Personal trainer

Exercise to Increase Your Client’s Metabolism

Girl squat exercising outdoors

As trainers our perspective clients normally either want to lose weight or build muscle (or a combination of both).

The majority of the time, losing weight is harder for our clients to do because it requires a dietary approach that we can’t always be around to watch. I mean we can’t always be there to slap those doughnuts out of their hands or tell them to put the fired food down. Aside from instilling in them a healthy dietary approach, we can also make sure to give them a great workout that will boost their metabolism not only during their workout but after as well. That will go a long way in helping them shed unwanted pounds, even if we aren’t there to watch their eating habits.

Workout to Boost Metabolism

Many people commonly ask me for exercises that will help them bust through their weight loss barriers, but it’s not so much about the exercises, it’s more about the setup. Don’t get me wrong, we want exercises that in combination work their entire body but if they are performing them at a lackadaisical pace (5 minutes between sets) then it’s not going to be as effective. We need to tap into the EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption) effect or commonly referred to as afterburn.

Being the educated trainer you are, you know that the EPOC effect is basically the extra amount of oxygen we consume after a badass workout to return our body to normal – the normal resting state that is. This breaks down to about 5 extra calories burned for every liter of oxygen consumed (Vella & Kravitz 2004). This oxygen is used for energy synthesis, disposing lactate…etc. so the harder the workout then the more oxygen will be needed and the more calories burned, got it? It can be significant too; you can burn as many as 150+ extra calories after a workout just chilling on the couch (Bahr & Sejersted 1991). 

It is all relative to keeping your workout at a high intensity (75% VO2max; Bahr & Sejersted 1991) for an extended period of time (at least 30+ minutes; Quinn et al 1994). [Note: Because of the high-intensity nature, this might not be ideal for the elderly or severely overweight individuals. Take it on a client-by-client basis.] If you can do that then you’ve hit the metabolism gold mine. I’m not going to dive too much into this but if you want some seriously awesome statistics you can visit this in-depth article: Burn It.

Here’s a pretty simple workout approach to help boost your clients metabolism (and hopefully weight loss) in a time-efficient manner. 

EPOC Workout

One great way to boost metabolism, increase weight loss, and build muscle is to perform high-intensity circuits for at least 30 minutes. Basically, you can pick exercises that in combination work your client’s entire body and alternate between strength training and cardio moves. Have them perform the exercises in order for 30 seconds each doing as many reps as possible with correct form (little to no rest between sets). You will need to adjust the number of exercises in order to fit your client’s needs/time constraints – just keep it at least 30+ high-intensity minutes. Here’s a quick example that would need to be curtailed to meet your time needs but it is a good starting point:

[Note: As with any workout, make sure your client is cleared by their doctor before beginning.]

1. Cardio: Heel Jacks

2. Strength: Squat with Upright Row

3. Cardio: Mountain Climbers

4. Strength: Walking Lunges

5. Cardio: High Knees

6. Strength: Reverse Bicep Curl

7. Cardio/Strength: Burpees

8. Strength: Pushups


While you don’t have to follow this exact format, it’s a good way to ensure that your client keeps their heart rate elevated the entire time and therefore at a high-intensity to help boost their metabolism. Will they lose 10 pounds after each workout or build massive muscles? Uh no, that’s not the point. The point is to give them a simply kickass workout in a timely fashion that will help provide them with that extra advantage as they work hard towards their weight loss goals. 

Josh (M.S., Personal Trainer) is the founder and editor of DIY Active: “Fit.Food.Life." He strives to combine the latest science with fitness to help everyone exercise smarter from the comforts of their own homes!