Seeking a squat alternative for an older female lifter Seeking a squat alternative for an older female lifter

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Thread: Seeking a squat alternative for an older female lifter

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2020
    Location
    Auckland, New Zealand
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    13

    Default Seeking a squat alternative for an older female lifter

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    I'm looking for useful alternatives to the squat for my wife. Having used Covid as the excuse to get a home gym, my next step was to convince my wife to start strength training. She is 71 and fairly active but not athletic. She is deeply uninterested in attending a gym, but if the gym came to her... Citing some of the studies about the great benefits of strength training, especially as we age, I've managed to convince her to try it out (her slipping on a sloping path outside twice and breaking a wrist then an ankle helped with the persuasion). Obviously my training her is not ideal, especially as I'm no expert, but baby steps. I've read SS and BBP pretty well, and PP as needed. If I can get enough buy in I hope to get some online coaching going but we're not there yet.
    That was a year ago and progress has on the whole been positive, she has noticed subtle but real benefits in balance (no longer needing a handrail on the stairs) but she'll never be a fan and she hates squats. There are several reasons: shoulder mobility and a childhood broken wrist that wasn't set properly limit her range of motion so she cannot get her hands on the bar in a back squat or hold the bar comfortably in a front squat. I jury rigged a safety squat bar, which sort of worked, but she finds the bar on her back, either high or low bar, very uncomfortable as she doesn't have much muscle there as padding. Adding padding to the bar helps, but that decreases stability and she really hates that. Because she can't use her arms for balance she feels like she might fall over, particularly when the weight goes up, which leads her to tense up and her form to break down.
    After a mild ankle twist (other leg) on a slipping mat prevented any legwork, I built a seat on skateboard wheels that attaches to my row cable, which allows for a leg press for titrateable light work as she recovered. This works pretty well and she is ok with it, but it isn't as good as squatting, so I persisted with trying box squats. This seems to help mitigate the balance issue but she's still not a convert so its touch and go whether that will persist.
    Plan B - I'm looking for alternatives that get as much of the equivalent benefit of squats as possible. She is still ok on deadlift, and obviously the leg press helps. Reading the forums, I've seen several suggestions of a hex bar, particularly in deficit, having a squat like movement pattern. I've also read Rip's lengthy thread rubbishing the hex bar (convincingly) as a deadlift replacement. The instability at the top is a potential concern, however we're not talking very heavy weights in an absolute sense - she topped out on SSB at 40kg x 5 previously, and deadlift is currently at 60kg x5 (PB), so I'm inclined to think this is manageable (currently OHP is 23kg x5, Bench is 34.5kg x 5, both PB, for reference). Otherwise it looks like a useful possibility but I don't want to risk injury and put her off further training, so I'm seeking more experienced guidance on this one.
    Sorry if that preamble was a bit long but I felt the scene setting would save some of the more obvious questions. Thanks in advance for your feedback.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    North Texas
    Posts
    48,473

    Default

    I'd just have her deadlift twice a week. Fine for her purposes.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2020
    Location
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Posts
    13

    Default

    That would be simpler. Both lifts at the same level, or one backed off?
    I have her on a 5/3/1 rotation at present, so the last 3 Fridays have been Moderate 61kg x 3,3; Intensity 64kg x 1,1; and Volume 59.5kg x 5,5. On Tuesdays she does Squat, followed by Lat Pull (on a 10/5/1 rotation). How would you suggest I structure the Tuesday Deadlift?

    Thanks for the prompt response.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    North Texas
    Posts
    48,473

    Default

    She has no need for advanced programming. Have her do 2 sets of 3 each workout, going up 1 kg each day.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2020
    Location
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Posts
    13

    Default

    And there she sending warm fuzzies in your direction for saying deadlift is fine as an alternative to squats, direct from the horses mouth. The thought of going up 1kg twice a week has her thinking maybe squats aren't quite so bad. Given that training Dee is as much psychological as physical, that is a win either way. Thanks again.

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