Body Image · Workouts

More women should lift heavy weights

The other day my friend was nice enough to invite me to check out her gym for free.

We went to a women’s-only gym that specializes in cross training group classes. The women were all so lovey and welcoming, the instructor was enthusiastic and motivating, the facility was bright and welcoming. My only problem? The workout. More specifically, the weights we used.

The actual exercises were good ones — deadlifting, squatting, kettlebell swings, etc, combined with all kinds of running and jumping to get the heart rate up. But when it came time to lift weights, I was a little disappointed at the size of the weights. The heaviest kettlebell couldn’t have been bigger than 30 pounds. When I grabbed a 20 pound kettlebell to deadlift, all the women tried to advise against it. I deadlifted 120 pounds for 5 reps the other day — 20 pounds is more than manageable.

I’m not telling this story to shame these women or to brag about myself. But after this experience, I realized that there is still this misconception that women shouldn’t be lifting heavy weights. Some of the most powerful, strong, and awesome women I know still believe this. Why do they think they shouldn’t lift heavy?

  1. They’ll bulk up and look manly
  2. They’ll hurt themselves
  3. Women can’t lift anything nearly as heavy as men can

Pardon my bad language, but these three reasons are total and complete bullshit! Women are so much stronger than even they give themselves credit for. Just look at your mom — she gave birth to you; if that’s not strong, I don’t know what is.

I am a petite woman, and I used believe in this myth that women shouldn’t lift heavy. I had my three pound dumbbells and that enough for me.

I’m not sure where this myth comes from and why it’s still being perpetuated. Even when I was looking up weightlifting photos for this post, I was shocked that almost all the photos were either of men lifting ridiculously heavy weights or women lifting delicately small, pink ones (see example above).

If you are a women reading this, please heed my plea : STOP lifting small and START lifting heavy!

But, you ask, what if I bulk up, injure myself, or can’t do it? I’m no weightlifting expert but from personal experience I can tell you….

No, you won’t bulk up and look manly if you lift heavy

The idea that women are delicate flowers who are limited by their femininity and gender drives me crazy (if you can’t tell, I’m an unabashed feminist). You are not going to suddenly become ultra masculine overnight because you lift heavy. Yes, you will put on weight — I think I’ve gained 10 pounds since I started lifting. But you will also feel better, look stronger, and be more confident in your body than ever.

My grandma once said to me that she noticed I’ve put on weight. I told her that I’ve never felt better about my body.

You won’t injure yourself if you have the right trainer

I would advise any woman (or man) against weightlifting without learning proper form from a trainer. I’m new enough to weightlifting that I haven’t gotten my form dialed in and that is so, so important to lifting effectively and without injuring yourself. That being said, as a woman you’re not automatically setting yourself up for injury because you are lifting something heavier than 40 pounds. In fact, you’re doing your body a huge favor.

Yes, you can lift with the bros

How heavy you can lift is all relative to your size, genetics, and, yes, gender. It is true that men are, overall, physically stronger than women. But that doesn’t mean you can’t join the Bro Barbell Club. I’m 5′ 2″ and 103 pounds so no, I’m never ever going to out lift a 160 pound dude, but I’m learning to stop comparing myself to others and believe in my own ability to be a badass female weightlifter.

And there are women out there that are stronger than men. I’ve met some truly strong, badass women that out lift a lot of guys.


Have you ever lifted heavy before? If not, what’s stopped you? Let me know if the comments 🙂



4 thoughts on “More women should lift heavy weights

  1. I enjoyed reading your blog as its layout is clear and concise! The blog content is the center of attention! The theme chosen aids this effect as well. There are quite a few widgets. Maybe one too many? But they are placed strategically so that they don’t take away from the blog content. Your posts are informational and you have a personable/relate-able writing style!


  2. As far as strength goes, what most people don’t realize is that strength comes from within- from your core. Bruce Lee is a perfect example of this- someone who has a thin, toned body, yet has a plethora of strength. I don’t know why women are discouraged to harness their strength, strength is a sign of health and should be more encouraged in our society. Unfortunately we live in a world where women are more of a sexual object, rather then a strong, intellectual being and unless we have more people projecting the idea that women have more purpose then just being an object of attraction, then we won’t have change. That’s why it’s become more important then ever for women to support other women because in a society where we’ve become the “lesser” gender, we need to stand together to defy the ignorance.


  3. I agree with you! Anyone can lift heavy weights no matter if you are male or female. My sister was currently in a boot camp/crossfit type of thing with her husband, and honestly, she was able to do the exact same thing as her husband. I’ve been currently wanting to join a gym and starting with light weights, so this will definitely motivate me to do so.
    Yesenia M.
    cs 57.11


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