Guess what? If you lift weights (and I know you do because you’re an FIO girl) you do NOT need to make a choice between looking good and being strong. You can be gorgeous AND strong. Before you make the leap to ‘oh no, Ing is on her powerlifting thing again’, give this blog a go and read on.
I know that the enlightened, body-positive way to talk about body image as it relates to strength training is to say that “my body composition is changing and wow, do I feel gorgeous.” Sometimes it’s tough though, isn’t it? Trying to focus on the whole performance thing instead of how we look? I think many members of the female powerlifting community grapple with this question in a more specified sense–embracing the action over the image, praising the numerical achievement over the subjectivity of physical “improvement.”
There is much crossover between powerlifting and all things bodybuilding: some individuals compete in both physique competitions as well as powerlifting, and very often training methodologies overlap. Physically, share the same space, as training for both powerlifting and aesthetic competition takes place in a gym. Ultimately, you’ve got powerlifters performing front double biceps poses for the camera and figure girls air-raiding about their bench press PR in their Facebook statuses. And I for one reckon that’s just cool.
Some negatives I have noticed (and I am only a newbie into the sport) include:
• No extra points for being “pretty” (I am being somewhat tongue in cheek here
• Your gender gets questioned……daily!
• You get unsolicited advice from men in the gym who usually don’t deadlift as much as you do
• You get looked at funny, and have peeps roll their eyes at you coz you are grunting and grinding it out on the deadlift platform or in the squat rack.
• Society aside from gym rats decide you are ‘overweight, too muscly and lesbian’.
My experience is that the benefits FAR outweigh the cons as they are perception in my view anyway and I don’t take them on board.
• What many women notice when they start lifting is the positive community surrounding them.
• When people go for a personal best (lifting more weight than they have previously) there is a lot of support from other lifters, sometimes cheering you on trying you psych you up for the lift.
• Having people root for you and celebrate with you for having achieved something you may not have thought possible a month or two ago can be an amazing and addicting experience.
• Build your self-esteem. If you feel physically strong, chances are it will increase your confidence in your ability to tackle new challenges in and outside the gym.
• Best of all at least for me, it gives you a competition or two between doing physique competitions. Something to keep the fire in the belly and make you feel like you are moving forward on both accounts.
Whether you have just beat a personal best or you’re just starting to see and feel the difference in the strength of your own body, one of the best things lifting does is to turn your attention away from just getting ‘lean’ and empowers you to create a strong new body that’s all your own. A novice powerlifting comp is a wonderful vehicle for that.