Nope, i’m not talking about cleaning the house, more like a barbell..
This post is a joint effort between me and Jude so what I say is in normal writing and Jude is in italics! Jude kicks ass at the gym in ALL the weightlifting aspects of classes. And I Stan her like there’s no tomorrow! Jude is a weightlifter and she’s only recently put down the bar, so to speak, at Mytholmroyd weight lifting club. She’s an absolute powerhouse and can throw weight, that I struggle to lift, around for fun. It’s incredible to watch and there are so many people both women AND men at Crossfit who are In awe, and down right impressed anytime Jude picks up a bar.
When I come home from CrossFit and excitedly tell my parents that I’ve lifted X amount of weight for X type of lift, more often than not I’m greeted with “well done darling, you don’t want to build too much muscle though do you?” And (sorry dad) it kind of winds me up.
No, I don’t want to build “too much” muscle but that’s because my aim isn’t to build muscle, it’s to get fit, through Crossfit. Not become stacked and look like a female body builder! but what if that was what I wanted? How would I be affected by the stereotype and opinion that women with muscles look ‘disgusting’? Because quite frankly we’re in 2019, if a girl wants to weight lift, and build muscles, she bloody well can!
So I pre-wrote this intro before Jude arrived and just let her read it when she got here, and interestingly but not surprisingly her first reaction was ‘UGGGHHH’ followed by an eye roll aimed at the second paragraph!
Yeah, I remember, having a conversation with someone at work who’d I’d not seen in a while, who greeted me with “Oh, you’ve bulked up a lot.. in a good way..” but then she said “Don’t put on anymore (Muscle Mass), you don’t want to be too big do you” and then she started talking about body building which is not what I do. And before that point I’d never really thought of myself as muscular, I viewed it more as fat because you don’t see your body day to day as you’re moving around like other people do, you see your body in front of a mirror and think ‘Oh god i’m massive’ I didn’t think people noticed my muscle.
She was bit older that me and a bit more old school. I think it’s a generational thing, but nowadays there’s a lot more acceptance for it, we see it shared on instagram and facebook a lot more. Perhaps it wasn’t as socially acceptable ‘Back in the day’ but I think much more accepted in this generation. And even celebrated. I do think it’s quite sad that there’s women who go to crossfit and train hard and do gain muscle, that are almost ashamed of the muscle they’ve worked so hard for. They put so much effort in and struggle to realise that it is okay to have muscle and be a woman.
I think the downside of being a woman with any type of muscle is clothing. The amount of clothes I’ve bought that no longer fit me because my, muscles have got bigger or my arms have got bigger. It’s so frustrating! I have to go to court for my work sometimes and trying to find a blazer is a near impossible task, and if I do find one it has to be a bigger size! There just isn’t enough diversity to cater for different body types.
I totally understand this! I’m not nearly half as stacked as Jude is (I wish) but I still struggle to find things that fit my shoulders and arms but stay in proportion with the rest of my body, perhaps it’s something the fashion industry need to look in to!
Why Do Women Lift?
So when you asked me to do this blog post I thought it would be interesting to talk about why I got in to weightlifting in the first place.. I originally started weightlifting because I used to play a sport called roller derby. I was healthy and fit but we lifted weights as part of cross-training. I joined a gym and got a PT to show me the basics and I hated it.
PLOT TWIST! I can’t believe the words ‘Hate’ and ‘Weightlifting’ just came out of Jude’s mouth in the same sentence!
I hated it because when I went in to the gym the weights room was a completely separate room and it wasn’t populated by many women at all. It was where all the men went. Big bulky men. There was one time when I was there and a guy who was massive, I mean like huge muscles and everything was training with his smaller and weaker friend. I’d lifted heavy weights for me at the time and I was so fatigued that I was struggling to put the weights away, and the bigger guy made a comment (which wasn’t directly to me but it was obvious it was aimed at me) that really rocked the boat. He said “People who can’t lift the weights shouldn’t be in here anyway” which annoyed me because his little friend wasn’t even lifting as much as me never mind him! I complained to my PT and he just told me to ignore them but it’s not as easy as that! I walked out and terminated my membership and never went back. I don’t know if it’s still like that in generic gyms because I haven’t been in one since!
I can’t believe that! It’s so ridiculous! That right there is why i’ve never set foot in your average gym. No matter how good the price, I don’t think i’d feel comfortable and without sounding bitchy or judgey, I think the type of people you find in a normal gym, differ massively from the type of people you find in a CrossFit gym or a certain type of club. Yeah, every place you go have cliques but they’re a lot more accepting at some rather than others. Colne Valley CrossFit prides itself on being more than just a gym, on being a community and even a family. The camaraderie is fantastic and it’s one of the main reasons I love it so much!
