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drew
05-17-2006, 04:49 PM
Last week, one of my good friends asked me for help. "Pablo" (not his real name) has had a bit of a weight problem and has tried very hard, with little results, to get into better shape. He's even paid $60 an hour for a personal trainer who, I'm convinced, did nothing but stick him on a treadmill. I should mention that Pablo is what you may call "special". He's very sensitive and easily offended. The fact that he came to me with this problem makes me feel honored, but also obligated to help him.

Pablo is 26, about 5'5" and around 170lbs. I would guess that he's in the neighborhood of 30-35% body fat. He lives with a roommate and isn't much of a cook (I'm not about to teach him) which makes it a little more difficult to plan his meals. He loves candy bars, and he drinks a lot of soda. The real upside here is that he will do what I say (for the most part) because he trusts that I will take care of him and help him to reach his goals. His main goal is "to look good for my brother's wedding" which is in August. I've broken this down into three broad goals which we'll narrow down as we establish some baselines. Primary goal is to lose weight and reduce body fat%. Second is to increase lean muscle. Third is to decrease waist size. This weekend I'll be taking some measurements of his weight, bodyfat, and different body parts so that we have a base from which to measure.

In addition, I've given him some basic guidelines as to what he should eliminate and what he should add. Things to eliminate are candy, soda, chai tea, white bread/bagels, and other snack foods. Things to add are fruit and vegetables, more poultry and fish, nuts and beans and more water. I also have him keeping a food journal so that I can get an idea of what he's eating on a daily basis and so we can adjust his intake. The once caveat is that I told him he can still have an occasional candy bar, but no more than 2 per week.

The most difficult part will be getting him onto a proper workout plan. I can't really train with him because I don't have the time and our schedules don't really match up well. I will probably have to find a couple of days to at least go over some exercises with him and then give him a very basic plan. I will most likely stick to machines and dumbells as he's nowhere near physically prepared for compound movements.

So there it is, I have 3 months to transform Pablo into a stud. Hopefully, he will stick to the plan and we can really get him into good shape. I will try and get some pics up (if he'll let me) soon. This is my way of making sure that I don't slack off on his progress. I'll be updating here as necessary and I'll be calling him probably twice a week as I see him nearly every weekend to make sure he's sticking to the plan.

For anyone who has read the whole thing. Thanks! I hope I don't dissapoint you, but mostly I hope I don't dissappoint him.

Progress
05-17-2006, 04:59 PM
I'm very interested to see how this progresses and turns out. Diet aside, what sort of things are you going to recommend he do in the gym? You say he's not ready for compound movements? With the right weight I think anyone is ready. I think having him do squats even if it just with the bar is a great idea. :D

drew
05-17-2006, 05:06 PM
He is very poor when it comes to coordination. He's also very weak. These two things make me very nervous about having him squat by himself, without my supervision. If I had the time to train with him, I would consider having him squat. This is something I've thought about a lot in the last few days. I don't want him to get hurt. (Now if you know anything about me, I would NEVER recommend against squats unless I thought they really weren't right for the individual). I hope to get him to a point where we can consider squatting, but we're not anywhere close to that point now.

I will probably get him on a full body routine and keep it very basic. Chest press, cable row, pulldowns, leg press, calve raise, hip work, leg extensions, and curls and some db curls and pushdowns. I may split this into 2 upper and 2 lower days with him doing the same movements each time, based on his time availability.

Anything I teach him will have to be the same and will have to be repeated. If I change it up too much, he will get confused and frustrated. Remember, "special".

Eszekial
05-17-2006, 05:13 PM
Keep us updated.

Sounds like fun.

Stumprrp
05-17-2006, 05:30 PM
thats great of you to do this, im looking foward to hearing his progress.

