T Nation

Coaching an Out of Shape Female?


Hi all!

Long time lurker, just decided to register today.

First, a little bit about me. I live in the Philippines, and I have been lifting for only 8 months (hence, still a beginner).

Im a volunteer of the Red Cross here, and were planning on putting up an Ambulance service. Earlier today, the training director goes up to me and gives me a project: To get one of my colleagues in shape. This colleague of mine just finished taking the licensure exam for nurses. She is pretty much out of shape and had gotten quite fat from all the snacking (shes a comfort eater...).

What would be the best training program to get her into shape? The training dir said he didnt mind her not losing fat yet, just get her strong and conditioned enough for ambulance / EMS work for the mean time.
Bodyweight drills, circuits?...

Ideas gladly appreciated!


I'd start he off with some early morning walks and mobility drills. I'm training a group of [likely] similarly statused women right now and I spend most of my time getting them mobile and conditioned enough to actually engage in moderate intensity fat loss training.

You need to get her ready to train or she will likely fold hard under the initial stress, given that she is not really the one that wants to get in shape.



Oh, so GPP and mobility drills.

For the strength component, would bodyweight drills be appropriate, or should I go directly
to barbell / free weight work?


I agree with what Avocado said. Start really easy and build up from it. Bodyweight vs. freeweight? Probably free weight because chances are she can't even do bodyweight stuff yet. Freeweights are a heck of a lot lighter than a human body, especially an out of shape one. Do a very light full body routine twice a week for a week or two, then move her to a three day program. You can find some decent TB programs on the net, or buy a book. I'll probably get flamed for this, but bodybuilding.net has some decent programs listed and they even show how to properly perform each one.


If you have access to a gym then you can start doing so free weight lifts but emphasize correct ROM, technique and posture. I usually like to get my athletes doing worthwhile body weight lifts before progressing to too many free weight lifts.

Learning to press, squat and pull with your own body as resistance 'tends' to better predispose new and detrained athletes to learning free weight technique faster and more efficiently. I find that people need to become more familiar with themselves in space etc. to be able to 'learn' most movements that aren't everyday use. So what you do by working their mobility and getting them to do something other than sit around licking their fingers is basically 'prime' them to learn kinesthetically.



I hope that before you agreed to help you asked her if she had any interest in participating. You and everyone else can want something for her, but until she wants it herself it's usually a complete waste of time.

Assuming she is on board, I would fix the diet first then fill in the rest of it.


Full support for Avocado's posts. People need to get used to movement when they're extremely deconditioned. So.. mobility, mobility, mobility! Interesting enough, with the extremely deconditioned, mobility work can also act as strength training! Very gradually start to bring the resistance up, and I wouldn't load anything until she can do the exercises with bodyweight properly first.


Thanks for the replies and ideas guys! I got her started on brisk walking and mobility this morning. She did around 4 km before she got tired.

That I think is the hard part. When I talked with her about an exercise program with "resistance training" her idea was "dance-aerobics" (much to the chagrin of the training director). LOL

Thanks again for the ideas!


As someone who was only recently in about the same shape as a deconditioned overweight middle aged filipina woman, I'll also second that getting in shape just to get into shape is a priority, so I think that mobility, basic cardio, and superlight exercises would be fabulous.