Why Women Who Lift Need to Champion Each Other

If you are a woman who lifts weights, chances are pretty high that somewhere along the line, someone has given you their unsolicited opinion of what you should and shouldn’t be doing in your pursuit of strength. These comments can be cringeworthy and are part of a much larger problem that dissuades women from strength training despite all of the benefits that we know are out there.

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Key Takeaways

If You Want To Be A Champion for Other Women, You Should:

  • Find a support system of people who get you and want to celebrate your wins
  • Don’t be afraid or doubt yourself when it comes to your strength training goals
  • Remember all of the benefits of strength training and the positives that it can bring to your life

You’re Not Alone in This

So many of us get these ridiculous comments along our strength training journey. That we should be worried about getting ‘too big’, that we won’t appear ‘feminine’, or that we will hurt ourselves. Being aware that there are always people out there who say stupid shit is important, but these belittling comments can stop women from strength training and reaping the multiple health benefits and quality of life improvements.

This is why having a support system, whether it is virtual or in person, is so important on this journey. There are people out there that want to celebrate your wins with you and encourage you to keep going; you just have to find them.

Listen to Your Inner Badass

Did you know that only 1 in 5 women meet the recommended guidelines for muscle strengthening and cardiovascular activity? If we could put more weights in the hands of women and help them feel ready for the strength training journey, the benefits would be endless. This is why these comments matter. The negative comments that women in my community have received defy both science and logic.

Please, don’t give in to the ridiculous things people say. This is your life and body, and the badass in you who wants to lift weights and get stronger is the voice you should listen to.

Are you ready to be your own champion and stop letting the haters get you down? Share the most ridiculous unsolicited advice you have received with me in the comments below.

In This Episode

  • The inspiration behind our conversation in this episode (4:08)
  • Some of the unsolicited ridiculous things people in my community have been told about lifting (10:05)
  • Why you need to have awareness around people saying stupid shit (16:00)
  • Why women getting talked out of strength training is a massive problem (19:06)
  • The importance of being your own champion in a society that has not caught up (22:27)

Quotes

“I think it is important that we know about women out there breaking records and doing cool shit and saying hey, I can be strong and amazing at what I do.” (6:05)

“There is this interesting dynamic that is not just when a woman describes that she wants to exercise, buts it’s the kind of exercise that we applaud.” (13:35)

“When I hear this, it really annoys me, because I know there are women out there who get talked out of or start to doubt, and they stop strength training, or they never even begin.” (18:52)

“We know that there is so much evidence for why muscle strengthening, strength training, resistance training, that’s adequate to produce the response we need for our bodies. That it’s adequately loaded, that it’s progressively loaded, doing it in a smart way, we know that this has benefits.” (20:53)

“Doing this alone can be extremely isolating. It is very easy to start second-guessing yourself. It is very easy to let the naysayers get you down or talk you out of this. It is very easy to succumb to the pressures around you of what you should and shouldn’t be doing. And it is really lonely when no one gets you.” (23:50)

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Related Episodes

351: Strength Training Risk vs Benefit

Why Women Who Lift Need to Champion Each Other

Steph Gaudreau
If you are a woman who lifts weights, chances are pretty high that somewhere along the line someone has given you their unsolicited opinion of what you should and shouldn’t be doing in your pursuit of strength.

Steph Gaudreau
On today’s podcast, I’m going to be sharing with you something kind of light hearted and then also something kind of serious. First, I want to share with you some of the things that people have told women in my community and me about lifting and I know that some of these may make you cringe a little or maybe at least give you a chuckle. And then the more serious thing I want to share with you is really some of the most important reasons why.

Steph Gaudreau
When you’re a woman who is pursuing strength, you really need the support of others why you shouldn’t go this alone, and I hope you will walk away from this episode, feeling like you belong. The next evolution of harder to kill radio is here. Welcome to the listen to your body podcast. On this show, we’ll explore the intersection of body, mind and soul health, and help you reclaim your abilities to eat and move more intuitively. Hear your body’s signals, and trust yourself more deeply. I’m Steph Gaudreau, certified Intuitive Eating counselor, nutritional therapy practitioner and strength coach. On this podcast, you can expect to hear expert guest interviews and solo chats that will help you deepen your trust with food movement, and your body. Remember to hit the subscribe button and share this podcast with your friends and loved ones. Now on to the show.

Steph Gaudreau
Welcome back to the show. Thank you so much for being here with me today. All right, we’re going to be getting into some of the truly ridiculous things that people tell women, when women say hey, I lift weights, or I’m thinking about joining a gym because I want to get stronger. And the reason why I’m sharing this is not so that we can just get mad. I mean, I think sometimes righteous anger is very powerful.

