Women and Strength Training

FitCampers!

We’ve got a great week planned out programming wise, so let’s get in the gym, give what we’ve got while we’re here and focus on eating as good as we possibly can! If you need help with that last part, click here and apply at the bottom of the page!

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Women and strength training (part 1): 

This will be a two-part post, there’s a lot to cover and I’d like everyone (both men and women) to consider the points made here.

As a coach, I hear a lot from women about the fear of getting “big and bulky” from lifting weights. There are a lot of myths that revolve around this topic in the strength and conditioning world and it’s time that we talk about it.

Most women seem to think that if they even look at a barbell that they are going to become The Incredible Hulk and that they’ll loose their femininity. Personally, I think strength only exemplifies femininity, and I’ll explain why. Don’t worry men, I’ll have a blog or two for you as well. These next two are dedicated to the ladies.

A quick summary of the myths in this article:

  1. Lifting weights will make you huge and masculine.
  2. Women only tone. Men only bulk.
  3. Toning, sculpting and firming are totally different things.
  4. Women should never lift free weights.
  5. If women use their leg and butt muscles, they’ll get too big.
  6. Weight training turns fat into muscle.
  7. Lifting too heavy of weights will make a women “bulky”, so they should only lift light.

“Women are not a special population. They are half the population.” Mark Rippetoe.

What Coach Rip was saying here, is that women DO respond to heavy lifting. However, women get the best results when they train for performance, like we do at GetFit{Camp} , because even though women do respond differently to weight training than men, there is no difference in the quality of exercise that they need to be involved in to cause their bodies to change. The media has done a great job of perpetrating the myths of what those different responses are.

How to get there is really right in front of our faces, the results in terms of performance and body image (yes, we care about how we look naked), and the sad fact is that most of the population lacks the mental fortitude to do it. The “easy” way of circuit programs, low intensity machine based workouts, and “body sculpting” sessions are much easier to sell than busting your butt.

The fact remains that the body image that we’re seeking; the flat stomach, the curvy bottom half, and “long, lean” muscle that is sold to the public, is best found while chasing performance and a SOLID nutrition program. People tend to put the cart before the horse in that they put appearances first without thinking about the training to get yourself there. I have no doubt that I can add 50 pounds to your squat in a few months, but I don’t know how to get that C-shaped butt that everyone loves without making your squat better. If you want better arms, there’s no diet plan, no high intensity circuit class, no juice cleanse will get you there unless you do some sort of resistance training. You want better looking arms with that, “long, lean, tight arm” look, you have to improve your push ups. Get better at benching. Get better at dips. That will pretty much guarantee that you’ll get those great looking arms that everyone talks about. Chase performance and the aesthetics will come. (Don’t worry, I’ll get to the “too masculine” argument in a minute)

The appearance that you’re looking for will not change unless your performance does. That is what we program for and why we keep track of all of our lifts, times and gymnastics movements. For instance, remember how hard it was the first time that you did a 30 second tuck hold for 4 rounds? Now that you’ve moved on to the bent hollow rocks, those tuck holds probably look pretty dang easy. Your performance has improved and I’m sure that your waist has tightened up a bit as well as a result of getting better at something. Your genetics are best expressed when you’re performing at your highest level, and this is only achievable when you’re involved in a program that is solely based on getting you to perform at your highest level. It’s hard to get your best-looking body without resistance training at your (emphasis on your because it’s all relative and constantly changing) highest level.

You can’t get longer muscles. Without physically detaching your muscles from your bones and reattaching somewhere else, there’s no such thing as “longer” muscles. Let’s get that marketing term out of here, that’s just silly. As far as “firming and toning” goes, there is only hard work and eating better. Muscles don’t get toner, you get leaner.

I’m sure that a few of you have seen some of the top competitor females and have seen their larger muscles and leaner bodies and thought, “OMG, I’m going to get HUGE from lifting.” Those women have taken DRASTIC measures to get to that point through very strict diets, very specific programs, and very specific supplementation. These particular women train every day, they have nutritionists and cooks preparing food for them, they’re supremely dedicated to their sport, and lastly, they don’t give a sh*t what people think about them or their bodies. I think that last thing some something that we ALL can learn from…

These are just a few of the popular myths that are, for some reason, continued to be pushed on women in the fitness industry. To sum up:

  • You will not become HUGE by lifting weights.
  • The fastest route to being fit is through chasing performance.
  • Lifting heavy will NOT make you manly.
  • A fit looking, athletic body will come only through consistent hard work and a consistent eating habits.

Women fear being physically strong because our culture has put so much emphasis on what the female form should look like. Men find security in knowing that women need men to can take care of them and if a woman is stronger than they are, they might not feel needed as much. So they pressure women to not get stronger out of fear. Women don’t like other women being stronger, because they are afraid or unwilling to put in the effort that the other woman has to break the mold as far as what “feminine” means. When at the end of the day, a woman should do whatever she wants to make herself feel good and not care what others think.

I’ll be digging in a bit more in the next installment of this post, so feel free to discuss with me your thoughts!

Daily Dose

Get{Gymnastics}
SL
HBP

Get{Strong}
4×12 OHS
4×12 Pull Ups

Get{Fit}
4 RNDs:
200m Sprint
10 Push Press
20 Sit Ups

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