Gina is the editor of “The First Fifteen Pounds,” a blog documenting her introduction into the paleo lifestyle and her progress in Taekwondo. She is a former roommate of mine, a close friend, and has been a fantastic blogger since 2008.
Ah, the age old question of the feminist movement. But here we aren’t talking about psychologically, financially, or societally, we’re talking about physically. It is possible to build muscle strength and still fit into whatever your definition of feminine is?
Since this is something that has been on my mind a bit lately, I decided to keep my eyes open for information about the issue.
There is an excellent post on one of my favorite blogs, Everyday Paleo, about this very question. The guest poster, Jason Seib of Primitive Stimulus, details the capabilities of one of his female clients, who can pump a ridiculous amount of iron but still looks pretty standard-fare feminine (and beautiful!). In the interest of keeping this woman’s picture at least somewhat under her control, I suggest you look at the post to see her before and after pictures. Pretty awesome!
Additionally, a simple Google image search of women who do cross fit shows a lot of really feminine-looking women. Here are a few for examples:
Clearly, these women are not very masculine-looking. Even if you look at men who do crossfit and come out of it, they aren’t all shoulders-heavy body-builder types either. The grand total of one person I know who does cross-fit is a total beanstalk. You would never know he was a beast until he picked you up and threw you across the room.
There is really only one example I can find of a woman who does crossfit and looks a bit more masculine than she did when she first started. Again I’ll link to the post on Everyday Paleo in an attempt to help protect the woman’s privacy a bit.
Here’s the thing, though. It seems more about what you are predisposed to look like more than the actions you take. The woman in the example above already had more broad shoulders and chest than some of the above lady people. She is also a bit older, which may have some effect on her body shape. Men shape up after crossfit to look like they already do — just with more muscle definition and abs. It seems that the same goes for women.
I am no expert, but from what I have looked at so far, here is what I would say on the issue. You can’t fundamentally change the way you look by increasing the ability of the tools you already have. Women, loathe some of us may be to admit it, we already have the muscles. Women aren’t going to suddenly start looking like men simply because we start implementing and building those muscles. We looked different from men far before we started accepting our “weaker sex” status, and we will continue to do so when we reclaim our natural strength. Your body is predisposed to store fat in certain areas, so it makes sense to me to say that your body is also predisposed to build your muscles in a certain way, too. And that way is going to be different from men, and different from other women (just like the way men’s muscles build is different from other men).
I cannot attest to the health benefits, et al that some people claim to weight lifting, but this part, I think, I can safely say is settled.