Steph Gaudreau
But because there’s a bigger point. And that is some of the reasons why you should not take this journey on alone. I hope that you walk away from this episode feeling seen or like you’re not alone, and that there are other people out there who truly get what you’re doing and understand the journey and the priorities that you’re putting into place in your life.

Steph Gaudreau
Before we jump in a quick reminder about strength nutrition unlocked. If you’re a woman who’s 40 something and you are lifting weights, but you’re struggling to see the progress that you want in terms of building strength, muscle, having more energy and improving your performance in the gym, then come and work with us in strength nutrition unlock, you’ll learn the evidence based strategies for fueling training and recovery, especially as it deals with how things are changing once you start to hit your 40s. We can’t keep doing the same stuff we did in Iraq in our 20s and 30s. And hoping to get the same results.

Steph Gaudreau
There are some important tweaks that you need to know about to really get the most out of your active lifestyle. Here’s one example of the results that you can get. Britney says I’ve been lifting for eight years and I’ve finally been able to back squat 200 pounds. I’m going to the gym fewer days per week and making bigger gains this year than I have in the last seven years of serious lifting. You can learn more about the program and how you can get involved by going to Steph gaudreau.com/strong. I hope that we see you there.

Steph Gaudreau
Alright, let’s go ahead and jump into today’s episode. So you have to understand what inspired this show. A couple of weeks ago, I sent out an email to my newsletter list called she lifted what and it was to celebrate some amazingly strong women lifting some heavy shit. There was a competition called rogue record breakers. And I believe this happened in conjunction with the Arnold and they had all of these really just cool lifts that you don’t see very often. So some of the competitors did some really cool stuff and they were women.

Steph Gaudreau
The first one was Chloe Brennan from the UK she lifted a set of replica Danny stones. And if you’re not married to someone from Scotland, like myself, you might not know what the Denise stones are but they are an actual set of stones that are very large and oddly shaped. And they sort of have have handles on them. And people will go to Scotland and try to lift the stones. And just for you know, comparison there, they’re over 700 pounds. So, if you can’t deadlift over 700 pounds, you’re probably not getting these off the ground.

Steph Gaudreau
But Chloe Brennan from the UK did and lifted these 733 pound replicas of the Denise stones, which was just absolutely incredible to watch. And many other women also attempted Tamra Walcott, deadlifting, 641 pounds on the Elephant Bar, which is just basically like a giant deadlift bar, which was just absolutely, it came off the floor so smoothly, what an inspiration. And of course, if you’re familiar with Olympic lifting, Maddie Rogers clean and jerking 309 pounds, I mean, that’s just incredible feats of athleticism.

Steph Gaudreau
So I wanted to share this with of course, all of you who got my newsletter, because I think it’s important that we know about women out there breaking records and doing cool shit and saying, hey, I can be strong, and I’m amazing at what I do, and that we are celebrating that. And of course, in the email, I talked about why women need strength training, and I got a response from someone. And all I can say is that it sort of proved my point that, you know, whenever a woman is out there saying, Hey, I wanted to lift this thing. And even if it’s just a smaller Wait, so many of us get these ridiculous comments that are, you know, I sometimes have to step back and think,

Steph Gaudreau
What does this person know and not know, there’s a lot of misinformation out there. But then the other part of me wants to say, stop being so limiting on on us stop being so limiting the minute a woman says she wants to lift something, you get stronger. So the response that I got was, it’s not that you can’t, it’s that you shouldn’t get off your high horse.

Steph Gaudreau
And I just thought, okay, and I didn’t actually respond, because I have a pretty consistent policy these days of not giving haters my time. My delete block finger is very quick these days. Because typically, people who react like that are projecting there’s, there’s just something in them that it stirred up, and it’s usually not about me. And I’m just gonna use my energy responding.

Steph Gaudreau
So that was one thing that happened. And another thing that happened not too long ago is I have a YouTube channel. And I haven’t been on it in a while. I haven’t uploaded any videos to it in quite some time. But I went into my YouTube recently, and I was looking at the comments on old videos, which, wow, what a treat what a treat. YouTube is just such an interesting place. Let’s just say that much. And ironically, I’m going to be reviving my youtube channel this year.

Steph Gaudreau
But one of the comments I got on it was a cooking video was somebody said something like, You look strong, which I thought, hey, that’s cool. I mean, so kind of a positive comment, right? And then somebody underneath it just wrote steroids. And I just, again, I just kind of chuckled. You know, it was such a such a haterade comment to say, you’re on steroids, as if a woman couldn’t possibly have muscle, right? Because it must be steroid induced. I don’t take steroids for the record.

