9 Best Personal Trainer Challenges For Clients

Best personal trainer challenges for clients banner

Whatever level of fitness your clients are at, providing personal trainer challenges for clients is one of the best ways of motivating them to keep working out.

If you’re looking for some ideas, we’ve come up with 9 challenges to keep clients interested in your sessions. 

But before we explore them, why not enquire about a Level 5 Personal Trainer Course so you can continue developing your knowledge by creating unique challenges to keep clients focused and motivated.

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9 Best Personal Trainer Challenges For Clients

Keeping clients motivated with personal trainer challenges is a great way to keep them working towards their fitness goalsBelow, we’ve included a list of 9 challenges of varying difficulty to help you decide on the most suitable ones for your clients.

#1 - The Dumbbell Complex Challenge Is One Of The Best Full Body Gym Challenges For Clients

Dumbell personal training challenges for clients

The Dumbbell Complex challenge involves completing a set of exercises in a circuit with no rest in between exercises and without putting the dumbbell down.

You can include any exercises you wish in a dumbbell complex, but we’d recommend including exercises that easily flow into each other so clients don’t need to place the dumbbell down at any point to adjust their positioning.

We’d also suggest combining exercises that hit different movement patterns, involving both the lower and upper body muscle groups. 

Here’s an example of some exercises you could include in your Dumbbell Complex challenge:

  • Squats
  • Squat cleans
  • Shoulder presses

Complete the exercises for 10 reps each, and 3 sets total, with a 30 second rest in between each set. 

Due to the fact the goal is to complete the circuit without putting the dumbbell down, muscles undergo more time under tension than in a regular workout.

personal training challenges with equipment

This trains muscles to repeatedly exert force against resistance, meaning this is one of the best PT challenges for clients looking to build muscular endurance.

Performing exercises back-to-back with no rest in between increases your client’s heart rate, as the heart works to quickly and effectively deliver oxygen to the working muscles.

An intense workout such as the Dumbbell Complex challenge means the body consumes more oxygen than usual so there is a larger deficit to replace at the end.

So, as well as increasing calorie burn during the workout, the body also continues to burn calories for several hours afterwards.

This is due to the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), or the afterburn effect, making this an ideal challenge for those looking to achieve a fat loss goal.

Not being able to put the dumbbell down is as much of a mental challenge as a physical one, forcing your client to keep pushing through the burn even when their brain is telling them to stop.

Woman using weights for personal trainer challenge

If your client is a beginner to complex workouts, start with a light weight, focusing on perfecting the form of each exercise.

Attempt the challenge with them each week, trying to increase the size of the weight used each time. 

This will act as a test, to see if their muscle strength and endurance is increasing, while helping to improve their exercise technique too. 

For clients with a higher level of cardiovascular fitness or muscular endurance, you could attempt to increase the weight with each set.

This ensures you’re progressively overloading the muscles sufficiently, allowing them to make significant strength and endurance gains.

personal trainer challenges using muscle

To keep the challenge interesting and ensure clients want to keep attending your sessions, switch up the exercises you use every few weeks. 

This could include:

  • Front squats
  • Lunges
  • Bent over rows
  • Bicep curls 
  • Romanian deadlifts

This is important as workouts repeated time and time again won’t provide clients with the same mental benefits of exercise or release the same endorphins, as if they were challenged with something new.

#2 - Give The Descending Rep Challenge A Go If You’re Looking For Hard Gym Challenges For Clients

Descending personal trainer challenge

Inspired by CrossFit, the Descending Rep challenge is designed to test both the physical and mental toughness of your clients.

Within the challenge, each movement is performed for 10 repetitions, with exercises such as:

  • Bench press
  • Deadlift
  • Dips
  • Pull ups

Once this has been completed, each movement is then performed for 9 reps, then 8 reps, and so on, down to just 1 rep.

These are just examples of the type of exercises you could include in the challenge, and we’d recommend tailoring the exercises to the individual goals and preferences of the client.

For instance, despite this being an advanced challenge, you could adapt it for less experienced clients by including only bodyweight exercises to begin with.

This is one of our hard gym challenges for clients as it consists of more sets per exercise than a standard workout where you’d usually perform just 3 to 4 sets.

Working at a higher volume through lots of sets and repetitions increases the amount of metabolic stress put onto the muscles.

It also means the muscles spend more time under tension, provided by the external load of the weight or bodyweight resistance.

Descending pt challenges

As well as mechanical tension, this type of training also causes the muscles to sustain microscopic tears in their tissues as the muscle contracts.

Together, the increased amount of mechanical tension, muscular damage, and metabolic stress on the muscles have an anabolic, or ‘building-up’ effect on the body.

