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How Deadlifts and Squats Changed My Life

Or at least made me feel a little better.

by
Helen Smith

Bio

August 1, 2014 - 7:02 am

I have been following Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength program twice a week now for a few months. I have to say it has worked really well for me.

Since having a heart attack many years ago, I was afraid to do squats and deadlifts with much weight, if at all. However, Mark gave me the confidence to feel that I could indeed, do them again, albeit with some modifications. I have been using lighter weight, mainly just the 45 pound bar for deadlifts and the same for squats. Yeah, it’s light but sometimes I add five pounds on each side if I feel like it. I do three sets of five reps of each of the exercises with rest in-between as Rippetoe suggests. At first, I thought it didn’t seem like this plan would do much but I have noticed subtle changes over the past few weeks.

My lower back rarely hurts and my legs are much stronger. I have been doing overhead presses also that help me keep my posture in line and my upper body no longer hurts from the computer as much as it did. I feel better and can easily squat down now to lift things more readily. The idea of these exercises is to give one more functional ability in his or her daily life and they definitely have done that for me. I am still doing some yoga and other exercise for variety but I think the squats and deadlifts have really been key to helping me achieve the goals that I wanted–less pain and more ability to do tasks in my daily life. Thanks Mark!

*****

Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

Check out some of Mark Rippetoe’s biggest hits at PJ Lifestyle:

You Only Need These 6 Things For a World-Class Home Gym

Why You Should Not Be Running

Maybe, You Should Gain Weight

Forget What You’ve Heard: 4 Reasons Why Full Squats Save Your Knees

Helen Smith is a psychologist specializing in forensic issues in Knoxville, Tennessee, and blogs at Dr. Helen.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Because of your husband, I'm now doing squats and deadlifts. Just getting started, but it has strengthened a weak muscle in my groin since my hip replacement surgery 3 years ago. What I'm saying is that doing squats has helped that muscle and the pain associated with it, disappear. I have 2 hip resurfacing "replacements" so I'm taking these exercises slow, but they are helping.

I will start overhead presses as soon as I heal my elbow, based upon your report of helping your upper body.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well done Helen.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Good for you, Helen!
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (23)
All Comments   (23)
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Is there a version of this book for people who can't dedicate a full two to three weeks of just reading, before being able to start the exercises? While I appreciate Mark's dedication to detail and facts, I would appreciate a "Cliff's Notes" version. If there's a way to focus on each exercise, with enough information to guide me to proper technique, I'd love to see that.

Good luck with your continued efforts. I am going to start reading, regardless of my complaint above, as I've heard nothing but positive things about the Rippetoe techniques.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Very Encouraging Dr. Helen. I feel the tug of wanting to give it a try myself.

Trey
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Be careful, and be brave.

Along those lines, if you haven't gone to alternating grip for deadlift, test it out. I'd bet your grip strength is good enough either way, but there is a touch of confidence in the stronger control.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Have been at it for several weeks now. Going light weight and higher reps until I gain the confidence to more closely follow Mark's program. Should hit a hundred pounds (fifteen reps) for everything in a week or two. Overhead press is toughest 'cause the shoulder muscles are small. It makes me feel great!
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
That's good to know. I think I'll get that book and see if I can follow it. Just two days a week can't be too awful!
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm 69 and I have a couple of stents in my heart arteries. I also have scoliosis, low bone density, a old back muscle injury and etc. As the weight I'm lifting has increased I've had to add on a lifting belt and knee wraps. But I'm feeling better, my back is getting stronger, and my blood pressure is dropping. Sometimes I have to wait 48 hours before I can go again.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Rooting for you!

Have been wondering about how Mr. Rippetoe's system would work with someone with cardio-vascular issues (like me). Am glad to see that you're taking it easy and seeing benefits.

16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
You and me, Helen.

About four years ago my hips started bothering me. I was 77 at the time so the docs gave me a shot of cortisone with no mention of exercise or physical therapy. It helped some, but I was till sore most of the time. Did a lot of stretching exercises that may have helped. Three years ago, in desperation, I started doing dead lifts and squats. In three weeks I was pain free. Started very light and have been working up, but I'm not trying to be a power lifter. Just trying to stay as strong as possible and pain free. I recommend this to all my old codger friends now. Most are not listening.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm 63 and just had inguinal hernia surgery using the mesh repair technique. Can I ever do anything like this? If so, about how long should should I wait before starting? (Yes, I know to start small and work up).
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
After you talk to your doctor...
Strengthen your abs. Not obsessively, but twice a week. Crunches are going to tell you how you are doing. You don't even have to do a lot. You should accept that once you start you will be doing it the rest of your functional life. You can always add more tomorrow, if you don't hurt yourself today.

If you can do some crunches without feeling pain, get rippetoe's book, a good weight belt, and live a good life.

I envy your possibility of celebrating your 70th birthday, stronger and more of man than you were at 63. Careful training will make you younger. Bad training otoh...
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ask your doctor.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
You get the same training plus a lot more at any Crossfit gym.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
crossfit has a bad reputation for pushing people beyond their abilities and causing injury.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
CrossFit's "dangerous" reputation stems from people who refuse to follow CrossFit's recommendations, then blame CrossFit for their own foolishness.

The following quote is from http://www.crossfit.com/cf-info/start-how.html

"If many or most of the exercises are relatively or completely unknown to you, then we recommend that you begin learning the movements for a month or two until you can either perform our common exercises or have substitutions worked out for those movements under development. This is a great place to begin for anyone with little or no experience with serious weightlifting or gymnastics.

...

In any case it must be understood that the CrossFit workouts are extremely demanding and will tax the capacities of even the world's best athletes. You would be well advised to take on the WOD carefully, cautiously, and work first towards completing the workouts comfortably and consistently before "throwing" yourself at them 100%. The best results have come for those who've "gone through the motions" of the WOD by reducing recommended loads, reps, and sets while not endeavoring towards impressive times for a month before turning up the heat. We counsel you to establish consistency with the WOD before maximizing intensity."
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Crossfit's supposed bad reputation is unwarranted. The continued growth of Crossfit participants is the best evidence to refute the claim.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
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