Lifting Heavy #LikeAGirl

If you've had access to the internet over the past few weeks, you've probably seen the terrific Always video, #LikeAGirl.

If you haven't, it's probably because you've been living in a cave; an underground bomb shelter; or took up residence in the Alaskan countryside, a la the National Geographic Show "Life Below Zero."  If that describes you, then it's probably because you've been hiding from Ebola.  After all, I can't blame you, it IS the United States...where where we don't want to vaccinate our children, but we freak the hell out about infectious diseases.

Irony, politics and diseases aside, here's the commercial which is absolutely fantastic:

While I'll never completely understand the pressures and responsibilities that go along with being a woman, I've always thought that doing something "Like a Girl" was largely unattractive.  Who wants to be weak and uncoordinated?  Nobody. 

But, if we're so focused on breaking down the wall between the sexes in sports, why then, is our society focused on having women workout so differently than men?  Take for example the picture below, that I copied from Shape magazine:

There is absolutely no chance you'd find a workout program like this one in a Men's magazine.  Plus, the terms  "slimmer hips and thighs," "balancing squat," and "side-stepping curtsey" are so blatantly targeting women that it makes me cringe. Let me say this for the 1,947th time: there is no physiological difference between men and women when it comes to training. 98% of the time, I should be able to look at a training program, and not know whether it's written for a man or woman.  

So, what's so wrong about the lame exercises/picture above?  Shifting your focus to workouts like those would be a complete waste of time (not to mention furthering that whole "LikeAGirl" stereotype), because they're inferior to real squats and deadlifts.  A properly performed squat works every muscle in your lower body in one exercise, not to mention the added benefits of improving mobility and core stability.  Plus, heavy goblet squats have a way of helping your metabolism and taxing your breath.  Whenever someone says lifting heavy weights isn't "cardio," I usually respond with "you mean, the way you lift weights?"   

Next, our brains and bodies are a lot like computer software - they only remember the movements we practice.  If you habitually practice a squat, it's going to translate to squats themselves, and any athletic move on your feet. However, if you perform the silly, Shape magazine movements above, you'll get good at those movements....while still being weak in the squat.  It's similar to why I always advocate that given the choice between free weights and machines, free weights will win every single time.

A perfectly performed goblet squat - dare I say, it's performed #LikeAGirl?

A perfectly performed goblet squat - dare I say, it's performed #LikeAGirl?

Exercise is also always built on the notion of progressive resistance....meaning, you need to get heavier to see progress.  Once you're good at the movements above, how do you keep progressing to ensure you're making progress and not going through the motions?  By moving onto something like a goblet squat, or a deadlift, you have definitive proof of your hard work and progress.  After all, the weight on the bar never lies.

Finally, if you're worried about getting "bulky," I'm not sure what to tell you, as the entire fitness community (read: everyone but Tracy Anderson) says that you won't.  Plus, even though I'm a guy, I've noticed an indirect relationship with my weight and the amount I can lift.  Two years ago, I weighed in at just over 200 pounds, and could barely deadlift 315.  Fast forward to yesterday, and I weighed in at 188....but deadlifted 430 for a double.  Nutrition is responsible for 80% of your body, and even with the extra testosterone of being a male, I'm still waiting for myself to get "too bulky."

Call me reflective in my ripe old age of 28....or perhaps I'm preparing for a life and family with a fiance who is from a long lineage of daughters (yes Mom, I know the guy determines the sex...after all, I did take AP Bio!).  But, I can't wait for the day when lifting #LikeAGirl means ripping some heavy squats and deadlifts.