Anthony
05-17-2006, 05:34 PM
Great stuff man. I'm looking forward to reading about his progress. Much respect for you helping him out.

getfit
05-17-2006, 05:48 PM
that's great Drew, reminds me a little of my friend Joy.It took me awhile to get her started,she does t-bar rows with a plate+10lbs now, she couldn't even bare to look at the bar before.Makes you, and your friend feel good for sure.

WBBIRL
05-17-2006, 06:08 PM
At 5'5" and 170 I dont see how he could be 35%, thats quite alot. But im not here to call you a liar...

He has round about just shy of 3 months (dont know exactly when the wedding is). So he shouldnt get his hopes up of majorly transforming his appearance in just 90 days. Dont get me wrong, he could drop a fair bit of weight, lose some pant sizes and gain muscle... but he's not going to get teh huge in 3 months. Im sure you already know this, just make it a point to let him know whats realistically reasonable.

Another huge thing is that, like you said, he doesnt cook. This will lead him to fast food and pre packaged pre cooked foods/meals which are horrible nutrtion wize.

I would like to assume the whole point of starting him off lifting is for the noobie gains, and weight loss is more key on diet then anything else. So he doesnt have to go nuts in the gym working out with intense loads on compound movements.

WillKuenzel
05-17-2006, 06:20 PM
Sounds like quite an undertaking, Drew. Best of luck. One thing I might suggest, if you don't mind, try to get him to do push ups off an elevated surface. The smith machine is great for this as you can adjust the angle and difficulty that way. This way you can also have him start to work on his coordination and core stabilization for later exercises.

You can also have him do body rows on the smith machine, just the opposite of the pushup. I use an underhand grip, walk my feet underneath the bar (enough so that they are comfortable at first, progress more later) and get in the same position as a pushup but you're pulling yourself up the bar.

I've done a little work some clients like your friend and they can do it but just need to be coached properly. Granted you might not have the time to dedicate to him like would be necessary but it would be a good idea to at least get him doing some of these more compound lifts.

Squatting would be an issue and would probably be at the bottom of the list for now, as you already mentioned. You might be able to have him to sit to a box and stand up. Not exactly the same as we know but still a beginning step in a long journey.

Again, just a few things you can do, but I know they might not be exactly what you can do. Keep us updated and hope all goes as planned. Best of luck, again!

Sensei
05-17-2006, 07:56 PM
Good for you Drew!

I worked with a special needs kid for about two years and took him to a PL meet in April. He got a trophy and it is MY proudest accomplishment in powerlifting.

I think you're dead-on about coordination. The kid I worked with had problems squatting, but became an adequate squatter after a lot of time developing his flexiblity and strength in the hole.

Diet will be key for him if he's more concerned about appearance and fat-loss. Try to meet with him as often as possible to give him positive feedback, check his form, and review diet and training plans.

Good luck and we all think you're pretty cool!

drew
05-17-2006, 07:59 PM
Thanks for all the support guys! I'm sure to need it as this plays out.

WBBIRL, If I can get some pics up, you'll see what I mean. We're not looking to get him shredded, just in better shape than he's in now. If I can get 15 lbs off of him in 12 weeks, that should be quite a difference and will hopefully convince him to stick with it for much longer than 3 months. This is one of my goals for him. As far as pre-packaged foods. We're going to try and stick to things that are as close to natural as possible. Pre-cooked chicken and fish are going to be key here, and his daily snacks are now going to be things like nuts and raisins (which are readily available to him at work).

HY, thanks for the tips, I'll definitely use them! Another major goal would be to get him squatting onto a box with good form at some point. This will be up to his own progress, so there's no real time frame for this.

drew
05-17-2006, 08:08 PM
Sensei, thanks for the support.

The best thing about Pablo is that he doesn't see himself as "special". He wants to be just like the rest of us. For this reason, I always do my best to treat him like any of my friends, while still keeping his sensitivity in mind. Fortunately I've gotten to a point with him where I can give him both positive and negative feedback and he will respond to either. At one time, negative feedback would just upset him. Now he understands the difference, and trusts me enough to know I'm not just trying to make him feel bad.

