• If this is your first visit, please visit the FAQ. Please register before posting. To start viewing messages, select a forum below.
The world’s premier network for those seeking to share and discuss high-impact,high results, super practical information for the developmentof superiorphysical performance.

Real Women Train With Heavy Weights!

AndrewR

New member
Neghar, I use examples like you, Andrea Chang and Asha Wagner all the time for my female clients. The funny thing is that the heavier they lift the better shape they get in. Who'd have thought?

Loved your articles BTW.
 
Neghar, most of my students are female, and nobody underestimates themselves like women when it comes to strength. I've currently got three women in my classing swinging the 48 after only five weeks of weekly classes. Three of them are bottoms up pressing the 16 now.

and when they showed up at class the first time, they had each ignored my pre-class advice and purchased adorable 10lb kettlebells for themselves.

My favorite moment in all of training might be when I see a woman who starts to take pride in being strong and chasing strength.

Great articles.

Josh
 

Lizanneh

New member
Excellent article! It can be so difficult to convince women that lifting weights will make them look good and not bulky and man-like. But a few need no such convincing. LOVE your picture in the article.
 

Avenue

New member
Neghar, I use examples like you, Andrea Chang and Asha Wagner all the time for my female clients. The funny thing is that the heavier they lift the better shape they get in. Who'd have thought?

Loved your articles BTW.

Agreed, real inspiration to be sure. I've forwarded this to my sister, whom I've been trying to convince for ages now.
 
One thing to add, real women train for strength smartly.
Take your time, you have to build up slowly and consistently otherwise,
you could get injured. Connective tissue does not build up as fast as muscle.
Some women are built with muscle and strength and strong joints like awesome Asha! Some
women are not, they have looser ligaments, joints and connective tissue in general.
Those women need to take their time with consistent, progressive training.

The key is getting them to train for success slowly, knowing when to lay off and when to push hard.

One more thing, not all women want to be like a man. Graceful, fluid strength is feminine and I for one believe a women can be strong and feminine. We don't have to look, move and act like men to be strong:))
 
One thing to add, real women train for strength smartly.
Take your time, you have to build up slowly and consistently otherwise,
you could get injured. Connective tissue does not build up as fast as muscle.
Some women are built with muscle and strength and strong joints like awesome Asha! Some
women are not, they have looser ligaments, joints and connective tissue in general.
Those women need to take their time with consistent, progressive training.

The key is getting them to train for success slowly, knowing when to lay off and when to push hard.

One more thing, not all women want to be like a man. Graceful, fluid strength is feminine and I for one believe a women can be strong and feminine. We don't have to look, move and act like men to be strong:))

Nicely put!
 

negf03

New member
Very good points, Andrea! (Of course :))

That's why I was sure to say "progressively increased resistance" so ladies wouldn't think they should go into the gym tomorrow and dead lift their body weight!

I highly agree that we are strong and graceful. Somehow, watching a strong woman move efficiently is much more visually pleasing than most men-no offense guys ;).

I think for me the most important piece to remember is to train with the intention of becoming strong, especially because of it's mental and psychological implications. I certainly don't want to be manly, but I sure do want to explore my potential while continuing to act like a lady :).
 

mc

New member
a bit of a rif on a theme

this article really got me thinking about the assertion "real women lift heavy weights"

hmm. what does that mean? here it means "pick up something that you can't lift more than 10 times with perfect form" for "gaining physical strength "

hmm.

while lifting heavy has many benefits, and plainly it's very meaningful to lots of gals (i have my kj autographed beast in my office; my TSC 2nd place UK cert on my wall), and that's great, there are a few assertions in this post i'd like to engage that may offer some practice-oriented alternatives.

just by way of context, let me say that i too have certainly encouraged women (and men) to consider lifting heavy for body comp goals, asserting this is more likely to be more effective for those goals than low effort cardio. I was wrong. and on a number of levels.

First, attitude: After working with a lot of folks, pushing "lifting heavy" is largely a turn off on the one hand, can be experienced as disrespectful, and is vague in the extreme. what does "lift heavy" mean? Do 1 rep maxes every time one goes into the gym? alway push to even the ten rep max?

second: It seems the idea of "lifting heavy" is somehow seen to be "good" and light is "bad" or useless. lift heavy may really be actually a kind of stand in, it seems, for intent - and the rkc is surely a school of strength, but strength is practice first - load, incidental. To clarify what i'm trying to say, in a school of strength, strength is about focus, tension, practice - load is a consequence of practice.

let me break this down a bit.

