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10 Things New WOMEN Weightlifters Should Know
Aimee Anaya Everett
October 1 2012

1. Lift with other girls. Lifting with men is motivating; however, they just don’t understand certain things. Such as why we act crazy in the gym. Only girls can understand why you have to turn up Fergalicious or Beat It on Pandora to pump you up and/or have you break out in your PR dance. I think other girls, especially those who you have built a strong friendship with and have a sense of loyalty to, will keep you motivated even on the worst of days, and be smiling and cheering with you on the best of days. It’s like a secret club, but better.

2. Know that you will cry. Weightlifting digs down in to the deepest parts of your soul, and digs up some fierce emotions. You will cry because you made a lift you have been working so hard for; you will cry when you miss a lift. You will cry when your coach yells at you, and you will cry because your BFF training partner just had a break through. You will cry because you want to quit, and you will cry because you don’t. You will cry because you’re afraid. These crying episodes do not make you a cry-baby-titty-mouse; they make you passionate about what you care about: the barbell and being on the platform.

3. Your cute skinny jeans aren’t going to fit anymore. Your body is going to change. You are going to build muscles, develop traps and back muscles. Your legs are going to get big. This doesn’t mean you can’t be sexy and feminine. There is a big misconception that lifting will make girls manly. I don’t agree—many of our top weightlifters in this country are beautiful and sexy! You just have to know that you’re going to have to give up the Kate Moss look and recognize your ass is going to be like JLo’s and your quads are not going to squeeze into skinny jeans anymore. You’re going to start living in your Lulus and want to wear jeans less and less. You see, you’re going to have to move from a size 27 to a size 31, simply so your ass and legs can fit. Then you are going to have 4 extra inches of waist just hanging out all loose and poking out above your butt because your waist will likely still be pre-lifting small. You will have to wear long shirts; otherwise when you sit down everyone will see your butt crack as the jeans ride half way down your ass. This will happen. Just accept it now. But despite your problems with finding jeans, you can still wear high heels and dresses and look hot. You will have a nice ass and quads and a sexy back—flaunt that shit!

4. You will more than likely pee a little when you squat or clean heavy. Nearly every girl I have ever trained with has had a training session or competition where they have peed themselves a little during heavy cleans or heavy squats. It will happen eventually; don’t be embarrassed. You will likely squeeze out a fart at sometime. Hey! This stuff happens when you are squeezing and pushing. It happens to all of us.

5. You need to learn patience. Snatching and Clean & Jerking can be frustrating, painful, scary, rewarding, hard, easy, tiring, and exciting. If you go into weightlifting thinking you are going to be a world champion in 6 months, I hate to burst your bubble… I believe that for anyone, man or woman, weightlifting can be frustrating, particularly when you hit a wall. However, women seem to be more emotional than men, and because of that our emotions pour through our sport. You have to learn to be patient and not get frustrated every time something goes wrong. This is easier said than done, believe me, I know! But really try to go into the gym every day and set little daily goals for yourself. Remember the good things that happen in the gym, and hang in on those on days you are feeling broken. Always remember that setting yourself up with good technique and patience will get you a long way… don’t just stack the weight on and lift it with shitty form. Trust that all the time you spend working your technique, movement, and body awareness, will totally pay off.

6. Have a life and interest outside the gym. Whether it be cooking or baking, shopping, hanging out with friends, reading, serial dating, being a cat lady or watching Keeping up with the Kardashians, try to have interests outside the gym. This will help you stay sane. If your life is 100% weightlifting all the time, you will never stop thinking about your bad snatch practice or the fact that your jerk sucks right now. You have to have some time outside the gym so you can regroup and not dwell on your frustrations.

7. Shorts and tights. If you wear booty shorts to the gym, which I agree are uber comfortable, make sure there is not a boy sitting directly behind you (unless he is your husband or boyfriend) because as soon as you bend over to grab the bar to snatch or clean or pull, you are going to give them a show. The same goes for thin tights.

