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Susie Rosenberg 12-29-2007 08:08 AM

Women and Starting Strength
 
Ok, here's the short version:

1. I'm an FFFL: Fifty-two-year-old Formerly Fat Lady.
2. My endurance is more than ok, I'm a long-distance recreational cyclist and I do pretty well.
3. I've been Crossfitting for about 6 months, and it's very clear to me that my (lack of) strength is my limiting factor in a lot of workouts.
4. I'm currently suffering a bit of overuse which I feel mostly in my tendons and joints, not my muscles, per se. (Tendinitis of the left elbow, a bit of tenderness in the left knee.)
5. I am status-post surgery 14 months ago for two herniated discs at C5/6 and C6/7, and it's left me with a small motor deficit on the left side...(hey, maybe that's why I have developed the tendinitis there!). It means I have to be very careful with a neutral spine when I lift, so i can't push heavier than my form can sustain.

I'm currently 5'7" tall, I weigh 145 lbs., I estimate I'm about 24% body fat---could lose a little more.

Questions:

1. If you've coached (or are) a weightlifting female, is there anything about the Starting Strength progressions that need to be modified? I'm thinking given how skittish I am about getting hurt that I should not go up the ladder quite so fast.

2. Given the limitations I've noted above, is there anything I shouldn't do?

3. Is there anything I can do for the elbow tendinitis when I lift? For example, yesterday I was doing push-jerks (with supervision) and while I could do the lift, it hurt my left elbow (medial aspect in anatomic position) like the dickens bringing the bar back down to my chest.

4. Any general tips for me starting out would be greatly appreciated. I am very ambivalent about weightlifting. I really want to get stronger, but I'm pretty skittish. I hate weightlifting. I love having lifted.

Susie

Casey Williams 12-29-2007 09:54 AM

In regards to the elbow and tendon soreness. I found that the only time that my soreness would go away is if i would lay off for about a week or so and let it heal....if i kept going it would just get more sore or not go away. NOt a good thing. Maybe take a recovery week were you just focus on conditioning and not so difficult or heavy lifts as Cross Fit is a mixture of both. As far as the advice for the heavy lifting i would say let the elbow heal then slowly get into the heavy lifts as much as your body can help. I need to put some size weight on as most of it is eating i am going to do a black box type routine were i lift heavy on certain days then more conditioned type routines on others such as:
ME / CF / ME / REST / ME / CF / REST
or some variation. If you are working out an affiliate crossfit site im sure they could help ease you into some heavier lifting since you have the back problems. Im sure others will chime in with advice. Good luck!
casey

Mohamed F. El-Hewie 12-29-2007 10:02 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Susie Rosenberg (Post 23963)
3. I've been Crossfitting for about 6 months, and it's very clear to me that my (lack of) strength is my limiting factor in a lot of workouts.

Cross fitness could play a factor in overtraining and cause loss of strength.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Susie Rosenberg (Post 23963)
4. I'm currently suffering a bit of overuse which I feel mostly in my tendons and joints, not my muscles, per se. (Tendinitis of the left elbow, a bit of tenderness in the left knee.)

That supports over-training.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Susie Rosenberg (Post 23963)
5. I am status-post surgery 14 months ago for two herniated discs at C5/6 and C6/7, and it's left me with a small motor deficit on the left side.

Cervical surgery is uncommon in the weightlifting arena. You should be extremely careful in seeking advice or following any improvised training plan.
Quote:

Originally Posted by Susie Rosenberg (Post 23963)
I'm currently 5'7" tall, I weigh 145 lbs., I estimate I'm about 24% body fat---could lose a little more.

Why worry about fat loss at bodyweight 145 since you have other priorities of higher importance. BW 145 lb and height 67” puts you at BMI of 22.7. That is as good as anyone wishes.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Susie Rosenberg (Post 23963)
1. If you've coached (or are) a weightlifting female, is there anything about the Starting Strength progressions that need to be modified?

Before considering any weight training, you should master training with your bodyweight and stretching. You could do all exercises without machines or free weights until your range of motion is strengthened around major joints.
Quote:

Originally Posted by Susie Rosenberg (Post 23963)
2. Given the limitations I've noted above, is there anything I shouldn't do?

You should never lift weights without general and local warm up.
Quote:

Originally Posted by Susie Rosenberg (Post 23963)
3. Is there anything I can do for the elbow tendinitis when I lift? For example, yesterday I was doing push-jerks ?

Pushing or jerking on inflamed elbow aggravates the injury. Give your elbows few weeks of rest and train something else until all signs of inflammation and pain subside. You could still train the shoulders and upper body without using the elbows.
Quote:

Originally Posted by Susie Rosenberg (Post 23963)
4. Any general tips for me starting out would be greatly appreciated. I am very ambivalent about weightlifting. I really want to get stronger, but I'm pretty skittish. I hate weightlifting. I love having lifted.

