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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Front Squat

We've been impressed with the increase in strength that the ladies of the gym are showing.  However, all too often we hear about the whole "I don't want to be muscle-y" thing. Rather than re-iterating the whole hormonal impossibility of it I thought I'd let someone else speak, some one distinctly more feminine than any of your trainers.

Rebecca "Becka" Rose is a good friend of mine and a trainer over at Crossfit Peachtree. She's got a 565 Crossfit Total, has competed in some local olympic weightlifting meets and is on CFPT's affiliate team which will be competing down in Jacksonville at the Dirty South Qualifiers. Suffice it to say that she's a general all around Crossfit bad-ass. She just started her blog over at Not Now Chief, I'm in the F#ckin' Zone... Here's her post called "Weightlifting Did Not Cause you to Gain the Freshman 15":

Disclaimer: This one is kinda for the ladies …  and if you were at the Chicks ‘R’ Badass Olympic lifting seminar*, you’ve heard all of this before …
Today was one of my favorite workouts – CrossFit Total. I’m a little biased here since I love anything having to do with heavy weights – lifting them, dropping them, watching other people pick them up, whatever. But what I really love about this workout is seeing clients’ improvements – ones of the female persuasion in particular.  Women have a tendency to shy away from heavy weights – I don’t quite understand their fear, but nevertheless I witness it on a daily basis. I’ve tried explaining to women, and will continue my attempts, that most of what they’re afraid of is pure myth.

“But I don’t want to look like the cover of a body building magazine.”

Be honest, how many body builders do you see walking around your CrossFit gym?  I’m sure there are one or two lurking around at some gym somewhere, but these women are the exception, not the rule in CF. You know what makes these women that muscularly large? A combination of isolation exercises (something the personal trainers over at L.A. Fitness will have you doing), testosterone supplementation of some sort and very large amounts of protein. Everyone is different and body types differ – some women put on muscle faster and easier than others – but in general, the female body isn’t engineered to bulk up that much. It takes a lot of deliberate work to get that bodybuilder look, so chill out, ladies. I promise, you’re not going to be the next Arnold Schwarzenegger look-alike from lifting heavy weights in CrossFit.

Another myth that even I fell victim to for a while is the idea of “toning”. It sounds good, right? Light weight, lots of reps and you’ll be ripped, but not bulky, in no time. Too bad it’s a crock of shit. The only way to achieve the desired effect of “toning” is to lose that extra body fat which is sitting on top of your muscles and hiding that nice six-pack you just know you have. So your personal trainer at L.A. Fitness swears this is the secret to getting the bikini body you just-have-to-have for the summer? Let me explain what’s going to happen. Instead of losing that last little stubborn bit of chub, you’re going to develop new muscles. Guess what that’s going to look like in a bikini? Add new muscles to the muscles and fat you already have and you’re just going to end up looking larger (read: bulky).

Let’s look at it from the heavy weights perspective now.

Lifting heavy weight (around 80%+ of your 1RM, I believe) for a small number of reps actually causes changes on the neurological level meaning that you’re teaching the muscles you already have to do more. And as a CrossFitting woman, what could be better than getting stronger without putting on extra bulk at the same time?

Let me reiterate, heavy weights will not make you bulky. But you know what will? Your diet. If you start a weightlifting program – power or Olympic – and find yourself putting on too much mass, take a look at how you’re fueling your body. I read this in an article once and it stuck with me: Weightlifting did not cause you to gain the freshman 15. I’d guess that Taco Bell and cheap beer are more likely culprits.


  1. Chace, Nate- so freakin awesome to see you guys last week! can't believe how fast the time in atl went. Chace, thanks for comin out and makin our welcome home party for more fun and ridiculous than usual. Nate, great to see you and glad your buisness is doin well. You guys put on a good show there and i truley mis workin out there. If you can laugh as much as you sweat at a gym, then that is a good thing if you ask me. alright, see you guys soon!

  2. Before I came to CrossFit I was entangled in the crazy world of Bodybuilding (don't make fun). My goal for 2010 was to compete in a figure show (again, don't make fun) but now, all that has changed. When I came to CFSS I was impressed at how strong the women were and I thought that this place wouldn't be so bad. I battled so long dealing with other people's perceptions of what beautiful is and deciding where I wanted to be.. I gave up and just did what made me happy. I read this on the Crossfit journal and I think is it perfect... "These are beautiful, elegant women who are capable of unbelievable feats of athleticism, women whose beauty is enhanced by their strength, determination and resolve."

    I think all you ladies are AMAZING and it is so exciting to be a part of it with you all! So keep kicking ass!

    Don't fear the iron, ladies. Embrace it!

  3. Ryan, right back at ya man! Great seeing you and Kristen.

    Alicia, wow! So happy to see you've gone from sippin to chuggin the kool-aid! Really, great post; I actually saved it to our testimonials if you don't mind.

  4. Alicia, I truly know exactly where you are coming from! (and could not agree with you more on the feelings towards our CF:) ...somewhat different background experiences than yours of bodybuilding; (for me it was ballet)... I spent my entire life up to the age of 25 with this love-hate relationship towards the expectations & pressures for ones body to only look a specific way ...In just the last few years I have finally (10 years later)began to undo the head trash from those days...I like you am thrilled to have found our Crossfit & be a part of the inspiring group of women there...Thanks for posting the quote, -it's perfect. I think I'll write in my SSCF LOG!!! :)

  5. Great post! Testosterone supplementation?? (gag)