8. Nails. If you go get a manicure, know that once you chalk up your hands a couple times, snatch 5 sets of triples, and do some jerks, your manicure is going to be chipped and you are going to be pissed. If you go get a manicure, use Shellac or gel. It’s typically $5-$10 extra, but your nails will look freshly painted for 2 weeks, and they won’t chip or peel.

9. Knee sleeves. If you wear knee sleeves, they are going to stink badly. You will start to have stinky knees after training. My advice is to not put them in your gym bag straight away, and instead let them air out. I have 2 large mason jars that I put the knee sleeves over so that they dry without re-absorbing the sweat and stink. You can also put them in your trunk to let them dry outside your gym bag so they don’t taint all your other belongings. I also keep baby wipes handy to wipe off my knees after training so you don’t walk around with fresh knee sleeve stink.

10. Have fun. Have fun in the gym. Have fun feeling strong. Weightlifting will make you strong mentally and physically, and it will make you feel empowered. In the gym, or through the sport, you will meet some of the greatest people. My bestest friends in this world—girls who have become my sisters—and my family—who I will never give up in my life—I have met in the gym. That, along with all the snatches and clean & jerks I have done fabuolously, makes it all worth it.

Bonus Advice!

When I asked some of my training partners and weightlifting friends what one piece of advice they would give to new women weightlifters, here is what I got:

Alyssa Sulay: Patience

Chyna Cho: Don’t be in a big rush to put up big numbers in your snatch and C&J. Take some time to get strong in your squats and pulls and REALLY focus on your technique. I think that’s what is going to benefit you in the long run.

Jessica Salvaggio: It doesn’t make you look manly.

Natalie Burgener: Be patient and don’t get too frustrated.

Carissa Gump: Olympic Weightlifting is challenge mentally and physically. If you’re up for the challenge, then this sports for you.

Tamara Holmes: Get back in to the kitchen where you belong! Also be patient and accept the changes to your body that strength brings.

Kara Doherty: Make sure your pants and singlet are not see-through.

Jolie Gentry: Find a good coach who can teach you the proper technique before trying to go heavy.

Sage Mertz (Burgener): Learn to use your fear to your advantage cause if you don't, it'll be the one thing that stops you from being the best weightlifter you can be.

Heather Zahner (Snethen): Don’t get discouraged if you aren't lifting the most weight right away or are having trouble with the technique. Be patient. Getting the proper technique down is crucial to a successful weightlifting career. Oh and you must always listen to Britney and wear makeup and pink!

Audra Dunning: Don’t be (or try not to get) frustrated, and trust your coach! (i.e. don’t be a diaper baby and do what you’re told.)
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October 1 2012
best weightlifting article ever. so very, very, very, very true.
Samantha Kelly
October 1 2012
Loved it! So true and right when I needed to hear these things the most.
Cheryl M
October 1 2012
"cry-baby-titty-mouse" -- LOVE it! Great article Aimee, as always.
October 1 2012
Funny and apropos article.
Deb Roby
October 1 2012
LOVE this advice. Guess I need to find somewhere closer than BodyTribe to lift in regularly. Cause ain't enough women using a barbell at all in my local gym.

I have found that since I started lifted, I don't fit into anything long-sleeved anymore either. So I'm the unlikely 60 year old who constantly wears the tank tops.
October 1 2012
Great article. I'll be sharing it for sure.

PS, on #5 it should be "POUR through our sport." Sorry, it's the grammar Nazi in me.
Jackie- CrossFit Reload
October 1 2012
Great article!
October 1 2012
#7, The one thing I had in life and you take away from me...damn you Aimee...

