Top 4 Things To Never Say To A Lady Lifter

It’s no mystery on here what my workout of choice usually is. Yes, I have a strange affinity for stadium runs and hill sprints, but weight lifting is always number one in my heart. That being said, as a female weight lifter, I have heard my fair share of comments and have gotten the side eye a few times while at the gym, all seemingly because I’m not doing what the other girls are doing. Although, I am happy to report that there have been a few more girls in the weight room lately, which makes me so happy I have to stop myself from high fiving them in between sets.

Anyway, any woman who has spent time in the weight room has most likely gotten a few comments from others, weather they be snarky, curious, or downright ignorant, here are the top four things you should never say to a woman wielding a barbell.

1. Aren’t you afraid you’ll look like a man? This is like the grand master of all the horrible things you could say to a female weight lifter. Am I afraid I’ll look like a man? No, not unless I mysteriously start pumping testosterone through my veins and sprout a few chin hairs spontaneously — neither of which have ever been documented as a result of a female picking up a barbell. I’m pretty sure that developing nice rounded glutes and shoulders won’t make me appear more “manly”, but if I start turning into the incredible hulk, I’ll let you know. And thanks for the warning.

So no, I am not afraid of looking like a man. I guess the real question is, are you afraid of looking like less of a man when we’re squatting the same weight? Ok then, let’s move on.

2. Do you need help with that? I’m sorry, what? Do I need help clearing the barbell of the weights that I just squatted for 5×5? No, I’m fine thanks. Let me ask you one thing: how do you think I got it up there in the first place?? Although I know that women are really just helpless little creatures who are always looking to be saved, I am actually here to do my workout, and that includes loading/unloading the bar.  Would you ask your bro if he needed help unloading the bar after he finishes his bench press sets? Probably not.  And let’s just think about this logically — if I needed help lifting a 45 lb plate, I probably wouldn’t be loading it onto a barbell to squat it now, would I?

3. What are you training for, anyway? One thing I don’t understand is why women always must be training for something if they’re working hard in the weight room. No, I’m not training to be Boston’s Strongest Woman (although that would be totally awesome), I’m just training for life. I’m training to hit PRs because that makes me proud. I’m training so that if I ever get mugged again, I can kick some ass (or at least run a little faster). I’m training so that I can carry heavy things up to my apartment without asking for help. And I’m training to look good, just like you. You never see guys walking up to each other in the weight room saying “Dude. You’re working hard today! What are you training for?” It’s just understood that everyone is their for their own reasons, some of them similar, some of them not. So please don’t condescend to me by assuming that there must be some event, otherwise I’d be out on an elliptical reading a magazine. You’re training. I’m training. Period.

4. But you’re a girl — doesn’t benching hurt, you know, your boobs? Yes, I have been asked this before. Let that sink in. Someone actually said that to me. Is this a common question that guys have? If so, let me clear this up for you. Yes, I have a chest that’s bigger than yours (but only by a little bit, because unfortunately I’m not sporting a whole lot in that department), but I also know how to bench press properly. The bar does not come crashing down across my chest — and if it does for you, than you’re doing something wrong. I could probably give you a few pointers, but I mean, I’m just a girl so what do I know? And if we’re being totally honest here, when I have a sports bra on, most guys pecs are probably bigger than what I’m showing. So does it hurt you to bench?  No? Okay, we understand each other then. Now, do you need help unloading your barbell? 

Readers: If you are a lady lifter, what are some of the weirdest or most annoying comments you’ve received while lifting?

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23 thoughts on “Top 4 Things To Never Say To A Lady Lifter

  1. Hah, I’ve had similar comments about my boobs, from my coach. Mostly because yes, if I fail a bench the bar *does* come down onto my boobs. But I’m a 32FF so there’s plenty of padding there to protect my chest wall!! And no, it doesn’t hurt!

  2. Haha I get number 3 aaaaaall the time! The worst I got was when I was about 17, visiting the gym almost every day, and one guy who had seen me around a lot tried to convince me to try a 1rm squat with him spotting. I don’t mind sticking my butt out to squat properly in a gym full of guys, but I think I’ll stop short of having a stranger spoon me whilst I do it, thanks!

