Leveling Up the Prescriptive Model for Personal Training

By Mike Watson, Mentor for the 1-1 Coaching Course

The Prescriptive model works great for initial client intake and goal review sessions, but it can also be a very useful tool when working one on one with clients as a Personal Trainer! 

First, let’s start with a quick review of the Prescriptive Model as it is currently being used by many Two-Brain gyms for group and one-on-one clients:



  1. A potential client books, and attends a No Sweat Intro

We generally do a good job at this point of asking good questions to learn about the ways we can help the client.  We may even take some initial objective measurements like a body fat measurement or biometric scan, but this isn’t necessary, especially if the athlete will be working with a trainer who will dial in the assessment process.

  1. Once the coach or CSM gathers some great information they should make a prescription/recommendation for exercise and/or nutrition.
  2. The coach or CSM modifies the prescription based on feedback from the client. 
  3. The coach dials in the prescription – this is the part you’re great at already!!! 
  4. After approx 3 months, the client meets with the coach or CSM for a Goal Review. 
  5. The coach makes a new prescription and provides two options. 

The options are usually some version of: 

  • Keep doing what you’re doing 
  • Change a, b, or c to speed things up! 

7.  The next goal review session is booked! 

So how do we level up the Prescriptive model specifically for One-on-one clients?

  1. We understand motivation and can tailor our objective measurements to demonstrate client success in the areas they really care about! 

In Two-Brain Coaching we learn that Success Breeds Motivation.  In order to chart success we NEED to have a way to measure that this is happening.  

Subjective measurements vary with too many influencing factors but having a few objective measures helps us to have a slightly broader target to hit initially before narrowing our focus – as we’ll see later success and motivation and closely linked so just aiming for the bullseye from day one can sometimes set us up to limit our chances of remaining motivated. 

  1. We continue to provide prescriptions between Goal Review Sessions! 

Prescription shouldn’t just happen at goal review sessions, we want to be providing a detailed road map for our clients whenever possible until they are able to develop and maintain exercise and nutrition habits

We can do this in two ways:

  • Asking good questions (SEMM is a no-brainer here) and providing education and habit coaching 
  • We can tell our clients exactly what to do when they aren’t in the gym – this can be done through apps like True Coach or written on a piece of paper.  We used to have an actual prescription pad to write out homework, running and cycling workouts, mobility, etc. 

The longer I coach the more I truly believe that we are more valuable as an accountability coach for many clients than we are as movement coaches. 

Not following up on homework/prescriptive advice sends a very clear message that we don’t believe in the benefits of what we are prescribing.  If a doctor prescribed medication and never followed up to make sure you took it, would it send a message that this was important?  Probably not. 

Holding people accountable means having tough conversations and determining how we can help eliminate barriers to success. 

It also means that clients are more likely to achieve their goals. 

  1. We build in re-assessments or markers for success/program review so a client has a clear understanding of where they sit in terms of progress and success at all times, not just every three months at goal review time. 

  1. We DO goal reviews  with the brightest of bright spots – we see these people A LOT, we should be taking notes A LOT, when we sit down for goal reviews with our 1 on 1 or small group clients we should have a A LOT of things to talk to them about that are BRIGHT!!  

This is a big detail.  Coaches who actually do formal goal reviews with one-on-one clients retain them longer. 

Actually sit down with them! it’s easy to say “how are things going?” every once in a while but the formal process shows them that you prepared something special for them and it will hit them in a different way than your 3-4x/week chats between sets.

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