In an effort to gain a client’s confidence, we need to be prepared for just about any question new clients ask personal trainers that are thrown our way.

Here are some interesting yet reasonable questions that new clients may ask. Surprisingly, they have more to do with the cerebral side of training than the somatic aspect.

Read below and think about what your answers might be, should you ever find yourself in just such a situation. Then, check out the response for additional insight.

What is the best way to lose fat?

Each client will, of course, respond in a unique way to any training program. However, there are some basic principles that we can safely apply across the board.

Exercises that incorporate several major muscle groups and are weight bearing will utilize more calories per minute, and thus are going to be better suited for fat loss. The amount of adipose tissue burned after a workout depends, in part, on the exercise intensity during the workout. While both strength training and endurance exercise have been shown to decrease body fat percentage, a combination of endurance and strength training results in more fat loss than either exercise regimen alone.

Do I need to take dietary supplements?

The majority of clients will not require dietary supplements unless they present with a documented vitamin deficiency or they are not consuming a balanced diet. Using supplements as an alternative to a sound diet can lead to deficits of other nutrients. It is healthier, and easier for the body to absorb and utilize, to acquire vitamins and minerals from whole food sources as opposed to obtaining them from a pill.

Why are my muscles sore after a workout?

I once had a client who returned from her first session and promptly informed me that I had done something terribly wrong because she was sore the next day! I immediately realized that it would be incumbent upon me going forward to inform all new clients of what the reasons were behind the soreness that they could most assuredly expect a day or two after our initial training session!

Soreness results from the high force production incurred when an exercise is new or a load is greater than normal. Although the general consensus among laypersons is that lactic acid is the cause of muscle soreness, the truth is that lactic acid (lactate) is removed from the muscles within 30 to 60 minutes post-exercise, so it cannot possibly be the culprit responsible for delayed onset muscle soreness.

Such discomfort results instead from the myosin heads pulling away from the actin filament, causing very tiny tears in the muscle fibers. The biochemical injury is characterized by an increase in plasma enzyme activity and a leaking of creatine kinase out of the muscle. As clients adapt to the training load, the soreness in their muscles will become diminished following a workout.

How do I get rid of these flabby arms?

This is a common concern among female clients. One of the biggest exercise myths is that we can lose fat in an area of the body by strength training or exercise that specific body part. The truth is that “spot reducing” does not work simply because we cannot dictate from whence our bodies will decide to oxidize fat.

As we age, our skin loses some elasticity; what we term “flabby arms” may simply be a product of the aging process. Any exercise that decreases body fat percentage will help clients lose fat in their triceps areas, just as it will help them lose fat all over the body.

Why can’t I just do cardio?

While cardiovascular training is great for building strong hearts and lungs, it doesn’t provide the stimulus the body requires for building bigger, stronger muscles. Bodies are able to adapt fairly quickly to whatever load we ask them to move. Adding strength training to an exercise program allows the client to increase the load on his muscles, alter the range of motion through which the joints move, and target different muscles than those utilized during typical cardiovascular training.

Why don’t my workouts ever get easier?

Individuals often assume that as the body becomes stronger and more familiar with the exercises performed each week, the workouts will eventually start to feel easier. However, a big advantage to working with a seasoned trainer is that he possesses the knowledge to dictate the training so as to keep your body guessing and moving forward at a reasonable rate. When exercises are progressed frequently and consistently, the body never truly adapts to the workout, making each training session feel just as challenging as the one before.

How much should I sleep?

Although getting eight hours of shut-eye a night has been a general rule of thumb, new research has emerged indicating that seven hours of sleep is optimal for both longevity and brain function. Too much sleep can come with its own set of issues, some of which might be underlying health conditions and/or sleep disorders that need to be addressed such as depression, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, etc.

Should I train before or after work?

Training sessions should be scheduled when the client is least likely to skip out or cancel. As with any new habit, 10-21 days are typically required to adapt to a new training regimen, including time of day. Stress to clients the importance of commitment to both the exercise sessions and the agreed-upon time of day.

How do you stay in shape?

Most personal trainers love to receive this inquiry! While there is no “cookie-cutter” approach to designing client programs, some trainers will train clients using a similar philosophy to how they design their own workouts. Keep in mind that, although you may prefer running for cardio and yoga for flexibility, these may not be the ideal choices for every client.

What’s your fitness philosophy? 

A personal trainer should—without hesitation—be able to share with a client what he believes when it comes to fitness. Do you train clients for better health? Improved body confidence? Increased strength? This question really gets into what makes a personal trainer tick; clients want to know what goals the trainer will have in mind for him before agreeing to engage his services.

Are most of your clients with you for long term or short term goals? 

If your book of business consists of mostly long-term clients, a potentially new person will most likely feel assured that you are good at relationship building and at keeping workouts fresh and challenging over time. However, if the majority of your client base tends to be short-term, this might signify to a client that you are either brand new to the industry or this particular fitness facility. Consider how you wish to market yourself, think about potential weak spots in your abilities, and seek to correct them.

Why are you a personal trainer? 

This question addresses why you chose to enter the fitness field, and it is important to be prepared with a strong arsenal should this question arise. If your goal is to help people transform their bodies, you may be sending out the message that your main concern for a client is his physical attributes.

If your vision is to help people transform their lives, you are probably going to be perceived as one who has your client’s well-being in mind. Be clear in your own mind before answering, and always be ready with a strong and honest response!

How did your answers compare? Have you ever found yourself in a tight spot when asked a particular question?



Cathleen Kronemer

Cathleen Kronemer is an NFPT CEC writer and a member of the NFPT Certification Council Board. Cathleen is an AFAA-Certified Group Exercise Instructor, NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer, ACE-Certified Health Coach, former competitive bodybuilder and freelance writer. She is employed at the Jewish Community Center in St. Louis, MO. Cathleen has been involved in the fitness industry for over three decades. Feel free to contact her at She welcomes your feedback and your comments!