...becoming a stronger woman
The rigors of strength training provide benefits beyond physical improvement. Mental strength is built upon a foundation of completing a challenge that is demanding. No person that has ever truly performed a novice linear strength progression has come out the other side the same person. Demanding that the last set of heavy squats be completed, success or failure, sculpts the character of a person. When life presents an obstacle, a strong women is better equipped to face it.
Success encourages success. Strength training initially, performed correctly, will provide day after day of improvement. Improvement will be rapid and can be sustained for months at a time. Being successful is rewarding, encouraging continuation and building a habit. This success can empower a person to succeed in other aspects of their life.
Confidence is improved through strength training via improvements to body acceptance, aesthetic, and a performance based mindset. Strength training and strength sports are non-discriminatory towards different body types. The general recommendation and initial consideration for athletic pursuit of women is running. Running probably feels okay to the 110-130 pound female but can be very disappointing and punishing when their curvier counterpart makes the same effort. Pain, joint stress, and ridicule for lack of ability can be highly demotivating. Women of any shape, size, or build can be successful with barbells. Movements can be loaded with barbells and other implements from a single pound to a thousand pounds, accommodating everyone. A single body archetype is not required and all women can be successful with strength while learning to accept their body whatever build it is and in whatever shape it is currently in.
Aesthetic is most efficiently improved through resistance training as discussed previously. But as a women "I don't want to be bulky or masculine". Ladies, this is entirely untrue. Women in the absence of male physiology or exogenous male hormone, will only become more womanly with strength training. Being strong will improve metabolism, lower body fat, and extenuate curves. Massive arms and bulging muscles will most certainly not come overnight and few possess the resolve, determination, and genetics to achieve such a feat anyways. When new muscles begin to emerge and define, rather than worry about being "bulky" you will reflect positively on your hard work. Defy the societal standard anyways that tells women that they should be small, meek, and subservient. Be bold and be strong.
Performance based training is entirely different then exercise and contributes to confidence. Exercise is simply an activity performed for the effects now, satisfying the immediate need of the exerciser. Training is goal oriented with measurable progress towards an achievable goal. The goal of training can be aesthetic, health, strength, functionality, or simply to improve at something. It can be liberating for anyone, but especially women, to train for something beyond looks and appearance. As discussed, success encourages success, and with success, however defined, comes the confidence to achieve. Through appropriately applied strength training principles, a confident athlete is born.
Strength training provides a sense of community. While strength sports are inherently individual, training for strength involves a community of people with shared interest and values. Though only one person will ultimately be pulling that heavy deadlift, there will be a community of strong, confident, bad ass women cheering them on. Although women are still in the minority in most strength focused gyms, the bond amongst female strength athletes is strong. Whether a casual lifter or competitive powerlifter, women in strength sports share a joint experience that many women will never understand, an experience that can extend beyond the gym into friendships that can last a lifetime.
With community comes accountability. Though not specific to strength training, knowing that a coach, teammate, or friend are waiting for you in the gym can provide the motivation to continue and succeed. By being involved with a community of like minded individuals, adherence and success are more likely. As an added bonus, lifting with other women is fun. Crank up the music, insert girl talk, and not only is everyone going to become strong but also look forward to lifting sessions with friends.
The benefits of strength training echo across every aspect of physical life. I dare you to challenge societal norms and to realize that strength is not attributed to males and weakness to females. Empower yourself today and join the community of strong women rising up around the world. Strength is in everyone, and women are strong.
"It's a shame for a woman to grow old without ever seeing the strength and beauty of which her body is capable." - Socrates
Author: Erin Stanton