Giggling & Powerlifting

Guest post by Ginger Vieira

Ginger Vieira

Ginger Vieira

Women are always wishing they had firmer butts–I wish more of them would just try deadlifting! But deadlifting is a manly thing to do, at least, that’s what many females are led to believe.

When you think of a female powerlifter, most people assume you are grizzly, rough, overly masculine in personality and physique, and possibly even shaving your face regularly–because there’s no way a woman can be a powerlifter without gradually becoming more manly.

The stereotype

I’d like to blast the stereotype to pieces.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve finished a set of bench presses or squats only to start giggling like a school girl at how ridiculously difficult the set was. I can’t tell you how many times I snagged my beautifully painted red nails as I struggled to pull my knee-sleeves over my legs. And I can’t tell you how many sports bras are required to keep my more feminine features under control while I’m doing box jumps and dragging the sled.

I’m a female. From head to toe. I giggle. I scream. I have fluttery eyelashes, a curvy butt, and I guarantee my chest is anything but flat. Hey, I even cry sometimes, too.

But I train hard. I groan. I sweat. I bleed. I can barely get out of my bed some mornings because the muscles down my spine are so sore. I see no problem with having bruises along my shins from deadlifts. Bruises on the front of my neck from front squats. Bruises on my rib cage from my lifting belt being so tight.

I eat my body weight in grams of protein on a daily basis. I show up to training every single day without excuses. I follow my training program from month to month, week to week. I follow through. I push through every last rep. I have come to love how painful the barbell is on my upper back while I’m squatting. Yeah, it hurts me, too, but I suck it up and I squat anyway, because I want to be a powerlifter. And nobody ever said it was supposed to be pain-free.

You wouldn’t look at me, and assume I’m a powerlifter. You might guess that I like lifting weights, but I’m 5’2, and like I said, I giggle as often as I exhale.

I can’t tell you how many women have given me dirty looks while I’m deadlifting in the gym. It’s not the noise of 275 pounds smashing on the floor that bothers them; it’s the sight of a seemingly feminine young woman acting like a grizzly boy: grunting and groaning and sweating.

“Why do you do that to yourself?” one of these women once asked me.

“…because I can. Because I love it!”

What more can I say?

When a woman is talking to me about how she wants to get in better shape, she considers weightlifting, but then looks at my shoulders. “I don’t want to bulk up,” she says.

One time, after several questions about my competitions and training, a woman looked me up and down and said, “Well, you still look feminine.”

When I first started powerlifting and I gained about 10 pounds of muscle. I was slightly self-conscious of my thicker arms, thicker quads, thicker lats and thicker glutes. But I quickly grew to appreciate them. That was my hard work. They weren’t bigger because I’d gotten fat! They were bigger because I’d worked my butt off training, lifting, pressing, and squatting. I earned that new size and shape.

It certainly didn’t happen with 8 lb. dumbbells, and it definitely didn’t happen by accident.

Powerlifting as a woman is an awesome thing. I can bench press more weight than my father and my twin brother. I can deadlift just as much weight as the majority of the boys in the gym. And when someone leaves a 100 lb plate on the leg press, I don’t need to call for help to get it off.

Powerlifting as a woman is an awesome thing. Being feminine and being physically strong are not opposites. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

Ginger Vieira is a cognitive Health & Chronic Illness Coach at Living In Progress, a yoga instructor, and on top of that she’s also Type 1 diabetic. At 24 years old, she has set 15 records in drug-tested powerlifting. Her best lifts include 190 lb bench press, 308 lb deadlift, and a 265 lb squat

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29 Responses to “Giggling & Powerlifting”

  1. Anne says:

    Oh this is so cool. The last gym that I attended there was a girl who was a fitness model. Not as bulky as a female bodybuilder, but very nice muscle, and very strong. I admired her for her hard work. Power lifting looks like fun. I just went to look at some on you tube. Are there many women at these competitions?

  2. [...] To read the rest of the article, view the original posting on The! [...]

  3. [...] To read the rest of the article, view the original posting on The! [...]

  4. Hey Anne,

    Yeah, bodybuilding/fitness competitions are MUCH different. There’s always at least a handful of women at most powerlifting competitions! Depends on how popular the area is.

    Here’s my Powerlifting/YouTube Channel:

  5. My cousin Elizabeth is so feminine – prom queen, school teacher, perfect everything and very soft and girlie almost all year round and every now and then she goes balls-out (so to speak) and gets herself RIPPED up and enters competitions. It’s amazing.

  6. Nathan says:

    Great article!

    I want to add. In my experience, as both an outsider and as a coach/trainer, the “ideal body” that a woman has in her mind is about 10lbs of muscle higher than she thinks. Same goes for men for that matter (their ideal is usually about 20lbs of muscle higher than they think).

    A woman is going to have to gain some muscle…the scale weight might even go up! Scandalous, right!?

    And, to second what Ginger said, little colorful dumbbells aren’t going to do it (a gallon of milk weighs about 8lbs, you don’t consider shopping exercise).

