I love meeting new people who share my passion for lifting heavy things and I get asked often by ladies who’re new to lifting for any advice I can give them.
While every experience will be different for each individual, there are some universal things I often share with them that I would have found helpful back when I was considered a novice.
1. Don’t do too much too soon.
I am torn saying this, because I was the same way as many of the women I talk to. They have big goals and numbers they want to hit, which is fantastic, but it’s important to remember too that won’t happen overnight. I can say from experience, looking back I believe I was going too heavy for too long with being too new in the sport. Was I strong enough at the time to be doing that? Sure, but I also believe a few of my injuries could have been avoided going into it a little slower. My training partners used to say to me, “It’s a marathon not a sprint!” and I now understand that!
2. Eventually, your huge PR jumps will slow down.
Your first year, or two, you will make huge jumps in your lifts and it will feel great. That will eventually slow down after those initial years. I deadlifted 300 lbs. after 8 weeks of training, but have worked my butt off, for much longer, to get over 400 lbs. now. This is normal; Don’t let it discourage you, make you feel weak, or as if you are not “where you should be”. After your body gets accustom to the heavy work load and adapts, you will have to put in more effort to see those gains.
3. Stop comparing yourself to anyone else.
This is not just advice for new lifters. I can’t tell you how much happier I am not constantly worrying about someone else’s numbers, or what they were going to lift. You should definitely be competitive, and a little friendly competition can be good; but, if you are constantly comparing your journey and situation to others you’re going to be disappointed. You will never feel good enough doing this—its negative self-talk, and not productive. It’s necessary to have a goal, and others you look up to, but don’t downplay your hard work and achievements in the process.
4. There isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” approach.
One program isn’t going to work for everyone; we all have different weaknesses. There is no absolute correct form for everyone. It’s like with many things, there are multiple ways of doing something and finding what works best for you and your body type will give you the best success. Yes, there are dangerous/ blatantly wrong forms of performing a lift, but there are things that will never be the same for everyone. I get criticized all the time for my deadlift form, but you look at some of the strongest and best lifters in the world and no one will tell them they are wrong—its finding what is strongest for them.
5. Have fun with training and competing!
If you don’t, what’s the point? There is enough negativity in life, and you will encounter plenty in a strength sport. Lots of people will tell you what you’re doing is dumb and they will not understand it. You will get asked some of the dumbest questions possible; learn to laugh at them. People will talk negative about others, but don’t let that influence you. If you are bored, injured, or not having fun with training or competition (if you choose to) change what you are doing, and dismiss the negative input from others—it’s no one’s happiness but your own!