View Full Version : Were you intimidated by squats and deadlifts at first?

06-11-2009, 08:35 AM
Hi ladies,

I hate to be another one of those men who come in here and bug the hell out of you about advice for my wife, but I hope the question proves worthier than the usual stuff you're bombarded with. I actually want to get my wife into compound movements like squats and deadlifts, and although she agreed to give it a try for me she's still a little intimidated by them. She tried squats once and just didn't feel comfortable with a 45lb Olympic Bar on her back that time. Then again, I didn't either. :) Squats scared the hell out of me at first, and the fact that I'm just getting over a lumbar strain that probably resulted from me doing something stupid during that exercise isn't helping her confidence level either.

So I'm wondering if many of you women have experienced the same thing, but have since gotten through it and are glad you did (or perhaps learned that they weren't right for you and have found similar benefits on a leg press which she uses now and likes). She's more worried that she'll get hurt rather than any notion that women aren't "supposed" to do that kind of exercise, which I think I've mostly convinced her otherwise.

Also, as far as deadlifts are concerned, I've given up on the use of gloves and pay close attention to my grip on the bar to minimize callus formation. Then again, I'm a guy and wouldn't mind a little hand toughness. My wife, on the other hand, isn't so sure. Should she use gloves during deadlifts and heavy pulls, even though they only protect up to the first knuckle? Or are the abrasions you get easily treated by hand lotion or some other topical treatment to prevent them from getting all rough and nasty? Thanks for your advice and patience!

06-11-2009, 08:56 AM
I felt uneasy doing them, simply because the bar felt very heavy, which I now know is not. The simple reason for that is because the smaller stabilizer muscles are not used to supporting the bar. The fact is that many women pick up groceries, laundry, and kids that are heavier than 45 lbs. But, they usually grip them unevenly and sometimes even incur injuries from picking up very light objects. The reason being, their bodies (guys too) have not learnt to activate their smaller muscles, which makes them injury-prone and fearful of lifting a 45 lb barbell. Your wife needs to understand that. Learning to lift correctly and with proper technique will take away this fear. She will know exactly what her physical capabilities are. She should not give up squatting just because it didnt feel right once. What would happen if everyone gave up trying to quit smoking, for example after trying to quit once? If she can understand that its good for her, then she needs to keep trying till she gets it right.

Another reason is that squats and deadlifts build bone, in addition to muscle. In fact that is the only way to build significant bone density past puberty. Women have far less bone density than men to begin with, and it drops off precipitously after menopause. This is her one chance to build enough bone while she is young, so she will not suffer from fractures in the old age. I know this is long term thinking, but thats the reason we adopt a healthy lifestyle, right?

06-11-2009, 09:04 AM
My daughter has been able to do squats with at least the oly bar since she was 11 (she goes through phases of wanting to come to the gym and not so she never really progresses). It would be unusual that a grown woman wouldn't be perfectly capable of moving that kind of weight (assuming she doesn't have some kind of injury).

I didn't have enough guidance to have someone push me to learn to squat when I first started lifting (also around the age of 11) and I really wish I'd had that. My legs stayed pretty shapeless until I added them in and made them a staple. I never had any kind of ab definition until they were a regular part of my routine either (I now have enough muscle to show through a bit, even though I've never been particularly lean through that region). Because it's a great movement for your entire core, it'll play a role in improving the performance of a lot of her lifts and make her more efficient at changing her body.

I use gloves for pretty much everything as I callous to the point I have to use a razor to "shave" off the hardened skin otherwise. Gloves will help keep her from getting callouses (most will be over the fatty area where the fingers meet the palm). If she's having problems with her grip slipping so that she's holding on with her fingers, have her use an underhand-overhand grip or get her some versagripps/lifting straps.

06-11-2009, 09:11 AM
i never really got into heavy stuff until my second year of serious lifting, any kind of power movement should be in the staple!

06-11-2009, 02:02 PM
No, I can't say I've ever been intimidated by a movement. I like to wear dark colored and baggy pants when doing deads, though, since there are a few unnecessary lookers....

And I don't use gloves - I don't feel like I can 'feel' or control the weight as well with them. Sorry, not much help, huh? :o

06-11-2009, 02:18 PM
Maybe she would feel more comfortable doing them with dumbbells first? Dumbbells are less intimidating than the bars to me. Or even just doing her bodyweight until she gets the feel of it down. It took me a while to get comfortable with the motion of a squat. As for deadlifts, they still intimidate me a little. I use dumbbells but I read so much about how you can injure yourself with them that it makes me nervous because I already have upper back problems and don't want to screw the whole thing up! I am using fairly low weight for the deadlifts until I am sure I have the right form each time. I wish I had a trainer to let me know if my form is right but all I have is videos on youtube and me trying to see if that's what I'm doing and it makes me a little nervous still.

