Think of the word strength training and chances are most people are quick to first associate this sport with men.
Even now, in the 21st century, lifting weights has a stigma of being a man’s sport. It’s hard to imagine how women ever became a driving force in the world of slinging iron. Weightlifting has been an Olympic sport since 1896.
However, it wasn’t until 1987 (just twenty-seven years ago) that women were allowed to compete in this Olympic sport. To date, the Olympic weight lifting sport has eight male weight classes and seven female. Talk about coming a long way!
In the late 1800s, females were viewed as weak and fragile. While there were a few women who tried to break into the world of being strong, it was viewed as unacceptable and the whole idea was shocking and frowned upon. Around the 1930s, medical professionals and the general population alike believed exercise was detrimental to women’s health and that women were instead to use their energy on taking care of the house and raising children.
It wasn’t until the 1970s that women gained recognition and acceptance in the world of fitness. During an era of feminism unbridled, women were starting to really recognize their strength (both physical and internal).
As this strength became recognized, confidence increased. Although women were feeling good, society was still a bit hesitant to accept this new reality. In the 1980’s women’s bodybuilding was finally being accepted by the media and population alike, perhaps out of curiosity more than anything.
Although we are in the 21st century, there is still hesitation when it comes to women and weightlifting. Those who are against it argue that women aren’t made to be strong and muscular. Although there are women who now dominate the world of bodybuilding, strongman, and powerlifting, it would be incorrect to say that women do not face resistance.
Perhaps in another decade or so, a new article will be written about strength training for women in a much more positive and accepted light. So long as women band together, believe in themselves and others, and keep pushing for what they equally deserve, the tables will eventually turn.