Steph Gaudreau
But I just I again, had to chuckle and it reminded me of an Instagram thread that I did last year where I asked women in my community, what is the most ridiculous or annoying thing somebody has told you when you’ve talked about wanting to get stronger or you talk about that you like to lift weights and there were so many that got submitted that I actually turned them into what looked like motivational quotes, except they were these ridiculous things.

Steph Gaudreau
So it’s kind of like in the style of mean tweets, but as if it was written as an inspirational quote and we’ll link to it in the show notes because you kind of have to see it it was like pastels and you know, inspirational looking images like people climbing a mountain or like, you know, a woman out in a field you know, those those kinds of photos right? So here are some of them that people in my community submitted. I am not making these up.

Steph Gaudreau
And so I want to read some of these here for you in the style of mean tweets. And by the way, if you want to submit one to me, I know it’s after the show, but go to my Instagram DMS and send me what is the most ridiculous thing somebody ever told you? So here they are, in no particular order, you’ll hurt your ovaries. This one is the one that people have given the most comments to they’re like, What? You’ll hurt your ovaries seriously, you’ll hurt your ovaries. The next one men don’t like too much muscle on a woman. I mean, this is just so problematic for so many reasons. So I’m just gonna leave it there.

Steph Gaudreau
The next one was, what about your hands not being soft? Well, you know, that’s why they make things like callus removers and lotion. And what if you like your calluses? Or you have hands that are picking up weights? I mean, why is this the thing? I don’t know? Why do we assume again, these are like very gendered things to? Why do we assume that a woman’s hands have to be soft, I mean, that’s just kind of a presumptive thing. Here’s another one, be careful, you don’t want to get too big. This just makes me think this person has zero idea about what it really takes to build muscle to have muscular hypertrophy.

Steph Gaudreau
This is not something you lift a few sets of weights, or you do it casually for a couple months, and you build 20 pounds of muscle. There’s no way. And if you see people that do that, where they’re very, very, very, very muscular. It’s usually because they’re incredibly dedicated, and often they are enhanced, and it takes a lot to build that degree of muscularity, like what you would see in a bodybuilder, competitor, etc. The other interesting thing with that is if you want to sort of have more strength, and potentially, you know, keep your hypertrophy a little bit lower, then don’t do everything in a hypertrophy range of lifting stick mortar strength ranges. This is not this is not rocket science.

Steph Gaudreau
The next one, don’t hurt yourself. If I had a fucking dollar for every time I’ve been told this, and 99% of the time, nobody tells this to a man. Don’t hurt yourself. I was like, Hey, I’m gonna, you know, start this new lifting program. And people are like, Oh, don’t hurt yourself. And a guy can say it. And people are like, Oh, that’s awesome. Good for you. Very, very rarely. Somebody told me once. Well, I told my husband, you know, don’t hurt yourself. And I’m like, different maybe he’s maybe he’s clumsy. Maybe he has the tendency to like way overdue things.

Steph Gaudreau
But I’m talking about the blanket advice. You know, don’t hurt yourself. I’ve already done another show on the risks and benefits of strength training. So we’ll link to that in the show notes. Go check it out. It’s very, very interesting. Somebody says, hey, I want to start a running program and do a half marathon. Nobody says don’t hurt yourself.

Steph Gaudreau
They’re all like, yay. Right? So there’s this interesting dynamic, where it’s not just when a woman describes that she wants to exercise, but it’s the kind of exercise that we applaud we, again, the royal we as society. You know, it’s very interesting. The next one, that’s not very lady like, again, very presumptive of what lady like is, I’ve been told, by the way that I’m not very lady like, because I swear to fucking bad. The next one, you’re going to have mainly arms.

Steph Gaudreau
Again, that kind of goes along with Be careful, you don’t want to get too big. Here’s another one pretty women like you should lift lighter weights with more reps. There’s so much that’s wrong with this statement. I mean, if that’s what you prefer to do fine, but just go into it, knowing that you may not build the strength that you were hoping to. And again, what’s lighter is relative. And I’m probably going to do a show soon about tiny pink dumbbells because it always makes people really upset. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t start where you’re at. And of course, you may need to lift a little bit lighter when you’re starting. Because we don’t want you to overdo it to get hurt to have really bad form.

Steph Gaudreau
But if you do want strength, and especially as we’re in our 40s and beyond, and we are losing strength, we’re losing muscle tissue. And when we are losing estrogen, we don’t have the signal for the muscle satellite cells that are essentially telling our muscles that they need to grow. So it takes hold a lot more in terms of we have to give it a real effort. We do not have to lift 800 pounds. You don’t have to lift the Denny stones, you don’t have to deadlift over 600 pounds like Tamra did.

