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‘Stop calling me manly’: Everything female weightlifters are tired of hearing

Weightlifting isn’t masc please shut up

Warwick vs Coventry Varsity Weightlifting competition was last month and needless to say, I was very impressed.

The ratio of women to men in a sport that is so overwhelmingly male dominated was a refreshing change and an absolute pleasure to watch.

It was amazing to see women supporting other women, men supporting the women on their team and strength displayed in every facet of both character and physique. But yet we still associate a number of sports and more so, the “gains” aka, muscly physique, with being more masculine? It’s a no from me dawg, I’m not here for these fucked up gender roles. So without further ado, I’d like to bust some myths about women, muscles and “manly” sports.

'Lifting heavy is going to make you look manly'

The female body is an incredible thing and deals with far more internal phenomena (for example pregnancy, periods etc) than the male body does. The levels of oestrogen outweigh that of testosterone, which is why most of us have high pitched voices, are way less aggressive and don’t have a willy.

But for the love of god, lifting heavy will not make you swell up like a bodybuilder and make you look like a guy, purely because the female body doesn’t have enough testosterone to support that type of extreme muscle growth.

Lifting weights is an incredible way to burn fat and tone up your body, and most importantly get stronger – not like you weren’t strong before sis, don’t worry I’ve got you – but you don’t need to fear getting bulky unless that’s what you’re aiming for. Building muscle is an intense, long term commitment which requires lots of intentional preparation and dedication to your goal, it doesn't happen accidentally.

I repeat: You will not get bulky if you lift heavy unless making massive gains is your intention and you fuel yourself in the correct and specific way. So if you're sceptical to start lifting, give it a go because it can be tailored to suit every one. If you don't, then don't call the girls who lift heavy, manly because they're not, they're strong and if they have the bravery to stop conforming to gender roles then they're definitely stronger than you.

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'A strong woman isn't sexy'

To me, there is nothing sexier than a woman who possesses strength, both physically and mentally. The whole stereotype of muscles on women being regarded as "ugly", is outrageous because to be honest, it’s the patriarchy (yet again) trying to enforce the feminine ideal upon us.

But I’ll say it: strength is sexy! You can squat 25kg? Sexy. You can bench 30kg? Ravishing. You can do 20 pushups in a row with a clap in between? Goddamn, you can have me right here and right now.

Contrary to popular belief, sex appeal isn’t actually based on what you look like, it’s based on how you own what you look like. You can be muscly and sexy, you can be skinny and sexy, you can be fat and sexy. Sex appeal is what you define it to be and if owning your muscles makes you feel sexy, then you will be oozing sex appeal.

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'You must be a tomboy then'

I think I speak for most women who enjoy male dominated sports when I say that we’re not involved just to make a point, we actually love the sport. We are passionate about it and believe it or not, some of us might actually be better than you at it.

I’m part of the Cov Boys Boxing Club and I’m the only girl that attends on a weekly basis. Being in a room full of male boxers is an incredible feeling because it allows me to earn everyone else's respect based only on my ability. My coaches don’t let me get off easy because I’m a woman, and terrorise me with push ups just like they do with the men.

The feeling of walking into that room, knowing that you are unstoppable – nothing could ever measure up to that. So, if you happen to be a female that loves a male dominated sport, but are sceptical to try it out, go for it despite all your fears of being outnumbered. Trust me, you’ll feel like a badass when you show people just how truly capable you are.

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So ladies, don’t dull your shine

Restricting your physical and mental ability in fear of pleasing whoever it is that wants you to look or act a certain way, is doing yourself a huge disservice. Lifting heavy may be intimidating at first but like all great skills, it takes practice and patience. You worrying about looking bulky or manly or in any way different to what you think a woman ‘should’ look like, is only restricting your own mental and physical progress.

You don’t have to be a "tomboy" or "feminine" or fit in any category to pick up a barbell and at least try. And that applies to all facets of the male dominated society, from politics to engineering, from weightlifting to boxing. And by all means, beat your face to the gods and hit the gym, ring, field, whatever medium of your choosing, lift heavy and look like a beast in the process. Because you can do and be both.