The hormones released help maximise protein synthesis, which is vital for repairing tears in the muscles and triggering hypertrophy, or muscular growth.

The Descending Rep challenge is also one of the best PT challenges for clients with a fat loss goal. 

weight loss pt challenges for clients

This is because they often include compound exercises, involving multiple muscle groups and recruit a lot of muscle tissue, therefore burning more calories overall.

Completing more reps also means the muscles will become more fatigued as the client progresses through the challenge, so form can become compromised.

For instance, with kettlebell swings, they may find it difficult to keep their chest up whilst driving through the glutes.

Therefore, the Descending Rep challenge is also a great opportunity for you to emphasise the importance of maintaining good form, to perform exercises safely and effectively.


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#3 - Try the 500 Rep Challenge If You’re Looking for Cardiovascular Gym Challenges for Clients

Cadio PT Challenges for Clients

The 500-rep challenge consists of clients completing 10 exercises in a circuit, with an intense 50 reps per exercise.

You can combine any 10 exercises you like, depending on the individual client’s goals and preferences. For example, you could keep the circuit completely bodyweight, or gradually introduce weighted exercises.

Here’s an example of a 500-rep challenge workout you could include in your sessions:

#1 - Push-ups
#2 - Squat jumps
#3 - Inverted barbell rows
#4 - Dumbbell shoulder press
#5 - Dumbbell front squat
#6 - Russian twists
#7 - Renegade rows
#8 - V-Ups
#9 - Bench hops
#10 - Mountain climbers

Be sure to pick exercises which work different muscle groups. For instance, we’d advise against choosing 10 exercises which all target the quadriceps.

If muscle groups are being overworked, this can lead to overtraining, which can cause injury in the long run.

personal trainer challenges for clients injured

For those with lower fitness levels or less gym experience, we’d recommend beginning with just 250 reps.

Also, if it suits the client better, you may choose to:

  • Superset exercises
  • Split them up into sets
  • Perform them in a circuit

The idea is to provide a unique training stimulus for your client, providing them with as much of a mental challenge as a physical one!

As one of our hard gym challenges for clients, the 500-rep challenge is extremely challenging on the muscles and nervous system, so shouldn’t be part of a client’s weekly workout routine. 

Instead, you should use it as a way to break up their usual training and make it more interesting, particularly if the client is struggling with motivation.

You could use this as a test of your client’s cardiovascular fitness levels, by timing their first attempt of the challenge.

They can then complete the challenge next month and compare the results, to see if their fitness levels are improving. Timing the challenge will encourage your client to move quickly, to complete the 500 reps as efficiently as possible.

timed PT Challenges for clients

This will increase their work capacity along with their heart rate so oxygen can reach the working muscles as quickly as possible.

Consequently, this will increase calorie burn during the workout, as well as afterwards, due to the Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) effect.

The body will consume more oxygen than normal due to the intensity of this challenge, meaning there is a larger energy deficit to replace at the end of the workout. 

PT challenges for clients weight

Your client’s body will hence continue consuming oxygen to make up for this and will continue burning calories for hours after the workout is complete.

Therefore, when combined with the client making healthy food choices that puts them in a calorie deficit, this is a great challenge for achieving a fat loss goal. Having clients engage in this challenge occasionally is good for those wondering how to maintain weight loss

Despite completing the 500 reps quickly, it’s important you emphasise the importance of your client maintaining good form throughout the challenge.

Compromised form could lead to the client sustaining an injury and picking up bad habits along the way.

#4 - Hosting a Strength Competition Is One of the Best Charity Gym Challenges for Clients

Best Charity Gym Challenges for Clients

If you’re looking for ideas for a challenge that multiple clients can work on together, we’d recommend organising a strength competition. 

You could join together with other PTs and encourage clients to compete individually or in teams in a variety of classic strength tests, such as:

  • Sled pushes
  • Squat tests
  • Lunge races
  • Tyre pushes

Measuring the time taken for clients, the number of reps completed, or the total weight lifted, compare the results of each test and record them on a visible leader board within the gym.

Along with offering a price for the winner, such as a block of free personal training sessions, this will incentivise clients to train as hard as possible to be in with the chance of beating the rest! 

Although your challenge involves clients competing against each other, this is a great way of building a sense of community amongst them, as well as a sense of loyalty towards you as their trainer.

To help motivate clients even further, why not partner with a local or national charity to run your event and raise money for them?

Charity fitness challenges are a great option as a charity fundraiser, as you’re likely to get a high level of participation from clients, gym members, and even other trainers at your gym!

