Every once in a while you’ll come across a story that is so inspiring you’ll feel like everyone is missing out unless you share it with them. That’s how I felt when I heard the story of Ernestine Shepherd, a 77 year old body builder. Ernestine spends a little bit of time talking about what a typical day is like for her. You’ll notice that her days look almost exactly the same – even down to the meals she eats. The one thing I’ve noticed about people who excel in their area of expertise is they are creatures of habit. They do the same things day in and day out. I’m not sure what this character trait has to do with becoming exceptional at your skill or a craft, but I’m willing to bet that routine is a foundation to success. Be looking for some research from me regarding that in the very near future.
There is a good article bouncing around Facebook that’s aimed at dispelling the misconception of women who lift called, “The Fear of ‘Bulkiness’ and CrossFit“. I have been searching for something to blog about for a while, and after reading that article I knew exactly what I finally wanted to write about.
My intention is not to offend anyone with this post, but I’m going to be honest about what happens to me on pretty much a weekly basis. So, if you get offended, I’m sorry?
Women will typically make the, “I would love to do what do you, but I don’t want to get bulky”, statement to me when I’m running around after leaving the gym in what’s usually a tank top and Lulu shorts. I hear it often, and I hear it from both friends and strangers, and I know the “bulky” that they are referring to is me.
I get that I may look “bulky” to the average person outside of the S&C community, and I’m honestly not one bit offended by it. You see, I am more concerned with the progress I make in my training, competitions, and lifting than I am concerned with how people view me as they pass me walking down the street.
This is where I might offend some people… More often than not the comments made to me about the fear of looking bulky come from women who are overweight and aren’t doing anything to improve their health. What I don’t understand is how is it possible that a fit body, even if it is considered to be “bulky, is viewed as bad to someone who is overweight and unhealthy? It doesn’t make any sense to me. How is choosing to live an unhealthy lifestyle a better decision than choosing to become a healthier human being by exercising, eating well, and losing weight? Here’s the answer… It’s not. Even if it does mean that person may end up looking a little bit “bulky”, who cares? Isn’t that better than the illnesses and diseases that come hand in hand with an unhealthy lifestyle?
With that said, below are the 5 things I would like to tell all women who fear bulking up from lifting weights:
(1) You won’t. (I could stop right there.)
(2) If you see me and think I’m bulky then you still have nothing to worry about. I do more volume of work in one day than a lot of people probably do in a combined 3-4 days of training. I’m not being rude, it’s just the truth. I workout with different goals in mind than those of most of the women who walk into my gym.For example, below is a typical day for me. Compare this day to any of the workouts I have posted for my gym under the “Train” tab and you’ll see the difference in volume.
1) 3 position snatch max effort on complex; then 2-3 sets at 90% of max effort
2) Snatch high pull from hang – 3 sets of 3 at 15% greater than max effort of 3 pos snatch
3) Trap Bar Deadlift – 6×2 @ 80%
4) 2 sec pause front squat into push jerk – 4×3, heavy5) Strict press – 4×10, as heavy as possible
Conditioning: 8 x 350m row/ 3 min rest between each rowIn case you were wondering, yes, that row was miserable.
(3) If you saw The CrossFit Games on TV and thought that those women were too big, well… re-read #2. I guarantee they do more work than I do.
(4) Instead of bulking up, I lean out when I’m in a heavy lifting cycle.
“You may burn more calories during your 1-hour cardio class than you would lifting weights for an hour, but a study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that women who did weight training burned an average of 100 more calories during the 24 hours after their training session ended.And the effect is magnified when you increase the weight, as explained in a study in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Women who lifted more weight for fewer reps (85 percent of their max load for 8 reps) burned nearly twice as many calories during the two hours after their workout than when they did more reps with a lighter weight (45 percent of their max load for 15 reps).” – Shape Magazine, 8 Reasons Why You Should Lift Heavier Weights. (5) Muscles and strength are empowering. You’ll end up appreciating a stronger physique, like the progress you make in the gym, and notice that you’ll look and feel better.If you haven’t read it, here is the link again to the article I mentioned above. Read it. It’s good. Doooooo it. 🙂Much love,