haha jk jk
Matt Foreman
October 1 2012
Tamara Holmes for president. JUST KIDDING!!
October 1 2012
Kara, there is nothing wrong with see through anything. Also ladies, if you're wearing booty shorts then don't feel uncomfortable sharing a platform with me :) We're a team!
Lisa Lilge
October 2 2012
Awesome article! I will be sharing this often! Look into a product called Sportzyme by a home party company called Norwex. You will never have smelly knee pads again! You just spray it on once the pads are dry and the enzymes (not chemicals) will deal with the odour causing bacteria. No more stink!
October 2 2012
Thank you so much for this article. It helped me so much... I am brand new into this world, and my head absolutely tells me I am a cry baby little mouse - and that I have no business being in there - especially since I am a 5 foot tall 42 year old woman who cries at least once per session. This made me feel so not alone. Thank you.
October 4 2012
Almong with not being able to wear skinny jeans, you can forget about any kind of fitted button up shirts... Short sleeve or long sleeve. Your back and lats will be too big to button it without gaping holes, and your biceps will bulge to the point where tr only way to get out of the thing is to cut it off. I got over this a long time ago :)
October 9 2012
awesome article, i'm sharing with all my girls! thx
October 25 2012
i appreciated it all, but especially about the crying. I used to feel like I was the only one, and the one who cried the most in our gym. Now I know I'm not the only one! I'm gonna be the proud crier next time.
When is the book coming out for us women?
March 3 2013
What a ridiculous and insulting article. I've been a weightlifter for years and have no issues training with men. Nor have I ever found that men "don't get it". I've never cried at the gym and never will. I have had two babies and I don't pee during squats, even when lifting a max. And if you suddenly get quads so big that you need to buy jeans 3 sizes too big just to fit over your quads, you must be juicing. If not, share your secret, because women lift for years to try to get bigger quads and as a natural lifter if just doesn't happen to such a degree. Stop reinforcing these ridiculous beliefs about female lifters! Its no wonder that guys hate lifting with girls if this is the reality that you promote. Just lift! Be proud of it and enjoy it.
March 10 2013
Make sure your husband or boyfriend is supportive of your sport. You don't want to get the "eye roll" every time you head out to the gym.
March 10 2013
Keri, you must not have any girlfriends with that kind of attitude. Probably why you have to lift with the guys...
March 10 2013
I think this article is both good and annoying. It puts out in print lots of things that women are thinking and wondering if anyone else is wondering. But it is written with a very "girly mushy giggly" tone that usually grates on my nerves when I encounter it in my daily world. It resonates with overly female stereotypes. Such as talking gel nails and manicures at the same time as weight lifting. But hey, I too just painted my nails and then went to a class. Now I have to take it off and redo it. So I get it. But hey, what else do you expect to happen?? I get Keri's reaction, but I also understand that there all different kinds of ladies out there picking up the bar, and that this is just one article that might not be directed quite at me and my personality. I'd like to point out that I'd rather not have anyone checking out what my booty shorts can show, male or female. And I dont need to see anyone elses either..... :b I'll take from this what I will, and move on. Thanks for the tips Aimee
March 16 2013
I have to agree with Keri. Stop with all the silly girly boo hoo stuff and just train. I wouldnt want to work out with you whiny bimbos who cry at the gym either.
March 20 2013
Good article! Does anyone know of a good place to start weightlifting training in the Atlanta, GA area? I'm so interested in this sport, but I have no idea what a reputable gym/coach looks like! Any help would be much appreciated.
March 23 2013
I love this article and the playful tone:) For those who feel the need to be so Serious About Weightlifting get over yourself!
May 11 2013
Thank you thank you thank you!!! :D # 5 is so totally me even though it's just been three month since I started with snatch and c&j.
July 4 2013
They're can be food restrictions... eat while you can
July 4 2013
July 26 2013
Especially true about peeing/farting. To be a champion lifter, you have to train hard, and it does put a lot of stress on the body. You have to train as hard as you can if you want to make improvements, so don't worry about some bathroom stuff. It happens to all of us. Just grit your teeth, complete your set and then clean up. YOu will feel much better after you accomplish your goal of completing each lift/set.
August 13 2013
Skinny jean clearance sale at my place! haha Great article :)
August 14 2013
I'm sorry but it is not ok to pee when training even if it is a little. This is a sign that you have weak pelvic floor muscles and you should get this treated as it can lead to other major problems later in life. Go see a physio or Dr and ask for advice.
