“The title of this post is taken from the Epic Ditch song of the same name”
Before Jacquelyn started training with me, she sent me a message outlining several health issues that I needed to be aware of first. There were injuries to be aware of and some internal challenges that she was working diligently with doctors to resolve. One of the obstacles was how easily she became light-headed during exercise. Sometimes, simply moving up and down from a bench could make her want to pass out.
I never assume I can fix everyone. Exercise, while immensely beneficial and generally (should be) mandatory for most, means different things to different people. It could be walking instead of sitting. Or it could mean lifting heavy things as opposed to picking up the cute pink dumbbells and curling them until you feel something that seems like it’s productive.
I told Jacquelyn we would give it a go and see how a month of training together works. Since we don’t make our clients sign 6-month or year long contracts to train here, all she had to lose was a month of her time to see if we would work well together.
There was the goal of weight loss to focus on but Jacquelyn wanted confidence in lifting weights too. Her husband is active with strength training and she has two boys who have already been bitten with the fitness/sports bug too. Jacquelyn wanted a place to train that wasn’t going to have an intimidating culture.
These days, fitness/health magazines and online articles tend to tout the benefits of high intensity interval training and more intense bouts of cardio for weight loss. Jacquelyn felt the need to gravitate in those directions but would be discouraged every time the feeling of passing out would start after little effort had been expended.
We started moderately, lifting weights with a rep range of 12-15 and kept experiencing the same problem. Her heart rate would jump up and she would need a few moments (sometimes a few minutes) just to get things to calm down. This problem was not as prevalent on machines, where she has the option of sitting as opposed to a free standing squat or deadlift type of motion.
So, I started considering other options. As far as weight loss went, tackling the appropriate amount of food would be the first course of action. In addition to having her doctor assess her preexisting conditions, there were some hormonal situations that could have been affecting her ability to lose weight as well.
When it came to her strength training, we started looking at things from more of a powerlifter’s perspective. Heavy weights at very low reps (3-5 reps tops.) This stimulated a favorable strength response without making Jacquelyn feel like crap after lifting weights for a session.
Whenever possible, I believe it’s a trainer’s responsibility to meet a client where they are. A textbook might say “Solve this problem with “X” solution.” I’ve found many people don’t fit a pretty little textbook mold. That’s when it helps to get a little bit creative. Over the short time Jacquelyn and I have worked together, it has been an immense help that we keep an open line of communication about what works and what doesn’t, what feels beneficial and what allows the best rate of recovery.
Thankfully, Jacquelyn is REALLY strong. So, we can have a bit of fun with heavier weights and her body doesn’t feel totally beat up afterwards. However, Jacquelyn’s case does highlight a consistent philosophy and that is:
Ladies: that does not equate with bulk. It means, use it or lose it. Muscle is a precious commodity and it needs to be stimulated to work for you the way you want. Guys: you already know it but there is a chance you’re not taking advantage of it the way you should.
Allow Jacquelyn’s scenario to be an inspiration for you. Get creative, be flexible with an approach, and do what you can to progress your relative picture of strength.
Resistance is victory.
*Special thanks to Jacquelyn for letting me share her story*