The Reluctant Female Novice | Rebecca Fishburne The Reluctant Female Novice | Rebecca Fishburne

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Thread: The Reluctant Female Novice | Rebecca Fishburne

  1. #1
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    Default The Reluctant Female Novice | Rebecca Fishburne

    • starting strength seminar august 2022
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    "At almost every Starting Strength Seminar, you’ll hear a variation of this question: “How do I get my wife/girlfriend/mom to begin a Starting Strength novice linear progression?” ...Why is this often such a hard sell to the important women in our lives?"

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  2. #2
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    Thanks, I really appreciate this article.

    One thing that often feels looked down on by the SS community is the desire to "enjoy" your workouts. Or "feel good" during a lift. And I get that for a lot of people, myself included, that kind of voluntary hardship actually does feel good in its own way. But for some people it just... Doesn't.

    And if you don't enjoy it, it's just a chore. A really difficult chore at that.

    My husband is like this. Put him on grueling 5 hour bike ride (my version of hell) and he's happy the whole time. But a lifting session? He is angry and miserable from beginning to end. He genuinely loathes it. There is no happy sense of accomplishment at the end. Just relief that it's over. He only endures because it helps his bike hobby and because it appeals to his base male instincts to be stronger than his wife.

    Right now, my NLP means that I'm giving up social time with my friends, and that's been hard. They love going to group exercise classes together but would emphatically not be down for gathering around a barbell to watch each other bench like teenage boys. Maybe I need better friends, who knows, but there is a real element of social isolation that goes into becoming a woman with strength aspirations.

    Hopefully, as we convert more women to the Way of the Barbell that changes. But I also think it might fundamentally be one of those hobbies that just does not appeal to the same percentage of the female population as it does the male population. Sure, some of that is messed programming about "toning" and "abs" that needs to be undone. But some of it is that women just don't seem to be as genetically predisposed to get off on lifting heavy things.

  3. #3
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    Very interesting and insightful.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elle View Post
    Thanks, I really appreciate this article.

    One thing that often feels looked down on by the SS community is the desire to "enjoy" your workouts. Or "feel good" during a lift. And I get that for a lot of people, myself included, that kind of voluntary hardship actually does feel good in its own way. But for some people it just... Doesn't.

    And if you don't enjoy it, it's just a chore. A really difficult chore at that.

    My husband is like this. Put him on grueling 5 hour bike ride (my version of hell) and he's happy the whole time. But a lifting session? He is angry and miserable from beginning to end. He genuinely loathes it. There is no happy sense of accomplishment at the end. Just relief that it's over. He only endures because it helps his bike hobby and because it appeals to his base male instincts to be stronger than his wife.

    Right now, my NLP means that I'm giving up social time with my friends, and that's been hard. They love going to group exercise classes together but would emphatically not be down for gathering around a barbell to watch each other bench like teenage boys. Maybe I need better friends, who knows, but there is a real element of social isolation that goes into becoming a woman with strength aspirations.

    Hopefully, as we convert more women to the Way of the Barbell that changes. But I also think it might fundamentally be one of those hobbies that just does not appeal to the same percentage of the female population as it does the male population. Sure, some of that is messed programming about "toning" and "abs" that needs to be undone. But some of it is that women just don't seem to be as genetically predisposed to get off on lifting heavy things.
    Hi Elle - Thanks for sharing about your and your husband's experience with an NLP. You've made some interesting observations. Lol- I doubt you need better friends and who knows you might get them to join you yet. How close are you to a SS gym or affiliate gym? Keep up the good work getting stronger!

  5. #5
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    Jan 2021
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    What a great article, thank you so much for taking the time to write about this.

    I could relate to so much of the points you brought up in there. Being in the military, I do not go the the base gym anymore because I am so fed up with unsolicited advice from random male strangers: you squat too low, your bench grip is too narrow, you should do your shoulder [sic] press with dumbbells, pull-ups are better than chin-ups, etc. In reality, I find that many of those men comment to break the ice, in a lame attempt to initiate conversation and possibly hook up. So home gym it is. My setup and equipment could be much better - still a work in progress -, but this has tremendously improved my training experience.

    Here are my two favorites things about SS:

    1. Training movements for strength is a more noble goal than exercising muscles for looks. I feel that I am doing the right thing for the right reasons, and I have yet to hear a compelling argument against my motivations.

    2. There is something deeply satisfying about becoming measurably stronger. Adding a little weight to that bar brings a very real sense of accomplishment.

    People who focus on their looks tend to be permanently insecure and dissatisfied. I would much rather work on something that is within my control, with objective feedback on how I am doing.

    As far as "gaining weight" and "bulk" are concerned, I have been quite successful in debunking this myth for other women. Because I am (proportionally) way more muscular than most females, people always assume that I am 10-15 lbs lighter than I am (although I only weigh just under 115 lbs at 5'). When women realize how "heavy" I am for my size, they get what body composition is about.