Steph Gaudreau
But you’ve got to make it count. Right? So that’s just a sidebar, and I’ll do another show on that. And then the last one, don’t add weights to core work, you’ll get a bulky stomach. I mean, I, you’re probably shaking your head, like what does this even mean? And I don’t know, I’m right there with you, like a bulky stomach. Now we’re worried about bulking up our stomach too. And I just I don’t know if that’s like, where we’re at. I don’t know that there’s much more that I could say, to really convince somebody that’s that that’s not really a thing.

Steph Gaudreau
But there you go, there were more. But these are some of the ridiculous things that people have said that really defy both science and logic. So there you go. And it’s, you know, this is kind of funny and light hearted. And we can laugh at it and think that it’s ridiculous. But I also happen to think that there is a big problem in all of this. Having the awareness to say, You know what people might say stupid shit, they might say things that are uninformed, or they’re uninformed. They don’t. They just don’t know. They’re not educated about this.

Steph Gaudreau
That’s one thing, to have that awareness or to have been lifting for long enough, where you just think you know what, somebody is going to say some of the dumb, and it’s going to happen, oh, well, that’s the water off my back, I’m just going to let it roll off like a duck. And I’m going to keep doing my thing. And I’m not going to let it dissuade me. But the reason that this fires me up is because there are going to be those women who are just starting, they are maybe taking a big step, by going to that gym, they are maybe facing a fear, or feeling like this is something that’s really monumental. Maybe they don’t feel 100% comfortable.

Steph Gaudreau
They’re just not sure what the etiquette is they don’t want people giving them decide I you know, this stuff happens all the time. And maybe that person who makes a rude comment is just happens to be someone who that woman trusts? And what if it’s enough to make her stop, make her stop lifting, or not even actually move forward? Now, I’m of the opinion that you get to choose what you want to do for exercise. And that’s fine, however, and also, I’m here to provide education, and actually talk about what is the evidence?

Steph Gaudreau
What does the research say about this? And you know what, sometimes we have to be honest and say, Hey, strength training, for example, resistance training, has these benefits for our bodies, especially once we’re in our 40s. And beyond, you know, even when we’re in our 30s, we begin to lose muscle mass. We know that these benefits are XYZ, here’s how women who are in their 40s and beyond really need to adjust their training, their fueling their recovery, so that they get the most out of their training. And they’re not struggling because we can’t do the stuff that we did 10 or 20 years ago and expect it’s going to keep working.

Steph Gaudreau
And and then you get to take that information forward. Whether you take a course with me and get coaching or you get a fitness program or whatever, whatever it happens to be. So when I hear this, it really annoys me, because I know that there are women out there who get topped out of or start to doubt and they stop strength training, or they never even begin. Why is that a problem? If we look at the 2018 National Health Interview Survey, this is in the United States. That survey showed that about 53% of adults are meeting the aerobic exercise minimum guidelines, which is 150 minutes, one Vibo of a robic moderate intensity training a week

Steph Gaudreau
or exercise. I shouldn’t say just solely training because that means something different to different people. And that could also be 75 minutes of vigorous cardiovascular exercise. So that’s over half, slightly over half of adults meeting the aerobic guidelines. Great. Could be better. Sure. However, when we look at how many adults are meeting, the muscle strengthening and cardiovascular minimum guidelines, the numbers get far smaller. And when we sort out the women aged 18 to 64, who are meeting the muscle strengthening and cardio guidelines together, which is, by the way, two muscle strengthening sessions a week, only, approximately one in five, I think it’s 20% 20 or 21%, something like that.

Steph Gaudreau
One in five women is meeting those guidelines of both muscle strengthening and cardio. So that’s a significant drop off. We know that there is so much evidence for why muscle strengthening strength training, resistance training, that’s adequate to produce the response that we need for our body, it’s adequately loaded, it’s progressively overloaded, we’re doing it in a smart way. We know that this has benefits. We can attenuate bone loss, we can attenuate muscle loss, we can attenuate loss of power. So that’s osteoporosis, sarcopenia, and Dyna. Peenya, respectively.

Steph Gaudreau
And we can also actually improve, not just stop the loss, but we can build, right? And that’s really, really important. So why are we the royal we collectively society? And of course, I’m sure you know the answer to this there. It’s complicated. But why must people say things to dissuade women from strengthening their muscles when right now? We need? We need improvements? Right? Right, one in five. And I’m not saying that in a way to shame or say you’re not doing good enough.