Sissie Weights I think when pavel has talked about "sissie weights" and pink dumbbells these are describing weights that can be *easily* thrown around without focus on technique - they are therfore in that context not useful to the practice of strength. As the popularity of convict conditioning has shown, however, one doesn't need anything beyond the self for strength development.

Suddenly with a heavy weight, one generally is more focused, true, but that doesn't mean one is any better at moving the load - or any more ready to do it.

So what is the goal? if it is specifically to lift something heavy, once in awhile, on demand, then "lifting heavy" also not essential for strength. I'll come onto that in a sec.

To Lift heavy One does not need to Lift Heavy But it's also important to get, i think, that not everyone's goal is to lift a heavy thing, nor, i have learned, does it need to be, and second, to repeat myself, it's not entirely necessary to lift heavy in order to lift a heavy thing.

If you read the interview i did with asha, you'll not that she trained mainly with a 12kg kb to do the 24kg pistol. Right now, she's said in posts she's exploring what can be done with the 16 to get the 32 happening for the press. That's effectively *light* weight, gtg'ing it, to do a unique, and otherwise unpracticed lift. If we focus on the beast challenge result - the single rep max - and miss her path to getting there, we miss the practice of strength. Asha's latest challenge was a fifty storey run up stairs in full firefighting gear. You know to what she attributes her success? VWC and VPP - way way submaximal work.

Likewise, I've been writing a lot about really light weight for heavy results, with more focus on repping form rather than foregrounding load, coming back to the notion of lots of volume for the perfect rep. I lift relatively heavy (still sub max) once a week for any particular move i'm training right now (as per instructions from Dan John). In those posts you'll see references to powerlifter and yoga master Fawn Friday's use of high volume, lower volume work approaches to get her single Big Lifts too.

MAss Another point in the article is about mass.
sure testosterone is a part of the picture, but it's pretty important to get that it's not the key ingredient, or all mean guys would be ripped. Women achieve mass the same way men do: lots of volume at particular loads to stimulate hypertrophy (check anything by Kraemer on this point. ); they also eat to support it. Take a look at rkc II Claire Booth, competetive natural body builder, for an example of the WORK for herself and the BB'ers she trains, to get mass. Remember too few competetive bb'ers are natural.

So, as with men, if you don't work it, you don't get it. Most of us do not work at that kind of volume for that kind of hypertrophy, or eat for it either. But also take a look at Tracy Rif's arms to see hypertrophy from swing volume big time. That's not cuz she was trying: that's a side effect of the kind of volume she does (and that seems to be required for hypertrophy). IF a gal is doing that kind of volume/intensity, that's the adaptation.

Also, while there was some debate about this, when speaking with three dozen gals on a health and fitness forum, none of them were concerned about bulking up. so this seems to be a lack of knowledge thing for some gals coming into fitness. So this seems to be an eaasily and quickly dispelled myth for most gals who get into training.

tone - i've also heard that there's no such thing, but
actually there is and it can be taken two ways: first it's tonus. it's the passive semi contraction that muscles generally hold - unless you're asleep, then it sorta relaxes. More muscle fiber compacted from working muscle, more tonus? dunno. But muscle toning, as ya likely know, is simply a colloquial term for leaning out and muscling up.

strength = increasing resistance.
That's not quite the formula you'd see in siff or kraemer or Zatsiorsky. getting stronger requires increased demand for adaptation. One can increase the demand for adaptation by changing one of a number of variables including resistance. but volume, recovery, intensity, occlusion, asphyxia even, are all components that can be tweaked for strength, too.

as for why someone would ever use a five pound weight?
let's try fear as a good one. fear sets up a threat response that also sets up a greater potential for injury. pushing someone beyond what their comfort zone is when they're not ready, and see how much they learn to hate and fear working out with you. i know; i've been there, on both sides of my less intelligent self.

And while deadlifting one's bodyweight may be important for some of us, it's not essential for people to still be healthy, active and strong. bodyweight exercises themselves show that there's many ways to be challenged to be strong without touching external resistance, and able to tax only % of one's own weight.

as an aside: with respect to resistance training for women, we may consider benefits to bone mineral density - an issue for women in particular - resistance training has been shown to help with bone mineral density loss, but not "heavy" and likewise but stop and start exercises like soccer and racquet ball are just as good, it seems. The best resistance training? dynamic. so swings/snatches ought to be super. Doesn't have to be particularly heavy; seems it has to induce change of stop/start adaptation.

