5 Tips For Training People With Obesity

5 Tips For Training People With Obesity

This blog post I want to cover how we train some of our clients at Heavyweights Training Center, I wanted to go over how we train people with obesity at HWTC.

Before I proceed with this blog post please understand that if my wording, context or anything offends anyone it is not my intention. I have never been “over weight”, at my heaviest I was 228 lbs which for me is very big and unhealthy. You can read more about that on my blog post here.

Moving forward.


When it comes to training people with obesity (to me this falls into the range of 50 lbs of body fat or 35-40% body fat).

The definition of “Obesity” according to wikipedia is

Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have a negative effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy and/or increased health problems.[1][2] People are considered obese when their body mass index (BMI),[3] a measurement obtained by dividing a person’s weight by the square of the person’s height, exceeds 30 kg/m2.”

When it comes to training someone with obesity I train differently than someone who just has say 20 lbs. to lose for many reasons.

The wear and tear on their body is much harder because of the large amount of weight they carry.

Doing things like jumps, high intensity metabolic work, or any type of HIT cardio will usually wear this type of person down.

The last thing I want is someone doing a workout and feeling defeated.

EVERY workout you should feel empowered not defeated.


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Here are 5 Tips To Training People With Obesity


1. Focus on Weight Training.

Bottom line is we want to build as much lean muscle as possible. Generally speaking someone with a high amount of body fat/body weight has more muscle mass already. This is good. We want to build on this and build even more muscle.

Muscle is the engine of your metabolism. The more muscle we have the more calories we burn at rest. This means 24/7 calorie expenditure.

– Weight Training done properly can be easy on the joints.

– Every person has their own strengths and weakness’s.

– The “after burn” of weight training is higher than just cardio or metabolic work. You are hours and days recovering from weight training workouts.

– Lifting HeavyWeights changes your metabolism. The goal is NOT to burn calories, the goal is to change your metabolism to burn more calories and be more efficient at handling carbohydrates and improving insulin response. This is done through weight training more than anything else.

– Lifting weights EMPOWERS people. I can tell you that nothing makes someone happier than getting a peanut butter on deadllifts.


For a great blog post on this check out 3 Reasons Why You Need To Lift Weights To Lose Fat.


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2. Focus On Sled Work & Weighted Carries

There is nothing better than sled work for conditioning, fat loss and building overall general muscle.


If I could do exercise for a full body workout it’s sled work.

– Sled work is very easy on the joints and can be done every day.

– Sled work can be done at your own pace, there is no accepted pace, it’s as fast/slow as you want to go.

– When pushing a sled you are also moving your own bodyweight. For someone with obesity movement is good, and movement with weights is every better again.

– Sled work has many variations between pushing, pulling, rowing, dragging. It will not get boring (like walking on a treadmill). Check out my blog post on 10 Sled Variations for more sled training variations

– Doing Weighted Carries is one of the best ways to burn fat, improve strength, build muscle and give you a functional workout.


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3. Do Not Over Do “Cardio” & “Metabolic” Work.

There I said it.

Reduce “Cardio” and “Metabolic” workouts.

I know your thinking I am crazy but here is why.

If you watch someone with obesity try to do a high intensity metabolic class of slam balls, battling ropes, jumping jacks, mountain climbers and exercises like that what do you think will happen?

They will fatigue FAST, they will break down, then they will mentally get defeated and they will QUIT.

I can tell you from coaching a wide variety of clients, that training people with Obesity is a much more mental coaching than physical coaching, you want to not have them break down or feel defeated EVER. They deal with that enough day in day out.

So I have them minimize “cardio” and focus on Weights & Sleds.

Have you ever seen someone with obesity jog?


It’s not good for them. It tears up their knees and hips, and after a few minutes they will feel tired and defeated. Again we avoid having someone beat down or defeated at all costs when it comes to training someone with obesity.

If you enjoy running or jogging great, I am not knocking it. Do what you enjoy, but for results and long term health personally I do not like it, even more so for someone with obesity.


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4. Do Not Have Them Get Up & Down Off The Ground Too Much (Yet)

Again this is something that defeats someone with obesity fast.

When you carry a lot of weight something as simple as getting off the floor can be difficult so we minimize this.

No push ups

No sit ups

No mountain climbers

Nothing like that at all. These will do more damage than good.


However, once someone is in better shape having them get up and down off the ground is a VERY good thing.

But for the obese client that we train this is not good so for Transformin42 we do not do this.


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5. Train In Groups, Do Not Train Alone

A few years ago one of my mentors said the #1 thing for your clients results for fat loss especially obese clients is community.

I never really understood that then, but I DO now.

This can be seen at HWTC day in day out with our programs and results.

April Grad-49

This is even more applicable to someone with obesity as they need a much higher level of social support to stay on track.

By focusing on group workouts and community it makes the workouts more fun, it keeps the people who are there engaged in helping each other, and when someone is down and needs a hand the group is there to bring them up.


Training Obese Clients Summary

The goal for helping someone with obesity is to empower them wth strength and weight training, to never exhaust them or beat them down, to train in groups of similar people to help them stay on track and to focus on long term weight loss and health.

ALWAYS Remember you HAVE FAT, YOU are NOT FAT.

Read my blog post Are You A Fat Person? on the difference.


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