T Nation

Help Training My Wife

I hope this isn’t an eye-rolling post for you dedicated females out there.

My wife basically wants to get back into shape. Her goals run the full gamut, like most people… she wants to lose body fat, gain strength, muscle tone, and flexibility. Frankly, she’s out of shape… most of it is certainly her fault and some of the blame is because she was sidelined for months with a gastro-intestinal issue.

My background is that I’m experienced in strength and conditioning for myself. I played college football and have continued to stay strong and fit. I’m a long time reader on this site, but don’t get involved on the message boards too often. My knowledge with female strength and conditioning is limited to what I know about training myself. I assume the same basic principles apply to women as men, though I’m not certain because of genetic differences. It’s really the minutia I’m concerned with.

For example, she is unable to squat a regular olympic bar without pain below her patella. She even has discomfort with weightless squats. She has been able to work her quads with leg extensions, with minimal discomfort. Not surprisingly, she has a very tight quad, especially in her lateralis muscle. I’m not sure if her squat form is off. Also, she has poor flexibility and that could be part of it. I understand she can not have the same stance as I do… but I don’t even know the proper stance for her.I could go on with other minutia. I also suspect she needs to work on glute and hamstring activation.

So getting to the point, could anyone please recommend how I should go about getting her knee back into shape? Also, can anyone steer me towards a good female workout program? She is able to reliably work out 3-4 times each week for 1 hour sessions. She isn’t a dainty gal who’s coming in with a concern of “getting too big”… if you know the type of gal I’m talking about. Basically, I’m saying she’s willing to put in hard hours lifting weights to meet her goals.

And to give an idea of equipment possibilities… we are unable to attend a gym, but we have a pretty thorough workout room in our basement consisting of a squat rack, with adjustable bench. An olympic bar with weight up to 545 lbs. Basically any dumbbell size from 5 lbs to 95 lbs. and a corner gym type machine with pulleys, pec deck, leg press, leg extensions, you get the idea. We also have a treadmill and elliptical.

Thanks in advance for any help or guidance!

A good book for her to look at may be “The new rules of lifting for women”. A good website to check out, that got me on the road to powerlifting is www.stumptuous.com.

From what I know about male strength training, female should be essentially the same. I can’t imagine that her squat stance would be fundamentally different based on gender. It may be more based on how she is structure i.e. the length of her legs etc.

I can’t offer any advice on knee issues but it does sound as if flexibility is an issue.

This is all to say, barring physical issues with her knee, she should be able to do what you do.

I’m envious of your home setup.

Hello-
I was just browsing this article


And then you can look up other articles as well!
I don’t have any advice for the knee…it sounds more like pain from not using it…
Or maybe she just doesn’t like squats?
Not everyone has to do squats…has she tried the leg press?

[quote]mom-in-MD wrote:
Not everyone has to do squats…has she tried the leg press?[/quote]

Blasphemy! EVERYONE has to do squats! EVERYONE!

I have had two knee surgeries many years ago. The more I lifted the better my knees felt. Recently I have been doing a lot of mobility work (magnificent mobility) before I lift and they have gotten even better. Maybe you should get her Mike Robertson’s indestructible knees.

I second Ouroboro’s suggestion of “The New Rules of Lifting for Women.” I am helping someone through the program now.

Maybe you should get your wife a T-Nation account and have her start on the forum!!!

That article the other day, on training with achy joints, might be a good thing to look at. Pushing/pulling a car or a sled will blast your legs and booty, kick your cardio ass, and it isn’t squatting.

I think that knee pain is frequently related to weak muscles. My husband has had four knee surgeries, and he does his best work with leg press and zercher squats. His knees ache less the stronger his legs get. For me, nothing hurts more than heavy leg extensions.

[quote]Court wrote:
mom-in-MD wrote:
Not everyone has to do squats…has she tried the leg press?

Blasphemy! EVERYONE has to do squats! EVERYONE![/quote]

I know. Right? Even my cat squats for criminy sakes.

I’m also going to agree with SBSmart about joints. I used to have a lot of knee pain and I thought it was normal aging. When I started lifting heavy, I rarely get it anymore. I’m more likely to have painful knees if I’m doing lower weight/higher reps.

