I joined a Facebook Group a while back called ‘Chicks Who Lift’. I was trying to add some more weight training into my workout routine to help with my running, but I was struggling to really get into it. As the name suggests, this group is open to all ladies who love lifting or are looking to start working with weights, no matter what level they are at. It is quite a diverse group, so you are guaranteed to fit in, no matter your age, background or goals. You will find your tribe here whether you are a new mum trying to get back into pre-baby shape, looking to enter your first bikini body competition or are an aspiring power-lifter, a Crossfitter or a kettlebell queen. What the heck, there are even triathletes and runners in the group like me who weight train to improve their sports performance.
What I enjoy the most about being a member of this group is the engagement, and richness of the discussions. Whether you need advice on where to buy jeans that fit more muscular physiques, what to do if you fall for your PT or what exercises give you six packs, this is the place to come to. Here you will also find regular accountability challenges, plenty of inspiration, humour, as well as lots of practical tips, recommendations and advice – be it your lifting form and technique, or just trying to break away from a rut in your training. The doors are always open if you need a bit of encouragement or vent a bit about the curveballs life throws at you. You will soon realise that you are not alone on this journey and many people share the very same sentiments, aspirations and struggles as you do, both inside and outside the gym!
Most importantly, this female-only group is the perfect place to ask the questions you could not or did not dare to ask anywhere else… As I have been a member of this group for a while, I decided to do a ‘best of’ blog post, using the information I have found to be the most useful on this forum so far. Of course, I anonymised everything to protect the forum members’ privacy and took out any information that may help identify the individual who posted the question or the answer. If you are a male reader, you may also find this article helpful if you want to better understand your female friends or clients (if you are a PT).
Biggest dilemmas in the gym
- If you see someone using the incorrect form in the gym, do you show them the correct way or keep silent?
- I think there is a fine line between telling somebody they are using the incorrect form and coming across as rude. For instance, somebody new to the gym will more than likely be lifting light initially and will probably take the advice with appreciation. However, a strongwoman/man will be lifting heavy and they know their form is awful but they don’t care how the weight gets from A to B. So maybe be mindful as to where and when you give people advice – it may not be seen as polite.
- If you’re a qualified PT and their form is very bad, then I think you can intervene. It’s important that you know what you’re talking about though. You have to be certain it is bad form and not just a modification to a movement. You also have to know how to fix it and be able to explain why they need to fix it. Nothing worse than somebody claiming, ‘that’s bad form and not being able to offer any constructive advice.
- Usually I don’t. Because a) I don’t think I am knowledgeable enough and I don’t have any formal qualifications b) I don’t know everyone’s goals or history. Some people adjust form on purpose and while it may seem wrong, you don’t know what injuries they may have that mean they have to adjust etc.
- I wouldn’t dive in criticising someone’s technique straight away… try to get to know people and build up trust and soon that will give you the opportunity to help without seeming as though you are just interfering.
- Every time I go to my gym, this PT keeps saying I don’t work hard enough! I work my little socks off and push as hard as I can. Just by his attitude he totally puts me off.
- Sounds like he’s trying to make you feel bad, so you’ll think that you need a trainer like him… Eerrrmmm you don’t… So not a way to get a client! Tell him you only train with steaks not beef burgers!
- I reckon he fancies you and is trying to get your attention!
- I usually find that a simple “whatever” and a smile keeps them at bay.
- Totally think women need to be trained with much more positive feedback then men. We are naturally more critical of ourselves and often need someone to enforce what we are doing right, not what we are doing wrong.
- I would definitely have a word with gym management. He could be a new PT trying to find his way but getting it awfully wrong.
- Just was wondering if anyone had a situation when they liked their PT. I don’t know if it is professional to ask him out!
- At the end of the day, ours is an intimate profession where people confide in us, there is physical contact and someone sees you at your worst and tells you you’re doing great. I don’t blame you for having feelings – you’re only human!
- Go for it! Life is short. Ask if he wants to go for a drink or lunch one day, what’s the worst that can happen!? He’ll say no, and you will feel a little embarrassed for a day or two, but you’ll get over it and carry on as normal; or he’ll say ‘yes’. As they say, ‘couples who train together stay together’.
- Ask him out, but mention it in a jokeycomment, therefore if he says no, you are not left feeling silly and no harm done!
- If you start dating though, he will need to pass your training on to someone else, as it’s against the professional code of conduct.
- Why don’t you wait until your program finishes with him? Then that way it’s not mixing business and pleasure, and also less awkward if things don’t work out.
- Is it wrong to have a personal trainer when you also are a personal trainer?
