Does Wonder Woman lift heavy?

Of course she does, and you should too.

Allison Lockhart
Allison Lockhart performs a Bavarian deadlift at the Strength Edge in Calgary on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Allison is three time Canada’s strongest women and she also promotes that women should not be afraid of lifting but they should learn how to do it to become stronger. (Photo by Patrick Concepcion/SAIT)

It’s easy to let worries hold us back from trying something new. Unfortunately, one thing a lot of women seem hesitant to try is lifting heavy weights.

Allison Lockhart, three-time winner of Canada’s Strongest Woman, weighed in on the issue.

Lockhart thinks much of it comes down to societal pressure and insecurity. Sometimes, when people see something outside the “normal,” their reaction is to judge or feel their own accomplishments are diminished.

“Humans are very judgmental and insecure,” she said. 

Many women are also afraid to lift heavy because they think it will make them look bulky or manly. While it’s true that some people put on muscle more easily than others, looking strong is not something of which to be afraid . Besides, women simply don’t produce enough testosterone to get big naturally.

“People are groomed growing up that men are men, and muscle is a masculine thing,” said Lockhart.

“It would be awesome if we could get to the point where muscle doesn’t give people the perception of masculinity.”

Unfortunately, these women are missing out on the multitude of benefits, both physical and mental, that strength training offers. 

“The benefits are endless.”

Besides building strength, lifting heavy contributes to bone density, flexibility, and heart health. It can also prevent injuries, and can be very helpful for people who have weight-loss goals.

I started strength training as a way to deal with anxiety: it’s hard to focus on your worries when you have to concentrate on breathing and bracing.

Lockhart, a lifelong athlete, says the mental aspect is even more important than the physical.

“It teaches you tenacity and helps you deal with stress management.”

Lockhart said strength training also helped her in her career.

“The things that I’ve learned from training and competing – I’ve taken those into every aspect of my life.”

Confidence is another huge benefit. Being able to flip a 400-lb tire? It feels amazing, and you definitely walk a little taller afterward. That confidence doesn’t stay in the gym, but goes with you even after you leave.

The important thing to remember when worried about lifting weights is the role one’s own goals play. Yes, Lockhart has size and muscle, but that’s the product of a decade of hard work and the necessary nutrition. Women who don’t want to get bulky don’t have to. 

“I always wanted to be big and bulky. I wanted to be huge,” she said.

“I thought it looked cool.”

For women who are interested in lifting weights but unsure how or where to start, local gym The Strength Edge has monthly women-only nights, called Women of Steel. 

“It’s a great night. It’s just women, and it’s a really supportive environment,” said Lockhart.

The strength sports community is welcoming, inclusive, and ever-growing. The increasing popularity of strongman, thanks in part to Hafþór Björnsson and his role on Game of Thrones, means that the community of fans and participants is diverse. More women than ever are getting interested in strength sports, but worry still holds people back.

It really is a community for everyone, regardless of whether they do Olympic lifting, powerlifting, or strongman.

“It’s a really supportive community. There’s no one standing around judging you on how you look or what you’re doing. Everyone’s just encouraging you.”

Never trying something new because of unfounded fears is no way to live, especially when the potential benefits are so far-reaching.
It would be amazing to see more women lifting heavy, and showing not just other people, but ourselves exactly what our capabilities are. 

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