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Fitness Theory and Practice. CrossFit's rationale & foundations. Who is fit? What is fitness?

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Old 07-06-2008, 07:04 PM   #1
Adam Levenson
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Training the wife.

I am going to start taking my wife lifting with me and she is definately excited. My problem is she has some confidence issues with lifting, specifically "upper body" she hears a weight and doesn't believe it's possible and she paniacs when we make an attempt. She does fine with broom sticking to get her use to the motions, but any weight and its over.

She is about 100 ibs and 5'4. Not very atheltic and never has been. She wants to start lifting to build up strength to work into crossfit. Our specific issue was attempting 45(bar only and the smallest bar at our gym.) ibs on the bench press. She could hold it over her chest locked out and then she totally lost it mentally and broke down. My worry is if we try an alternate like dumbbells she will either be pathetically low and really waste her time or try a weight and I can't spot her on the bench to keep her safe.

On the other hand having her paniac with the bar isn't good either. Any suggestions? I want to do this right by keeping her interested and most of all safe. Her inexperiance with any sort of atheltics worrys me to leave her to her own devices with anything.
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Old 07-07-2008, 01:11 AM   #2
Elliot Fuller
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Re: Training the wife.

Sounds like a mental issue... maybe try some "confidence" lifts at home with a barbell, where you can safely spot her, away from prying eyes (other than yours).

Could also try these "confidence" lifts by adding light weight to PVC and working up from there. I don't think dumbbells are the way to go, because they're not just added weight; they add a second dimension of instability to the mix, which she probably doesn't need if she's already having mental issues getting just the barbell up.

Baby steps...

Edit: You might also want to skip the weights for now, and just leave her with the PVC while you work on her bodyweight strength. Maybe start her off on some of the www.simplefit.org (w/f/s) workouts for a while. They're simple (duh) but very effective and Cindy'esque all around. She could get a foundation with those and develop some more athletic confidence when you decide to get her started on lifting.

Personally I've found lifting weights to be the most intimidating aspect of CrossFit, both for myself, and for the others that I've introduced to it.
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Old 07-07-2008, 02:51 AM   #3
Frank E Morel
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Re: Training the wife.

[quote=Adam Levenson;344281]On the other hand having her paniac with the bar isn't good either. Any suggestions? I want to do this right by keeping her interested and most of all safe. Her inexperiance with any sort of atheltics worrys me to leave her to her own devices with anything.[quote]

So why you making her do something that is making her feel stressed? Why go the negative re enforcement route? It was evident when you said:
[quote=Adam Levenson;344281]She could hold it over her chest locked out and then she totally lost it mentally and broke down.[quote]


Try the positive.
Who says that she has to bench? why not do deadlifts with a wall ball? do cleans with it? Even wall ball itself. Get her to do things exercises that she will she see herself being successful at .. once she has the self confidence doing a few exercises.. maybe she will reach down inside herself and a find that " i am woman, i am strong" and work harder.

[quote=Adam Levenson;344281]if we try an alternate like dumbbells she will either be pathetically low and really waste her time [quote]
-says who? you? Its her body, and her strength. It will get stronger and at her pace. Dumb bells are great for muscle co ordination development. The have much more beneficial usage than a barbell. Think about it, she has to lift 5 lbs bag of flour into the cupboard, that movement is stimulated by.. bench press or dumb bell snatch and press?


Seriously; doing big lifts is not her time so don't go that route.

Rowing for overall conditioning .. and lets face it.. its a workout in itself and she will get strong and muscled by doing that alone and only that.
Medicine ball for dead lift, cleans, overhead presses, thrusters, slams( i bet will be a great stress releaser for her) even a modified swing would be workable with the right size ball.
Dumbbells for dead lifts, squats, swings, cleans. thrusters. ohs .
She will get stronger faster with db as she most likely will not be afraid of them and more inclined to use them.
box jumps for lower body and for a confidence builder.
jump rope ... 10 minutes of it supposed to be the same as running a mile in 12 minutes.
push ups, 1/2 burpees, air squats, jumping pull ups.


All of these are easy to measure progress with and good for building foundations on. Above all, easily obtainable for any novice.
Remember... you get the donkey to work harder and longer by using a carrot and not the stick. Positive re enforcement, easy reachable goals for each workout, and she will be stellar!





good luck

Last edited by Frank E Morel : 07-07-2008 at 03:02 AM.
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Old 07-07-2008, 03:53 AM   #4
Jill Zimmerman
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Re: Training the wife.

I purchased an ultralite bar from York for my son. It weighs 15 pounds and you can still load all the olympic bumper plates on it up to 150 pounds I think. I use it all the time because sometimes I start out less than the 35 my women's bar weighs and certainly less than the 45 my squat bar weighs. I'll get there at some point. It is shorter and aluminium it appears. I can still use progressive weight don't feel like such a wimp even though I am.