06-11-2009, 02:21 PM
yea actually I still am. Although I finally took the iniciative to squat and very unfortunately I physically couldn't because of this injury couple months ago near my ankle.

As for deadlift I can't get the form right and idk been lazy ....

06-11-2009, 02:25 PM
Nope, but in retrospect I realize how lucky I am. When I was in high school I took a weightlifting class as an elective. The teacher for the class took a special interest in me and the other girl in the class and spent more time with us working on squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, etc. That's where I fell in love with lifting and over 10 years later I still love to lift.

I always ere on the side of caution with squats and keep my form in check rather than push as heavy as possible. I've had some lower back problems in the past due to a bad fall off a horse and I don't care to repeat the experience. How about have her practice squats at home with a broom, or try box squats at the gym? That way she can really work on her form and getting comfortable with the weight while still have a cushion (so to speak).

I don't use gloves. I've tried in the past, but I felt that they actually diminished my grip. I don't really mind the calluses. The only calluses I develop are right below my fingers.

06-11-2009, 03:12 PM
I was nervous about doing them on my own because I didn't know the proper form or technique and I'm not the best at being able to view a video and then mimic the movement (okay, I'm completely uncoordinated and a total klutz). What helped me to feel comfortable was having a really good trainer take me through proper set up, range of motion and form for the lift and then I was supervised pretty closely for a long time after to correct any additional issues (my left knee likes to still track in when I go over 200lbs).

The squat and the deadlift are really important skills to learn. Nothing builds full body strength like squats and deads and these are movements that you're going to use in life all of the time. You squat to get in and out of a chair. You pick up stuff off the floor all the time. Why not learn how to perform these movements safely and, eventually, awesomely with some serious iron loaded onto your barbell. It will keep you fit, healthy, active and strong for a long time. Also squats=nice butt. Also, because they're functional movements that are designed to match our physiology, they're some of the safest, least injury-causing moves a person can do, so long as you learn to do them with good form.

I also would suggest nixing gloves. Train your deads using the hook grip. Its uncomfortable at first but you do get used to it and it really is a nice, stable grip.

06-11-2009, 03:13 PM
Nope, I wanted to get in there and do them.

06-11-2009, 03:38 PM
Not really although like Dvsness said, sometimes there are a couple lookie lous.

I don't see many women doing squats at my gym.

06-11-2009, 06:56 PM
I got nervous moving up to the 45lb plates on each side. They looked really heavy and I was afraid to hurt my back. But after about 1 - 2 months of squatting heavy I finally made the move to the "big" plates and they weren't that bad, just looked scary. Deadlifts are great, but proper form is super important. She could start with dumbbells on both movements to get the form right and then move to the Olympic bar.

As far as gloves, I bought some but I find them very uncomfortable. They make my grip weaker and just don't feel right. My hands get calloused the most on back days, the rest of the time it doesn't bother me. Oh, and use the over hand/under hand grip for the deadlifts. Once you ge heavy enough, it is the only grip that will keep the bar from slipping out of your hands.

good luck to your wife!!

06-11-2009, 08:22 PM
I was definitely intimidated at first.

My ex-husband got me into lifting back in 1994, and, unfortunately, I wasted way too much time "doing the machines" in the very beginning, just because I was so intimidated. I remember that my ex tried to get me to squat with just the bar and I wussed out after a couple of reps because it was uncomfortable for one of my wrists or something like that. Now I regret giving up so quickly.

It wasn't until February of 2008 when I picked up a copy of NROL4W that I started doing squats and deadlifts regularly--I had never done CDL's until last year, just SLDL's. I do get some looks on occasion, mostly because women don't venture over to the free-weight area of my gym very often. I've seen only one other woman doing squats.

I've gotta admit that I like using my gloves because they keep away callouses. I've got that little bit of vanity that I can't get rid of, I suppose!

06-12-2009, 02:20 AM
If she is uncomfortable with the Oly bar, then perhaps she could start out doing squats on the Smith machine. That's where I started and then moved to the rack, but I still go back to the Smith machine.

As for DLs, my issue was getting the feel for proper form. They felt awkward for quite some time initially. Took awhile to get the hang of it and then there are several different variations to learn.

I don't wear gloves and I have about 3 callouses; I haven't found any lotion to remedy this :D. I've been thinking about buying some gloves since I want soft palms again :D