August 15 2013
Oh I've cried in the gym out of frustration. I'm a powerlifter but all of these points apply. The funny thing about some women who lift is that they believe that when you step foot in the gym you have to strip yourself of your gender and any feminine attributes that you may have. While it's true to keep an air of professionalism, it isn't true that you have to "act like one of the guys." Expressing yourself like a woman, feeling beautiful or sexy, or talking about issues you may have that relate to your gender, these aren't things we should have to hide or feel ashamed. I share such a special bond with my other female teammates. We are the lady lifters! And we love it.
Sam Jones
August 16 2013
Women don't need to lift. They just need to be in the kitchen or the bedroom.
August 21 2013
Agreed- NOT ok to pee. Just b/c it's common that doesn't make it normal. If you're pre-menopausal and putting this stress on your pelvic floor now (and I don't have any issue with the stress but if you're peeing then its too much for your pelvic floor) then imagine what's going up happen when menopause hits and everything really slackens off. Go see a pelvic floor physio and get that shit sorted. P.s. love weight lifting, love loud music, have zero issue training w men (I'm not sure I'm that complicated 'to get') and I keep my nails way short.
August 27 2013
This list is mostly ridiculous and sexist.
August 27 2013
yea stupid article I don't cry. I lift with guys .
August 27 2013
Smelly knee sleeves? Oh, it doesn't stop there! You'll be lifting and suddenly smell some strange combo sometimes similar to feet and/or corn chips- this is from your favorite tank or tee that you frequently wear to work out in. Over time, it hold in some serious lurking odors which you don't smell til you heat it up with some fresh sweat! lol! I just read a tip to NOT let these things dry but to wet/rinse asap. Haven't tried it yet because I still have my well loved tops that I forget are going to be stinky until that lovely scent sneaks up on me.
September 2 2013
boil the knee sleeves = no more stink!
May 5 2014
Nice article!!
August 7 2014
For the most part I do like this article. Except number 7. A woman should not not wear whatever she feels comfortable in, purely because will be around men. This kind of thinking essentially perpetuates rape culture in that it dictates women should be held responsible for how men think and behave. As a community that strives to literally empower women, I wold hope you understand this.
Greg Everett
April 14 2015
Kim -
I understand your thinking on this one, but I think Aimee is just pointing out something a gal may want to consider. Yes, women should absolutely feel comfortable wearing whatever they want without having to deal with creepy, rapey men, but that being true doesn't mean those guys don't exist, which can make for an uncomfortable training session. If a woman wants to wear whatever, she has every right to with the expectation of being respected and treated appropriately, but Aimee's tip just makes sure she gets a chance to consider that she MAY find she's uncomfortable, so she can make her decision however she wants according to how she would prefer to approach the situation (e.g. anything from ignoring stares to telling a creepy guy to go fuck himself, or, hopefully, not having any problem at all).
Greg Everett
April 14 2015
Keri -
I'm sure you're intelligent enough to understand that women are individual people, and as such, can be quite different from each other. Further, I would assume that you know Aimee is just one of those women, and her training partners and friends are a few more, and that clearly she's making generalizations to provide a few helpful tips, not suggesting that all women in the world are exactly like she is. It's not surprising, then, if her experiences don't perfectly match your own. That's no cause to be offended. I could understand your objections more if the article were written by a man based on assumptions and stereotypes, but it was not - it was written by a woman, and not only that, an extremely accomplished weightlifter. My suggestion is to consider Aimee's points less literally and see if you can find something helpful in the concept rather than the precise description. I would think you would support a woman in expressing HER individual opinions based on her own experiences in the effort to provide a little help to other women, not beat up on her for seeing some things a bit differently than you do. I would love to see some more support here rather than the attacks.

RE quads, she never said anything about quads tripling in size overnight. She also used that item to make the point that weightlifting doesn't make women look manly, and that women having muscles isn't manly or unattractive, etc. Literally nothing but positivity in that one, but you still found a way to have a negative reaction to it. Women weightlifters struggling to find jeans that fit their quads is an extremely common problem, and it has nothing to do with PEDs.

Aimee IS proud of everything she's done, as she should be - suggesting she's not is what's insulting.
January 6 2016
probably the worst article in the world