I see him every week and have already told him that we'll be checking his weight every Friday and checking his body fat/body measurements every month. He seemed a little nervous when I said this but I quickly put him at ease when I told him that none of our friends would be there when we did it, and it was only so that we could track his progress and see if we need to change anything.

Not that it matters, but he did offer to pay me. I'm doing this because I love my friend and want to help him be happy. I won't take money from him, period.

Focused70
05-17-2006, 08:13 PM
He is very poor when it comes to coordination. He's also very weak. These two things make me very nervous about having him squat by himself, without my supervision. If I had the time to train with him, I would consider having him squat. This is something I've thought about a lot in the last few days. I don't want him to get hurt. (Now if you know anything about me, I would NEVER recommend against squats unless I thought they really weren't right for the individual). I hope to get him to a point where we can consider squatting, but we're not anywhere close to that point now.

Sounds like me when I first started.

Was it really two and a half years ago? I remember being so weak, I couldn't squat with just the bar. The bar was like 45 lbs.! And I was uncoordinated to boot. I used the Smith machine for a few months and got ragged on by half the people in this forum. ;)

drew
05-17-2006, 08:17 PM
I used the Smith too when I first started. Fortunately, Pablo will have better guidance. :D

Coke
05-18-2006, 04:59 AM
This is quite a challenge, it's gonna take time to change old habits and implement new ones...dude can't go wrong with your assistance and guidance. It goes further to show what type of guy you are to even get involved this way.

HILL
05-18-2006, 05:43 AM
very impressive drew and a great idea. i look forward to seeing the results as well im sure if he sticks with it he will look great for your brothers wedding

drew
05-18-2006, 07:06 AM
Coke, he's certainly determined, which is a big help. He just needs the right guidance.

Hill, thanks. (And it's his brother's wedding. lol)

WBBIRL
05-18-2006, 07:43 AM
I was forced to learn to squat right and in a squatting rack. Which Im very greatfull I was.

KevinStarke
05-18-2006, 09:01 AM
Good luck drew, im sure you can handle it. It can definitelly be done because when I was training at Hollywoods, Phil Halliwell use to train 2 mentally challenged guys (full on downsymdrome I think) Chris and Chris. Both really nice guys and Phil even has one of them deadlifting 300 lbs DOUBLE OVERHAND, Im not sure I could do that.. haha.

drew
05-20-2006, 12:26 AM
Baseline meaures:

Weight: 180
Body Fat: 25.5%
Waist: 38.5"
Chest: 39.5"
Upper Arm: 12.5"

Not quite as bad as I thought. He carries a lot of fat in his midsection. Will try and get to the gym with him this week.

McIrish
05-20-2006, 03:00 PM
Props to you, Drew. Can't wait to see some great progress from Pablo!!

drew
05-22-2006, 03:49 PM
Pablo has been having some back problems and went to a chiro today. Unfortunately, this means he can't do any lifting tonight and I was hoping to get to the gym with him. I will try to get there on Wednesday, although I was planning to max on box squats then. I'll have to figure somthing out.

His eating is slowly improving. I try to keep track of what kinds of foods he is eating every 2-3 days and then I make suggestions to him as to what he should eliminate and what he could add. This is working fairly well so far. He's cut out almost all beverages outside of water (although I told him he can have 1 diet soda each day if he ants to) and his candy consumption is down. He's eating more fruit/veg and fish which I keep stressing to him, so it seems to be sinking in.

WillKuenzel
05-22-2006, 03:52 PM
Sounds like he's on the right track. Lets hope its more of just a hurt than an injury to set him back.

drew
05-22-2006, 04:30 PM
He has epilepsy. It's not bad, but he sometimes gets small seizures which is what I think happened this time. He's on meds for it, so it's not so bad.

drew
05-24-2006, 02:34 PM
Called Pablo today to see if he could get to the gym, but he has a class all night so we'll have to try and do it this weekend. His eating habits are improving. No sodas, no candy, no muffins (I told him that "fat-free" doens't mean anything, NO MUFFINS!), and more fish, more chicken, more yogurt. I'm very happy with his ability to change his eating habits.

