PT on the Net Research

Obesity & Core Strength


I have a new personal training client - we are in our 8th week - who is almost 300 lbs, but she is very mobile and has no pain doing any exercise. She does not have any major medical concerns and she is 50 years old. We have begun training with a basic strength training routine and we are starting to move into more functional exercises, for example balancing on foam rollers while lifting the arms overhead or doing biceps curls. She does really well with isolated exercises both standing and sitting, but her weak area is her core.

I need help finding exercises that she will be successful completing while working these muscles. Given her size it's difficult to know what to have her try because I want her to have success. Currently she is using the Cybex abdominal machine and can complete 2 sets of 8 reps with 2 plates on the stack. I would appreciate any feedback you might be able to give me. Thank You.



First of all, assuming your client is of average height, understand that being 300 pounds is in itself a major medical concern. Obesity is a sign/symptom of serious metabolic imbalance and has many interlinked causes such as: stress, disrupted sleep/wake cycles, toxicity, lack of movement/exercise, dehydration and perhaps MOST IMPORTANTLY, FAULTY NUTRITION/MALNOURISHMENT. Even obesity is a sign of malnourishment! It is the body's way of crying out for the correct TYPE of nutrients in the correct PROPORTIONS in order to balance the metabolism. I would highly recommend making your client's nutrition the TOP PRIORITY even above and beyond her exercise program. Here are some tips... ...

  1. Have her eat according to her Metabolic Type. (see resources below)
  2. Eat ORGANIC foods whenever possible. (to avoid the now 10,000 chemical toxins added to conventional foods/products)
  3. Drink only pure water (chlorine free, fluoride free, heavy metal free, etc.), aiming for 1/2 bodyweight in ounces daily.
  4. Get to bed by 10pm! (aim for at least 9 hours of sleep per night)
  5. Is she POST-MENOPAUSAL? If so, it will be important for your client to focus on parasympathetic stimulators (i.e. resting, repairing, life-force harvesters), such as standing/active meditation, deep breathing, Tia chi, Gigong, or beginner yoga. This is important because after menopause, a woman's adrenals (READ: STRESS HORMONES) make up a much larger proportion of her hormonal system in the absence of her menstrual cycle.
  6. Read the suggested readings below!


Stress (another contributor to obesity), is cumulative and tends to increase in the body in a dramatic exponential fashion. Too much of the wrong exercise at too great of an intensity, in a case such as this, may simply add more stress on top of stress, sending the metabolism out of orbit. When the metabolism has gone awry, it makes burning fat a tough job and one of your body's least concerns. I am certainly NOT suggesting that you stop her exercise. However I am suggesting that you constantly monitor how her exercise sessions make her feel. Exercising to the point of fatigue and soreness should be avoided as she should leave the gym every day with more energy than she came in with!

You've mentioned that her CORE is very weak. This is no surprise as her condition suggests serious digestive disorder. Due to what is know as the "VISCERAL SOMATIC REFLEX" any problem with the organs of digestion (small/large intestine), will reflexively inhibit/weaken the surrounding CORE musculature due to the fact that these organs and muscles share the same neurological loops/pathways. This is why it is so vital that you begin with a more focused approach on her nutritional habits! A weakened CORE will eventually result in a host of other physical/physiological problems (i.e. back pain, joint pain, digestive & respiratory problems, etc.)

I would also avoid the use of machines, particularly for her CORE exercises. Machine training does not develop the integrated strength that the body can use in order to deal with gravity. In essence, machine training encourages localized muscular stress without global muscular support. This uniplanar ISOLATION of muscle groups, when done so in CHRONIC FASHION as often times is the case with machines, creates muscular imbalances, poor flexibility, and thus poor posture. The body, ESPECIALLY THE TORSO, was designed to move in 3 planes of motion eccentrically, isometrically, and concentrically at any given moment, thus causing the vital torso deformation which is crucial to proper function of the physiological pumps that your CORE muscles also function as! This vital deformation encourages these muscular pumps to aid in circulation, respiration, digestion, detoxification, and elimination! When training on fixed machinery, there is significant DETRACTION of this ability. By the way you asked your question, I would imagine that this information is somewhat of a shock. So I've listed some essential readings on this topic at the bottom of this page.

Good luck and feel free to contact me directly if you have any more questions!

Be Healthy,

Noah Hittner, BS, CHEK-NLC Level II, PES, RTS, CPT
Founder - "FOUR HEALTH" Nutrition, Fitness, & Lifestyle Coaching

Suggested Reading


  3. Wolcott & Fahey. (2000). The Metabolic Typing Diet.


  1. C.H.E.K Certified Nutrition & Lifestyle Coach Locator:
  2. Chek, P. (2004). How to Eat, Move & Be Healthy! C.H.E.K Institute.


  1. "Avoiding the Traditional Pitfalls of Training" (Parts 1 & 2) by Noah Hittner
  2. "The Inner Unit" by Paul Chek
  3. "The Outer Unit" by Paul Chek
  4. "Scientific Balance Training Series" by Paul Chek
  5. "Balance in Training" by John Cowell
  6. "Truth in Nutrition" (Parts 1 & 2) by Craig Burris
  7. "Want Abs?" (Parts 1 & 2) by Noah Hittner


  1. Batmanghelidj, PhD. (1997). Your Body's Many Cries For Water.
  2. Chek, P. (2000). Movement That Matters.
  3. Chek, P. "Why Getting Pumped Makes You Feel So Good." Online., Internet. 2004.
  4. Kaufmann, D. (2000). The Fungus Link.
  5. Rogers, S. MD. (2002). Detoxify or Die.