10 Things No One Tells You About Being a Female Strength Athlete

This is intended to be a bit humorous so you’ve been warned.


1. You’re going to hear “but aren’t you worried about getting bulky?” at least 238907203.4 times. MINIMUM. And for the record, no I’m not. Because I want to be STRONG, because I don’t give a crap about what a ridiculous women’s magazine tells me I should look like, and because I actually LIKE my body and don’t spend every waking moment hating it.  #bigandbulklifeforever


2. Clothes shopping may turn into your least favorite activity. They don’t make jeans based on your quad size. Blazers don’t account for how much you bench. Spandex will be your new favorite material.


3. People will be astonished when you say that you like to exercise. As a woman, you’re expected to use exercise mostly as a form of punishment and self flagellation. I mean, how can you not be happy about the ability to squat most grown men, experience things you never thought you could do, and feel confident and happy  because of the fact that you’re strong?


4. You’re probably going to out eat all of your friends. While your Instagram feed will be full of juice cleanses and tiny 200 calorie breakfasts, you’re probably going to be eating steak and eggs. You’re going to be “that” girl who carries around a bag of bacon in her purse because, you know, emergency bacon snacks.

5. Trying to explain what you “do” to any doctor is going to be an adventure.
– “How did you injure yourself?”

– “Oh, I compete and train Strongman.”

– blank stare

– “You know, like the big stones and stuff? Like on ESPN?”

– silence



6. Some Friday nights will be spent trying to fit your weightlifting shoes, various belts, and wrist wraps into one bag while chugging Pedialyte.

7. You’ll be asked again if you’re sure that you aren’t concerned about getting too bulky.  And the answer is still nope.



8. You’ll become an advocate for women getting strong. You don’t understand why everyone can’t just eat ice cream, squat, and get along. You’ll encourage women to find something that they like to do – even if that means not following the pack.


9. The thought of trying to achieve a “thigh gap” is laughable. If you have one naturally, cool. If you don’t, also cool.


10. You’ll meet groups of women whose favorite day is also deadlift day, who can understand that finding a well fitting sports bra is like a finding a unicorn, and who believe in the importance of finding confidence and happiness through what your body can do rather than your jean size (and your jeans don’t fit anyways because, squats).


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Comments: 58

  1. Anne-Marie June 27, 2014 at 11:16 am Reply


    In fact the giant bag of food that always accompanies me is quite the conversation starter at work. And if you don’t have emergency snacks on hand, bad things may happen that cannot be controlled. 😉

    • gabbysgfree June 30, 2014 at 4:18 pm Reply

      Exactly! You DO NOT want to see me without snacks.

  2. Kait June 27, 2014 at 11:36 am Reply

    After months of gradual pants-getting-so-tight and blazers not fitting in the shoulders and back, my mother-in-law telling me to not get so “muscly”, and getting my wrists slapped at the doctor’s yesterday for being obese (according to my BMI), I couldn’t identify with this post more. Well written Gabby!

  3. Dotsie June 27, 2014 at 11:57 am Reply

    😀 😀 😀
    this is awesome, and so true.

    SO glad I stumbled across your blog.

  4. Linnea Hartsuyker June 27, 2014 at 1:41 pm Reply

    Yes! Every single ones of these. Telling people I want to gain weight (at 6’/175) makes their jaws drop. Gotta eat for Strongman!

    And #8! I was hanging out with some (women and men) friends who were talking about not eating and running as much as possible to stay “in shape” and I mentioned that if you put on some muscle you’ll have to work to keep weight on, and they were like, “You’re so lucky.” No, not lucky. I just lifted some shit.

    Love this post!

  5. Lindsay @ Fit with Farrar June 27, 2014 at 2:57 pm Reply

    Emergency bacon snacks and comparing a well-fitting sports bra to a unicorn…you have won me over! Great post, Gabby!

  6. Claire June 27, 2014 at 3:34 pm Reply

    Ha! Love these. You really need that shirt that says “I’m trying to get too big” (or do you already have it?)… Also I don’t do strongman but I still love trying to explain to my doctor that no, I’m not worried about getting injured while weightlifting, and by the way, maybe the reason everyone in America is unhealthy is because doctors think that if your exercise regimen consists of something other than elliptical intervals and water aerobics that you’re going to get hurt…

  7. Nic at thefitwriter June 27, 2014 at 3:43 pm Reply

    Love it!

  8. Rach June 27, 2014 at 4:50 pm Reply

    PZI jeans are brilliant….extra room in thigh and bum still snug on waist.

  9. Helen June 27, 2014 at 5:20 pm Reply

    People are so f@ckin ignorant when it comes to weight training, society wants women to be weak, frail, skeletal with broken bones that way we wont upset the balance of the universe! Many women are happy to spend hours every day ironing, dusting and starving but would not dream of going to the gym. LOL if housework was exercise then, most women would have the physiques of olympic gymnasts!

    • gabbysgfree June 30, 2014 at 4:13 pm Reply

      I’m a firm believer that women should unabashedly take up space :)

  10. Steph Kinzer June 27, 2014 at 6:38 pm Reply

    I fell in LOVE at first read. THank you for posting! You have no idea how close to home this hit. Thanks for mentioning the ridiculous thigh gap and the idea that women shouldn’t be bulky.

  11. Kat June 27, 2014 at 7:33 pm Reply

    Just tell them you’re actively TRYING to get bulky and watch the most perplexed expressions blossom across their face!

    Enjoyed this a lot :)

  12. Carol June 27, 2014 at 8:49 pm Reply

    Awesome post:) I can relate to so many of the things you wrote about. I recently took the batteries out of my scale and have been focusing on the weight I am putting on the bar:) Such a freeing feeling, and I have made some progress this month. Looking forward to seeing more results!