Charity personal trainer challenges

This is because not only will your clients want to get involved to help raise money for a good cause, but it also gives them a goal to strive towards.

When planning your challenge, we’d recommend choosing a charity that means something to the clients you work with.

For example, in 2020 the nationwide movement RED (Run Every Day) January partnered with the mental health charity MIND to host their own charity event.

Their challenge involved participants doing something active every day in January to support their own mental health and raise money to help MIND support the mental health of others.

The more clients that get involved in your charity fitness challenge, the more interest you’ll drum up from the wider community and the higher chance you’ll have of making it a success.

charity pt challenges for clients

For the strength tests clients undergo, they can collect sponsorships from friends, family, and other gym goers, which will contribute towards the goal of the fundraiser.

You could sell tickets for the events by advertising the competition on:

  • Social media
  • Posters around the gym
  • Local community boards

On the day of the challenge, place buckets in and around the gym to encourage donations from friends, other gym members, and passers-by.

As an extra source of income for the fundraiser, you may also consider partnering with local restaurants and food businesses, who can run stalls at the event. 

Along with raising even more money for charity, this allows you to form relationships with local businesses as a PT and help them to drum up interest for their products and services.

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Aside from personal trainer challenges for clients, check out our articles on a range of other challenges and activities to help keep clients engaged and motivated:

#5 - Run Personal Trainer Challenges For Clients That Promote Healthy Lifestyle Changes

Healthy gym challenges for clients

For clients who are looking to not only improve their physical fitness but also their mental wellness, we’d recommend creating a healthy habits challenge for them to complete. Part of helping clients achieve their fitness goals is not only helping them to get stronger in the gym, but also helping them to implement lasting healthy lifestyle changes.

If you'd like to learn how to implement these challenges take a look at out article on creating meal plans for clients.

This will not only help them to live healthier but also achieve their fitness goals too. For instance, they may be missing their PT sessions as a result of going to bed too late, which is making them too tired at the end of the day to work out.

Therefore, to ensure they make it to your sessions and are able to keep working towards their fitness goals, you could set them a healthy challenge of getting 7 to 8 hours sleep a night and educate them on the importance of rest days.

They should then practice this habit every day, for at least 30 days.

sleeping pt challenges for clients

Other healthy habits you could challenge them to incorporate into their daily routine include:

  • Drinking 2 litres of water a day
  • Working out at least 3 times a week
  • Eating 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day
  • Hitting 10,000 steps every day

The best way to implement this challenge is by asking clients to tie their new healthy habit in with another of their daily habits.

Let’s take the example of a client who is currently struggling to make it to the gym, but is aiming to go at least 3 times a week after work.

To make this into a new healthy habit, they could tie this in with arriving home. For instance, as soon as they take their work shoes off, they should immediately change into workout clothes.

Mindful pt challenges for clients

By linking the new healthy habits to a cycle that is already built into the brain, your clients are more likely to stick to that behaviour and make it into a long-term habit.

One of the best ways to ensure clients stick to their healthy habit challenge is by asking them to keep diaries or fitness journals.

The diary will allow them to record whether or not they achieved their goal every day, and their thoughts and feelings surrounding the habit.

This will allow you to see if they’re struggling and what you can put in place to help.

For instance, if a client is struggling to switch off, meaning they’re failing to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night, you could introduce them to some meditation techniques to help them to relax.

#6 - Design Personal Trainer Challenges for Clients to Work on their Fitness Weaknesses 

hard gym challenges for clients

One of the best ways to help your clients make progress in the gym is to create a challenge which specifically targets their individual weaknesses within the gym.

The challenge should be something they can work on both in and outside of your sessions. This will keep them motivated to keep working towards their goals independently, and also keep attending your PT sessions.

We’d recommend designing your challenge around a specific exercise your client finds difficult to complete safely, effectively, and with the correct form.

For instance, if a client has been struggling to complete a full push-up, we’d recommend creating a 30-day push-up challenge.

Start with regressions to the exercise by giving them push up variations to try, with the aim being to complete 10 reps of these movements before moving on to the full push-up.

hard gym challenges for clients weaknesses

By the end of the 30-day challenge, the overall goal could be for your client to be able to complete 10 full push-ups unaided.

Alongside implementing regressions, you may want to design a programme which works on building up the strength of the other muscle groups required to complete a push-up.

As well as the pectoral muscles, your programme should include exercises which work on:

  • Quadricep strength
  • Core stability
  • Building up strength within the triceps

Therefore, you could include exercises such as squats, planks, and tricep dips, to help your client develop the full-body strength needed to effectively perform a push-up.

When creating gym challenges for clients to work on their weaknesses, it’s important to focus on form and technique so they don’t develop any bad habits or injure themselves along the way.