Other non-heavy actions we know are also great for strength: rowing is a huge benefit for strength/power/endurance - likewise as said swinging and snatching, which does not have to be done with a heavy weight to be effective; forces are generated and managed in other ways.

Gaining Physical Strength
in sum the article posits physical strength is important. Super. Agreed. But in my own practice and working with others, i've had to come down of the assertion i've seen so many places that "lifting heavy" is key - whether for body comp or anything else.

The practice of strength is important; a particular load i'm finding is just an effect of practice. For context: consider that pavels RTK program uses 20 rep sets of deadlifts after always submaximal ladders of 15 - 30 reps. so again, to be strong, requires practicing strength, which doesn't equate to having to lift heavy - much or even often.

Likewise,
Take a look at the interview with andrea du cane, and tell me this gal is not strong.
as for the "something you can't pick up more than 10 times"

I think i get the spirit of the article: there's a myth that women are as afraid of lifting something heavy as they are of bulking up. in my experience working with women of all ages most have neither issue. What both genders lack is knowledge of how strength is a practice, and how to practice it.

The best thing is your pal asked you to help her. Smart to get an RKC.

again, these are just my reflections within my own practice with myself and the folks with whom i've been working.

best
mc
 

mc

New member
ps i think i was writing the above while andrea actually got in a reply. a lot of the same sentiment far more succinctly expressed.
 

negf03

New member
MC-

While I appreciate your detailed and thorough response, I must add this:

The post was simply intended to be motivational towards women to challenge themselves, not to encourage them to constantly lift 1RMs or to discourage them from proper movement by any means.

For the sake of BREVITY, which I am a huge fan of, the post does not go into the minutia about what the statement "Real women lift heavy weights" truly means. Heavy is relative, based on the individual, their bodyweight, their skill level and their current place in their training cycle.

Bottom line: Most women are not maximizing their physical potential. When they start to go down that path, they will realize how empowering it can be and find a sense of intrinsic strength.

Please do not misunderstand one statement as the end all be all of mottos for strength and conditioning. Women need to challenge themselves appropriately.
 

Lizanneh

New member
Also, while there was some debate about this, when speaking with three dozen gals on a health and fitness forum, none of them were concerned about bulking up. so this seems to be a lack of knowledge thing for some gals coming into fitness. So this seems to be an eaasily and quickly dispelled myth for most gals who get into training.

<snip>

I think i get the spirit of the article: there's a myth that women are as afraid of lifting something heavy as they are of bulking up. in my experience working with women of all ages most have neither issue. What both genders lack is knowledge of how strength is a practice, and how to practice it.

Hi MC.

Where did you post your survey? I'm a woman who lifts weights and I have lots of other female friends and see lots of other women in the gym. Very few of the women at the gym ever venture out of the cardio area. Those who do are more likely to do crunches and arm exercises (the latter using tiny dumbbells) than anything else. When I'm at the gym, there are two other women who will lift in the same area as the muscular men, using the squat rack, barbells, and larger dumbbells. There are 10-15 others elsewhere in the gym, not counting those at pilates or zumba classes.

Among my friends, I've actually heard things like "I want long lean muscle tone," or "I want to get toned, not muscular." I had a personal trainer (woman) at my gym, after I shared my excitement at barbell deadlifting 125lbs tell me to be careful not to bulk up.

I even know women who lift heavy weights who are concerned about bulk, particularly in their legs. Some of the strongest women I know limit the weightlifting they do with their legs so that they can still pull their jeans on over their quads.

Your survey must have pulled responses from a very interesting and well-informed group of women. If they are readers of your blog, then you've done a good job educating them.

ETA: Just thought of this - someone else did a survey of whether women would rather look like Jessica Biel or Jessica Alba. Jessica Alba, the less muscular of the two, won by a surprisingly large margin. The women commented that Jessica Biel was too muscular. (!!!) So don't forget to put comments into context.

ETA2: Here's the link - it was Leigh Peele, and the survey was of 2000 women.
http://www.leighpeele.com/bulky-muscles-and-training-females-the-definition
 
Last edited:

mc

New member
@Lizanneh,
if you click on the link in the paragraph you quoted, you'll have it, as well as the population. and no it wasn't readers of my blog, they were participants on the precision nutrition forum from a wide range of backgrounds and practices.



