Get over yourself. No really. I am here to serve up some tough love. Visualize some ‘80s talk show platform if you need to. Pretend I am wearing red glasses and gut-sucking pantyhose and according to a TV network I am some sort of expert about everything. I am looking straight into the camera and telling you to Get Over Yourself!
This week, I have had a couple of conversations with women who are intrigued by powerlifting. One says she needs to lose weight first. The other says she’s too lean. Both want to lift heavy things. Neither have the kind of health concerns that would make it necessary to have a medical professional clear them for activity first. But both are intimidated and they are allowing that to limit them. So they’re waiting. Here’s the thing: if you wait for the perfect moment, it may never come. Instead, you’ll just miss an opportunity to participate in an amazing sport.
Powerlifting does two things specifically that help women athletes, it changes your perspective of yourself and it improves bone density. Let’s talk about that first point. This sport will change how you see yourself. There are already a lot of articles about this and it’s true. Powerlifting will help you realize that your amazing body can do amazing things. You may even worry less about being too big or too small and worry instead about whether you can pick up that 120kg bar. Changing the relationship between your brain and your body is really fucking hard but powerlifting is a tool that helps with this. Once you’re lifting you still may want to change your body composition but any physical shortcomings you think you have will be balanced by your new knowledge of what your body can do: move big weights.
As for the second point, women are far more likely to have low bone mass which puts them at a higher risk for fractures as they age. I don’t know about you but that scares the shit out of me. I don’t want to be the old lady with a back hump that dies with a broken hip. I plan on living to be 110 years old and to do so I need to have a strong skeleton. Powerlifting will improve your bone density. Again, waiting to start is just another day your bones will be weakening.
So I think it’s clear from those two points alone: no matter where you’re at, if you want to lift, now is the right time to start. But you might be wondering how. I say, start by finding a trainer who knows about powerlifting specifically. Not just any personal trainer; they all have different areas of expertise. I lucked out when I asked the person on staff at my city gym if he knew anything about powerlifting since he was a former competitor and a current trainer. The internet is a great tool for finding local lifters in your area and lifters know trainers. If you’re not ready for that there are a few programs you can follow online.
Then, community is really valuable. Don’t be afraid to reach out. Powerlifters are some of the friendliest, most supportive people you’ll ever meet. I have recently found my niche of lifters and it keeps me working hard. Maybe your community is web based and that’s ok too. Having other powerlifters to commiserate and celebrate with is awesome. Often people are working really hard and the gym and becoming BFFs between sets is difficult but when people see you working hard you start to make connections. The exception being that you don’t ever have to listen or like the “concerned dude bro” who thinks he’s the smartest lifter at the gym.
Don’t expect to be amazing the first day. We all start at the beginning. Doing other exercises until you’re “toned” enough to powerlift is silly. I remember being insanely proud the first time I deadlifted 100 pounds. Powerlifting is all about out doing your best. Whether it’s deadlifting 100 pounds, squatting with a bar or bench pressing double your body weight, you should be proud of yourself. No matter where you’re at, people in your life who don’t lift will be amazed by you and that feels really great. I get great satisfaction every time my mother-in-law asks how my arms haven’t ripped off yet.
Look around and see that there are successful lifters of all sizes. There are weight classes for a reason. You can find someone who looks just like you that is winning nationals and setting world records and that is fantastic! I love seeing women I can aspire to be rather than fitspo bullshit.
The talk-show host pep talk is over now and hopefully you’re convinced you can get over yourself and start powerlifting. Once you start lifting heavy all those limiting worries will fade away one by one. I am even at the point that I don’t care that I look awful in a singlet. What I do care about is if while wearing that damn singlet if I can deadlift three plates.