I recently read an article by The Iron Therapist tiled “Women Aren’t Weak. Weakness is Marketed to Them.” As a woman, it definitely resonates with me because I do see this weakness being marketed to women, particularly among internet ads. I’ll see women posing, trying to look their strongest possible while they’re doing bicep curls with 3-lb. weights. That’s not going to build you any strength or muscle–just endurance. Now if you do a Google search of “women lifting weights,” you’ll see ladies lifting way more than 3 lbs. Way more. But you’ll still see women lifting pathetic amounts in plenty of other images. D0 a search of “men lifting weights,” and the only men lifting low pounders are the elderly and those who struggle with weight management. Starting out low with these special populations is absolutely understandable. Yet, why are apparently healthy women being pictured lifting weights that should be left for special populations?
Despite all of this, even when women are told to lift weights in articles about weight lifting for women, we’re often met with pictures of women lifting, you guessed it, those same 3-5 lb. weights. Yeah, we’ve all got to start somewhere. I started with 5 lbs. and managed to build a little muscle from those alone. Yet, showing such a picture leads women to believe that even when we’re told to lift weights, they can’t be too heavy, lest we become too bulky. After all, these are often pictures of fit women lifting these weights.
Ladies, you are going to put on some bulk when you lift weights, but unless you’re setting out to be a body builder, you don’t need to worry about becoming “bulky.” We simply don’t have the amount of testosterone men have to build large amounts of muscle.
Currently, my 1-rep max for a bicep curl is 25 lbs., which is a far cry from what it was when I first began lifting weights! And I’m not bulky. Not at all. In fact, if you click on The Iron Therapist’s article, you’ll see that he argues that cardiovascular workouts are primarily marketed toward women as a way to lose weight, as it is assumed that women primarily work out to create aesthetically pleasing bodies. He argues that cardio is great, but it’s not applicable to much of life outside of the gym (this is debatable). Strength training, on the other hand, is since you’re always lifting something every day. Having a decent amount of strength makes activities of daily living easier.
As someone who crosstrains for ballet, I recommend that all dancers deadlift. Since I started deadlifting, I have eliminated DOMS for my back following a ballet class. In fact, lifting weights in general has eliminated much of the DOMS I experience after a dance class. This, of course, isn’t just applicable to athletes. This is applicable to anyone. Lifting a bag of groceries becomes easier when you have more strength. Being able to carry a child becomes easier. Let’s not forget the stereotype of women needing men to open jars for us. We can open our own jars.
Women, you can gain more strength than you think you can. Society is constantly telling us that men will always be superior in terms of muscular strength. While this may be true to a certain extent, it shouldn’t hinder us from our strength-gaining genetic potential.
If this doesn’t convince you to lift, then I’ll tell you that building muscle can up your metabolism. Not only this, but as you age, you start losing muscle tissue that you can never get back if you don’t keep up a resistance training regimen.