In high school I was a middle distance athlete. I thought runners were supposed to be lean and tall, and I was neither of those things. I wasn't overweight, but I also wasn't confident in a swimsuit. I would line up against a group of tall thin girls and wonder how my personal best times put me in the same heat. My thick thighs somehow could produce as much speed as their long, thin ones. Training as a runner did not make me look like a runner, but it did make me a better runner.
Your shape does not change drastically with any form of exercise. Weightlifting does not make a girl bulky, and a girl will not look like a man if she lifts heavy weights. You will gain a great deal of strength before noticing any significant change in the size or shape of your body. You can also gain a good amount of stability and balance. Your body fat to muscle ratio will change. Your clothes might fit better, or not better at all. When you talk to someone unfamiliar with weightlifting they often confuse the sport of olympic lifting with the sport of bodybuilding. Weightlifters are strong, athletic, technical and explosive. This is Mattie Rogers, a 2016 Olympic hopeful. Do you consider her took bulky? Manly? I don't think so.
I started olympic lifting as a field hockey player in college. It is imperative for female athletes to include lifting as part of an overall fitness routine. Girls are less likely to hit the weight room for countless reasons. They are afraid of the way they will look, or they don't see the importance of lifting for female athletes. Success in the gym and on the platform will help female athletes to perform better mentally and physically. They will be able to set and accomplish new goals without needing to be compared to others. Weight training is linked to injury prevention
for male and female athletes. Finally, muscular development enhances performance. Why do men outperform women? Because they have more muscle. So women with more muscle mass will outperform women with less. Female athletes need to lift weights in order to stay in the game, and outperform the competition.
When you approach the gym, the weight room, or the athletic field I challenge you to focus on changing the way you feel and the way you think. Don't be afraid of your leaner/stronger self, and don't make excuses for why training is not right for you.
Check out Jenny Authur, she will be representing the United States at the Olympic Games in Rio this summer. Strong, Fast, Explosive? Yes! Bulky, Unattractive? Definitely not.