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Topshelf 07-26-2007 07:35 PM

Looking for a little advice for my wife
Hey ladies, I'd like to start my wife on a weight training routine but had a few questions. She's 35, 5'6" (I'm not allowed to know the weight, but I'd guess in the 130lb area) and trying to lose some weight and tighten up. She's spent the last month on the treadmill and has definitely burned up a nice amount of fat. But I'd like to get her lifting in hopes of adding a few pounds of muscle to crank up that metabolism and add some overall strength. I was going to start her on the same Rippetoe program that I started a month ago as it seems very productive, but on the first day we ran into a setback that I'm not sure how to overcome. I know she's not athletic (at all), but I never realized how bad it was. lol The first exercise I was trying to show her was the squat. I have a very light 7lb bar for her to start with, but we never made it that far. She's so inflexible that she can not squat and stay balanced. When she tries to squat down, she basically falls forward. I had her sit on the floor and try to touch her toes, and she barely made it to her knees. Is this normal? Is there something I can do to get her some flexibility? If there is something I can do, is there something I can replace the squat with while I work on it with her? Infact, is the Rippetoe program a good workout for her? I'm not expecting her to become a competitive lifter, but I do think a good workout would be good for her. Any tips?

Thanks ;)

IronKitten 07-26-2007 08:34 PM

As beneficial as adding in some weight training to her program would be, I'd stave off on it until she can increase her flexibility enough to get a better ROM on the lifts. Without having the ability to achieve full ROM, she runs a much higher risk of injuring herself.

From the sounds of it, she's one of the more extreme cases of having an overly tight posterior chain. Most people do, just not quite that extreme.

If the treadmill sessions are working for her now, have her continue those, and at the end of every session do a full series of static stretches. She can even stop in the middle of her session and run through some stretches then do another set of stretches at the end of her tready session.

Give a look at the stretching and flexibility thread on here:

Mainly the section about achieving the splits. Those stretches are geared toward the lower body with some emphasis on the posterior chain and low back.

If she sticks with going through this process 3-4 times a week, she should be able to get at least to a parallel squat within a couple weeks' time. Once she's reached that point, she should be better able to handle a lifting program. And she'll be able to work all the way into an A2G squat once she's better conditioned to the movement and her posterior chain loosens up.

Now when she starts going through these stretches, she WILL get sore. Sounds odd, I know. But it happens. Just be prepared for her to tell you all about the hurt :biglaugh:

Rippetoe's program is a great one for beginners. So once she's comfortable with the lifts (and you too, being that you'll be guiding her) working her into that program should prove to be fairly beneficial for her. Start her off with lighter weights, though. As in, if you're doing a 3x5 setup with that routine, have her work with weights that she could most likely rep out 8-9 with. Have her stop at the 5 rep mark, just go easy on her exertion levels for the first couple of weeks.

Not sure how you're setting up your own frequency with that program, but for her I'd say during those starting periods (2-3 weeks) only have her do a 2 day a week cycle (some people do an A, B, A one week with B, A, B the next). Workout A and workout B once a week each. And not back to back days.

As she progresses, and once she gets to working with weights that more closely fall in the 5 rep mark, then you could try working her into a 3 day a week lifting program. But if the two days a week are working well for her, don't fix what ain't broke. ;) Let her ride that newbie effect as long as she can.

Also, once she's moved into the lifting program, have her back off a little on the cardio. 2 days lifting and 2 days of cardio should suffice.

EricT 07-27-2007 06:30 AM

^^^^Agree with most of that.

The only change I would suggest has to do with the nature of these kinds of flexibility problems. Usually when you have some really tight parts. and like IK said, she sounds on the upper extreme of that, you tend to have some really overactive parts and some weak parts opposite that. In other words flexibility imbalances come with strength imbalances. Matter of fact the leaning forward can have a lot to do with that and not JUST flexibility. They go hand in hand.

Something that I disagree with most people on is the idea that the squat is always the best. Many think that once you can achieve the squat that the body will somehow magically overcome any imbalances and you will work up to your full potential. But that isn't really the case. What will most liklely happen in a case like this is once the flexibility issues have eased and a full squat can be realized some very good initial progress will be made but then a premature wall will be hit.

When I say premature I mean premature relative to individual potential. The other problem is that I would be concerned about some overuse injuries that might crop up with that progress.

My advice is simple. Do the Rippetoe however but have her do lunges with dumbells. There are techique caveats on that as well which we could get into. I would start her with "static split squats" until balance is better then move her to reverse lugnes and then probably to regular dynamic lunges. Along with some specific core strengthening stuff. Once she's progressed well with these for a while going on to the squat will be both more productive in the long term and less likely to result in injuries.

Edit* This is NOT one of those lunges for girls things. I would have given this advice to anyone with similar presentations. Frankly I do lots of single leg variations and many of the "squats only" guys coulnd't handle it. They'd be passing out on the floor trying to catch their breath while cursing my name :biglaugh:

hrdgain81 07-27-2007 06:42 AM

^^ I would also add in doing dynamic streches before every workout (lifting and cardio) if you arent already.

EricT 07-27-2007 07:02 AM

^^^^X2. Just make sure she really understands how to do that. It's all in the article IK mentioned.

Topshelf 07-27-2007 09:08 AM

Thanks sooo much everyone! Lots of great info without overwhelming me here. That's really appreciated. I still have to read the stretching and flexibility article IK posted, but I think I understand most of what she should be doing. Right now she's hitting the treadmill 6 days a week for 1 hour. From what I've read, would the following be a good starting point to get her into lifting? Just sticking with 2 workouts a week.

3x5 Lunges (dumbbell)
3x5 Bench Press
1x5 Deadlift

Dynamic Streches

Dynamic Streches

3x5 Lunges
3x5 Overhead Press
3x5 Rows

Dynamic Streches

Dynamic Streches

Sunday - Off

Obviously I'll be starting her at VERY light weights and working on form. Removing squats for now should be good because I think she can pick everything else up without too much problem. I just need to read that article and then really make sure she stays consistent with the stretching.

Again, thanks for the help. And please let me know if there's any changes I should make to the program.

EricT 07-27-2007 09:27 AM

I think maybe she should start with a little more rest during the week and build on it. It would be much better to have to add to it later rather than recovery being prematurely overwhelmed and having to cut down.

Once you've read through all the stretching stuff and come up with something go ahead and post that, too. Then I'll tell you how much you got wrong :D j/k

Topshelf 07-27-2007 10:08 AM

:haha: You know I'm gonna get it wrong too. lol

OK, so should I take out the Tuesday and Friday treadmill sessions so she can recover the day after her workout? That leaves 2 workout days and 2 cardio days, which is, ummm, exactly what IK said to do.:slap:

EricT 07-27-2007 10:31 AM

Yeah, lol, what IK said. I missed that part or I would have just quoted it :)

IronKitten 07-27-2007 11:11 AM


Originally Posted by Eric3237 (Post 38606)
Yeah, lol, what IK said. I missed that part or I would have just quoted it :)



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