Need Advice for Training My Mom Need Advice for Training My Mom

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Thread: Need Advice for Training My Mom

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
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    Default Need Advice for Training My Mom

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    So my mom is visiting and mentioned that she should start doing yoga or something to improve her health since she sees her sisters quality of life sliding down quickly. Within seconds I had the Barbell Prescription in front of her and was busy telling her that strength is the most important adaptation she could make to improve her quality of life. And I think I made a sale here! I'm going to take her through all the lifts this week and get a program set up that she can take back to the gym in her small town. But I also have never helped anyone in her demographic and am a little unsure on a few things. And I haven't taken her through the lifts yet so maybe I'll find she can do everything, but I'd rather have all the necessary modifications ironed out prior to the first session with her.

    She's 65 years old and has not been active for a looooong time. She's overweight and has had a knee placed in the past 5 years as well. My main question is what I should do for squats. Watching her air squat I doubt she has the mobility and balance to do a useful squat to anything close to depth right now. So I'm thinking that box squats or leg press is likely her best option if she can't do a normal squat, but since I'm not sure if her gym would have either boxes for box squats or a leg press machine, would alternating between 1x5 deadlifts for workout A and 3x5 lighter deadlifts for workout B be a good way to go (moving to 5x3 once her linear progression plays out)? It would give her some lower body volume if she can't do any kind of the squat variation.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
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    New York, NY
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    Find out what equipment she actually has first. This can include equipment at home. For example, if she has to start with box squats, she might start with down and up from a chair and then maybe has lower chairs or benches (or other objects) she can use to make a linear progression for squatting depth at body weight. If squatting is totally off the table, you can prioritize the Deadlift. You can likely start with 1x5 DL on both days just keep the weight light and prioritize form.
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  3. #3
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    Thanks. I went through the motions with her and sheís going to start on the deadlift/bench program in Barbell Prescription. I have her doing box squats with a dumbbell for now which has gone well enough that if her gym had a safety squat bar I think she could probably move on to those (no luck with low bar, high bar, front squat, etc). Trying to suss out the details of exactly what her gym will have but itís hard since she lives in the sticks. Her form is solid on the deadlifts though and she can bench the bar so thereís a solid starting point there.

    One follow up question though would be how often should she add weight to the bar for deadlifts and bench if these are the only big lifts currently available for her? She wants to go 3 times a week but I can see some hard burnout if she tries to even microload those movements 3 times a week. I have dumbbell presses and pull downs mixed in, and was thinking to tell her to workout A twice a week (1-3 x 5 deadlifts, 3x5 bench, 3x10 dumbbell box squats) and workout B once (3x10 seated dumbbell press, 3x10 lat pull downs 3x10, 3x10 dumbbell box squats) with her adding weight once a week to bench and deadlifts, and increasing the dumbbell weights as necessary. Is that too conservative on the bench and deadlift increases though?

  4. #4
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    New York, NY
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    That sounds like a reasonable plan to me. You don't want to overshoot things with a masters athlete, especially in the beginning.
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  5. #5
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    Jun 2017
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    So at a 3 month check in, my mom is still sticking to the program and progressing slowly on everything. Deadlifts are going smooth, and after starting her on dumbbell bench presses for both workouts (her shoulder mobility won't really allow good overhead pressing form) she's comfortable enough to move to a 45 lbs bar for bench.

    I do have 2 questions though.

    1) Would an incline dumbbell bench press be a reasonable substitution for overhead pressing when shoulder mobility limits standard overhead pressing?

    2) Her squat form is looking really good using dumbbell box squats (removed the box aspect of it even and it's just dumbbell squats now). She's using the "goblet squat" variation right now because her form was much better than doing a variation where her arms are hanging down gripping the weight. But at some point she'll likely run into the reality that holding the dumbbell during those 3 sets of 10 will become the limiting factor rather than her squatting strength (and using a heavier dumbbell but less reps will produce the same problem). And her shoulder mobility is making any attempt at barbell squatting difficult for every variation. Admittedly though I didn't push her to start working her way into a back squat of any kind (i.e. Horn stretch), and I didn't try the "California" style front squats or front squats using straps. So my plan is to try a little harder on getting her into SOME kind of barbell squat now that she has the confidence of a few months of progress under her belt, but I thought I'd check the board for any suggestions from those who have either been in similar situations themselves or worked with similar clients. Is there any other solution I'm clearly missing? What about snatch-grip deadlifts as a proxy for squats (I know there's oodles of differences in the movements, but would it be better than nothing)?

    Thanks again folks!

  6. #6
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    Do you realize that your mom can hit herself in the head with a dumbbell in the incline position?

  7. #7
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    Jun 2017
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    Should I just scrap that thought then and fill that training spot with something else? Her overhead press attempts with little 4 lbs dumbbells were on an angle pointing forward anyway (she canít reach either hand directly over her head) so I thought it might be a decent substitution, but I would be all ears for any other suggestions.

  8. #8
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    Jul 2007
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    North Texas
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    starting strength coach development program
    Just have her bench press the bar. Get a light bar for her.

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