  3. This post made me laugh so hard! While I’ve never been asked if benching hurts my boobs, I’ve definitely been asked if I need help with weight or if I’m training for something. To be fair, I used to be training for lacrosse (I started doing crossfit the summer before heading off to college), but even if I wasn’t, what’s the big deal about doing a kick-ass workout for the sake of being fit?!

    I remember I was in the gym with my aunt and my mom doing a little family workout. We were all taking turns on the pull-up bar, and this older man came up to all of us and pretty much said he never sees women working out like that in the gym. I suppose he meant it to be a compliment? But it was more insulting because of how he said it.

    Anywho, I love lifting weights as well- great post!

  4. LOL…I have been asked no.3…because I enjoy running and the men in the gym cannot imagine that someone who is as slim as I am, would want to spend so much time on the treadmill! 🙂 I am not sure though, if that is any consolation to you! 😛

  5. I train at a gym where it’s mostly women, and we all lift, so a lot of these don’t apply to me anymore, thank goodness! I hated them all when I was training at a generic gym! Still, with the guys who DO train with me, we could totally share equipment – load up a bar and share for squats or deadlifts, etc. – buuuut they choose to work by themselves and not let me rep in with them because they all think they’re going way heavier than me. Think again, boys! I almost always wind up with more plates on my bar than they have! 🙂 Great post! ~ Lindsey

  6. I would get #2 all the time when I worked at a pet store where it was my job to lift 40 pound bags of dog food. Now I insist on carrying my own bags, and people always look at me suspiciously and ask if I need help. Nope, I can do this myself and I’m proud of it!

  7. I was once told in the weight room that I was getting “too big” and needed to do more yoga or cardio.

    I took it as a compliment! But keep in mind that the fellow was also someone who critiqued my down dog in a yoga and then promptly asked me for my number. Hmm… I don’t think he was there for the relaxation and restoration effects of the yoga practice.

  8. I started lifting weights in 1992 when all the other women in my gym were wearing leotards and doing step aerobics…so I get it. People have talked to me more when I’m on cardio machines though. I’ve had guys ask me out while I was running, and nosily get on the treadmill next to me and ask how fast I’m going, and then try to ramp theirs up faster. Whatever, dude.

  9. I’ve been asked if I’m training for anything – but i’m pretty sure it was meant as a complement because when I said no he said that he assumed by the way I train and set up my lifts (I’m assuming this means by using proper form to squat) that I must be training for something or that i was an athlete! Nope I just like lifting heavy things 🙂

  10. I love this post, as I have been facing a lot of issues only women face in the career world lately because it is male dominated and they don’t like thinking there are strong women. The only time I have had anything like this happen to me was when an absolutely ripped guy was watching me workout (when I was really working it last year) and came up and told me to keep it up. A few weeks of saying encouraging comments he then asked me if I wanted a trainer because I could compete in a beauty/weightlifting contest. Seriously? So because I am a lady lifting you must turn it into something to do with looks as opposed to just health. We don’t talk anymore.
    On another note, I am glad your boobs don’t get crushed. That would make your bikini look silly.

  11. I get number one from my friend all the time! she only does cardio and is always telling me that I’m gonna look like a guy if I lift too much. I know that this is almost physically impossible if I don’t inject myself with anything though. What always helps me when people makes comments like this is when I see other fellow females also in the weight lifting section who clearly don’t look like they have masculine bodies. It’s always good to see that I’m not the only one 🙂

  12. Oh men TOTALLY ask each other what they’re lifting for. Well, not all men — but guys have asked M that! In fact a few have even approached *me* to ask if he’s planning to compete, which is weird on a couple of levels.

    Overall I have to admit I’ve gotten a lot of respect/personal space/equal treatment from men in the weight rooms I’ve frequented. I must just have good luck, because it’s not like that’s only been the case at one gym — since I started lifting 4 years ago I’ve been a member at 4 different gyms!

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