A Small List of People Who Should Maybe Try Picking Up A Barbell
An interesting factoid about my life: My dearest friends and family love to introduce me to new people by saying, “This is Danielle. She is a powerlifter.”
They state it so matter-of-factly. Like, as if they were saying, “This is Sue. She is an accountant.”
I don’t know why they do. But that’s not the point I am trying to make. The point I am trying to make actually comes after the introduction. If the person I am being introduced to is a man, the response is usually something along the lines of, “How much do you lift?” Yup. They just want to verify that indeed, they, a full-grown man are stronger than little ol’ me. But again, not the point.
If I am being introduced to a woman, the response I often get is, “That is so cool! I could never do that.”
I have no idea why my “hobby” incites so much self-doubt among other women, but I am here to tell you:
YES, YOU CAN!
In fact, I am here to encourage you to try lifting. There are many reasons you should lift (I’ll let you google that one), but I especially think you should lift if you fall under one of the categories below. Now, this is not an end-all, be-all list, but I think it’s a pretty good list.
I think you should try lifting…
If You Are Lazy
If you are lazy, but want to look fit, let me tell you: the main three lifts are for you! (Four if you include overhead press.) Just think about it for a second: For Squat, Deadlift, and Overhead Press – you are literally standing in place and when benching – you are LYING DOWN. The laziest of positions.
Additionally, strength programs are the only exercise programs I know of that require you to take large breaks. I am frequently breaking for 5 minutes between sets; during this time, I either fuck around on my phone or watch one of the very large TVs placed all around my gym – which is totally what you would be doing if you weren’t at the gym, am I right?
If You Hate “Conventional” Exercise
I HATE sweating and breathing hard. Running is pain and ellipticals make my knees hurt. The good girl/bad girl machines feel like they are doing nothing but ripping my vagina apart (before I started lifting). I have exercise asthma and so, any cardiovascular activities just make me feel like I am slowly dying. I never gain endurance.
I HATE conventional cardiovascular exercises and exercises that women tend to trend toward (or be pushed toward – your choice). I HATE THEM. HATE THEM. HATE THEM.
And so I used to not do them. I used to not exercise…until I found lifting.
Lifting is as close to the opposite of most conventional exercises as you can get, while still being exercise. I can now structure my workouts so I don’t breathe heavy or sweat. I don’t ever have to pant ever again.
Now, there are some benefits to doing cardio (or so says science or whatever), so I still try incorporate a little in every once in a while. But now I can do significantly more fun versions of cardio like flipping heavy-ass tractor tires.
If You Have Body Image Issues
I could go into great detail on this issue, but I won’t. Talk to any woman who has ever picked up a barbell and they will wax on about how lifting not only changed their bodies to look more awesome, but how lifting changed their mindset. Instead of an object to be battled, weighed, measured, scaled, and made smaller, they now see their bodies as unstoppable forces of nature to be reckoned with. If you want to read more about this, just let me know. I will send you links to articles and blog posts about the empowerment women have found through lifting. And let me tell you, these women aren’t lying.
If You Work at a Desk
Sitting is killing us. And not even that slowly. And not only are the 40+ hour work weeks making it more likely that we develop terrible diseases, but they are also giving up us lumpy guts and lame butts. Want to stop and even reverse the damage done to our bodies from sitting? Lift. And lift heavy.
Strengthening the gluteus maximus and abdominals through heavy lifting not only helps to fix the fairly common anterior pelvic tilt, but increasing one’s lean muscle works to decrease the likelihood that you develop diseases like Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Disease. I don’t know about you, but I want to avoid those things like the plague (heheh).
If You Do Chores (Or normal other life things).
So, if you met me approximately 5 years ago, you would notice that I had issues carrying laundry hampers and groceries back from the car. I always had to get my then-boyfriend-now-husband to open jars for me. I even struggled to heft myself onto a counter so that I could reach the top shelf in our kitchen (#shortpersonprobs).
Becoming stronger through lifting has made my entire life easier.
I no longer spill milk because I can’t control a full gallon. I can lift two large hampers at a time and carry them up stairs. I now giggle when I carry two cases of soda, a bag of dog food, a gallon of milk, and six grocery bags at a time. The only jars I struggle with anymore are ones my husband also struggles with. Heavy wooden doors no longer mock me. If I had known how much easier my life would be and how much less effort I would put into everyday activities, I would’ve pick up a barbell as a child.
If You Are a Mom
I think one of the best characteristics a parent can teach their children is how to set goals. I think another one of the best character traits a parent can teach their children is how to work toward those goals, even when the going gets tough.
However, so much of our lives these days either correspond to having to no goals, or goals that our others can’t really see. Are you working for a promotion at work? Is that bonus a goal of yours? That’s fantastic! But your kids can’t really see the work you are putting in to achieve those things. You are, after all, at work (and they, hopefully, are at school) during those times.
Setting lifting goals not only teaches you how to make realistic long and short term goals (as well as how to put the work in), but can also serve as a tool for teaching your kids.
If You Work in a Male-Dominated Environment
As Physics major, I went to school in a male-dominated environment. Even in grade school, I was one of very few girls in my advanced math and physics classes. During these times, I was always so unsure of myself. I had very few people to talk to about the best way to express and convey my ideas in class, or even how to have my voice heard. I was shy and it took a toll on my academics. When I was confused, I didn’t ask questions because I didn’t want to be the dumb girl who was out of her league.
I won’t lie to you. Weight rooms are dominated by men. It is a gigantic sausage fest whenever I step into the free weights section. However, being around so many men for such a large portion of my existence has taught me how to stand up for myself and how to have my voice heard.
When I started lifting (and still to this day), men would come up to me frequently (I am talking at least once per gym session) and offer me unsolicited advice. And in my beginner lifting days, I would let them. I would let them take up as much time as they felt necessary to tell me how I was doing something wrong (even if I wasn’t).
And now, if you do that to me, you best believe I am voicing my opinion on the subject loudly and immediately. It’s like, all the mansplaining at the gym filled my entire lifetime quota of male bullshit. I have not been able to return to a normal level of bullshit tolerance ever since.
And this newfound confidence and skill has translated to how I act in my work environment. I am the only women in my office. And as the only women in my office, and thus, a natural outsider (because, let’s be real for a minute: I am never going to ever really fit in with a group that makes me cut in line because I was born with a vagina) I can often see how group think and dumb happen. And it is kind of my job, as the outsider, to stop it, mostly because I don’t want to do stupid things. Doing dumb things is a waste of my time.
Younger me would never have ever said anything. NOT EVER. Grown-up and confident me now regularly goes toe-to-toe with my bosses and tells them to their faces when they are being cranky.
If You Don’t Think You Can
I know, I know. It sounds cheesy. But there are so many women out there who have told me like they can’t do what I do –lift heavy weights and compete in powerlifting. They talk like I was born with this random natural ability of being able to lift more than my bodyweight.
Let me be the first to tell you – I most definitely was not.
When I first starting lifting, I was soooooooo weak and inflexible I couldn’t even squat with the barbell on my back. I had to start squatting using dumbbells.
And that’s okay. It is more than okay to start without a barbell. That’s why there are dumbbells and that is why weights come in many different increments. It’s even okay to just start with machines.
But I encourage you to give lifting an honest try. You might not like it and that’s okay as well. However, I would dare to venture a guess that approximately 95% of women who give lifting a fair shot turn out to love it. And I will also venture a guess that you probably will as well. So give it a try and maybe, the next time you are introduced at a party, you can have a different title than “accountant.”