Workout for my Mom

This may not be the normal for you T-men and T-vixens, but I am hoping someone could help me out. I am trying to get my mother to go to the gym this summer and workout. Primary reason is high cholesterol, and she also says that she would like to shed 10-15 pounds.

What kind of things should have her start doing? The gym has all sorts of free weights and machines in addition to cardio equiptment, but since she has no gym experience she would probibly prefer to the machines. Any input would be appreciated.

She is 54, and not fat or anything, but has never been in a gym.

My suggestion is that you take it very easy on her as she begins. Too much pain, time, or intimidation and she be gone before you know it.

Weeks 1 & 2

  • 1 workout per week
  • Light 5 min warm up on treadmill
  • Simple whole body workout with guided motion machines. Yeah…yeah…I’ll take heat for this. Whatever. Remember you don’t want to scare her off.
    (i.e., Leg Press, Cable Row, Smith Low Incline Bench Press)
  • Keep each exercise 3 sets of 15 reps. Make her work, but not so hard that she fails or won’t be able to walk the next day.
  • Cardio after 10-20 minutes (she’s just starting)

Weeks 3& 4

  • Bump up to 2 workouts per week (Upper/Lower Split)
  • UPPER BODY: 1 horizontal pull, 1 vertical pull, 1 horizontal push, and 1 vertical push
  • Lower BODY: 1 Pressing movement, Leg Extension, Leg Curl, Calf Raises
  • By the 4th week she should be able to handle some decent intensity and you should be incorporating some dumbbell/barbell exercises.
    NOTE Don’t change everyting all at once. It’ll freak her out.
  • Cardio 20-25 minutes

Beyond 1 month

  • Start replacing curls/extensions with more compound movements (stiff leggeds, etc.)
  • Advance program as needed
  • This is really a basic outline. You don’t have to agree with the principles. Just start her easy and let her get comfortable in the gym environment. This is THE MOST important thing.

You should also look at her diet. Make sure she’s getting some fiber to help with cholesterol. PWO drinks are essential.

Hope that helps.


I saw this and had to chime in right quick. A year ago or so my Mom also in her early 50’s was recovering from cancer and looking for me to set her up a training program.

I used the CW’s ABBH guidlines, and basic compound movements with free weights, mainly DB’s. The only change I made to the program was not using her 1RM to set the weight. I simply had her choose a weight she could easily complete all the reps and sets laid out on each day. She stayed at this level for the first two weeks to get accustomed to training, and nailing the proper form. Then I had her advance like the program is laid out, either adding weight or a rep depending on the day. Then after four weeks of this we did the swap, changing the low reps excersizes for the high rep and went another 4 weeks.

She made great progress, and loved it. Doing deads, squats, DB presses, overhead presses, etc… Just like any new trainee we concentrated on nailing correct form first and then the weight increases came later. We stayed with this basic layout for damn near a year, before this latest bout with cancer, and she never stalled out at all. I just gave her a new set of excersizes every 8 weeks.

She became a machine, addictted to making progress each and everytime she trained. It seemed she would hit a new PR on every lift, every week. I loved it, as much as she did.

She currently got the O.K. to start working out again and started with the same ABBH layout on Monday.

I’ll just say if you can talk her into it, and it can take a bit of doing, the basic compound movements and Chads Program will show great results. She lost size, gained weight, strength, tone, etc… Within the first three weeks she had ppl at her work asking if I couyld help them with a work out.

Hope that helps,

Thanks again CW,


(if you have any ?'s just ask, I dont have the exact plan, it was erased when my harddrive crashed but I can give some examples if needed)

I give a 2nd vote for an “easy” version of ABBH as suggested by Phill. I would also suggest the use of dbs, some machines and light loads just to learn the correct form of execution and perform the sets/reps properly. In day 1, for back the seated cable row. In day 3, the leg press instead of front squats + an easier abs exercise. In day 5, dbs military presses + latpulldowns. In day 7, deadlift initially with a light unloaded barbell. If a one day on, one day off is too much, add one more rest day.