more than 1710 kCal per day and therefore has a surplus and is gaining weight.
  2. She is consuming less than her BMR of 1315 kCal per day and even though she has a caloric deficit, she is not in a fat burning zone.
  3. She is consuming between the BMR and AMR but is gaining weight. In this case the ty pe and timing of calories can be explored, but the best answer is increasing activity level and increasing lean mass to change body composition.

Goal Setting

After performing all of the cardio, strength and flexibility tests in the assessment, it is time to set some SMART goals for Jane., We’ll have to come back to the calculator to do this with some science in mind for part of it. How to set most of these goals is a topic for another day, but for our example we set 3 goals based on results and her feedback:

  1. Increase plank to 1:00 - she failed almost instantly on this test

  2. Fit into a Size 6 dress - she has a dress in mind and a wedding in the future

  3. Be going to the gym 3 x per week after 3 months - she has tried and failed before

Using the Goal Calculator, we also set some long term body composition goals and timelines. Reinforcing the prior teaching, we set some goals based around her reaching a target body fat in the middle of the ‘healthy range’ (25%) and while actually gaining some lean mass to better sustain the change in the future (+3 lbs). We also set a goal of getting to the gym 3 x week to help her increase her activity level to a 1.6 while remaining reasonable with her schedule.

The resulting goals:

From the calculator, setting Jane’s goals to the above, results in a weight loss of 17.6 lbs to a target weight of 132.4, a decrease in fat mass of 20.6 lbs and a resultant AMR of approximately 2152, an increase of 442 kCal from today.


Now that we have targets, it’s time to set realistic expectations around timelines to these goals. To burn one lb of fat, that is the equivalent of 3500 kCal, or in other words, 500 kCal per day for 1 lb fat loss per week (in general). If we set that as a realistic pace, with her near future AMR of 2105 kCal (with increased activity), she can target an intake of approximately 1600 kCal and get to her goal in about 21 weeks (for the 20.6 lb of fat loss required). Given she will need an adaptation phase and planning for some setbacks, this would put it at a 5-7 month goal to achieve the changes she wants in a sustainable manner.


With goals and timelines in place, it’s time to lay out a weekly and monthly plan for her to start with as a guide. It is important to do both of these steps, so that she has an understanding of the ongoing effort that will be needed and how it will have to change over time to suit her goals.

Weekly Plan

The weekly plan is a chance to define both the type of activities that need to be done weekly and how they can be grouped together into workouts. It should be a starting guideline that will evolve over time as Jane’s level of ability increases, and she potentially finds more time for fitness as she gets closer to goals.

Using the ‘Weekly Planning’ sheet, we define the number of times that cardio, strength and core workouts should be done each week (2, 2, and 3 respectively to start) and then group them into 3 days of workouts, with some bonus activity for the weekend. She did express an interest in dance based group cardio classes, so we can work in a Zumba class or two to satisfy her interests. We separate the strength days into Push/Pull workouts and emphasize warm up and cool down with stretching every workout as a way to help flexibility.

weekly plan example.jpg

Long Term Plan

With a basic weekly plan, we can now lay out a long term plan to her goal, phase by phase and based on all of the information we have so far. You can use the assessment calculator to figure out other milestones along the way to the long term goals and place them, along with changes to the weekly plan, into the ‘Long Term Planning’ sheet. For Jane, a basic Adapt-Build-Burn progression will do for the long term phasing, and using that, the plan should look like this:

long term plan example.jpg

For her goals, increasing the intensity of ‘Burn’ phases should allow her to continue to progress and those changes are highlighted in the weekly plan column as a basic idea of progression. We have also put in the major goals (bold) we set together with reasonable timelines, along with some other milestones (italic) for check-ins along the way (such as fat loss benchmarks).

