There is a bit of a recent trend among female weight lifters which involves them sharing an achievement but putting themselves down in the process. Whenever I receive an email from a woman which references a recent PR, it’s usually prefaced by “I know I’m not as strong as you, but…”
It’s all over social media, too. I follow a number of female lifters on Facebook and Instagram, and I’m a member of some lifting-related groups. Almost every time someone shares a video, they usually point out that they’re not as strong as everyone else.
Ladies, you need to stop it! Own your PRs! Whether you’re lifting 50lbs or 500lbs, all that matters is that it is a PR for you, and something to be proud of.
If you tell yourself you have to wait until you lift X amount of weight before you can shout your accomplishments proudly, you will never do so. You will reach that point, inevitably see someone else lifting more than you, and quietly set yourself a new arbitrary goal, and forever repeat the cycle.
I can promise you that no advanced lifter is going to look at your numbers and scoff, if that’s what you’re afraid of. Every lifter has had to go through the same process of building strength, and they know how rewarding every single PR can be. No one has ever stepped foot into the gym for the first time and squatted 500lbs. Do you think someone will really care whether your best bench press is 110lbs or 130lbs? Do you think it will really stop them from sharing in your happiness?
If someone is genuinely nasty about your lifts, they are probably an asshole who you don’t need in your life.
I am proud of what I have achieved over the past couple of years, and I don’t see why I should be quiet about it. I have worked my arse off to compete through all kinds of adversities and major life changes, not to mention coming back from a near-fatal accident where I was told I would never lift again.
Every single competition I have done has been an incredible achievement in my eyes, regardless of what title was at stake or what position I placed. I have said before that the two competitions I performed the “worst” in (in terms of placing) were the two competitions I am most proud of.
When I competed in my first powerlifting meet, I was so incredibly happy about the fact that I had done something I had never thought I would physically be able to do. My PRs were just icing on the cake.
I feel proud of myself not just when I’m competing, but also during my regular training sessions. And why shouldn’t I? Isn’t that the point of working hard: to achieve your goals and feel proud about it?
After I squatted 120kg (265lbs) and deadlifted 140kg (309lbs) for the first time, I walked around smiling for days afterwards. Heck, even recently getting a squat rep PR of 105kg (231lbs) for three sets of five was enough to perk me up for a week. And you know what? All of these felt just as good as the first time I squat 50kg!
If being proud of all that makes me arrogant, then I’ll take that. I would rather someone think I’m arrogant than a scared little girl. Women are not taught to own who they are, especially when it comes to lifting and taking up space. Women are taught to boast about dropping a dress size or going a certain number of days without solid food; not for adding an extra plate to the bar or pulling a car.
I am well aware of how weak I am in the grand scheme of things. There are female powerlifters in my weight class who can lift double what I can. I am under no grand illusion that I am anywhere near an elite level. Hell, a number of my own clients lift more than I do. But I don’t beat myself up about how weak I am, or apologise for any of my achievements, because that would suck all the fun out of my training.
There will always be someone out there who is stronger than you, unless your name is Andrey Malanichev. The important thing to remember is that their lifts should not affect yours in any way, except for perhaps providing motivation. Their accomplishments should not diminish yours. If I spent my life apologising for not being as strong as other athletes, I would never have the confidence to step foot in a gym or update my blog, let alone compete in national-level competitions.
Is your goal to impress random people on the internet or to feel proud of yourself? Keep your priorities in check. Share your achievements and don’t apologise for them.