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Thread: Mama needed muscles

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2013

    Default Mama needed muscles

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    Goal 1: Unweaken
    In December 2012, I was 33 and shakily lifting my 30lb daughter out of a shopping cart when I asked, "When did I get this weak?" After two pregnancies and a number of years of being physically dormant, I had begun to accept my weakness asking my husband to do stuff I used to do, even getting the laundry baskets up and down the stairs. But that shopping cart was the last straw. How did I get to a point where it felt dangerous to lift my child?

    I had heard about Starting Strength on the internet and started reading about it. In January 2013, I bought the book and read it. In my mind, it should have been titled, "Barbell Training for Nerds." This really appealed to me and with the help of the forums, I bought into this idea that linear progression was possible.

    I signed up for a gym membership for the first time ever. I paid for some sessions with a personal trainer, but ended up using him as a spotter. He had no idea about SS, and that's ok. I used him to have the confidence to try something new without hurting myself.

    I got stronger than I ever thought I could be. The deadlift was the friendliest lift. The squat took a while to sort out, and I read and re-read the squat chapter. The bench was fine until I dropped one side on my head while trying to rerack a failed rep. I took the bench out and just pressed. In August 2013, I had shoulder surgery to repair damage from an injury 10+ yrs prior. It was a real pain to have the surgery a decade older and with two small kids running around. However, rehabbing after learning about SS was great. By December 2013, I PR'd my squat and deadlift. I don't remember about the press, but I do have logs here on the forum.

    I also learned to not fear eating which as a woman is a big deal.

    Goal 2: Maintain strength
    Looking into 2014, I was embarking on a lot of life change and didn't want to lose the strength I had gained in 2013, but also didn't want to commit the same amount of time and emotional energy. Having seen Kyle Schuant on both the SS and Dan John forums, I got in touch with him to ask how to program under different conditions. As I look back on this, I think it's hilarious that he was even willing to work with me.

    I think I told him something like, "I want to maintain strength, but I also am going to cancel my gym membership and the only thing I own is a 1" standard bar with 250+lbs of weights. No bench, no rack. What can I do with this? Oh, and I have to work out during nap times."

    Kyle was great. First, he convinced me that strength maintenance comes with some amount of strength gain, so he was actually going to program me to set PRs regularly. Second, he asked about exactly what equipment I had and used it all. Third, the program was doable and it worked. Frankly, it worked even when I half-assed it.

    Having come from SS LP, Kyle's programming seemed wildly unorthodox. Wildly. I did 6 week blocks of training. My first block, for example, was a power clean to rack the press and 3 x 3 presses, then a power clean to rack the front squat and 3 x 3 front squats. 5 days a week, working somewhere between 60-80% of my estimated 1RM. This workout took like 20 minutes. It's hard to imagine programming more different from SS LP without rolling over to Men's Health or pink dumbbells. Every block was a little different, and I would PR'd a lift or two at the end. Maybe there was one block where I didn't, but that was because I missed a lot of workouts.

    Kyle gets a lot of crap in the SS forums, and maybe he even deserves some of it. But his programming was excellent because it fit within my constraints of time and equipment, and I made measurable progress.

    And a note about eating. By the end of SS, I was tired of eating to fuel the gainzzz. With programming high in frequency but low in intensity and volume, I didn't need to stuff myself. I lost weight, got stronger, and looked better. Win, win, win.

    Goal 3: Lift for a lifetime
    Between lifting for 2 years now and working with Kyle, I've finally figured out what my lifting goals are. Initially, I just wanted to get stronger. Then I didn't want to get unstrong. I'm not interested in competing, but I've decided I do want to lift for a lifetime. It helps that I enjoy lifting; it's fun in the moment, when I'm not peeing myself. I also enjoy being secretly stronger that just about every woman I meet in real life. (Of course, there are women on these boards that are way stronger, cf. scteacher.) In addition to enjoying lifting, I appreciate its health benefits. I tell friends it's my contribution to the fight against osteoporosis. Or if they ask why I lift, I'll tell them it's to keep up with my kids.

    I started working with Kyle before Practical Programming 3rd Ed came out. And even though I have PP3 and have read it, I don't know that I would be as confident that I can lift for a lifetime without working the past year with Kyle. When I read just in the "SS family," I feel I hear a lot more about getting stronger, faster or strength for sport applications than I do about staying strong for decades and how to do that. That doesn't bother me, but I think that's why Kyle's involvement with both the SS and Dan John forums was important to me when I went to look for help. The DJ forum is quirky with kettlebellers and discus throwers, but there's an active conversation on what it takes to be strong and move well as we age. I suspected that Kyle would be able to offer advice that I might not get from another coach. Now, maybe I'm wrong; I haven't worked with anyone else. But I'm pleased as punch with the results I've gotten.

    So this is my big thank you to Rip for SS which got me stronger than I ever thought possible, all the women who post logs and encouragement on the forums, and to Kyle for teaching me how to stay strong for life.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    North Texas


    Kyle gets a lot of crap in the SS forums, and maybe he even deserves some of it. But his programming was excellent because it fit within my constraints of time and equipment, and I made measurable progress.
    I hear Kyle's voice here. Any crap Kyle gets in these forums he brings on himself, because he is an unnecessarily slow learner and despite the fact that he writes well, even if his heart is in the right place. That said, the program is based on simple arithmetical progression and the inherent capacity of all living organisms to adapt to stress, so it's Kyle-proof. We're all happy that you've done well. Now, help Kyle by encouraging him with his own training, so that he can move further along the path to effective coaching.

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