@negf03
Please do not misunderstand one statement as the end all be all of mottos for strength and conditioning.

i don't think i am: your fundamental assertion is that women need to "lift heavy", yes? it's also the title of your post.

your statement here is "heavy being relative."

in your article you define this as something one can "only lift 10 times" - agreed that's relative.
Bottom line: Most women are not maximizing their physical potential
as to working up to our potential, again, what does that mean? you seem to suggest that too is load-related again, right? considering that your inspiring stats are all feats of strength related, yes? some gals surely will be inspired by your example. no doubt; you see that here.
that's great

i'm just saying of late i've been thinking about the nature of strength, resilience, and examples like Andrea who's not interested as far as i know in doing the beast challenge or lifting particularly heavy. is that "maximizing their physical potential"?

i'm just musing aloud.

Women need to challenge themselves appropriately.
two points - this is apart from the whole heavy or not so heavy thing, but about the assertion that "women" in particular need to do something. again, this is just an observation across some disciplines.

first
i work mostly with men of all ages, but particularly young men. i don't see the gender divide that you're suggesting around "physical potential"

while i don't have the stats to say that women need to "challenge themselves appropriately" more than men (and again, i'm not entirely sure what appropriately means)-- in the states and uk, obesity for instance is pretty gender neutral-- and most of the time there are more gals in the gym where i work then men, and more gals than men at kb workshops.

second: i am intrigued when i see women referring to women as "them" rather than "us"

i'm also not surprised by anecdotes that suggest that women stick to cardio machines rather than charge into the weights area. IT can be really intimidating. There's stories in other disciplines like computer science that without moderation by adults in schools, little boys will hog the computers in a classroom and girls will hang back. We're well conditioned to be nurturing and not get in the way (or enter a threatful situation)

i remember when the U of T started having a women's HOUR once a week in the weight room the dust up there was about that - from men and women. But what happened? A lot more gals started using the weight room. I've been asked by grad student gals here to run how to use weights classes for them - they're great. And it was the gals who asked for it; not the boys after some open kb classes.

Create space for women/girls, it seems we use the resources. Crossfit shows that really well; kb classes show that: over on the RKC forum, i once asked what the population of most kb workshops run by rkcs is. 50% women or more was the general reply.

let me repeat, these are just my observations on practice - your mileage may vary.

And as with others who have said so, congratulations on your achievements.


mc
 

mc

New member
by the way, i do not want to start a back and forth here, and am afraid this might be seen as someone having to defend a position. It's not - i'm just riffing about as said, what i've been exploring. it may not hold any water for yours or anyone else's experience.

just food for thought.

best
mc
 

schnieder

New member
i think authentic feminine beauty, especially interior beauty, goes beyond even lifting heavy weights off the ground...although that is certainly a very cool and worthwhile thing to do.
 

negf03

New member
i think authentic feminine beauty, especially interior beauty, goes beyond even lifting heavy weights off the ground...although that is certainly a very cool and worthwhile thing to do.

Agreed. For me personally, training hard with a movement based philosophy is what gave me that authentic, interior beauty, because it made me realize that there is nothing I can't do.
 

negf03

New member
as to working up to our potential, again, what does that mean? you seem to suggest that too is load-related again, right? considering that your inspiring stats are all feats of strength related, yes? some gals surely will be inspired by your example. no doubt; you see that here.
that's great

i'm just saying of late i've been thinking about the nature of strength, resilience, and examples like Andrea who's not interested as far as i know in doing the beast challenge or lifting particularly heavy. is that "maximizing their physical potential"?



I certainly don't think that maximizing potential is simply load related. That's just one example that I chose to use, because it seems to be the most glaring. I think maximizing your potential begins with changing your mindset. The problem I see is not just that the majority of ladies (our community is obviously the exception) don't challenge themselves load wise, but that they approach fitness with a distorted and unhealthy mentality. I have been in this field for 9 years, from the west coast to the east coast and I cannot tell you how many times I have heard:

"I don't want to sweat"

"I don't want to work hard"

"I don't want to bulk up"

"I hate lifting weights"

"I want to look like a victoria secret model"

"I can't do it"

"I don't want to do it"

..and the list goes on. You get the idea. Change our mentality, change our life. Change the way we view exercise, change our reasons for exercising, and we have so much to gain. My issue is not that I believe we need to all go after feats of strength, but that we need to approach the gym with the intent of becoming stronger and moving better. For some people, that is just moving their body weight flawlessly. For others, that is increasing work capacity. WHatever it is, I am suggesting that we, as females, need to change our views. Train hard to accomplish something substantial, not to look good in a bikini (although that's a nice side-affect). :)
 
Free Course
Top