Weightlifting does not have to entail lifting free weights in situations of rehabilitation or learning the art of lifting. A lot of Pilate exercises and low impact aerobics produce the same outcome of free weightlifting yet with safer results and consistent progress.

More or fast is not always better. Best of luck.
==================
Mohamed F. El-Hewie

Steven Low 12-29-2007 12:25 PM

Not sure why you didn't just post on CF forum. ;)

If you haven't been doing anything for your joints/tendons/connective tissue you should. Do foam rolling, tennis ball work and massage around the elbow especially the medial epicondyle. 4 of the 6 forearm flexors attach there and it's very easy to get tendonitis. Anytime I'm not doing anything during the day I usually start self massaging, and it has helped significantly.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Susie Rosenberg
1. If you've coached (or are) a weightlifting female, is there anything about the Starting Strength progressions that need to be modified? I'm thinking given how skittish I am about getting hurt that I should not go up the ladder quite so fast.

Main thing you have to worry about is the 1x5 DL at the end of the week (as you already mentioned the tingliness in another thread) as well as placement of the bar for squats. Rip recommends low bar so it probably won't be near the lower cervical vertebrae.

I highly doubt any other exercises will affect it that much. Try to keep the head in a neutral position though.

The only other things I have to say is just take it slower than a younger person would. Your recovery abilities are not as good as your average teenager or low-20s guy who is doing this program. You can afford not to go after it as aggressively as they do and your joints will probably like you for that.

Before you start anything it's always best to take a light intensity week just to give your body time to recovery from your previous training and to let small injuries heal so you can go into the next program fresh.


Quote:

Originally Posted by Mohamed F. El-Hewie
Why worry about fat loss at bodyweight 145 since you have other priorities of higher importance. BW 145 lb and height 67” puts you at BMI of 22.7. That is as good as anyone wishes.

BMI is a joke. Especially for more athletic people.. which most if not all of us on here are.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mohamed F. El-Hewie
A lot of Pilate exercises and low impact aerobics produce the same outcome of free weightlifting yet with safer results and consistent progress.

Apparently you haven't heard of CrossFit the program. Not crossfit isn't cross training.

And no, pilates and aerobic work does not produce the same results as weightlifting. That's just foolish.

Garrett Smith 12-29-2007 12:51 PM

Susie,
I'd highly reconsider the long-distance cycling with your recent neck issue. Long durations of time in cervical hyperextension isn't going to help matters at all, nor is riding with your c-spine in neutral (assuming you don't want to run into things!).

Susie Rosenberg 12-29-2007 02:07 PM

Thank you everybody for your time and thoughtful replies.

Steven, do you have an easily accessed link you could share with me about how to use foam rollers and tennis balls? I have no idea what to do with them.

Dr. G, I honestly can't give up cycling, I love it too much. I don't race, I just ride. I don't use my drops, and I have the bars set up relatively high---no racer would position them as I do. I'm pretty comfortable on my bike.

I think I'm gonna give myself a wee bit of time off from the high volume Crossfit stuff, do the lifts without stressing the elbows, try the self-massage, and take it really slowly.

I think I will enjoy the whole process more. Getting strong for me is going to be more like running a marathon than a sprint, you should pardon the analogy.

Thanks again,
Susie

Garrett Smith 12-29-2007 02:50 PM

Susie,
I would never be able to completely give up cycling either. I do it in short spurts, ~35 minutes each way with a long break in between, on my fixie riding up steep hilly roads.

Shorter and harder might be one way to get your fix and avoid the long duration of neck extension.

Life is a marathon, no need to pardon the analogy. Those who sprint too early crap out long before they need to.

Steven Low 12-29-2007 03:06 PM

Actually having someone massage you is better than self massage.. if you can. :) I really need to get a girlfriend for this purpose alone, haha.

As for foam rolling here's something to get you started I just googled. Really all you do is work your soft tissue with the stuff it's fairly simple and you can just apply the same techniques to every part of the body:
http://www.youth-soccer-fitness.com/foam-roll.html

Gittit Shwartz 12-29-2007 03:25 PM

Foam Rolling tutorial
 
Foam rolling links:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuvOCsZIAF4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTBree-Mgzg

Yael Grauer 12-29-2007 05:04 PM

Eric Cressey has some really awesome articles on mobility exercises and weight training for distance cyclers. Go to http://www.ericcressey.com/articles.html and look for "weight training for cyclists" parts 1-3. Part 3 has the mobility exercises and foam rolling, I believe.

Anybody getting bruises from foam rolling? My IT band gets bruised up.


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