Weightlifting is rapidly emerging as a great physical activity for women. The sport is getting more and more of the spotlight, with ladies across the globe flocking to powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, and bodybuildling — which, of course, also means that more and more people are tuning into the things all women who lift understand. Welcome to the proverbial club, folks!
The reasons for the sport's increasing popularity are no mystery: Lifting weights keeps you strong; it's a superb stress reliever; and perhaps most importantly, it's fun. I'm excited almost every day to go to the gym and lift heavy things, and I'm hungry for that feeling of knowing that I'm stronger than I was yesterday. Nothing else has ever given me this before; and almost three years after starting, I'm more in love with Olympic lifting than ever before.
For a lot of people, lifting isn't just a sport. With all the benefits women are getting from it, it's turning into a lifestyle and its own little culture. Those of us who lift eat, breathe, and sleep it. It may not be the most glamorous thing ever, but the sport of weightlifting is a very old one, and it's stuck around this long for a reason. (The first evidence we have of weightlifting dates back to China's Zhou Dynasty — 10th century BCE!)
Ladies who lift all speak a similar language, and many of us can tell you that there are handful of things we all know to be true:
1. You're Probably Not Going To Look Like Ilya Ilyin In A Sports Bra
This is Ilya Ilyin, and he's a total beast. While one of the fears some women cite is the idea of "getting huge" from lifting weights (a fear which is largely the result of arbitrary societal beauty standards, by the way — hi there, patriarchy!), those of us doing it five days a week all understand it: Weightlifting actually doesn't make you "bulky." This isn't opinion; it's science.
2. Nothing, Nothing Is More Of A Rush Than Competing
Some of us train as a hobby, to have fun, get in great shape, etc. Other people train to compete (sometimes in addition to all those other things). When you compete, though, all that matters in that moment is what happens on that platform. Your adrenaline will never pulse as fast as it does for the few seconds you're standing in front of the judges. It's amazing.
3. Your Coach, Gym, And Fellow Athletes Are More Than Just The People You Train With
Your coach isn't just a coach. They're also a psychologist, physical therapist, cheerleader, and general bearer of infinite wisdom. I've learned more from my coach than I ever knew possible.
The leader of your gym becomes a role model. They know how to push you when you need to be pushed, and they'll listen when you need to vent.
Same with the people you lift next to. You all share the same passion and drive and hunger. Along the way, you realize that your gym has become another place you can call home.
4. Some Days, It Just Ain't Happening
I've seen women scream at the top of their lungs, swear, throw something across the room, and lay down on the floor and cry. Weightlifting is largely a mental game, and on days when your mind and body don't line up, you feel like you suck at life. It's OK, though. It happens. The next time — or the third time, or the fourth time, or however long it takes — you'll be ready.
5. You Begin To Appreciate Your Body For What It's Capable Of...
...And less for what it looks like. The realization that you are so much stronger than you ever knew is better than anything. You don't look in the mirror and dwell on your percieved flaws; you take notice of what your body can do. Because bodies are capable of incredible things.
6. You Learn To Respect Yourself More
Many devoted athletes will probably tell you that their lives are relatively "boring," because they care so much about doing the things they need to do in order to become better at their sport. We don't like to stay out late, because we'll feel like crap the next day. We can't afford a hangover, so we don't like to drink in excess. (No judgment if you do do those things, though. That's A-OK. You do you.)
This is usually around the time that your boyfriend finds you passed out with a book you were too exhausted to read. And that's fine.
7. Checking Out Other Women Is The Norm
No, we're not trying to be creepers. We stare because we know how hard that woman worked to get where she is right now. That's dedication.
8. Lifting Makes You Tougher In Every Aspect Of Life
You grow a thicker skin, plain and simple. Things that you used to let swallow you whole start to seem less intimidating. You know you've deadlifted 300 pounds; you've squatted 250; you clean and jerk 190 — you can handle anything life throws at you.