T Nation

Some Advice for Female Friend?

Hey all,

I’ve been asked by a female friend for some help. Now I must confess that I am stumped. She is a marathon runner and trains ALOT. She’s very petit and yet has “flabby” outer/upper quads & bottom. She eats clean and does loads of cardio training. She has done weights in the past, but without much luck. From below the waste it’s making her a little pair shaped.

Does anyone have any advice I could pass on to her re training ideas which may help?

Apologies for jumping in on the ladies section, but I thought I would get the best response here.

Thanks,

Sax

What do you mean she’s done weights in the past without much luck? What kind of results was she looking for and what did she see?

I assume she trains for marathons simply because she likes running, not because she’s in that sport in school or something, correct? So she could really change her training to suit whatever new goals she might have, right?

Does she simply want to see “tighter” legs?

[quote]sic wrote:
What do you mean she’s done weights in the past without much luck? What kind of results was she looking for and what did she see?

I assume she trains for marathons simply because she likes running, not because she’s in that sport in school or something, correct? So she could really change her training to suit whatever new goals she might have, right?

Does she simply want to see “tighter” legs?[/quote]

She competes in various marathons throughout the year but on a “hobby” basis. She is 27 years old and works full time.
When I say she’s done weights before, I mean she’s tried and suffered the age of problem of going in without any guidance. She needs to tone in her upper/outter quads and bottom. Now I can give her some guidanceded based on what I do and know, but I’m no PT. I just know what works for me.

This is one of those problem areas I know some women suffer with and wondered if anyone had some specific training methods that have been proactive in this area… Like you say - tighten.

Thanks for the reply. Very much appreciated

Sax

If you know what works for you, it is a good bet that it will work for her too.

I would teach her to squat properly (at least parallel, not those 1/4 squats that people do on smith machines). If you know how and are comfortable with it, I would teach her to deadlift. I would also encourage her to do split squats (you know with the non-working leg up on the bench behind her) as well as lunges, leg extensions and leg curls.

She’ll have to rearrange her running in order to be able to put in some good work on her legs and to have time for recovery.

I’d suggest that she start training in the 3 sets of 10 reps range. Make sure that she struggles with the last rep or it is too light. Try something like:

Day 1
Squats
Leg extensions
Leg curls

Day 2 (not the next day, just the next time she trains)
Deadlifts
Lunges (make sure that knee touches the ground! no half lunges here!)
Step ups (can hold dumbbells once her balance improves)

I’d love to see her do some upper body work too, but she may have to be coaxed into that if she thinks her only problem area is her lower body. She’ll love the tightness that she’ll see/feel all over after she’s been doing this for a month or so.

Now here is the trick to results, she has to progress. If she tries out say, 45lbs on the leg extension machine and feels pretty comfortable doing 3 sets of 10, then she absolutely has to go up in weight next time. You will not get anywhere if you use the same weight from week to week. you have to challenge your body and give it a reason to grow stronger muscles. Even if she can only get 8 reps the next time, it is very important that she try to add weight whenever she can.

After two weeks of 3x10, I would try mixing up her sets and reps. Try out 4 sets of 6 or 5 sets of 5. I personally prefer 5x5 because it allows you to lift heavier weight than a 3x10 would. You lift heavier for shorter time and therefore progress faster. :slight_smile:

Thanks Sic,

I’ve put a very similar programme together for her, but I have actually included some upper body (I couldn’t help myself!!)

I’m happy to add my principles to her work to some extent, but I know that from years of playing rugby, my legs don’t really need too much encouragment to grow, so your pointers on those excerses is just what I was looking for.

I’ll post back here soon to let you know how it’s all going.

Thanks again for taking the time!!

Not a problem. I hope she sticks to your plan and sees some results. She’ll be a lot happier with her body if she does stick to weight training. Cardio (aka marathon running) just doesn’t build the same quantity and quality of muscle.

Just as a note too…

I’d add that the “tight” look generally comes from leaning out over strong muscles. So even if her diet’s “good” it does absolutely nothing for her if she’s only developing slow twitch muscle fibers through steady-state marathon running. Check out the difference in appearance between a marathon runner and a sprinter…eeeyeah. BIG DIFFERENCE. Sprinters are recruiting fast twitch fibers. Marathoners are sapping their bodies of all power (basically).

If she wants to see some kind of definition she’s got to have something to define…so YES. Squats are king here…and a good basic exercise to include. Short powerful sprints would also help and might be easier to coax a runner into (though you’d have to watch form here…sprinting with an injury/glute-quad imbalance is a nightmare). She (like many people) probably does carry a pretty bad glute/quad imbalance so bird-dogging before running and learning to squat the “third world squat” would be particularly useful in getting her to define those legs.

Lastly, I’d stay away from leg curls (not too functional - and can seriously bother runners with exacerbated hamstrings) and check out some other single leg movements like the single leg romanian deadlift and the single leg squat (check out the single leg articles on T-Nation).

As far as the upper body goes…she’d do well to balance herself out there as well…really nothing more is needed than pulling (pullup and some kind of row), pushing (pushup and some kind of overhead press), at high loads for low reps after she gets past the initial stage of higher reps with slightly manageable loads to acquaint her tendons and CNS with the movement.

That’s a lot to read and take in. PM me if you’ve got a question about what I’ve written. But I’d say in general it’s the marathoning that gives her her “shape”. Again, reference pics of other marathoners…If she wants to get cut, she’s got to get powerful.

Hope this helps.

Thanks for that Renegade!

I’ll post back here soon to update on how she’s doing. So far she’s embraced the gym life quite well. So far so good!!

Sweet. Glad to hear it!

The ladies here have given GREAT advice! I would love to know how your friend has progressed so far! =D

I am also posting links to two articles she should read!

http://www.elitefts.com/documents/aerobic_fallacy.htm

http://www.charlespoliquin.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=861&Itemid=10029

These articles tend to shed some LIGHT on the TRUTH about long duration aerobic exercise…

Hope this helps!

Molly