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Thread: Training my Mom

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
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    Albany, Western Australia
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    Default Training my Mom

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    G'day esteemed colleagues,

    Notice I wrote Mom instead of the more accurate Mum.

    Anyway, I've recently convinced my mum to try three weeks with me to see if it makes a difference. Twice a week sessions. She is 68, but had already had both knees replaced, overweight, and riddled with osteoarthritis.
    She's got high BP but I don't think it's as bad as the GP makes out. She got put on meds right after her dad died and my brother was going crazy on meth. So stress related. Her stress is much lower now and breathing better. Of course the GP is trying to go after her cholesterol now.

    She has been seeing an exercise physiologist who has given her some home band stuff that I would say she can't really do well but does do.

    I've got two sessions left with her before she gives up. So far we've just being doing a rack pull. With a broomstick we have managed to get from above the knee to just above midshin level in 4 sessions and from 3 reps to 5.

    We tried my 15lb barbell from below the knee last session and she did 1 rep easily but freaked out so we stopped and tried lowering the broomstick with success at that mid shin level.

    What I don't know is where to go next. Should I try the bar again from above the knee instead? Or keep it at that height she got 1 for one more session now she has done it once? Or should I use a 10lb kettlebell rigged at the right height? She says she's picked that up before at home.

    Or should I try make a bar from PVC pipe or something?

    I really think it's just a confidence thing but I can say she's noticing some differences already so hopefully she will keep going.

    I plan to introduce the barbell curl next sessions also following your recent article.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    North Texas
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    If the old gal is afraid to rack pull a broomstick, I'd say that you have a situation, not a problem. Problems you can solve, situations you just accept. Sorry, but this is a fact. Just leave her alone and let her enjoy her remaining time in Australia.

  3. #3
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    Dec 2016
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    Albany, Western Australia
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    Well the funny thing about this is the next day she picked up a 20kg bag of compost at the shop and walked it through the carpark by herself. So it's all in her head.

    You are probably right. I'm at least going to do the next 2 sessions. It's good practice for me. I chose to help her because she is my mum and if I can help her even a little bit then I figure everyone else will be easy.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2021
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mizuchi23 View Post
    Well the funny thing about this is the next day she picked up a 20kg bag of compost at the shop and walked it through the carpark by herself. So it's all in her head.

    You are probably right. I'm at least going to do the next 2 sessions. It's good practice for me. I chose to help her because she is my mum and if I can help her even a little bit then I figure everyone else will be easy.
    Satisfaction is proportional to outcome over expectations. That is true for both parties here. You have to control your expectations for her progress pretty tightly, both for your own sanity and for your very ability to help her.

    Your goals are to help her objectively. This is right and laudable. Her experience, however, is subjective. You can't help the first without managing the second, because she's the one who has to do it. You cannot choose for her, only influence her within unfair limits. And really, ultimately, the objective improvement is there for improving her subjective experience. Unlike a young, healthy person doing the NLP, the goal here is to maintain your mother's progress above zero, not to optimize her progress.

    Given that you got her to pull a broomstick, but she freaked out about the barbell, coupled with her being able to carry the 44 lb of awkward weight for distance, it's clear that she's scared of the big, bad, heavy barbell. You're right, it's in her head - but that's what you're managing as her coach. You're not going to reason her there with, "Look, that bag of compost was heavier than this bar." You can't reason someone out of something they weren't reasoned into.

    Now, you may be able to get her to where she's acclimated enough to something-actually-heavier-than-the-scary-metal-bar that "just once, let's try the bar for a single again" leads to a confidence-building epiphany for her. But you'll have to have built her trust and comfort by not pushing directly on it for a while, and being sensitive to what sets her off.

    This may never work. And it may break your heart. That's a risk you take by loving her. Manage your ego for her sake, and set your expectations accordingly for her sake and yours. You're coaching a person, not a bar.

  5. #5
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    Dec 2016
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    Albany, Western Australia
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    Thanks. I think I've learnt a fair bit from this. At least I can say I got someone who's old, sore, and terrified to do anything new to lift a bar once without anything bad happening.

    I'll keep going with her for the next two sessions but I'll keep my expectations low and accept that she will likely choose not to continue afterwards.

  6. #6
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    Dec 2016
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    Well we've done the two sessions and I've got mum to lift the bar from the lowest rack height of mid shin for 2 sets of 3 reps.

    I've ordered a better 15lb technique bar so I can load the micro plates I have easily that should be here this week and got on clearance cheap because mum has decided to continue on for at least another 3 weeks with me as she's felt subjectively better moment and confidence lifting things she needs to just from the range of motion work alone.

    The situation for now is under control.
    I'll let you know when I've got her to the 45lb bar.

  7. #7
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    This is great news, Mizuchi. Keep up the good work, slow, steady, and gentle. It's very encouraging that she's noticing the benefits for herself.

    I'm not sure how much weight a technique bar can handle - I imagine somewhat more than 30 lb, especially on slow lifts...so hopefully you can gradually get her somewhat past 45 before you swap back to the one that scared her before.

    Thank you for keeping us updated!

  8. #8
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    Dec 2016
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    We put load on the bar today! Sure only 1kg more but 4 weeks, 8 sessions ago she couldn't mentally deal with more than a broomstick and now we're at 8.5kg. I don't really know what's clicked but it's a good feeling for me and hopefully for mum too. She has managed to avoid cholesterol meds for another year at least too.

    The technique bar that I bought can apparently handle a max load of 60kg. Though I would say a rack pull would be significantly lower. Easy enough to get above a 45lb load though. And 28mm so not much change to 28.5mm either. Really happy with that purchase for the price. When my 5 year old is bigger she might use it too so not wasted.

    We've added some BW squats to a bench over the last two sessions. Just 3 sets of 3 and we've got down to a bit above parallel bench from about a quarter squat in two sessions in addition to the rack pull. I'll have to figure out a good way to load that later if she keeps on going but I'll cross that bridge if I get to it.

    I'm not forcing her to train, she can stop any time she wants but I think she's really feeling better and now we're getting load on the bar I think she'll see a much greater improvement.

    I do agree that if I was getting paid and this wasn't my mother it would probably not be worth all this effort so I'll need to keep that in mind if I decide to train anyone else later.

  9. #9
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    Dec 2016
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    Albany, Western Australia
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    Just wanted to give an update.

    My mum is still training with me twice a week. We missed one week because I was away and will miss one session next week as she has a fasted appointment that day.

    We only focus on the rack pull at the moment and she just did 2 sets of 3 at 15.5kg. It is easy for her in reality and I want to put more weight on but we will get to the 20kg bar in only a couple more weeks so I will stick with the plan.

    She's lost about 2kg in the last couple of weeks, her clothes fit different and she is moving better doing household jobs with more ease.

    My best story from this is a couple of weeks ago she went to the shop with her more obese sister. She left the trolley at the trolley bay and carried her bag across the carpark to her car. Her sister couldn't believe she would do that.

    We are a long way from the broomstick and definitely not in Kansas anymore.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2021
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    starting strength coach development program
    Outstanding, Martin - am I counting correctly that she's on the tenth week of her three week commitment? It's also great news that she and others around her are noticing the positive effects - sounds like slow and steady is winning the race. You can let her know that at least one complete stranger across the globe is proud of her, and of you.

    Did you change your account name, or did I misaddress you in my post on 25 March?

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