Girls, Get Strong

There seems to be an opinion among certain people that women shouldn’t be doing strength training. This makes me very sad.

It seems to be the general consensus that to do strength training you have to be throwing really heavy weights around. As a powerlifter myself I think that’s awesome. However, that’s not the case at all. I mean look at gymnasts, they’re not exactly weak.

By women getting involved in strength training, it doesn’t mean they’re going to get big or bulky. This seems to be what puts women off because of the nature of the media today advertising get beach ready by getting lean, losing fat and getting smaller.

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There’s nothing wrong with that if that’s what you’re after. However, putting an emphasis on thinner, smaller and sexier can create a mentality where women become very body conscious. This is not a very unhealthy mindset to have. I’ve seen it first hand through the women I train myself who get too hung up on weight, what they’re eating and how they look.

This needs to be nipped in the bud and a healthier mindset promoted. This is where strength training can help. I mean, if Hilde Mikkelsen Haugen doesn’t promote a healthy mindset, I don’t know what does ↓ (yes she is a powerlifter)

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Here’s four reasons why women should get involved in training for strength;

  1. Equality: I don’t treat women any differently to men when it comes to coaching within a session. Most of my guys squat, bench and deadlift and I try and get the women I train involved in that. Yes some training variables and programming are changed for a womans needs, but I don’t go out of my way to get them the lightest dumbbell or take it easy on them if they’re not pushing themselves as much as they should. I like to think they appreciate that. It allows them to feel empowered and not weak. As the saying goes, it’s only a weak man that doesn’t like a strong woman.

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  1. Acceptance: I mentioned earlier about how the media creates this image of how a woman should look. By performing strength training and changing a womans physique through adding muscle, I believe creates a better image than one focused on being smaller and slimmer. I mean, putting on muscle isn’t easy. It requires commitment, determination and a strong work ethic. Surely that’s a better image to portray by performing great feats of strength by smashing out 1.5x bodyweight deadlifts or squats? I mean, check this out from Heather Connor. Bodyweight of 46.6kg and squatting 122.5kg, benching 62.5kg and deadlifting 165kg!!!

  1. Confidence: having been in and around gyms for a number of years, you see trends happening. Every so often, you’ll see a fella ask a woman how long she has left with a squat rack compared to the guy next to her. This makes me laugh because the women I coach in the powerlifting club are usually out lifting the men. There’s that conception still that women seem out of place on the squat racks. That’s rubbish.

Seeing women turn round and say, ‘I’ve got 3 sets left mate’, and watch the shocked reaction on the fellas face is priceless. Getting involved in strength training, from what I’ve seen, allows women to feel more confident and get things done themselves.

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  1. Goal Direction: the go to answer when I usually ask women what their goals are is they want to lose fat. This is the default answer I would say I hear the majority of the time. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but is that their real passion and motivation for coming to the gym? Once that’s achieved, what’s next? By creating a pathway through strength training, it provides a direction to keep getting better and better. These are more performance related goals to strive for. This creates a purpose every time you come into the gym instead of chasing losing x amount of weight.

Summing Up

Now, I’m by no means trying to say I inspire women when I train or women are after a body like mine (mainly because I’m not a woman). However, I am saying that from experience of training women, strength training doesn’t just promote a healthy body, but a healthy mindset. So please, try squatting, try deadlifting, try any of the iron sports. If you don’t feel confident enough to try them by yourself, get yourself a coach. I promise you it’ll be worth it.

Thanks for reading,

Coach Steve

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