Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Strong Women, another perspective

Women doing real strength training has quickly become something that I've thrown a lot of support towards this past year or two. I've done so, in part, because I think that the lack of real strength training for women, be it BW or weight training, is a large reason why I don't take the fitness establishment seriously. We all know that strength training has a bounty of benefits for the health of the human body and mind. Still, women are encouraged to not do anything serious in the weight room. We know the number one reason: aesthetic. Women don't want obvious musculature. Apparently, that's manly.

While a lot of fellow bloggers (mostly women) attack this broken thinking from other angles, I've consistently said that a change in what is considered good looking for women is in the order. I do this for a reason that is pretty obvious to me. Generally speaking,throughout history, almost regardless of the culture, WOMEN...

WILL DO...

ALMOST ANYTHING...

TO BE CONSIDERED...

BEAUTIFUL!

Yet, somehow, in spite of the radical, body-altering, and dangerous procedures, having a body like this...

... is UGLY If it was considered attractive to have some muscular development, I think that the temples of the XX Chromosome would brutally sacrifice this horrible notion that muscles are manly forever, jumping on board with real strength training rituals.

I freely admit that trying to change the perceptions of beauty is lofty, daunting, and a bit on the low-brow side of things. Still, it's been proven to work. I've frequently used Eugen Sandow's story as proof. While he was far from perfect, his contributions to how we keep up our bodies was invaluable to the human condition.

This time, however, I'd like to take the conversation up a notch, much like my other cyberspace bloggers. Gubernatrix, Mistress Krista, and Allyson regularly look above and beyond the desire to be sexy to others as a reason to do some real training. There's a simple reason for this: being physically weak sucks. There's no good reason to be that way and a lot of very good reasons to get strong. I know this because I speak from experience. That's not because I used to be a woman. It's because I used to be this...

I spent my teen years and the first half of my 20's with this 5'8"-5'11," 135-145 lbs body. I hated it. I knew I was weak, and there were times when life reminded me of how weak I was. There's something terrible about walking around in life knowing that "physically weak" is your default setting. It's something that those who've never been like that can't relate to. It alters your psyche in all the wrong ways, allowing in all sorts of negative thoughts and emotions.

Those of us that are really serious about strength training know that to succeed in developing outer, physical strength we need to simultaneously develop inner strength as well. Walking lunges with a 100 lbs sandbag requires laser-like focus on the task at hand. The final climb up the rope can't be done without ignoring physical discomfort to get the important task done. Doing Pistols is impossible without believing in yourself. Walking while cradling an 80 lbs stone forces you to work through fatigue. The carry-over of the lessons from strength training to other endeavors in life are uncountable and richly rewarding.

As far as I'm concerned, dissuading woman from this kind of awesome and uber-important kind of training is, at least, wrong and at worst, borderline evil. It's all kinds of levels of FUCKED UP to confine women to the gerbil weights less they develop something resembling "ugly" vascularity in their arms. Good strength training isn't just good for the body. it's an exercise in strengthening character and the soul. All of us practitioners of strength training are stewards of the tradition and it's our responsibility to do it right for those who come after us. It's not right for us to confine these wonderful, life-changing lessons to one sex for no other good reason than, "it's not sexy."

6 comments:

e.sen said...

funny i never remember you being weak when i was little, haha, but i have to say you're like a beast now! course i'm still tiny so that doesn't help much either now does it? ;)

t said...

dude, I look at your description or your teen years and feel the same. I am now 22, 5,9 - 5,10, and 135lbs. I don't really consider myself weak though. But I feel skinny, I have an ectomorph body type, and I realize its not very realistic to change my ideal image to something else. I will be skinny, I just want to be slightly more muscular. I am very lanky with skinny arms. I have started doing handstand pushups, but my main issue is consistency.

Justin_PS said...

Em, you were a toddler and you couldn't hold down a movie chair with your own weight until you were 10! Perspective...

T, everyone's different. Take a look at Lyoto Machida and Hugh Jackman in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine". Who is bigger? Trick question! They're both the exact same height and weight. I was an emasculated 5'10 and 135 lbs. It's possible to be a lean, muscular 135. Check out Diego Corrales...

Anonymous said...

this is the real deal, all I can say is Amen!

e.sen said...

haha, very true.. but really do we have to bring up the movie chair everytime we talk? ;) and i think i was 12 when i could finally hold down the chair :D o well, you're still in way better shape than i am!!

Anonymous Fat Girl said...

Great post. Having started weight training last fall to get a bunch of excess weight off I have found myself loving the feeling of being strong. It's also important to remember that it's an impossibility for women to bulk up without taking steroids. I hate it when I see ladies at the gym lifting the little 5 lb weights. I just want to scream at them to stop and lift something substantial! You may find it empowers you more than you know.