T Nation

Looking to Help Sister


#1

My sister has asked me for some help regarding lifting weights and losing weight. She is 27 and is probably 5'6" 155-160lbs. She has been doing a cycling class 5 nights a week for the past 4 years, where they go pretty hard for about an hour.

Recently she expressed an interest in doing some weightlifting to further her weight loss and fitness goals. She carries most of her fat in her legs and a little bit in the arms, she has a very lean stomach. She has been just using machines with no program structure at all for the last month.

Being the powerlifting type myself, my first reaction when she asked for help was to put her on starting strength or something similar with some cardio before and after, and carbs in the peri workout period. I know diet is the most important part of any body transformation. Her diet is decent but could definitely get more strict. Her goals are to be "toned"(NOT MUSCULAR) and to lose probably about 20 lbs.

Here is my real question: Would a program like Starting Strength be a good place to start considering her goals, or would something more cardio-oriented such as cross fit be better? I must stress that she is not looking to put on a lot of muscle. (I realize this is very hard for girls to do anyway.)


#2

Just for reference, we have a QA thread (sticky) for questions like this.

But to answer your question, Starting Strength is a good place to start. Crossfit is effective but the workouts can be very intense and usually involve a lot of skill (since they feature the big lifts plus oly lifts and other goodies such as burpees, handstand push-ups and the like, usually against the clock. There's a huge potential for injury for anyone, let alone an unskilled lifter.

Starting Strength will teach her the main lifts and give her a base to build on. She could still do her spin classes but do them after lifting. However, five nights a week sounds like overkill! She will probably need to strengthen her whole posterior chain because cycling works the quads a lot harder than the hams and being hunched over on a bike can exarcebate poor posture, particularly if she works a desk job. She will need to do a lot of stretching and mobility work to compensate.

If she wants to do extra, have her take a walk each morning before breakfast.

Diet-wise, she should emphasise proteins, good fats and veggies, and cut back on sugars and grains. I have fat arse syndrome and do better on low carb, but I will have white rice, potatoes and squash when I feel I need a carb-up. Fruits should also be kept to a minimum because fructose is absolutely the worst form of sugar if body composition is a concern (it's also no good for refuelling since it goes straight to the liver to be converted to fats rather than being shunted to the muscles as glycogen). Berries and cherries are low in fructose so are generally OK, but avoid the bigger fruits while she is trying to drop weight.

Best of luck.


#3

if she doesnt want to put on muscle she shouldn't lift.

she should stop eating, & save her pennies to get lipo.

I appreciate that you ignored the Q & A thread, along with all the others about females and lifting in this forum. really do. thanks.


#4


#5

Does she understand how much work it takes the average women to look "muscular?"

Lifting heavy weights will stoke her metabolism, leading to greater weight loss.


#6

I hear that Tracy Anderson has some good stuff about how to get those long, lean, toned muscles. Like a dancer. She really should avoid things like starting Starting Strength. She'll put on way too much muscle way too quickly.

Have her try this workout.

And maybe supplement with a few machines here and there. Like the good girl/bad girl one. Especially the "good girl" machine. A lot of women have problems with their inner thigh fat and the good girl machine will help melt it away. Just make sure she never adds weight on the machines. They should always be set on that first 10lb plate.


#7

Okay now. I'm doing the GG/BGs to try to help my thigh strength for the conversion to sumo. Think it's a total waste of time? Jury's out for me so far. It does feel like a big ole break for me to just plop down in those machines since I train almost exclusively with free weights. I have a bit more than 10 lb. when I'm doing it.


#8

Cool! In my experience, the first year she really can't go wrong lifting, no matter how she goes about it. I started with more of a Starting Strength idea doing 5x5 sets to build strength on my big lifts - squats, RDLs, Trap Bar DLs, Bench Press, and Pullups. I still don't have a pretty set of 5x5 pullups but that's another story! Then I did more of a body building type of deal for accessories with more like 3 or 4 sets of 8. I have progressed like crazy!

She's got the cardio in place already. Fitday.com might be helpful in keeping track of her diet. If she's been doing that much cardio for several years but is still 20 pounds heavier than she wants to be, then the diet may be key here. Maybe not as clean as she thinks.

And about getting bulky, I ate to gain a bit and put on 10 pounds over the first year. I've since lost bit. Anyway, very little changed in terms of my measurements. I mostly got more dense. My clothes all still fit, but I do look a bit more curvy. You don't see a bunch of visible muscle unless I'm all pumped up and flexing. If she starts lifting but is eating on a deficit to try to cut fat, she absolutely WON'T bulk up. No worries. She can't spot reduce her legs, but they will look more shapely and the added muscle on her back and shoulders will balance it and will also help her burn some of the chub off. I pretty much stopped with the cardio the first year since my goal was to try to put on and keep muscle.

I mentioned this in another thread so I'm starting to feel like a paid advertisement, but Jamie Eason has a Twelve Week Training Plan at a certain competitor's website that will remain unnamed. Google Jamie Eason Livefit Twelve-Week Trainer. That's where I would start if I were your sis. It starts with a 4 day per week lifting schedule, and more of a BBing style, but it also tells you exactly what to do and what to eat everyday. I think it's a perfect place to get started, particularly since her goals are more aesthetics and trying to up her metabolism a bit rather than strength.

Keep us posted on her progress. Before and after pics fo'sho'.