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Help training my girlfriend

Posted: Fri Jan 19, 2007 10:32 pm
by Mog16
Here's the deal, I just started helping my girlfriend get into the gym and need some advice on how to help her best.

She is 5'9" and probably 30-40 lbs overweight. She has a training age of 0, she didn't do any sports in high school (she's a freshman in college), though she danced from age 5-17 on very regular basis (daily for 3+ hours). Anyway I'm starting with a full body workout 3x a week and energy system stuff 2-3x but I'm running into problems with lower body exercises.

Problem 1: She has bad knees (poor patellar tracking and a bit of medio-lateral instability) and bad hips (diagnosis of 4 years ago is chronic tendonitis in the hips, her hips are very weak and very tender to even light pressure (probably 5% of the force I could apply if I pushed)).

This ruled out squats (I was going to do bodyweight squats with a women's basketball or soccer ball between the knees to help activate the VMO and maybe reduce some of the patellar tracking problems) as she experienced hip and knee pain,

Lunges are also out(she has to support herself on the lead leg to keep from collapsing), 8 inch step ups were alright but she complained of knee pain, we did achieve some success with the leg press though, so if all else fails we can use that. Any ideas?

Problem 2: as a long term dancer she is extremely flexible, particularly the hamstrings, so does anyone have suggestions of some ham stuff I could do? I was gonna do SDLs or RDLs (my gym doesn't allow deads, but you can usually sneak those or their variations in) but she said she didn't feel anything at all and her grip/arm strength doesn't allow her to hold a whole lot of weight (cap of prolly 50 lbs). Our gym doesn't have the ability to do GHRs and poor cuffs for cable hip extension (never, ever stay put). Any suggestions here?

Thank you very much from the both of us.


Posted: Sat Jan 20, 2007 3:45 am
by Ironman
They don't allow deadlifts? When you have an imbalance and your knees are screwed up with your quads pulling your patellas out, maybe you could sue them. That might change their policy.

Wow and I thought the no grunting rule was silly. What happened to the customer always being right. A lot of gyms really suck these days. That would be like going to a restaurant and having them tell you how to eat your food. That would be like me taking care of customer servers and telling them which apps or OS they have to run.

They might as well tell you what time to come in and how many sets to do while they are at it.

Posted: Sat Jan 20, 2007 2:44 pm
by George G
For the hamstrings try SHELC - supinie hip extension withl eg curl, exercies #3 on the follwing page

Posted: Sat Jan 20, 2007 5:35 pm
by Mog16
Thanks, I forgot about that one, we'll do it in our next session!


Posted: Sun Jan 21, 2007 12:42 am
by Ironman
I've done the SHELC. I used to do it by laying on the floor and putting my feet on the couch. It's a nice movement, but There would have to be a way to weight it to make it useful.

Posted: Sun Jan 21, 2007 1:44 am
by George G
Ironman wrote:I've done the SHELC. I used to do it by laying on the floor and putting my feet on the couch. It's a nice movement, but There would have to be a way to weight it to make it useful.
You can use a rep progression, say 8-10-12-15-20 and then move on the a single leg shelc. You could also try holding a dumbbell between your thighs.

Posted: Sun Jan 21, 2007 5:18 am
by Mog16
My girlfriend doesn't really have a large foundation of strength so I doubt we'll need to worry about weighting this one quite yet, but thanks for the ideas :).


Posted: Sun Jan 21, 2007 5:40 am
by Wouter
Is she able to cycle at a heavy pace? Because if she is, you could let her cycle like 4-7 kilometres (3-5 miles) as hard as she can twice a day (open air preferably, morning/evening to work?) this will make her whole leg much stronger. You could also let her put on those special cycling shoes, but it could pull to hard on her knees to be worth it.

If she can't cycle as hard as possible, she could cycle a few hours a week (spaced out over the week) relatively lighlty, to strengthen her knees and hips (takes time) while not pulling hard.

Posted: Sun Jan 21, 2007 4:19 pm
by Mog16
good idea, I hadn't thought about cycling, at least not in the context of her resistance work. :)


Posted: Mon Jan 22, 2007 10:18 am
by Matt Z
Try Good Mornings. These are basically the same movement as SL Deadlift, and with these grip won't be an issue. Otherwise you can stick with SL Deadlifts and work on improving her grip strength.

PS.) The prohibition on deadlifts is probably intended to protect their floors, so as long as you do your SL Deadlifts off a rack, they shouldn't bother you.

Posted: Mon Jan 22, 2007 11:22 am
by Matt Z
Of course, even if they are just trying to protect their floors, it's a stupid rule. It's a gym. Some wear and tear should be expected, and good rubber floor covering can keep this to a minimum. It might be different if you were doing Olympic lifts and dropping a loaded barbell from overhead, or dropping weights in general, but deadlifts are a pretty standard exercise.

Posted: Mon Jan 22, 2007 5:46 pm
by Mog16
/rant They don't like deads because they are worried that stupid people will watch real lifters do them and then go do them incorrectly and die or somesuch. I hate hate hate hate their reasoning (I talked to the supervisor on the phone and she said that they prohibit all power lifting, including deads, and when I asked her if they were going to get rid of benching and squats (the other two power lifts) she was very confused. Anyway, my gym is stupid and I hate it, but I'm paying for it out of my student funds and I can't afford another gym. /endrant

Anyway I tried the ShellC thing but my girlfriend has a weak lower back as well (I dunno if any of her muscles are strong :-P) so I'm gonna do a bit of core work and stabilization stuff to bring her up.

Posted: Mon Jan 22, 2007 9:18 pm
by Ironman
That's so funny. It sounds like they are about as smart as most of the people who work at my gym.

If she is in that sort of condition, I'd just recommend leg press and leg curls. Maybe a set of wide stance leg press for inner thigh. That should do it for her from knees to hips.

A couple sets on the ab machine, some leg raises, and some hyperextensions or lower back machine should do it for the mid section. For calves you could have her do calf press while she is on the leg press. Then get her doing free weights for all the upper body stuff. That's what I would do anyway.

Posted: Tue Jan 23, 2007 4:34 am
by Mog16
that is about what I've concluded too, thanks for the suggestions :)


Posted: Tue Jan 23, 2007 9:53 am
by Matt Z
Sounds like she's confusing deadlifts with cleans. Perhaps she meant to say no Olympic lifting.