I'm making it a point to call him often so that he knows that I'm going to be checking on him, and he seems very happy when I call to check on him. I feel that he needs a LOT of positive reinforcement so that he can stay on track. It makes him feel good that I am proud of him and he doesn't want to let me down (just as I don't want to let him down).

Weigh-in is Friday. I'll be very happy if he's lost 2 lbs.

getfit
05-24-2006, 02:35 PM
THIS IS JUST AWESOME DREW! good on ya :)

Built
05-24-2006, 02:40 PM
Just getting caught up here - wow! This is just so inspiring! We have some Special Olympics athletes at our gym, and they just LOVE it. I'm so glad you're working with Pablo. Major props to you both!

drew
05-24-2006, 02:50 PM
Thanks ladies! :D

ericg
05-24-2006, 03:02 PM
Wow man, this is great of you to do this. Good luck to you both, and I will be sure to keep watching this journal.

Patz
05-24-2006, 04:20 PM
Drew..I don't know if it'll help motivate him or not, but show him my two pic threads. I've got my original where I'm just basically fat, and the recent one where I'm starting to actually look like something..lol The reason is, I'm also epileptic. Granted, I'm not "special," but you don't have to tell him that. He might enjoy knowing that the world's strongest epileptic (TM) is reading his journal on WBB..LOL

drew
05-24-2006, 04:23 PM
I might just do that bro. World's Strongest Epilieptic. LOL. It's pretty funny actually. He spent some time in the hospital getting his meds straight when he first was diagnosed. When he came out, he said that he "didn't have epilepsy anymore". Which is basically true as long as he takes his meds, which he sometimes forgets.

Patz
05-24-2006, 04:27 PM
I might just do that bro. World's Strongest Epilieptic. LOL. It's pretty funny actually. He spent some time in the hospital getting his meds straight when he first was diagnosed. When he came out, he said that he "didn't have epilepsy anymore". Which is basically true as long as he takes his meds, which he sometimes forgets.

LOL..Until someone else comes along that can not only deadlift, squat, and bench with me, but also sieze out like an MJ breakdance, I claim the title!

Some of those anti-seizure meds are insane. I take Zonegran now, and it's great. It really doesn't affect me at all. I was on one called Depakote for years. I found out that it increases appetite and decreases metabolic rate..ROFL Hellllo bulking agent!

I was 265lbs of lethargic fat when I came off that med..

WillKuenzel
05-24-2006, 05:16 PM
Sounds like he's doing good on his diet. Just wanted to check in. I just wanted to say that, Drew, you're an inspiration. Its an amazing thing to work with people like Pablo. My grandmother did it almost her entire life and loved every minute of it, and they loved her to no end. Simply amazing.

Keep it up, man!

drew
05-24-2006, 05:54 PM
Thanks HY.

I want to point out again, that this is not a charity thing. Pablo is a good friend. We hang out every weekend, he's just one of the guys. We all go to dinner, out to bars, play poker/setback/etc. We don't let him ever use his handicap as an excuse.

WillKuenzel
05-24-2006, 06:08 PM
I hear ya. I was just pointing out that its difficult for some people to see past that to realize that those people are really normal human beings beneath whatever others might see. Its good that you are doing it for anybody and it being a buddy makes it more rewarding.

The fact that he listens to you is great. I've got some friends that ask what they can do but don't even attempt at trying. I guess they feel that asking is enough. :p

Clifford Gillmore
05-25-2006, 12:15 AM
Your doing a good thing Drew. Just don't give him a Dave Tate style phone call when he doesn't train!