Breaking Down The Barriers To Women & Lifting
When it comes to lifting, everyone needs to find their groove. Starting too heavy simply isn’t safe, but if you don’t challenge yourself you won’t progress. So what’s the happy (and healthy) medium?
Before you get started with BUILD, it’s important to know the facts. From rest and recovery to form and fuel, there’s a lot of misinformation out there about lifting for women.
Busting common myths about lifting
So, I thought I’d do the heavy lifting for you (see what I did there!) and tackle some common myths. Here are some of the biggest misconceptions, busted.
1. Only women of certain shapes and sizes can lift
If you were to conjure up an image of the ‘perfect’ body for lifting, what would it be? That’s a trick question. There isn’t one. There’s no such thing as the ‘perfect’ body.
When it comes to powerbuilding — which is a combination of strength training and muscle hypertrophy — it’s about boosting strength and changing your shape over time. Anyone can start to lift weights if they begin with a solid foundation, make gradual progress and focus on performance over appearance. It’s called BUILD, not BUILT, after all!
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was your body. If you’re just getting started with weight training, be realistic about what you can lift.
Start with lighter weights and gradually increase them as you gain more strength. Focus on form first. Once you’ve nailed that, increase your weights and reps.
At 153 cms — or 5-feet — tall, I’m nowhere near as big as my male counterparts. Did I let that stop me? No, of course not. That’s because I believe that all bodies can lift.
Positive talk is one of my biggest weapons when it comes to training. Instead of talking myself out of something, I remind myself I have what it takes to keep achieving my training goals. I don’t look in the mirror for the ‘perfect’ training body, I look inside and harness this strength to keep pushing myself to do one more rep.
Injury doesn’t need to signal the end of your lifting journey. Believe it or not, I used to love running. It was me, my pram and the road. But my relationship with cardio and high-impact activities was over after my pelvic floor collapsed. I was devastated. But that was never going to stop me.
I rested, rehabilitated, did a lot of research and I came back fighting. That was when I discovered my love of lifting. Injuries can be frustrating setbacks. But no matter what you’re dealing with right now, it can be an opportunity for growth. Keep pushing.
- Myth: Only women of certain shapes and sizes can lift.
- Reality: All women can lift.
2. Lifting heavy weights causes injuries
It’s totally normal to be fearful about lifting heavy. I know, I’ve been there myself. But I believe this fear can be overcome with plenty of patience and proper performance.
Lifting heavy doesn’t cause injuries, but lifting heavy with incorrect form can. The most sound piece of advice I can share? Focus on technique, seek advice and don’t overdo it.
The reality is that any type of exercise can cause injury if you don't do it properly. Whether it’s running, high jumping or lifting weights, focusing on your form isn’t just important — it’s essential.
Make sure your technique is right when you’re doing BUILD by following my form in the app. There are demonstration videos in the app that will help you get it right. Pay particular attention to bracing your core and the position of your neck, back and knees during the lifts. If you’re not sure whether your form is right, seek the advice of a trainer.
Aside from focusing on form, a warmup, cool down and post-workout stretching session can help reduce the risk of injury and allow your body to recover.
I know it’s tempting to head right for the weights, but always squeeze in 5-10 minutes for a warmup before you get going. Trust me. Warming up revs up your cardiovascular system and increases blood flow to your muscles. It can also reduce risk of injury and reduce the level of soreness. Choose an awesome, energising warmup track to get in the zone.
Cooling down is just as important as warming up. A quick 10-minute cool down session can help prevent your muscles from cramping while gradually slowing down your heart rate.
- Myth: Lifting heavy causes injuries.
- Reality: Injuries can be avoided if you focus on technique, warmups and cool downs.
3. Lifting heavy weights isn’t feminine
If I had a dollar for every time a woman told me lifting weights would make them ‘manly’, I’d be very, very rich. But this is another crazy myth. Lifting doesn’t make you masculine, and it certainly doesn’t make you less of a woman.
Firstly, men’s and women’s bodies are not the same. Our hormone makeup is different and we don’t build muscle at the same rate.
Women produce significantly less of the muscle-building hormone testosterone in comparison to men. It doesn’t mean we can’t build big muscles if we work hard, it just means our bodies are different.
The heavier the weights, the stronger the muscles. While it might sound a bit obvious, heavier weights lead to stronger muscles. But not necessarily bigger ones.
If you lift heavy weights and fuel your body with an excess of food, you’ll build muscle. On the flip side, if you lift heavy weights and eat a diet that fuels you to work out but puts you in a calorie deficit, you’ll burn fat.
Building muscle or burning fat, it's about choosing what works for your body and makes you feel confident. And most importantly, neither choice determines whether or not you’re feminine.
Powerbuilding gives you stronger muscles, stronger bones and a lot more confidence. I firmly believe you can lift, be strong and feminine — there are no rules.
- Myth: Lifting isn’t feminine.
- Reality: You can be strong and feminine. In fact, strength can enhance your feminine qualities.
4. You need to spend hours in the gym to see results
I lead a pretty hectic life, so I’m often short on time. A busy schedule demands a quick, effective workout. And that’s exactly what BUILD is.
A serious workout shouldn’t take up too much of your day. You should get maximum benefits in minimal time. So, boost your workout by making every minute count.
Change the way you think about training. Instead of measuring your workout on the clock, measure it by the weights you’re lifting. Opt for heavy weight lifting workouts in strong, short bursts instead of long, exhausting sessions.
Make your powerbuilding training part of your everyday routine. Aim for three sessions spaced throughout the week. Think sustainable goals that serve you long term. Be realistic and consistent.
- Myth: You need to spend hours in the gym to see results.
- Reality: Train smarter and be consistent for long-term, sustainable results.
Breaking lifting myths
Defy expectations by proving them wrong. Focus on the facts, work hard, make the most of every workout and don’t stop pushing.
What are some are the biggest lifting myths you’ve heard? How did you prove them wrong? Let me know in the comments.
* Results may vary. Strict adherence to the nutrition and exercise guide are required for best results.