T Nation

Developing Training Plan for My Girl


Hello everyone,

Been a reader and lurker here since some decent time but I think it's my time for making an account and saying hi. I'll speak for myself some other time, though.

As I'm writing here, I really hope that some of you girls will help me develop a training plan for my lovely girlfriend. She is really into it, she's very motivated and results are being seen! I already have helped her with butt and leg routines (butt routine includes prehabilitation (credit goes to @ThePerfectDrug i've seen it in one of her posts)). Back routine includes lat pulldowns, barbell rows, seated cable rows and hyperextensions. As for reps,sets and techniques I like to warm-up her with few 15-20's for 2 sets(lat pulldowns) and then do several 6-12's. She loves hypers holding 5-10kg's (our weights are a little bit different, because they're measured in kg's)

So what I'm hoping for...
1. Any feedbacks for back routine.
2. Help for chest/arms/shouder routines (for delts, I really liked the Delts on fire article and could include something from there!) As for chest and arms, I'm not quite sure what to include ...

Her goal is not weight loss (165cm,50kg's). She has some fat on her belly which I think will be gone soon, but that's it. Her goal is leaner and fit body(hates bones,wide gaps etc), increased muscle mass and lowered body fat. Other thing to point out - she doesn't like her hips, being too wide (though I think that they're ok and there is nothing to dislike about them).

I think that's everything for now. I'm grateful for every reply I am going to hopefully have! Will provide more info if needed. I really want to help her change for the better. I see how she does it with passion and asked her how does she got into gym that fast and she said that she loves it because we were doing this together. How can you not love this... It's bed time for me so my post ends here.



Back routines: The exercises you have are good. You may want to consider adding in some chin-ups with resistance bands for assistance because chin-ups freaking rock and as a woman it's a huge self esteem boost to know that you can do a real chin-up. Machines don't cut it as far as training the same motor patterns that allow you to do a chin-up. It was only after doing chin-ups with resistance bands that I was able to get a real chin-up for the first time. You basically take a band and wrap it around the bar and your knee. It gives you a little extra help. Have her keep doing sets and reps until she gets to about 4 x 12-15 with a band. At that point, give her a smaller band that doesn't help as much and build back up again.

As far as actual routine goes, in my experience, with myself and my clients, I have seen a lot more progress with full body routines. Most people, but people new to lifting especially, benefit greatly from the added frequency of hitting every body part each time you hit the gym. Think about it, if you only have 1 back day a week, you are not going to make as much progress as you would if you have 4-5 back days a week. And if you have a whole hour dedicated to only one body part, the quality of the first few sets will be good, but then will start to go down. You won't be able to use as much weight, you're tired, your form might get sloppy, etc. It's kind of like studying for a test. It's better to study for 30 minutes a day instead of cramming once a week and never looking at the material again until the next week.

In each workout, I like to have an upper body push, upper body pull, leg movement (sometimes 2 leg movements: a squat movement and a hip hinge), core movement, and maybe arms or calves if I have time. I'll super set upper body with lower body to give adequate rest between sets.

I've gotten ridiculously strong from this routine, my husband has gotten ridiculously strong from this routine and I have a client who is 54 who can do 3 chin-ups and sets of 10 chest to ground push-ups after 3 months of training from this routine.

For the chest, shoulders and triceps, I start my clients with the following dumbbell exercises:

DB Bench (all the way down to get as much stretch as possible) 4 sets of 8-15 reps: I start with a weight that is challenging, but can be completed with at least 4x8. The next time they do this exercise, I increase the reps to 4x9 and so on until they can get 4x15 and then I increase the weight by 5 lbs.

Single Arm standing DB Overhead Press: I love this exercise because it engages the obliques and also prevents people from leaning back and arching too much. It also requires less coordination than 2 arm presses. So that can be useful for someone just starting out.

DB Incline Press: Same thing here as the DB Bench.

Sometimes I will substitute push-ups for DB bench (which are both horizontal), but basically, I try to hit every pressing plane throughout the week.

I also try to have the pulling movement mirror what they did for pressing. So if they do DB bench (which is in the horizontal plane) I have them do DB Rows or some other row that is also in the horizontal plane. Or if they did overhead press, I might have them do chin-ups. You get the idea.

I hope this is useful. Let me know if you have any questions. Good luck! Congrats on getting your girlfriend lifting. :slight_smile: I love seeing women get stronger and develop confidence from lifting. :smiley:


Thank you for your detailed answer, I really appreciate the effort. :slightly_smiling:

I will have her program changed a little bit, thank you once again.
We finished back day and butt day the past days. Tomorrow is shoulders. Unfortunatelly, her quads and hams are more sore theh her butt which was not the point. I think it's a lack of mind-muscle connection as she is new to this and can't focus only on her glutes. I keep repeating her to focus on her glutes, leaving everything behind but I understand that she can't do it completely. As for her back, she told me that it is sore but not like the legs. I must say that she has killer form on most of the back exercises(dont know why or how).

She really enjoys it and will become her thing, I'm sure. I hope her self-esteem rises a little bit, she thinks her body isn't good and I hope she changes that mindset, but the results will be clear sooner or later.

Anyway, one more thing - Any suggestions on cardio? High/low intensity; 2-4 times a week?
Don't judge me, I don't know how to threat a girl with weights, moreover she's my girl and I'm afraid of push her too much...

