The other day, at the gym I helped someone break through a barrier, and it was such a good feeling, I left the gym feeling more elated about her breakthrough then I did about reaching my max push jerk (105#!!!). I think that many girls are afraid to lift heavy weights, or even seemingly heavy weights for fear of "getting big." I have noticed that these girls at the gym are also the ones that tend to be lean, fashionable, and possibly wear Tori Burch flats (jealous). Ok, so that right there might be a little profiling, and I don't want to detract from my original point- girls and lifting heavy weights.
I have never had a fear of heavy weights. I want to be throwing heavy bars around. I want to make sure I'm pushing myself to my deadlift/squat/press maxes, always. I think since I've always been "larger" its just expected that I can lift more, and therefore I do. I also think this may have an opposite effect on girls that are afraid of lifting weights (i.e., subconsciously or conciously? they see me, don't want to look like me, and therefore choose weights that are lighter). I'm also not a girly girl. Well, nothing annoys me more then seeing a girl at my gym purposely choose a weight that is lower then her ability! The only exceptions this this are the older ladies at the gym, and the newbies learning the moves (in that case, techique is better then weight).
There is one petite woman that has been coming in for many months now, and I've never really seen her progress past the 25# bar. She's fit, she can do more. I know that the Olympic (45#) bar can be intimidating at first, especially when you put bumper plates on it, but once you throw it around successfully a few times, you realize its not that scary, and it feels bad ass. Plus, with the bumper plates on, if you get into trouble, you can dump it. NOTHING is more fun then that!
Yesterday we were attempting to find our max push jerk. Petite woman was getting set up, but had no idea where to begin on finding her max. I was just sitting on the sidelines having just completed my birthday WOD (designed just for me!) cooling down after my 17 minutes of torture. The trainer had her begin with a weight that was more then she has ever done, just to gauge where she is at. Her first attempt was half-hearted. I could tell immediately she had the strength, she just didn't have the confidence in herself. I was able to convince her she could do it. She tried again, and guess what? She did do it! Not only was she using the Olympic bar, she had bumper plates on the ends (the smallest ones, but whatever). She got to experience dropping the weight on the floor from overhead for the first time.
With that was a serious breakthrough. She figured out that deep inside her, she did have the strength to lift something that her eyes told her she could not possibly do. The energy was amazing and infectious. She inspired the lady she was working with to try the weight she just did, and the two of them worked together pushing themselves to new territory. It was a fantasitic site to watch.