Weights--and the new feminism
Published: Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, April 3, 2012 21:04
I’ve never had any interest in lifting weights. I’m a cardio kind of girl and, frankly, weightlifting was difficult and frustrating and to be avoided.
My fiance, who has been lifting weights for a decade, kept telling me all about the benefits of adding strength training to my fitness routine, using terms like “muscle confusion” and promising that getting stronger would help me run faster and farther.
The first few times in the weight room were awkward for me.
I didn’t know how to use the racks and I felt like a total weenie learning how to bench press the bar when there was a huge man next to me benching around 200 pounds. I was wobbly and slow lifting the bar off of my chest.
A couple of times my own weakness was so frustrating that I could feel tears prickle at the corners of my eyes, but there was absolutely no way I was going to cry in the middle of a stalled overhead press. I swallowed back the tears, took a break and tried again.
My friends’ reactions were also less than encouraging. I was told by several people not to continue strength training because I was going to get “bulky” and being “bulky” is unfeminine.
I consulted a friend who actually studied exercise science in college and he told me not to worry and that strength training would probably make me feel great. He explained that it takes a certain type of lifting and diet to build muscle.
Basically, you’re not going to be Arnold Schwarzenegger without really making an effort to be.
I’ve been going back to the weight room three times a week and after only a month I feel a lot more comfortable. I’ve been increasing the weight that I work with by small increments, and the repetition of the motions has made them feel more natural.
I won’t be benching 200 pounds anytime soon, but I’ve decided that I do like strength training. I like how incredibly sore my muscles feel the next day, a sure sign that I had a good workout. I like challenging myself and knowing that each time, I’m a tiny bit stronger than I was before.
I would definitely advise other women to try lifting weights. Odds are, you’re not going to bulk up like Arnold and, even if you do visibly build muscle, who cares?
Don’t be afraid to go out there and get strong.
Let’s make strength the new “feminine.”
Levise is VN associate editor.