Ban the Girly Weights

Ladies, I don’t understand it.  You make sure you look your best, and invest precious time and hard earned money.  You get your nails done, hair done, everything did…but then you just spin the wheels with diet and exercise.  Not so fancy, huh?

It happened long before my time, and long before your time, but there seems to be an unwritten law that drives women to do cardio and cardio and cardio.  When you do happen to pick up a weight, it’s those little pink colored dumbbells that might as well be paper weights.  I can’t really blame you for this, because it seems like the media helps perpetuate the myth that women should avoid heavy weights.  In fact, I took the following picture in my own gym, the Friedberg JCC in Oceanside, NY.  The poster was hung up by the Health Club Media Network, and I find it appalling.  The women’s naive smiles lead me to believe that they actually believe those seated dumbbell front punches, with 3lb weights, actually does something.  They could also be smiling because the exercise might have a cooler name than that, or maybe because they modeled for the poster and were told to smile.  Or, it could be because they know that people who think that is a real exercise are very dumb not very smart.


While there are some women who do know how to train, it’s infrequent that they start that way.  Plenty of people love their elliptical, Zumba, and Toned & Tight classes; they need to be saved.  They need to be taught how to pick up a heavy barbell off the floor.  They need to hang from a bar, and then raise their chest to it and look over the top.  I just referenced a deadlift and a chin-up; if you didn’t recognize that, you’re in that group.  They’re exercises that everybody needs to do, male or female, regardless of if you want to become super muscular or super lean.  Strength is a skill that everybody can develop, unless you want to be weak, lazy, and out of shape.  Does anybody want to be like that?  Didn’t think so.

There are definitely men who tell girls to ‘tone’ and use light weights and high reps.  Usually, they’re the same ones that try to get a nice biceps pump before they bench, so don’t worry about them, they need to be saved in their own right.  What’s worse to me, is the women that perpetrate the don’t-lift-heavy-weights myths that drive women to seated hip adductors and pilates classes for toning.  I’ve heard some of my very closest friends say that girls shouldn’t have muscle, or that ladies shouldn’t sweat, or that lifting heavy isn’t something that they need to do.  Some people believe these things so powerfully, that it’s impossible to change their mind; with others, it’s much easier.

After I first began dating Maria, I was worried about discussing exercise with her, and avoided talking about it.  Yes, I met her at the gym, but she was the elliptical and tiny weights girl, because nobody had shown her any better.  I was nervous, but one day I asked her if she had ever deadlifted.  Turns out, they had deadlifted in one of the classes she took…with two 8lb dumbbells.  While she may have been comfortable with 16lb, 20 reps deadlifts, I think that she knew that she could do more.  Today is her 24th birthday, and in the past 6 months of her working out with me, she can now deadlift 195lbs.  I don’t have a direct quote from her, but I think that she’d agree that pulling heavy is a lot harder, a lot better, and a lot more fun.  She’s getting really strong, but she’s not packing on the slabs of muscle that people think is mandatory with strength training.  It’s a well-balanced program, with strength training and conditioning, all based on compound movements with barbells, dumbbells and the TRX.  I’m happy that she lets me beat her up in the gym, and has faith in what the programs that I write for her, which is an added bonus to a great relationship.  I can’t really take that much credit for it, but she also happens to look really good nake…Hi, Mom!

While I’m certainly tooting my own horn right now, I think it’s important that all women learn how to lift.  They should learn to love the barbells, the dumbbells, the sprinting, the wobbly legs, and the nauseous stomachs.  It’s sad really, that there aren’t major media sources saying:

“Hey ladies, it’s okay for you to pick up heavy shit.  You’ll get stronger, you’ll feel better, you’ll look better, and you’ll earn the right to laugh at the folks who drink soy lattes after they leave hot yoga!”

That would be a great headline to see one morning.  For now, though, I think it’s a long way off.  Instead, I have two amazing videos for you to watch, and I’ll refer back to the two exercises I mentioned earlier, the chin-up and the deadlift.  These are two of my favorite exercises, for good reasons.  The chin-up is a body weight exercise that requires numerous muscle to activate and produce force.  It’s you versus gravity, and it’s hard as hell.  The deadlift is the only exercise I like more than the chin-up:  Your entire body has to turn on for you to deadlift properly, and it’s ability to build mental strength is even greater than it’s ability to build physical strength.  I first watched the following videos two weeks ago, after Ben Bruno posted it in his weekly video list.  In each video, we seem women taking ‘rep tests’ for those two exercises.  In one of them, Jen Grasso bangs out 18 and 3/4 chin-ups.  Can you do 17 chin-ups?  I doubt it.  In the second video, Molly Galbraith deadlifts 155lbs for  40 reps.  Both women totally kick ass, and both could probably rip my head off in a fight.  Why does this matter?  Because it’s proof that you can look sexy and feminine without wasting your time with color-coded dumbbells, dancing, and machines.  Jen and Molly are great examples of what is possible with hard work, proper training, and mental determination.

Now, I’m off for a quick workout and to train a client, then I’m heading to Maria’s house.  If I’m going to eat a slice or three of ice cream cake tonight, I think I need a good reason for doing so.  I hope you enjoy the post, and think a little bit more about how you should train if you’re a women, and how you can help your family and friends become more fit.

2 Replies to “Ban the Girly Weights”

  1. Cudos to you for battling through the proximity bias. I’ve failed several times myself, which only tells me my approach was wrong. I’m trying the more laid back approach now or rather, leading by example.

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