- Not at all wrong – we all need pushing and taking out of our comfort zone.
- I don’t think it is. Sometimes after training 10-12 clients per day, I’m just not motivated enough to do my own training, that’s when another professional is really handy.
- Definitely not. A personal trainer will make you do workouts that you would avoid yourself, it also makes you a better PT, as it introduces you to more variety and different styles. It’s good research, motivation and can inform you of current trends.
- As a client I would probably be more willing to trust a personal trainer who used a personal trainer. Kind of like ‘they think having a PT is SOOOO important that even they hire a PT?’ Cool, I’m game. (…) It shows you believe in your profession!
- Everybody needs a mentor and needs to experience what it’s like to be on the other side. I would argue the best trainers have their own coaches.
- Sure I could write a programme for myself but there’s nothing quite like learning from others and just switching off, letting someone else take the reins.
Gymtimidation: how to tackle embarrassing moments
- I’ve just got some new leggings and I get camel toe with them. Any solutions?
- Apparently, a panty liner horizontally across the gusset works.
- Wear a longer top, I do this for the ones I have that aren’t quite ‘squat proof’.
- I pull the seam to the left.
- I only get that if I pull them too high.
At the end of the day…
- Tight workout clothes and female anatomy means you will see some lips. You can’t change nature, so just wear what you’re comfortable in and don’t worry about the rest.
- Anyone else nearly pee when doing heavy squats or deadlifts?
- It’s very common in power lifting, competitors don’t even blink when it happens on the platform, they just chuck some chalk over it and carry on.
- Unfortunately this is common but not normal, seek help from a pelvic floor Physio/trainer [to get personalised advice]
- This is a clear sign that your pelvic floor muscles are not as strong as they should be and need work. (…) Do some pilates (…) to strengthen your pelvic floor and core muscles which will help in big lifts.
- I’m literally sponsored by Tena – anything over 150 on deadlifts I don’t stand a chance!
- Core bracing techniques can help [could be down to] a weakness in the core rather than bladder. It’s not necessarily a sign of weak pelvic floor – sometimes it can be the opposite i.e. a really strong pelvic floor can make it worse.
- Whenever I’m exercising, I tend to get erect nipples. Does anyone else happen to get this?
- I have the same issue – if anyone really looks, I just say something about ‘bionic boobs’. Or ‘nipple gains’ tends to break the tension a bit.
- I have to wear a slightly padded sports bra for this reason!
- I also tend to wear two layers in the gym, one tight and one loose, which hides it a bit.
- Maybe invest in a T-shirt which says ‘If you’re looking at my nipples, you’re obviously not working hard enough.
- Darker coloured tops hide them better, and the thicker bras. Just try to make sure they’re pointing in the same direction… that’s more embarrassing one going south and the other east!
- It must be the aircon. You are hot and sweaty and the aircon steadily breezes cold air on you. What nipple can resist a cold breeze? I’m surprised I haven’t poked holes into my gym shirts yet!
Problems only us women have
- Is weight training actually bad for your breasts?!
- You have to go to the boobie shop when you start weight training!
Or a more cost-effective solution:
- Padded vests for the gym!
At the end of the day, always look on the bright side:
- They haven’t gone… they’ve just relocated:
- My muscles look great.
- I can now get away without wearing a bra.
- Do you NEED big boobs to compete? I read an article from a trainer who said you need boobs (preferably big and perky or fake boobs) to compete.
- Bodybuilding, even bikini competitions are not about boobs. A lot of girls get boob jobs because you go quite flat in prep (…) and also I guess a lot of these girls model as well, so they might do it for that. Plus it is a personal thing, confidence or whatever. Your bikini maker will put plenty of padding in the bra to help with the situation if needed.
- You don’t need big boobs but they do help. Not saying you can’t win boob-less, but it is a plus mark or however many marks (…) I compete with a flat chest anyway.
- I would not succumb to pressure to having a boob job unless that is what you want. At the same time, being in the industry a bit, I KNOW big boobs are an advantage. Just like having a nice tan, a nice costume, a nice hairstyle are a plus. It doesn’t make or break, but every little helps and contributes to a nice and shapely ‘package’.
- Boobs aren’t judged, they aren’t a muscle don’t even worry about it…just make sure you get a bikini to complement their shape, and work the rest of your body to fit the criteria.
The big debate
- Does body pump count [as lifting]?
- Body pump can be a nice starter, but you will only get so far due to it being lower weights and high reps. That said, it all depends on what your goals are.