Sleep time now as it's almost 12:00pm.


What leg exercises did you have her do?

Some people tend to use their quads more when they squat. I knew a guy who could squat 500 lbs, but had no butt whatsoever, haha. It's probably a genetic thing on whether or not you are a quad squatter or more of a glute squatter or somewhere in between. Also, if she's Asian, she's going to have a harder time building a butt. Asians tend to have a lot more quad mass naturally.

The best exercises I have found for building a butt are:

Single leg deadlifts
Walking lunges
Reverse lunges
RDLs - high reps, light and fast
High step ups - the higher the box, the more it hits the glutes

You can also have her do glute bridges for a warm-up to get those glutes firing.

As far as cardio goes, I'm probably not the best person to ask. I usually don't do cardio at the gym. I just go for bike rides or go hiking throughout the week and generally watch my diet if I'm trying to lose fat. If I do cardio at the gym, I'll add it at the end of a training session. I might run for a mile or do the C2 Rower or the elliptical. For general cardiovascular health, 20-30 minutes 2-4 times a week is probably fine.


No, we aren't Asians. We are from middle-east - Bulgaria.

As for her butt, I have her doing some glute activation(including glute bridges) exercises (@ThePerfectDrug mentioned them) and then -

Hip Thrusts - 1x15 1x12 1x10 2x5
Wide Stance barbell squats - 5x5-8
Lunges - 3sets (she walks in the gym all the way to the mirror and back, It's like ~15 meters in both ways)
Weighted anterior reach - 3x10-12 a leg
RDL with dumbells - 3x8

Just completed shoulders(she) and back (me). She did 4 exercises only with barbell/dumbells, no machines and ended with some core exercises.


Sounds like you're doing great! Those are all great exercises. Just give it time. Some people develop muscle more slowly than others in certain areas. It took me a while to start seeing hamstring development in myself. For my lower body, I mostly grow quads and glutes. I think it's totally a genetic thing. My husband gains most of his muscle in his glutes and hamstrings and very little in the quads. We do the same exercises, but have very different body shapes and muscularity.

Also, it's really cool that you're from Bulgaria! I actually have a friend whose Bulgarian up here. She talks about it all the time. Sounds like a neat place.


Yep, definitely will see. She did this workout only a single time so I can't be sure if it's okay or not.

The problem is that she hasn't been able to workout normally. She went to Greece for ten days, came back here for ten more. On August 1st she will be in Austria and then to the seaside again. With that being said, I think that on August 20-22 she'll be able to start working out steadily and for a long period of time, making gains.

Yep, definitely a good country with great cuisine like tarator, Bulgarian yogurt, banitza etc. haha. Literally, ask me anything you want to know!


I wish I would've kept better records on my glute development these last couple of years, as I'm finally getting some glutes myself. But I've had a lot of trial and error that I can't fully remember what worked and didn't. I don't think I will ever have a really rocking butt, but I'm hoping it will at least look normal in the next year or so. But maybe some of my findings can help?????

It's really no use in doing exercises no matter how good they are for glute development if she can't feel them. From what I found so far with mine (hopefully more wisdom to come) there's being able to load them properly and being able to clench/follow through properly. I also had to work on a few hip flexor and piriformis issues, my right glute I am still working on as it does sometimes give out on me, but that is with a lot of learned self awareness. I really only found out about the right one, after I concentrated on working each side independently, I could just tell the left fired better with singly leg hip thrusts, after awhile of working on both at the same time. With hip thrusts I was lucky to have a PT guide me, to not think of getting my hips up, but rather getting my pubic bone pointed to the wall behind me, where I was able to take out any sort of back involvement.

I found reverse lunges better than forward/walking lunges which tend to use more quad, at least for me. Also I found doing more of a split squat, with back foot, especially the heel, pushing against a wall, where I can keep a my glute contracted better through the entire movement. Being able to follow through with the glutes at the top of the movement with lunges is important, and being able to load your glutes with KB swings at the bottom position AND clenching/follow through at top are both important.

I tried to find the article I saw sometime ago, it started with a 4 or 5 stage glute exercise progression. Starting with exercises like Clam's and then progressing with heavy hip thrusters. I think that would be a good starting place for her, starting with simple exercises like clams where one can concentrate just on feeling the glutes, and once mastered progressing to heavy lifts. A bit boring at first, but I started doing them in the mornings and nights, not necessarily when I was doing some actual lifting. Some of them are easy enough to do in bed before getting up.

Sorry for the long post, and I'm sure there's more I need to remember and learn.


Thanks for your response!

I think the problem she has of not feeling every exercise is not genetic or stuff like that, more like going through the reps thinking of where she would be in an hour .. Since I told her to keep focus ONLY on her glutes while hip thrusting, she told me that she felt them burning more, so we will master this sooner or later.

As for lunges, they burn her quads and glutes both. We might try reverse ones, or curtsy lunges. I use bulgarian squats or burpees at the end of her prehabilitation to really fire her body.

I really hope you find this article. It would help her a lot, I guess.

Don't worry, I like long posts haha. And yes, one always can learn something new..


Ah ha, I found it! It's a 30 day plan, with about 4 phases. The first phase she could probably do at home, its just activation exercises.