With push-ups, for instance, ensure the client’s hips are in line with their shoulders and that they maintain a neutral curve in the lower back.

target pt challenges for clients

This challenge is particularly effective for clients who are intimidated by the thought of specific exercises and continue to avoid them in their own sessions.

Turning their weaknesses into a challenge adds an element of fun to your sessions, meaning they’re more likely to keep working towards their goal.

You could offer a reward for your client to claim at the end of the challenge, to further incentivise them to persevere. This could include a free session with you or some free branded merchandise. 

Alternatively, you could encourage them to set their own reward, such as treating themselves to a pair of those running shoes they’ve been eyeing up!


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Develop your industry knowledge with our Level 5 Personal Trainer Courses!

#7 - Completing 30 Days of Yoga Is Amongst The Most Mindful PT Challenges For Clients

Yoga personal trainer challenge for clients

When it comes to creating a challenge for your clients, this is one of the most straightforward ones. Clients simply have to commit to doing a yoga session every day, for 30 days.

Therefore, easy gym challenges for clients such as the 30-day yoga challenge are a great idea for those new to the gym who may feel intimidated by more intense challenges. It’s also a great way to help new clients familiarise themselves with the best gym machines for beginners.

We’d also recommend creating a yoga challenge for clients aiming to build strength in the gym. This is because holding their body in poses for prolonged periods of time engages muscles in the:

  • Arms
  • Legs
  • Core

As a form of resistance, these muscles must overcome the client’s own bodyweight in order to hold this position. 

Therefore, the more they practice, the more effective their muscles will become at holding these positions and the stronger they’ll be at the end of the 30-day challenge!

Yoga PT challenges for clients

Yoga is also useful for lower back pain management. This is because practising continuously helps strengthen the lumbar spine, as well as the muscles within the back and core.

This will help your clients to sit tall and straight, relieving some of the tension created in the lower back as a result of poor posture.

Maintaining a good posture is important for everyday movements, reducing the risk of developing problems such as joint degeneration and spinal dysfunction.

It’s also essential to maintain a good posture while weight training, to ensure the movement is completed safely and effectively. 

For example, when your client is squatting, it’s important for them to keep a straight back to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on the neck and spine.

You could recommend an existing challenge, such as Yoga with Adriene’s 30-Day Yoga Challenge on YouTube.

Youtube Yoga personal training challenge for clients

The challenge was created with all experience levels and bodies in mind, designed to help clients build a happy and healthy at-home yoga practice.

Every video is under 30 minutes, so will easily fit into your clients’ day, no matter how busy they are!

Youtube PT Challenges for Clients

Alternatively, you could choose to create your own yoga personal trainer challenges for clients, using these videos as a refernce point to frame your teachings.

#8 - Try Tough Mudder If You’re Looking For Team Personal Trainer Challenges For Clients

tough mudder personal trainer challenge for clients

Tough Mudder is an endurance event series, featuring obstacle courses and mid-to-long distance running.

There are three different challenges in the series, including:

  • A 5k course with 13 obstacles
  • A 10k course with 20 obstacles
  • A 15k course with 30 obstacles

This is one of the best PT challenges for clients as the events aren’t timed, allowing competitors to go at their own pace. 

The obstacles vary from course to course, but there are several signature obstacles at every event. These include:

  • Arctic Enema - Participants plunge into a giant ice bath and are challenged to find the strength to pull themselves out on the other side.
  • Everest - Participants are asked to run up a quarter pipe, which has been made slick with mud and grease.
  • Electroshock Therapy - Participants must get through a field of mud that features live wires hanging over the top, with 10,000 volts of electricity. 
  • Funky Monkey - This tests upper body strength, asking participants to get through a series of ropes, platforms, wheels, and bars, to keep themselves out of the cold water below.

We’d recommend approaching Tough Mudder as a team, by gathering a group of clients together. Alternatively, clients can compete on their own if they’re up for the challenge!

Tough mudder pt challenges for clients

You could help individual clients train for the challenge within their sessions, or host some team training events to create a community feel amongst your clients.

As well as building a relationship and sense of loyalty with your existing clients, these training events could also help to drum up more interest in your personal training services.

When it comes to training for the Tough Mudder challenge, it’s important to make clients experience the benefits of HIIT workouts by implementing this training into some of your sessions. Our article on learning how to create a HIIT class plan can help with this process.

HIIT will help clients build up the cardiovascular endurance levels required to sustain this pace and complete the Tough Mudder course.

