Allison had a couple obstacles that were preventing her from being in the kind of shape she wanted to be in – her knees.
At a younger age, she had arthroscopic surgery on both knees and has had chronic knee pain her whole life. Unable to participate in any sports involving impact to her legs, Allison took up swimming and continued competing through college. However, once her competitive swimming days were behind her, she had a hard time finding activities to stay in shape that didn’t hurt her knees.
As a teacher for Teach for America, Allison had the summer off to be able to really focus on her health and fitness, so she decided to give strength training a shot. Given her specific circumstances, she was hesitant about what she would be able to accomplish, but she figured she could at least do some upper body and core exercises and see what would happen. She started meeting with me at the Training Room twice a week and doing one strength workout a week on her own. Because of her summer off, she was able to easily fit in the three workouts a week, but wasn’t sure what would happen when the school year started back up.
During Allison’s initial assessment, I found that the muscles around her hips were very stiff. When a joint in the body is overly stiff, the adjacent joints take on the opposite role of being overly mobile. This usually results in some sort of pain/injury. In Allison’s case, her knees were compensating for her stiff hips and were becoming mobile when they are meant to be a stable joint.
Based on this assessment, I had Allison begin every workout with 5-10 minutes of soft tissue work (foam rolling) as well as 10-15 minutes of mobility and activation work (with a heavy focus on the hip joint and surrounding muscles.)
The rest of the workout was then dedicated to heavy strength training. As the weeks went on, Allison found herself not only getting really strong, but also losing weight and body fat, and most shockingly – working out with her LEGS. As her hip mobility improved, we were able to include more and more lower body exercises without any pain. Allison can now perform heavy deadlifts, hip lifts, glute-ham raises, kettlebell swings and most recently, completely pain-free squats. While her ability to lift with her legs is impressive enough, Allison has also become one of my strongest female clients. She has a bench press that makes me jealous and can bang out pushups like nobody’s business. She has really become passionate about getting stronger and strives to lift more every single workout.
The body composition results Allison has seen from heavy strength training is something that I hope inspires other women to drop their fear of lifting weights. Instead of “bulking up” as most women are afraid will happen as a result of strength training, Allison has lost more than 10lbs and has dropped her body fat percentage by more than 5%. She now feels better, looks better, and moves better than when she walked in the door back in June.
To me, however, the most impressive thing about Allison is that her commitment over the summer has carried over to her extremely busy schedule in the fall. Once the school year began, Allison was back to balancing a long commute to work, long teaching days, taking classes at BU, planning curriculum for the next day, and now the GYM on top of it all! None of this has stopped Allison from continuing her progress and setting new goals. She has changed her eating habits for the better and stuck to them even with things got busy. She still fits in all three strength training workouts and continues to get stronger every week.
But don’t just take my word for it – here is a video compilation that covers just the surface of what Allison can do in the gym:
Congrats to Allison for all of her hard work and accomplishments over the past few months!!