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Thread: Coaching My Wife

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2018

    Default Coaching My Wife

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    I should start this off with a disclaimer: I am not a Starting Strength coach, nor have I attended a seminar (yet!). I did not study exercise physiology, or take any training certification courses. I don't even own a polo shirt with "Coach" printed on it. I am just a man who found tremendous benefit from doing the program, and a husband who wanted his wife to see those same benefits. I wish to emphasize -- though my wife may disagree -- that I put no intentional pressure on her to train. To preempt any objection she might raise (should she read this -- Hi Honey!), in my excitement at the possibilities I shared a lot of articles that I found fascinating.

    In July of 2018, around 4 months after the birth of our 5th child, my wife asked me to teach her the lifts. At the time, I was training at the local YMCA. My work schedule was flexible enough at the time that we were able to arrange time to be there together, while the Y provided child care. That day I taught her the squat, the press, and the bench press (to the best of my ability). She did not feel confident in doing the deadlift. After 5 pregnancies all delivered by C-section she has a significant diastasis recti. Knowing this, she was afraid of worsening the condition by deadlifting, given the bent-over position. Her first day numbers were:
    Squat: 45lbs
    Press: 45lbs
    Bench: 65lbs

    To give her confidence, she wore a splint that is commonly recommended for women post partum and with a diastatis recti. While the hoop tension it provides is very limited, it gave her the proprioceptive feedback she needed to feel her body while lifting. She also wore a belt while squatting and pressing, over the splint.

    After a month of training on her own, she tried deadlifting the empty bar. She didn't hate it. I joined her for her next training session -- she wanted me to be there as she squatted 100lbs -- and taught her the deadlift and lat pulldowns. From then on, her programming alternated between pulldowns and deadlifts, wearing the splint for deadlifts.

    She continued to progress steadily through February of 2019. Her numbers:
    Squat: 202.5lbs for sets of 3
    Press: 93lbs for sets of 3
    Bench: 116lbs for sets of 3
    Dead: 245lbs for 2

    At this point, sadly, she stumbled. Probably the accumulated stress and poor sleep caught up with her and she floundered for several months until injuring her abs. In May, she stopped training.

    But that is not the end of the story.

    In November 2019, I began to build a home gym. My schedule had shifted such that the trip to the YMCA was no longer workable, and I was sick of not training. While some compromises had to be made (I had to press seated, rather than standing; squat rack with safeties rather than a power rack) I could resume training. It was good to get back. And in February 2020 my wife asked me to coach her. This time, I would be there for every rep.

    With her diastasis recti, she felt "pulling" when she would press and deadlift. This "pulling" made her nervous, so we started with just the squat and the bench:
    Squat: 75lbsx5x3
    Bench: 55lbsx5x3

    She continued to wear her splint for both lifts. After about two months, I asked her about the deadlift. Her concern was that she did not feel able to get tight at the bottom of the deadlift, but that while squatting she felt she could tighten at the top and maintain that tightness through the whole motion. This being the case, I suggested she try RDLs. On her first day, she was able to RDL 135lbsx5.

    After another two months, I asked her about the press. She was open to trying it, however with the 45lbs bar she again felt the "pulling." She did not, however, feel that same pulling when performing the motion unweighted. It was time to buy some new equipment. From Home Depot, I purchased a broom stick and ordered 4 1-1/8" clamping collars to keep the plates from shifting to where they don't belong. Together, the broomstick and collars weigh approximately 1lb. I also ordered a 10kg Starting Strength bar. Because our ceiling is so low (barely 7') standing to press is not an option.

    One month later I reopened the conversation about the deadlift. Her RDL had come up to 275lbsx3x2, and I asked her to try a deadlift. She did, and could feel her abs get tight at the bottom. Her deadlift has taken off.

    I'm so proud of my wife for beginning her strength journey, and sticking to it. It has not been easy, but I have coached (read: queued, coaxed, cajoled, shouted) her through some very hard reps and she continues to progress. Tomorrow she will train, and every lift will be hard. I will be right there with her, and she will succeed:
    Squat: 237.5lbsx5
    Bench: 142.5lbsx5
    Dead: 270lbsx5
    Seated Press: 102.5lbsx3x5

    To women who are afraid: you can do it. It will be hard, but so is everything worth doing. Life is too short to let your fears stop you from being strong. Everyone at the gym looks foolish, especially the ones posing for their Instagram pictures. If the people at the gym were comfortable with their bodies, they wouldn't be at the gym. Your abs aren't "ruined," your body is different now because you actually used it the way it was intended.

    To the men who want their wives to lift: let them make the decision and then be there for every rep. That might mean building a home gym. Better get on that waiting list for equipment now -- I've been after a new set of calibrated 45s since April and I haven't heard anything. Clear out the space in the garage or basement. Buy the plywood and stall mats for a platform. Train. Read the blue book. Read the gray book. Then read them again. Have you seen all the content on this site? And its free!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2020


    Wow!!!!! This is such an awesome story, thank you for sharing! And good for her! Those numbers are insane!

    Lol, my husband knows better than to try to coach me. But he supports me in other ways, like building my home gym for me and cooking dinner on my lift nights. Thanks to all you guys out there who provide the "right" amount of input.


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