To integrate HIIT into a training session for multiple clients, you could design a circuit consisting of bodyweight exercises, such as:

  • Burpees
  • Skater jumps
  • High knees
  • Bear crawls
  • Squat jumps

If you’re looking for easy gym challenges for clients, then Tough Mudder isn’t one of them!

Personal training clients for clients tough mudder

So, to ensure clients are thoroughly prepared, and to increase the intensity of these bodyweight circuits, you could incorporate:

  • Skipping ropes
  • Kettlebells
  • Battle ropes

It’s also important to add some full body resistance training movements into the circuit. This is because the obstacles recruit every muscle group within the body, so clients need a good level of strength if they want to complete the course successfully. 

Some exercises you could add include: 

  • Push-ups
  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Sit ups

For the day of the Tough Mudder event, design some t-shirts for your team to wear which feature your PT logo and name. 

This will add to the community spirit of your team, as well as help get your name out there as a trainer! Find an event local to you on the Tough Mudder Facebook page.

#9 - The Three Peaks Challenge Is Another Of The Best Charity PT Challenges for Clients

National Park PT Challenge for clients

With a total walking distance of 23 miles, and a total ascent of 3064m, the Three Peaks Challenge consists of a long hike to conquer the three big mountain peaks of Scotland, England, and Wales. 

This includes:

  • Ben Nevis
  • Scafell Pike
  • Snowdon

Despite being one of our recommendations for hard gym challenges for clients, both individuals and groups, you may want to take part in this yourself. This will help create a sense of community within your PT business and shows your dedication to working alongside clients to help them achieve their goals.

You can either take part in a professionally organised event, or organise your own Three Peaks challenge.

Professionally organised events include those such as the Open Three Peaks Challenge, with the aim to complete it in 24 hours. 

Costing €420 per person, individuals and small groups of a similar level of fitness are put into larger groups to complete the challenge together, with the help of mountain guides and support staff.

three peaks challenge for PT clients

Although self-organised is the cheaper option, there are a few things you need to consider when organising your own Three Peaks challenge:

  • Walking team - It's recommended to have a group of 4 or more people.
  • Schedule - The most popular start time is 7:30am, to ensure you’re well rested beforehand.
  • Transport - You’ll need to arrange transport and a driver to travel between the Three Peaks. If you choose to hire a vehicle, the largest vehicle suitable is a 16-seater minibus, due to the small roads you’ll encounter. 
  • Route - An Ordnance Survey Explorer map and a compass are required to navigate.
  • Equipment - Walking boots, waterproof trousers, and water bottles are essentials. A full list of essential equipment, gear, and clothing can be found here.

For more information on how to safely organise an event yourself, you can register your challenge online.

This also ensures your challenge is recorded in the Three Peaks archive and allows you to receive certificates celebrating your team’s success.

You’ll also have your own individual team page, which will provide details about:

  • Your challenge
  • The participating group
  • The charity you’re completing it for

With around 30,000 people per year making an attempt, the Three Peaks challenge is definitely one of the hardest challenges on our list.

In fact, although 90% complete it, only 40% do so within 24 hours!

hard pt challenges for clients three peaks

Therefore, its crucial clients are prepared for the challenge with a training plan, allowing approximately 12 weeks of training before the day of the challenge.

To prepare outside of sessions, you could recommend the benefits of walking uphill to your clients. Beginners should attempt smaller hills and gradually work their way up.

You may also want to organise some training days, where you climb each of the Three Peaks on their own.

In your normal PT sessions on the lead up to the big day, it’s important to focus on full-body resistance training. 

This is because both muscle strength and endurance are both important when climbing the Peaks, to provide support and help keep clients stable as they climb.

You should also incorporate some HIIT, as short, intense bursts of exercise followed by periods of recovery are a great way of increasing lung capacity in little time.

This will help clients develop the cardiovascular endurance levels required to successfully complete the challenge.

Before You Go!

As our selection of personal trainer challenges for clients has provided you with plenty of inspiration to help motivate your clients, it’s time to put these challenges into action.

Keep developing your fitness knowledge with our Level 5 Personal Trainer Courses, and develop a deeper understanding of the best ways to help your clients stay focused and continue to push themselves.

Download our full course prospectus to find out more or leave your details below.


Become a Level 5 Personal Trainer with OriGym

Develop your industry knowledge with our Level 5 Personal Trainer Courses!

Written by Rebecca Felton

Content Writer & Fitness Enthusiast

Graduating from the University of Liverpool with a first-class degree in English, Rebecca’s combined passions for fitness and writing are what brought her to OriGym. Rebecca is a keen gym-goer and specifically enjoys lifting weights. Outside of fitness and writing, Rebecca enjoys cooking, reading, and watching the football.

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