When I started CrossFit for the first time back in 2014 I was one of the only girls but I was completely and utterly accepted. And when I could lift heavy weights it was celebrated and thats when I really found an interest in olympic weightlifting specifically, which in turn led me to join mytholmroyd weightlifting club, and just train the snatch, clean and jerk. I had a fantastic coach – Ed Halstead – who totally celebrated women weightlifters. He was the coach of the only female weightlifter to go to the Rio Olympics, so I used to train with her.
That is so cool! And I completely agree with you, lifting heavy in our gym is celebrated, lifting more than you’ve lifted before is celebrated, and to be honest lifting at all is celebrated. When you think you can’t do it, you’re told by numerous people that you’ve got this and you can do it, so you give it a go and sometimes you can do it, sometimes you can’t, either way you still get a pat on the back and a well done from nearly everyone around.
What i’ve seen over the years is more and more women doing CrossFit and weightlifting and actually if you look at competitions there’s so many women wanting to compete than they’re used to be and I think Crossfit has a lot to do with that!
I completely agree with that! A few months back there was a post about the CrossFest competition which to enter you need 2 girls and 3 boys. The girls were so fired up and while we did eventually find lads to fill in the teams it was a lot harder than finding girls!
What does society think of women who lift weight, compared to men who lift?
So while writing this post I tweeted a poll to see what you guys think about Female weight lifters/ muscle on women and i’ve had some, interesting, shall we say, responses! This is the Poll result..
It’s so interesting to see and while, it’s not the most accurate finding due to having different variables, like who is voting and how many votes we had, I think it still gives us some insight. I asked for comments as well and here’s a few that we got. Take from them what you will but bare in mind these aren’t the only responses we had… i’ve tried to show a mix of positive and slightly negative responses!
So as you can see my poll tweet uses the words “Female weight lifters” and “Muscly women” but, a lot of the comments I got (Not these but many, many others) regarded female body builders and I think that is one misconception that female weight lifters encounter all to often!
I agree with this, and it’s something i’ve experienced too. I think when the words “Woman” and “weight-lifting” are mentioned people jump straight to the image of a female body builder, and that’s not always the case. Body building is all about the aesthetics where as the other types of lifting – powerlifting, olympic weightlifting, lifting in CrossFit is all about performance. And that’s not to take away from Body building, because it’s a massive lifestyle commitment, the diet, the training, you have to be so dedicated to the aesthetic goal and generally they’re really low body fat which is so difficult to achieve and maintain.
I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of “It’s their life they can do what they want as long as they’re happy and healthy” Type of responses though, really I expect nothing less from the type of people who follow me!
This tweet proved to be quite a talking point between me and Jude..
I think the idea of ‘toned’ is really interesting I think that toned is the aesthetic that a lot of females want but all that is, is muscle. Women generally aren’t built to get ‘massive’ and if you’re not using addition substances and steroids you’re never going to be ‘Massive’ You’ll just have a natural amount of muscle which is fine. Where most people on twitter seem to draw the line is the massive “Vein popping’ Look which isn’t what most people who workout in a gym would ever get to. That stage is an extreme that isn’t all that common.
Girls supporting girls! (And boys supporting girls too!) I Love it!! And I absolutely agree! Anything to an extreme can be unhealthy! A lot of people aren’t a fan of veins which really surprised me, I actually quite like veins, especially on the forearm and it’s such a natural thing but that’s just me I guess…Shout out to Kayla for replying to both my polls and being so honest with the world about which kinda men you like!
Okay, so Jude and I were talking about how we wanted to finish up this post and we’ve talked about a couple of things. Primarily, ‘why is weightlifting good for women?’, was what we came back to each time. So, Jude, why is weightlifting good for women?
Why is it not good? There’s nothing better than feeling strong! It’s part of your overall fitness, it helps with metabolism, you’re general health and it 100% is so positive for your mental health. A big part of my training is having a good balance of being mentally strong as well as physically strong. It boosts your confidence, you feel good about yourself! Being physically capable of thing you weren’t before you started your training is a great feeling. In terms of getting started, start small and don’t be intimidated, there’s loads of guidance online, and there are so many nice gyms with people who will support you, Join CrossFit!!
Jude’s advice is tip top and she’s right, you should join Crossfit! we’re going to leave you with that, I just want to say thank you to everyone who replied and let me use their tweets in this post! Be sure to let me know your thoughts/feelings/PB’s and anything else to do with weightlifting and this post in the comments!
Happy lifting Ladies (And Lads!)
Beth & Jude x
P.s Check us out killing it in the gym!