  13. Karla @ Foodologie June 27, 2014 at 9:30 pm Reply

    “You don’t understand why everyone can’t just eat ice cream, squat, and get along.”
    There are my thoughts exactly!! I don’t do strong(wo)man training but I definitely squat a lot in crossfit and I’m always working on getting stronger. It’s crazy how once my emphasis went from getting stronger NOT skinnier my self esteem has changed a ton!

    Great post 😀

  14. lacy j davis June 27, 2014 at 9:41 pm Reply

    You’re an absolute hero! I love this!!!!!!

  15. sheila June 27, 2014 at 11:35 pm Reply

    I love the sentiment expressed here . . . is there a way to apply this well beyond middle age?
    I am tired of looking at the scales while my minds eye sees the fit young woman I used to be.

    • gabbysgfree June 30, 2014 at 4:10 pm Reply

      Age is only a number! There are plenty of seriously amazing strength athletes who compete at the Masters level.

  16. Amy June 28, 2014 at 6:03 am Reply

    Awesome post :-) love it, you should be an inspiration to women everywhere!

  17. Tricia June 28, 2014 at 8:16 am Reply

    My husband loves telling people I am a power lifter and show the video from my most recent meet. The really fun part is I am 63 years young. Love to show off the “guns”.

  18. Sandi June 28, 2014 at 12:00 pm Reply

    Great post! I’m a doctor and I completely agree. BMI is BS and I hate it. As long as my patients are active and trying to eat right, I cheer them on :-)

  19. The Real Food Reader - Edition #1 June 28, 2014 at 10:08 pm Reply

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  20. Cath June 29, 2014 at 2:53 am Reply

    Ha ha, love it! I’m a strong woman, who wants to get stronger. Slowly getting my head round the amount I need to eat …and so are my work colleagues! They are there with their tiny containers of salad or diet ‘shakes’ and I struggle in with my massive lunch bag!

    • gabbysgfree June 30, 2014 at 4:11 pm Reply

      HA yes, toting around food becomes a workout!

  21. Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table June 29, 2014 at 8:51 am Reply

    Wait. You mean not everyone carries bacon in their purse? Weird…

  22. Sunday Reading #14 | June 29, 2014 at 12:13 pm Reply

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  23. Barbara June 30, 2014 at 4:35 pm Reply

    I love this post! Sadly it is all true, but luckily it made me laugh a lot 😀

  24. Natalie Wester July 1, 2014 at 1:18 pm Reply

    OH MY GOSH. I love this. I love this. I love this.

    Its also harder when youre a 16 year old female strength athlete, usually the only female (let alone teenager) in the weight room, and get odd stares as you hit the front squats and not the treadmill.

  25. […] 10 Things No One Tells You About Being a Female Strength Athlete […]

  26. Jamie July 2, 2014 at 3:12 pm Reply

    Don’t even get me started on finding cute workout shorts that fit appropriately. This is the great white buffalo to your unicorn. Maybe they both somewhere grazing together.

  27. Danielle July 3, 2014 at 7:40 am Reply

    Love everything about this!!! Just plain awesome!

  28. […] + 10 Things No One Tells You About Being A Female Strength Athlete […]

  29. Michelle Arnone July 9, 2014 at 2:52 pm Reply

    Yay Deadlift Day!! My favorite!! Plus, #5, except I have an awesome doc who doesn’t do that. She always supports me no matter what crazy activity I get up to. But it applies to ‘splaining to other people too. Great post!

  30. Kristina July 9, 2014 at 5:50 pm Reply

    Great article, loved it!

  31. Heidi Hansen July 10, 2014 at 2:21 am Reply

    Most of those are true for me. For some reason, I still struggle at keeping my body fat low, but I work hard when I am at the gym and in the kitchen. I have a decent body fat percentage, but last time I went to the doctor, he told me I shouldn’t lift and he scolded me for weighing too much. He thought my thighs were too big and I was like, you try carrying this much muscle in your legs and see how big they are. It’s not like its fat, I actually have a healthy waist to hips ratio.But I definitely have a difficult time finding dresses and pants that fit. I despise jeans and pretty much just wear compression pants everywhere. And people always talk to me about it at the gym, they don’t always tell me I will get bulky, but say they don’t because they don’t want to get bulky, which is saying the same thing. I tell them, if I can squat 280 pounds after a year and 9 months of training, and I can bench my own weight, 165 pounds, and I still don’t look like a man, I’m pretty sure I never will and you won’t either. anyway. I do tire of assumptions people make of me as a woman powerlifter.

  32. Alice August 15, 2014 at 5:57 pm Reply

    You know, some people eat 200 calorie breakfasts for other reasons besides staying “thin.” Consuming that many calories so early in the day makes me want to hop right back into bed afterwards. We get it, you eat a lot. But no need to sound pretentious about it or assume that anyone that isn’t eating as much is merely doing so to stay “thin.”

    • gabbysgfree August 15, 2014 at 8:21 pm Reply

      I certainly was not trying to be pretentious. I often don’t even eat “breakfast” until several hours after I wake up. I was making a point about the fact that women are expected to restrict their eating because they are supposed to hate their bodies.

  33. Mia Torres November 28, 2014 at 6:58 pm Reply

    This is the most inspirational this I’ve ever read. At my school there are VERY FEW girls who actually enjoy lifting and when I tell people I love it they kind of just stare at me like what the heck you’re a girl you shouldn’t like it but I love it. Before it would make me sad and I stopped lifting but when I lift it makes me feel wonderful about myself and I love the way my body looks unlike other teens my age who hate their bodies.
    Just wanted to tell you this is amazing! Very inspiration for me, thank you.

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