Duncan Ogilvie (MSc, CSCS, ASCC) – Director of DO Training
One of the issues that comes up when working with young and inexperienced athletes within a strength and conditioning (S&C) and athletic performance setting, is dealing with all the misconceptions that they have about S&C and lifting weights. Educating your athlete is essential in order for them to buy in to what you’re doing. To be able to explain why you’re doing something as well as how is a must. If an athlete understands that everything their S&C coach is doing is going to make them a better athlete and help them to achieve success in their athletic activity, they will work their arse off for you, making a coach’s job a hell of a lot easier, and much more rewarding.
At DO Training we work with many female basketball and netball players, most of which are high school athletes in their late teens. There are often common misconceptions about weightlifting and its results, borne out by comments like; “I don’t want to get big muscles” or “I don’t want to look all manly”. My response is always the same “I’m training you so that you can stay healthy and become a better athlete and sports person”. As a result of becoming a better athlete you will become leaner, you will improve your shape/figure. You will get stronger; improve power, become more mobile and look and feel healthier. I once heard a S&C coach say “I’m not in the modeling or body building business; I train for function not form. With great function comes great form, just look at the picture above of some of the top female athletes in the world today and tell me that is not the case?
So what does this mean for female athletes that not only want to improve performance but also want to retain a feminine shape? It’s simple: get a good strength and conditioning coach and start working with them.
As an S&C coach I want all my athletes to have the ability to be able to lift heavy and safely and move well. A staple of DO training workouts is big compound lifts such as various forms of dead lifts, front, back and single leg squats, pull ups and presses, as well as Olympic lifts such as the clean and snatch and its variations. We are dispelling the myth with our female athletes that this way of lifting is only for men or that they will turn into a female version of the incredible hulk if they take strength training seriously. As a result our female athletes are seeing great benefit in their athletic endeavors, as well as desirable improvements in their physical appearance.
Nutrition for athletes is a huge factor in athletic development; great nutrition is essential in order to get the maximum benefits from your training and workouts. If you want to work hard and perform optimally you have to eat properly and give your body the fuel it requires. This means making sure you consume adequate amounts or carbs, fats and proteins as well as essential vitamins and minerals appropriate for your activity level. Simply put, “you can’t get fast by fasting and you can’t be the best by bingeing”. If you’re an athlete then make sure you eat like one, regardless of your gender. Nutritional supplements aimed at athletes are not just for men, it’s ok for you to carry a shaker and consume some high quality protein supplement after your workout; your body needs this.
Females lifting heavy is nothing new. Female athletes have been using strength and conditioning coaches for years to improve their athletic performance but lifting weights has always been seen as a very masculine thing to do, sadly this has often deterred many females from adding this essential element of strength training to their routine. Missing this component out will hinder their progression and potential for excellence within their chosen sport. Thankfully however, over the past couple of years things have begun to change and there are now more and more women all over the world buying into lifting heavy and getting strong. Check out the video below of the members of Girls Gone Strong (www.facebook.com/girlsgonestrong) that lift heavy, move well, eat clean and as a result are in amazing shape. Several high profile brands are using female athletes to promote their products; all the while helping to eliminate the misconception or stereotype that working out like an athlete and lifting heavy is not feminine. Hopefully this will encourage more women, not only athletes but also the 9 to 5 office workers, to throw out the 2kg plastic dumbbell, shake off all the stereotypes and spend some quality time with a barbell and some plates. .
So I’ll leave you with this thought; if you’re a female athlete or want to work out and look like an athlete then start lifting like one. Lift heavy, workout smart and show people that you are female, you are feminine but you are also STRONG! Not only will you feel and look great but under the guidance of a quality S&C coach you will begin to see huge improvements to your athletic performance.