How to Train Clients With Rheumatoid Arthritis | Learn: Your Fitness Business Resource

How to Train Clients With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Training clients with rheumatoid arthritis can open up a new client base for a personal trainer. But, it's important that you have the proper tools to train someone with rheumatoid arthritis effectively. Using certain personal training software features can help you train clients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Thomas Barnett is a writer for and a Professor of Exercise Science at Keiser University. He has over eight years of experience working in rehabilitation, personal training, and strength and conditioning. Additionally, Thomas holds a Master's Degree in Human Performance, a Bachelor's Degree in Exercise Science, is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), a Certifi...

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UPDATED: Jul 21, 2021

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Get the Basics...
  • Training someone with rheumatoid arthritis requires careful planning and understanding of their limitations and joint pain.
  • Clients with rheumatoid arthritis should avoid exercises with a lot of impact, twisting, or at too high of an intensity.
  • Customizable workout software and resources can help improve results for clients with rheumatoid arthritis while maximizing safety.

Breaking into training special populations, like training clients with rheumatoid arthritis, can be a rewarding way for personal trainers to add a new stream of revenue to their fitness businesses.

To train clients with rheumatoid arthritis, it’s important that you’re not only well-versed in rheumatoid arthritis, but that you have the tools in place to make your training as effective as possible; that’s where personal training software comes into play.

By taking advantage of the features that personal training software has to offer, you can train clients with rheumatoid arthritis in a way that works for them, not against them.

To learn more about the personal training software platform, book a demo today.

How to Train Clients With Rheumatoid Arthritis

To learn how to train clients with rheumatoid arthritis, it’s imperative that you have a thorough understanding of rheumatoid arthritis and why it’s important to follow certain procedures with these clients.

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is considered inflammation of joints caused by an autoimmune disorder. According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), rheumatoid arthritis may have inflammatory agents over 100 times that of healthy adults.

Rheumatoid and osteoarthritis aren’t identical, but they do present similar symptoms. Both versions of arthritis cause notable joint pain due to the degeneration of the connective tissues surrounding joints. This can make it very challenging for clients to perform normal exercise routines.

Do you need to be certified to train clients with rheumatoid arthritis?

If you’re planning on working with clients with special conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, it’s important that you get certified. At the minimum, you’ll want to earn a personal training certification (CPT) from an accredited organization. Realistically, you’ll want to further improve your education and credentials to successfully manage clients with limiting conditions.

To better prepare yourself to work with clients with rheumatoid arthritis, there are some desirable certifications, listed below.

  • ACE Medical Exercise Specialist
  • ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist (ACSM-EP)
  • NSCA Special Populations Specialist (CSPS)

These certifications can help you prepare for clients with special conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. If you’re training clients with arthritis, you’ll want to understand the barriers and benefits of strength training for rheumatoid arthritis.

Training Clients With Rheumatoid Arthritis

As clients begin to experience pain, it’s important that they create an RA exercise plan while you teach them how to exercise with rheumatoid arthritis. Unfortunately, rheumatoid arthritis can affect multiple joints compared to osteoarthritis which often impacts just one joint.

It’s generally recommended that you should work to protect your joints during exercise if you have rheumatoid arthritis. One easy step is to stay within a pain-free range of motion while exercising. Can you weight train with rheumatoid arthritis?

When evaluating rheumatoid arthritis and strength training, it’s important to note that exercise intensity and range of motion are the most important factors in preventing pain. If you’re looking to learn how to lift weights with rheumatoid arthritis, it should be slow and steady with light weights through a pain-free range of motion following an adequate warm-up.

When exercising with rheumatoid arthritis, you’ll want to limit the following:

  • High Impact (Jogging, jumping, etc)
  • Explosive Movements
  • Rapid Twisting Motions
  • Heavy Resistance Training

These clients may have additional concerns depending on the duration in which they’ve been managing their RA symptoms. Clients with rheumatoid arthritis could experience balance and instability issues or other comorbidities.

On the bright side, exercise at the right intensity could help prevent bone loss, maintain joint function, preserve muscular strength, aid weight management, and even decrease pain or other symptoms. Ensuring your clients benefit from your programs requires careful planning and follow-up.

Use's custom workout software. Book a demo to learn more.

Train clients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Software Tools for Training Clients With Rheumatoid Arthritis

When you’re learning how to train someone with rheumatoid arthritis, you’ll need to check in regularly to monitor progression and exercise tolerance. It’s also important for you and your client to track progress to see if any specific workouts cause an arthritic flare-up.

Workout Software for Clients With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis can be frustrating for clients and trainers because the symptoms aren’t always consistent. Some days will be better than others. In a perfect world, as you continue to train clients with rheumatoid arthritis, your clients will become more confident and comfortable exercising on their own.

Whether you’re working with your clients directly or their training solo, you’ll be able to create, log, and distribute workouts conveniently. This way, you and your clients can refer back to previous workouts to monitor progress or changes. Your clients can also log workouts if they decide to train without you there.

Best of all, functional workout software from supplements convenient features with performance metrics to quickly see how effective a training program has been. At the very least, this shows a client with RA that exercise is helping prevent further degeneration of their joints.

Fitness Assessments for Clients With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Clients with rheumatoid arthritis may experience more pain in one joint than another although the condition can affect numerous joints. For this reason, some clients may have more limitations in the lower extremities while others lack upper-body functionality. These circumstances make it important for trainers to evaluate RA clients prior to prescribing workout programs. offers versatile fitness assessment software that features customized fitness assessments that trainers can develop, send, and implement as needed. ACSM recommends that clients with RA are assessed for cardiorespiratory fitness, neuromuscular fitness, and mobility.

Performance Health Assessment

Each of these fitness parameters should be assessed regularly to ensure your client’s progress and long-term success. If your client is having acute arthritic pain, assessments should be postponed to avoid further inflammatory responses. When preparing for fitness assessments, be sure to allow for an adequate warm-up while choosing low-impact assessments.

If your client wants to see their progress while you aren’t around, you can send them an assessment that they can log on their own. These assessments can still be custom-made to help cater to the needs of every client.

Customizable Exercise Library for Clients With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Providing your clients with plentiful resources helps maintain a strong relationship while continuing to serve as valuable income for your business. When training clients with rheumatoid arthritis, those resources could also prevent any major mishaps due to misunderstanding on your end.

If you provide your client with a program but they aren’t familiar with the exercises listed, there’s a good chance they won’t spend much time researching to learn how to perform the exercise appropriately.’s customizable exercise library provides your clients with a visual and written description of the exercise and how it’s performed.

Using your custom-branded fitness app, clients will have immediate access to your exercise library at all times. These features can help improve client satisfaction while helping to prevent major injuries or setbacks for your clients.

Training Clients With Rheumatoid Arthritis: The Bottom Line

Training clients with rheumatoid arthritis requires a lot more than just general knowledge. It requires education, empathy, and a host of software tools built with customization and adaptation in mind.

To learn more about how can help you train clients with rheumatoid arthritis, book a demo today.



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