    Another thing that helps is that women often asks about my diet, especially when they see me bring a Big Mac meal to my desk during lunch hour. People assume that I only eat salad; yet I hardly ever eat vegetables (eating too many prevents me from getting enough calories overall). I do not diet, count calories, or restrict food types/groups. I only lift every third day (the optimal frequency for me at the moment). Most women do some form of dieting; I don't but still feel, perform, and look better than most of them.

    On a final note, when women ask about my workouts, most want to know what "triceps exercises" I do (my triceps happen to look quite good). I do not think I have done a single "triceps exercise" in the last decade. This is all bench press, with a relatively narrow, 17" grip (most comfortable for my shoulders and elbows, enables me to lift the heaviest weights). Another bonus, when speaking to women also in the military, is that I find that the bench press directly improves my ability to do push-ups. I normally avoid doing them because they trigger my carpal tunnel syndrome in addition to giving me heartburn and to just being lame. Yet on the occasional unit PT session, push-ups are quite often on the menu, so I need to be able to do a bare minimum of 25 strict push-ups upon request so as to maintain my credibility with my mostly male colleagues. Though the bench press is my least favorite movement, I really appreciate how it protects me from embarrassing myself during such unit PT sessions.

    Anyhow, thanks again for your excellent article. Looking forward to reading more content from you!

  6. #6
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    Jun 2021
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    Australia
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    “Stronger people are harder to kill, and more useful in general.” That’s pretty motivating if you’re a strength coach or someone who values and aspires to physical strength.

    I posted that phrase on my FB page a few years back. It didn’t go well. Some of the women I know who could most benefit from additional physical strength felt devalued and demeaned; these women who did not perceive themselves as strong and did not yet see the value of strength in their own lives thought I was calling them useless. Men grow up with a belief that gaining strength and being physically useful are inherently valuable; women are encouraged to focus on their appearance and to ask men to carry heavy objects for them.
    That's a great point. The phrase "and more useful in general" is 100% a message that resonates for Males. In the couple of years since the article was posted has there been a similar message made to resonate along similar lines for Females?

  7. #7
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    Who knows, Subby, victims gonna victim. Too many of both sexes enjoy adopting and wallowing in that role these days.

  8. #8
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    Jun 2021
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    Winter Springs, FL
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    starting strength coach development program
    Quote Originally Posted by Elle View Post
    Thanks, I really appreciate this article.

    One thing that often feels looked down on by the SS community is the desire to "enjoy" your workouts. Or "feel good" during a lift. And I get that for a lot of people, myself included, that kind of voluntary hardship actually does feel good in its own way. But for some people it just... Doesn't.

    And if you don't enjoy it, it's just a chore. A really difficult chore at that.

    My husband is like this. Put him on grueling 5 hour bike ride (my version of hell) and he's happy the whole time. But a lifting session? He is angry and miserable from beginning to end. He genuinely loathes it. There is no happy sense of accomplishment at the end. Just relief that it's over. He only endures because it helps his bike hobby and because it appeals to his base male instincts to be stronger than his wife.

    Right now, my NLP means that I'm giving up social time with my friends, and that's been hard. They love going to group exercise classes together but would emphatically not be down for gathering around a barbell to watch each other bench like teenage boys. Maybe I need better friends, who knows, but there is a real element of social isolation that goes into becoming a woman with strength aspirations.

    Hopefully, as we convert more women to the Way of the Barbell that changes. But I also think it might fundamentally be one of those hobbies that just does not appeal to the same percentage of the female population as it does the male population. Sure, some of that is messed programming about "toning" and "abs" that needs to be undone. But some of it is that women just don't seem to be as genetically predisposed to get off on lifting heavy things.

    Everybody should have things that they enjoy in life that aren't related to strength training. This could be playing golf, needlepoint, fishing, ballroom dancing, or even (gasp) CrossFit workouts, deer hunting, paddle-boarding, studio cycling, motorcycle racing, or even step aerobics. This is far from a complete list of things that people like.

    There are few (if any) activities that an NLP won't result in performing at a higher level and enjoying those activities more as a result.

    If somebody has no interest in improving their health and doesn't have any activities that are important enough to them to get stronger, the issue isn't with the barbell lifts!

    Do you like Zumba? Great! Come to the gym before class and squat the barbell. When you get to squatting about your bodyweight on the barbell you'll notice that you enjoy the class more. When you get to a 2x squat it will be even more fun. And now that you have strong bones and tendons you won't get injured! And your Zumba career won't end by the time you are 40 because you got an osteopenia-related fracture of the femur head!

    The number of people who take "cardio and core" because they like it is probably the equivalent of the number of people who really like to deadlift heavy singles. Both are done as a means to an end. The only difference is that the barbell lifts are effective.

    For a variety of reasons, people *want* to believe that you can transform your body to look like the hip-hop aerobics instructor by doing hip-hop aerobics. The allure is so powerful (and backed by a lot of marketing dollars) that it's very hard to offer effective counter-messaging.

    Let's turn the question around. Would people *really* enjoy those "workouts" if they knew that those things were actually doing their bodies more harm than good?

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