With this plan outline in place, it is important to manage Jane’s expectations around the details of the plan, which should also help build value for the sale itself (up next). What we have done is, built a framework to get to the goals she defined in a reasonable timeframe, based on her testing results and science. Achieving these results is going to depend on her executing this fitness plan along with dietary guidelines, in addition to how her body (biology) reacts to these changes. The former is within her control (though most need accountability/motivation support from someone else), but the latter is dependent on her DNA and requires the knowledge to adapt the plan over time based on her results. With that framework in mind, we can tell Jane about a few realities and adjustments that may be needed over time:

  • Capacity for work increases over time, so more calories burned per workout, and workout more often
  • In order to shorten the timelines, best way is to increase Activity Rate (adding more workouts/week)
  • Weight/fat loss becomes more difficult over time (last 10 lbs rule), need to increase the AMR through more workouts and increased intensity


The nice thing about getting to this point of the assessment after using the calculator to make a cogent, personalized plan for her goals, is that most of the objections to purchasing personal training should have been overcome before they can happen. At this point in time we can give Jane some options for support packages (again using the Goals and Planning doc) that correspond with the plan that was just laid out:

support options.jpg

In this case, we give a few options that vary in their support. Given that she is a beginner in the gym, an emphasis is placed on more support at the start of the program to get her habits and knowledge in place before scaling back. One advantage of using Trainer+ is that options B and C are a lot easier to properly execute, and have a better perceived value from potential clients if she can not afford the money or time for option A. Providing a free option (D) is better than just getting a ‘No’ and not speaking with her again, even if it means allowing her to go and fail on her own first.

With some options laid out, we can now have a very honest sales conversation about support. A few additional questions should give us an idea of what she is thinking and what objections she may have:

  • Does this plan make sense to you?
  • Do you think you could execute this on your own?
  • How much can you spend monthly on your health goals?
  • How much of my help will you need to reach these goals?

From this information we should be able to determine which option suits her, if she doesn’t just tell us what she is thinking. Another advantage of using Trainer+ is that regardless of the option she chooses, there are natural follow up points built in for reassessment, and milestones to aim for to reinforce initial goals and the long term plan. That way, if she is on track, we are doing our job well, and if not, we can talk about providing more support and increasing the package.

Possible Outcomes

The possible outcomes from using this approach are the same range as any assessment approach but should give us more natural re-engagement points and predictable ways to add value to her plan:

  1. She starts using the calculator - if she understands the numbers and how they impact her overall fitness, she can take a more direct interest in that progress. I have had more than a few clients take on their own reassessments (and in some cases having to be told to curb it from measuring too often) once they understand how the calculator works.

  2. She buys training - with a full understanding of our value as a trainer, she purchases a package that fits her budget and the timelines we laid out together. In this case, she still wants you to measure and interpret, but understands how these assessment results impact the plan and timelines.

  3. She doesn’t buy training and wants to do it on her own - she may not be ready to commit time and money to this yet, but luckily you have those re-engagement points where you can predict the most likely outcomes and try to upsell some support:

    1. 30 days - she can not remember all of the exercises or goals themselves, plan has not been executed properly, results are mediocre.

    2. 60 days - she has not gained the lean mass needed for long term sustainable changes

    3. 90+ days - she is most likely plateauing (if she made it this far) without a properly phased plan. Progress that was made from the start of the program (increasing Activity Rate) is more difficult without changes to body composition, and a lack of new progress is discouraging.


We won’t always end up getting the sale we want out of doing the assessment like this, but we will definitely have a better chance today and in the future of getting her as a client. This approach allows us (and her) to tie together the measurements, goals, weekly and long term plan to the support she will need to achieve it. Whether it is a package today or a reassessment in the future, taking this approach helps educate her about her own fitness and builds our main value as a fitness professional: the applied knowledge to design and adapt a plan to an individual’s goals and body.

This should give you a more tangible example of how to use the calculators in a more practical way for your (potential) clients, and then just practice and repetition will help. As always, we are happy to give you some pointers or guidance on your own process, just contact us at

nick corneil trainer plus exercise ball squats

About the Author: Nick Corneil is the founder of Trainer+, a company that builds software that makes it easy for fitness professionals to create, share, track and analyze fitness programs for their clients. For more information, sign up here orcheck out our homepage.

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