Good grief a hundred pounds at 5'4" is tiny, bordering on frail at least I was at that weight. Buy her a bar take it with you. Or dumbbells small ones like less than 20 pounds ea. until she can build some strength. Those dumbbell moves DVDs from bootcampfitness are great. She could be doing that stuff and work her way up.

As an alternative, fill her some skinny PVC with sand (tight no sloshing) if you don't want to fork out the money for the bar. Increase the pipe size for increased wieght. Or body bars, they probably have them at the gym.

I wish her luck.
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Old 07-07-2008, 12:12 PM   #5
Phillip Garrison
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Re: Training the wife.

Start really low. Even if it's a weight that won't make much benefit, and give her small easily attainable goals, that she can build upon and succeed.
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Old 07-07-2008, 04:14 PM   #6
Jill Zimmerman
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Re: Training the wife.

I was thinking on the way to work that 45 pound bar is almost half her body weight. Think in terms of percentage of body weight for appropriate weight for her to work with. Not to mention lessening weight since she is a woman. You said she is not athletic. I think the standard for level one (basically averagely athletic people) which she is not - is 1/4 your body weight for an over head press. That's the goal for that level not a starting place. The standard men's bar is just way too big to start, even with nothing on it.
I could get it up there but that's because my body mass is 1/3 greater and I spent a year mistakenly working on machines for hours at a time, ugh, so despite being a beginner at CF I have a little umph going for me. I could not imagine handing my inexperienced 105 pound son that big bar and expecting him to do something with it.

Still wishing her and you luck, all of Franks stuff sounded good to. But for a "bar" effect I would think bodybars would work well to start, come in a series of weights and are usually around the gym somewhere. Or my gym has a series of fixed (non removable weights on the ends) small York barbells that start out light weight and go up. I have never tried them but they might work.
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Old 07-07-2008, 04:55 PM   #7
George Mounce
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Re: Training the wife.

I saw the name of this thread and thought, "dude, my dinner gets cooked every night."

I know what you meant, training with the wife. What is most important when lifting weights is starting where she is, not where you think she is. Only she can tell you that, and if she's scared of lifting any weight she's never going to improve. She needs to see that she can accomplish something first and work up from there. Positive motivation and small steps are more important than pushing it upon her that she can do more. She first has to think and know she can do more.
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Old 07-07-2008, 07:43 PM   #8
Jamie J. Skibicki
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Re: Training the wife.

I'm just going to say be careful. I've trained a few girlfriends and it's tricky. It's hard to motivate them because you have to walk that line of trainer and boyfriend. You can't very well tell them to suck it up and not expect it to come up later on after the gym. Side note, my weightlifting coach, after a missed attempt at training said "some people have lion inside, but you have to coax him out of his cage, others are just rabbits". I didn't miss the next attempt.

The point is, for the most part, you can be really good at being a husband or being a trainer, it's very hard and tricky to be good at both. I the same way you can't turn off your feelings for her and just look at her as some one your training, she can't look at you as just her trainer.

If you have an affiliate or a club near you, I would suggest she goes there till she has a background and some level of confidence, so she can meet you as a peer instead of as a student. If not, good luck and tread lightly.
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Old 07-07-2008, 08:21 PM   #9
John Vernon
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Re: Training the wife.

I don't chime in too often anymore on the boards but Jamie hit the nail on the head here. I've been training my wife for the past year and it has taken awhile to develop the training style that we have. She received a superb knowledge base from Robb Wolf so I consider myself extremely lucky. HOWEVER, for a large portion during our early training stages I did not get the respect a trainer deserves. Take note of what works and especially take note of what doesn't work.

I made my wife cry on several of our early training sessions...I wasn't taking note of what didn't work.
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Old 07-07-2008, 08:28 PM   #10
Adam Levenson
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Re: Training the wife.

Well, I have been out of BJJ for a while and mostly want to get into a fitness program to get back into "fighting shape" she wants to look like nicole.

Seriously, she wants to not be so pathetic when it comes to strength. She truly hates having to get help for anything involving furniture or people asking why she is so thin. We also want to do something together, well we do everything together. We are one of "those" couples.

With that said our plan was to do Starting Strength in a group with myself, my brother, a friend and her. This way with 4 at least 2 are always at the gym to support each other. Hence the hang up on getting the bench press going.

I think for the bench we are going to use the 45 ibs bar since it is all we have, with tons of spotting. Basically she will be doing negatives, as little or as much as she is comfortable with. The overhead press we will likely pass on and replace with something else for a bit.

If anyone has suggestions based on the starting strength protocol I would appriciate it.
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