[quote]Court wrote:
mom-in-MD wrote:
Not everyone has to do squats…has she tried the leg press?

Blasphemy! EVERYONE has to do squats! EVERYONE![/quote]

ok, excluding you and Julie(and Julie’s cat) :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

the truth is, everyone should do squats, but not everyone will or wants to.
Honestly, I hate squats…but I do them because I know they are good(and if I ever want to compete, then ya I gotta do them) but I know there are alternatives for us ‘regular,’ folk.

[quote]mom-in-MD wrote:
Court wrote:
mom-in-MD wrote:
Not everyone has to do squats…has she tried the leg press?

Blasphemy! EVERYONE has to do squats! EVERYONE!

ok, excluding you and Julie ;P[/quote]

Nope, EVERYONE.

[quote]pushmepullme wrote:
mom-in-MD wrote:
Court wrote:
mom-in-MD wrote:
Not everyone has to do squats…has she tried the leg press?

Blasphemy! EVERYONE has to do squats! EVERYONE!

ok, excluding you and Julie :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Nope, EVERYONE.[/quote]

x2

even you ‘regular’ folk…

Thanks for the replies everyone. I’ll definitely heed ouroboro’s advice and locate that book as it come’s so highly recommended by others here as well.

Mom-in-MD… thanks for the article link! I briefly browsed your ‘A work in progress thread’, good for you and keep it going.

sbmart… the bulletproof knee article is a good reference that I completely forgot about. Thanks for bringing it up! I would love for her to join the site. No knock to her girlfriends personally, but none of them are that into fitness. It would be nice if she found a supportive group like you all appear to have here.

pushmepullme… I’ll re-read that article. I know the one you’re talking about. It had some nice suggestions. It was also posted at a good time… haha.

I couldn’t agree with you all about the squatting more. I’m a big believer in squatting, as I do it myself and almost never have any knee pain, which is good considering I’m a rather tall guy. She’s willing to squat, but I need to find alternatives to it at the moment. When her knee pain lessens, we’ll get her back to squatting again.

Experiment with her squat stance, bar placement and toe angle, until she finds a combination that is comfortable for her. Everybody’s biomechanics are different, I do best with a wider stance, low bar and my toes at about a 45 degree angle. And my knees travel beyond my toes at the bottom of the squat without any problem.

[quote]pushmepullme wrote:
That article the other day, on training with achy joints, might be a good thing to look at. Pushing/pulling a car or a sled will blast your legs and booty, kick your cardio ass, and it isn’t squatting.
[/quote]

I have always wanted to try to do the sled or car pushing and pulling because it looks like fun.

I just haven’t seen any place to do this although I have seen folks pushing cars into the gas station.

Where do you get to do this?

OP: sorry for the hijack

[quote]OctoberGirl wrote:
pushmepullme wrote:
That article the other day, on training with achy joints, might be a good thing to look at. Pushing/pulling a car or a sled will blast your legs and booty, kick your cardio ass, and it isn’t squatting.

I have always wanted to try to do the sled or car pushing and pulling because it looks like fun.

I just haven’t seen any place to do this although I have seen folks pushing cars into the gas station.

Where do you get to do this?

OP: sorry for the hijack[/quote]

Unfinished streets/developments near my house. I have no shame - that helps.

i use empty parking lots at a near-by university to push my car! lots of room so u can do it by yourself and not worry about hitting anything!

OG- you could always get in touch with your local chairperson for strongman stuff, as someone advised me to do…
nastrongmaninc.com/chairmen.asp

Maybe you could find out what they do and set up a time to train with them!

I am this Sunday, and my wish is to at least flip a tire!! :stuck_out_tongue:

Maybe incorporating foam rolling will help loosen her up.

[quote]mom-in-MD wrote:
OG- you could always get in touch with your local chairperson for strongman stuff, as someone advised me to do…
nastrongmaninc.com/chairmen.asp

Maybe you could find out what they do and set up a time to train with them!

I am this Sunday, and my wish is to at least flip a tire!! :P[/quote]

I’m N/A.

so sad.

Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe FTW!