Steph Gaudreau
But we know what if we could get it to two and five, and double that 40%? That would be incredible. What might we see, in terms of things like broken bones later in life? Would we see better quality of life more independence? I mean, there are so many reasons why this stuff matters, not to mention things like metabolism and body composition, and so on and so forth. Okay, so that’s just my soapbox about. You don’t need to be dissuading women about this.

Steph Gaudreau
My bigger point in all of this is this, we have to be our own champions, because society has yet not caught up. We are still dealing with generational differences. We’re dealing with differences in how people perceive what a woman should and shouldn’t do. And again, when we compare that to how many women are actually lifting, and how can we help close that gap? How can we put weights in more women’s hands? How can we help them feel more comfortable and ready to do this, because it is so beneficial for health and well being, not just for muscles, I mean, yeah, it’s cool to like, have muscles and feel more badass.

Steph Gaudreau
Of course, this also is coming down to things like health and quality of life. So if you’re doing this all alone, as a woman, because society as a whole hasn’t caught up, or doing better, we’re doing better. But we haven’t caught up quite yet. To where we need to be. Doing this alone can be extremely isolating. It’s very easy to start second guessing yourself. It’s very easy to let the naysayers get you down or talk you out of this. It’s very easy to succumb to the pressures around you of you know, what you what you should and shouldn’t be doing.

Steph Gaudreau
And it’s really lonely. When no one gets you maybe are lucky enough to have a partner who also trains and loves strength training and is your champion. Maybe you have a gym that you go to that’s very supportive. That’s great. Having those people or those communities are wonderful. But everybody that lifts weights, or all women that want to get involved with strength training, don’t necessarily have that built in support system.

Steph Gaudreau
So my point is, we have to do this for each other. I want you to really think about who in your life is supporting you? Who understands where you’re at? Do you have anyone in person? Do you have any friends, any buddy in your community, anybody in your family? And if you don’t, there are online communities. There are groups of people, they’re even on social media. And we’ve talked so many times on this show about the downfalls, the downsides of social media, it’s not perfect, but it also does sometimes allow people to connect. It’s not the same as in person connection, but it allows people to connect about things that they enjoy and they can see the support of other people.

Steph Gaudreau
You know, you had a PR, I want to shout it out from the rooftops and celebrate you because I know also there’s a thing that we have about not wanting to share and brag and appear like we’re full of ourselves and I to that I say, bullshit, we need to celebrate that. If you got your first pull up or push up, we we want to celebrate that we want to encourage you on. If you jumped up to the next set of plates in your squats like Hell yeah, we will. We want to be able to, to put that out there and to lift you up as Molly Galbraith says, you know, strong women lifting each other up that is so vital, is so vital for all of us.

Steph Gaudreau
So I really want you to think about if you don’t have someone who supports you, or you don’t have a community, SQL now there are tons and tons of them. And you’re going to have to find the one that’s the right flavor for you. Because not every space online where women are lifting weights, in a virtual community is going to be your flavor. And that’s fine. Like find your flavor. And that’s one of the things that I really love about strength nutrition unlocked. Yes, you get the full program and all the all of the modules and get to learn and put things into practice and, and actually take action. So you see results.

Steph Gaudreau
But and you also have live coaching support from me. And there’s an online community of women who are taking the same journey who understand your challenges who are there to support you and cheer you on. I mean, every Friday, we’re like, you have an official wins thread. And people are always popping in sharing the things that they’re excited about. And the support is beautiful. It is so so important, especially when you feel like things get hard or people around you in your life are getting you down. So we have to be our own champions, us women,

Steph Gaudreau
we have to be our own champions, especially in this world of strength training. 100% Thank you so much for being here with me on this podcast today. If you want the show notes for this episode, of course, head on over to Steph gaudreau.com. And while you’re there, if you’re like, Oh, I’m thinking about strength nutrition online, go check out the page. Go check out what it’s about who it’s for what you get. And I really want to see you there. I would love to be able to support you through this so that you have my brain you have other people as well, who are there to pump you up to share things to cheer you on and to be there as support.

Steph Gaudreau
So you can get more information on that at Steph gaudreau.com/strong All right. Share this episode out. That’s another great way to support the podcast. Be sure you hit the subscribe button on your favorite podcast app. Thank you so much for being here, and I can’t wait to see you on the next show. Until then, stay strong.

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Hi, I'm Steph!

Lord of the Rings nerd, cold brew drinker, and depending on who you ask, crazy cat lady. My mission is to help you fuel for more, not less: bigger muscles, strength, energy, and possibilities. We’ll do it with my signature blend of science, strategy…and a little bit of sass.

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