- It’s a great class for toning and sculpting. However, if you want to get strong and build muscle, you’ll need to lift heavy weights (…) at roughly 70% of what you can lift maximally Body Pump can do that for beginners so it is a great start.
- I teach Les Mills Body Pump and it’s (…) great for fat loss and sculpting (…) most of us instructors hit the gym too!
- It’s good for endurance. The squat tracks kill me – I can squat over 70kg, but in Body Pump it’s so much less weight, but I die!
- It’s great when you want to workout with more people and challenge yourself in different ways. The feeling when you are done is amazing.
- It’s more cardio than heavy lifting, but it’s a nice change and work on all parts of the body.
- Anyone have any tips on how to get the putrid smell out protein shakers?
- I sterilize mine with Milton solution.
- Try running half a cut lemon around the inside – it’s nature’s natural steriliser.
- Rinse with lemon and very hot water, then re-wash.
- Fill with hot bleachy water and let it stand for at least 5 mins. Then wash and rinse as normal.
- Use some baking soda.
- Hi ladies, any advice for DOMS?
- Make sure you foam roll after your workout, have a hot bath soak with Epsom salt, keep hydrated and enjoy the feeling of hard work.
- Hahaha, we all do the robot and the crying when trying to sit on the loo but some try and style it out.
- I always do warm up and cool down stretches, so I rarely get sore.
- Turmeric is a good anti inflammatory, but (…) it needs pepper in it to work. I found the paste recipe on YouTube containing both, and I just keep it in a jar in the fridge and just add a teaspoon to my food or have a turmeric latte made with it.
- Try to keep moving, otherwise you will stiffen up.
- I’ve found that having a protein shake with BCAA after every session has said ‘bye bye’ to serious DOMS.
- Magnesium spray! Magnesium is also good for sleeping.
- Any tips on how to drink more water?
- I try drink at least a pint as soon as I get up.
- Try plain sparkling water with ice and a slice of lemon.
- If u can find some sort of water bottle that you can easily carry with you wherever you go, it will really help.
- Try a fruit diffuser (…) For example, put slices of lemon, cucumber and mint in it.
- Herbal teas with no sugar also contribute to water intake.
- I have one glass of water before and one after every meal, plus a glass of eater before I have any coffee in the morning.
- Download the WaterMinder or Hydration coach smart phone app, and have a reminder set.
- I am struggling to find everyday clothes to fit me. I find trousers that fit me in the waist but they feel really tight on my quads [and bum]. Any recommendations which are not too pricey?
- Clothes makers, fashion designers need to stop thinking one size fits all!
- I hear there are some top shop jeans made perfectly for girls who lift.
- Primark skinny fit jeans work well – cheap too!
- I buy my jeggings from M&S – they are perfect and last a lifetime.
- Barbell apparel for on trend jeans/chinos!
- I found some super stretchy skinny jeans by Quiz in Debenhams.
- Top Shop’s Joni Jeans – they have stretchy legs and a small waist. The best thing for us with big quads!
- I buy jeggings from Miss Selfridge. They are flattering and look just like jeans.
- Sainsbury’s TU skinny jeans are soft, stretchy and great value.
- Try Asda wonder fit, I have actually found those to be the best.
- Asos are great for stretchy jeans.
And if all else fails…
- I’ve had to baby oil myself into mine today – I refuse to admit defeat.
- Mums who work – how do you fit it all in?!
- Many of my work-outs are only 15-20 minutes at a time and split up depending on when I have the time!
- I have got a bench at home because I’ve got a toddler and an 8 month old. I’m breastfeeding and I don’t drive, so I would never leave! I do my squats, deadlifts and bench presses, and that’s it good enough for me.
- I scheduled my workouts on the same family planner as the kids’. I put the same priority on myself as I have with the kids’ activities. Otherwise I’m bottoms of the pile. Some weeks it’s a workout at 6am, or if it’s an evening, my hubby picks up the slack with the kids’ hobbies.
- I do what I can with weights at home – for example, dumbbells in the dining room, more weights and bench in the kitchen, machine in the family room, and a pull-up bar attached to a door frame. I’ll do a few pull-ups when I’m cooking dinner! I have a Smith machine in my garage for when I can manage more than 15 minutes of workout time.
- You just have to go when you can go. Do your best and don’t stress about missing a day. When I stress about missing the gym, it makes it no longer fun.
- Just chill about it a bit and just learn to appreciate and enjoy the small time you get to train and keep telling yourself it won’t be like this forever. Eat well and do the things you can do to look after yourself in all the chaos.
Do you belong to an online community? Who are your ‘tribe’?
Cover photo credit: http://trainingpitcrossfit.com