Anatomy of a female lifter

Posted by Becca Abrahams on

By: Cheri Lacey (Rushing)

When I began lifting, I was green, Green to the things of strength as well as green with envy of other smaller, toned women. I bought a book called "the new rules of lifting for women" and began my journey. I had no idea it would lead me to where I am today.

The book was good. I began to grasp the concept of heavy lifting. (well, to me it was heavy) I learned how to program, I learned the concept of linear progression and I felt the empowerment of getting stronger all the time. I did, however make mental note of the women pictured in the pages. It sent a clear message.

One thing that snuck in quietly was my growing envy for other women, women smaller then me, women more "toned" then me. I told myself that I liked lifting because it made me stronger, but in the back of my mind I knew there was more to it. I wanted to be smaller and have those visibly beautiful toned arms, flat stomach and curvy shape.

I kept lifting. I seemed to find other like minded lifting women on social networks and became friends. They would post about their PR's and I would get inspired. Over time, my secret desire to be smaller seemed to shrink and my desire to be stronger became a outright goal.

Its been 3.5 years since then, and I am confidently moving in the direction of strength. My training, nutrition, lifestyle are all designed to support optimal strength. I love powerlifting as a sport and my training is not just training, but an outlet for me to release bad energy, helps keeps me sane, mobile and happy.

BUT... There is a side to all this that can be a struggle. Its nagging and annoying, sometimes its easy to push aside but other times it takes up way too much mental energy and makes me weary.

I AM NOT SMALL. I AM NOT JACKED and I am not the opitome of athletes everywhere. I know this. I am not trying to get smaller, and that is the part I struggle with. Would I like to be smaller? In relation to body image and aesthetics, of course. I probably always will, but logistically and realistically, staying the size I am now is the best choice. I have a goal to be stronger; I want to have a competition deadlift of 400+ in the next year, as well as bench in the 190's. Getting smaller for the sake of body image and aesthetics is just dumb.

Society EXPECTS women to want to be smaller. In fitness, it seems to be the goal for every women. What if it's not your goal? Does that make you strange, wrong, or crazy?  What if you are not lean and you goal is to get stronger, period?

Welcome to the 21st century. Women have been staking their claims in this world like never before and only up until recent years have women felt the freedom to claim their bodies as they are. This post is not necessarily about body positivity in general, but about women in the strength community being able to weigh whatever they feel necessary to accomplish their goals.

Listen up men: please get this through your thick heads... we are not putting in all this work, sweat, blood and tears for your approval. We don't plan our meals, our lifts, or our lives for that matter so you can look on our physiques with yearning eyes. We do what we do because... WE WANT TO. I lift because I love being strong, I love being able to easily move all the furniture in my home by myself, bring in $250 worth of groceries in one trip, pick up my 4 and 6 year old children at the same time and carry them in public with HUGE smiles of pride on their faces. T nation, bodybuilding.com, and gym bros everywhere need to realize they are not that special! The fact that they think women should lift so that they'll look better for them is so extremely self centered, but most men don't even realize it... as a matter of fact, most women don't realize it either.


Ladies, let's lift for ourselves. Not for our significant others, not for the admiration of those around us, but for YOU. You are the only one that should decide what's right for your goals and aspirations.

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