Women, Weights and Mental Strength

Life Lessons from the Barbell

Do I look "big and bulky" to you? This is me flexing and the chances are I lift heavier weights than you and way more regularly. I've been weight training (using weights in the gym) for over 4 years and I have never once felt big, bulky or masculine.

Infact, I think I look happy, strong and toned (toned = increase in muscle tissue and a decrease in body fat).

But this isn't a blog about how hard it is for women to gain muscle – there are enough articles out there debunking the myth that weight training makes your big and bulky. 


This is a blog about how a woman’s fear of looking a way that society has reserved only for men – strong, ripped, muscular -  is limiting our confidence to experience what lifting weights has to offer our self esteem and self worth.


When I hear of women who avoid weight training because they fear getting big and bulky I just think; “You wish you could be so lucky”. Through incredible discipline and grueling determination these women (see below for an example) have sculpted their bodies to look like this -  it's their job! They have made a conscious decision to look this way. It didn't happen by accident or because they joined CrossFit. 

I know that weight training is not for everyone. Nevertheless, by clinging to your fears and doubts of the unknown you are using a distorted sense of reality to rationalise you choices. There is so much space to achieve your goals and to grow as a person -   all you need is a barbell!

Are you afraid of being able to lift a heavy box of a shelf in Ikea?

Are you afraid of being able to give your young, tired cousin a piggy back simply because you can?

Are you afraid of being able to pull your suitcase of an airport carousel?

Physical strength is such an empowering and confidence boosting gift for us women. 


Lifting weights has taught me so much about my body and mind. I have pushed myself beyond what I ever thought was possible both physically and mentally.


I want to be responsible for my own happiness, confidence, grit and self-esteem. Because of what I have learned in the gym I feel like I am 100% in control of delivering on this promise to myself - I feel strong in the face of what can sometimes feel like insurmountable challenges.

I have pulled my body over bars, pushed it off the ground, stood on my hands, pulled almost twice my body weight off the floor and squatted almost the exact same.

I have done all of this and never felt more proud, accomplished or empowered.

l wear my muscles like a badge of honour because they represent so much more than physical strength.

I think my muscles show the world that I am not afraid to work hard, that I am strong and healthy, that I am committed and confident.

Weight training has afforded me the opportunity to grow and mature and as a result I know my worth in this world and I have learned a large part of this through the gym. These sorts of feelings are not just for yoga :-) 

So ladies, my advice for you is to give weight training a go. It is the best form of therapy, the best type of support to help you reach your physical goals AND it will teach you so much about life.  

Photo credit: Tommy Kavanagh

Photo credit: Tommy Kavanagh

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