    Ladies get to the weight room, and don’t be afraid to talk to the big guy in the squat rack, sweating, drooling, and breathing like he just outran a liger (yes, I said “liger). He’s probably really nice and helpful.

    And, yes, my last competition, there were at least a half a dozen ladies. Some of them pushing 60. Don’t tell me you’re too old, either.

  7. Todd says:

    @Nathan, welcome to PhitZone. You’re exactly right on all counts. I actually hate using a scale for a measure of progress, at least as the main source of tracking. Size and body fat percentage is far more telling of success.

    Love the “liger:” comment. There is an episode of Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory where they feed a liger. Scary looking beast!

  8. Nathan says:

    @Todd – thanks!

    When I was in Myrtle Beach last year, we almost went to see the Liger, but my daughter was too young. Next time!

  9. @Nathan – thanks for comments, SO TRUE. The point about the gallon of milk is hilarious! On top of that, women carry around children all the time and don’t bulk up.

    Thanks for reading the article.


  10. Jeff says:

    This is great information. I’m surprised more people don’t understand that more muscle actually helps burn more calories, or so many people believe. I’m also a big believer in not only relying on the scales for your goals. Nice discussion, thanks.

  11. Todd says:

    @Jeff, That’s why we do what we do, isn’t it? Gotta educate the masses. :)

  12. Kim Coronel says:

    I LOVE this! I compete as a female powerlifter and deadlifting is the best thing for your glutes plus hook gripping 275lbs is great too:) Nice article Ginger!

  13. Tammy says:

    Loved this article! Watched Ginger compete at 2009 APA World Chamionships in my home town – yes, I competed as well. I’ve been powerlifting for 3 years and love love love it. My non-gym friends can’t understand why I do what I do. Its definately rewarding to see the look on people’s faces when they look at you and hear just how much weight you can move. The first thing they do is squeeze my arm, just to check! There are five hard-core women lifters on our team ages 30, 39, 49, 51 and 58 and we rock! And yes, we giggle too! Thanks for this article Ginger!

  14. Cornelia from Denmark says:

    This article is fabulous, fun and well-written! Sincere words from a female powerlifter who knows what she is talking about.

    Just what I needed! You’re someone to look up to. Thank you so much!

    At times I just feel like the weird girl who does powerlifting (I am a beginner)….

    People, they tell me “Why can’t you just play tennis or do something like jogging as everyone else”. (In the end it gets awkward to argue or explain).

    Why isn’t it obvious to anyone who are so very dear to me, that I really like this sport, I often think to myself….

    I’m the kind of girl who often checks up on my lip-gloss, BUT I still love the sound of the barbells hitting the rack as I walk towards the gym hall ;-)

    Powerlifting happens to be one of my greatest interests, but only very few of my best friends REALLY understand my motivation. Their empty look at me when I talk about it and their perceptions of the powerlifting culture. It’s too different worlds….

    They don’t feel it, like I do, so they couldn’t possibly understand… They think that it’s about shoving masculinity and muscles, but it could never be about that! Inner as well as outer will power, strength and determination – that’s what it’s all about….

    I often feel the urge to explain how great this sport makes a woman physically and mentally, but it is as if none of my friends really believe in me. They don’t really get my point in this.

    I often need to make up weird excuses for prioritizing lifting those barbells instead of going out among friends. It’s silly!

    Often it’s because people only think of the risks and injuries, but I don’t see it like that. Not any more.

    I often tell my female friends that the three exercises, sl, bp and dl, builds up a damn good body from head to toe. But they don’t believe in me….they’d rather choose jogging. (I don’t want people to say that powerlifting is the one and only, but I want them to see the possibilities and positive sides. Therefore: Thank you for pointing them out! ;-)

    Many of my friends used to think that I was made out of porcelain. That the sport could only make my bad lower back pain worse. But it didn’t. I take care of myself.

    People often think that women just get more man-like, masculine or more stupid doing powerlifting. And only very few of my BEST friends truly understand that it’s not a de-womanizing sport!

    This great article made me realize that I ought to be proud of being a female powerlifter :-)

    Thanks, Ginger!

    (Best wishes from a NEWBIE!!)

  15. Great post Ginger! Gosh – YOU ARE STRONG!!!! I am definitely not a power lifter, but I love my weights and have seen very nice results. I was recently introduced to the deadlift – OMG – didn’t feel like much at the time and BAM – my muscles definitely let me know that I hadn’t given enough love to my posterior chain.

    They’re one of my favs now… Again, I don’t use a lot of weight, but I think its COOL to use the grown up bars ;-)

    Thanks again!

  16. @Kim – Thanks for reading :) Here’s to strong glutes!

    @Kris – How much weight you life is irrelevant in my opinion! It’s about how hard you work at your own level. How committed you are…and of course, when people criticize your love of weights, you stand up for what you love! :) Thanks for reading!

    @Tammy – hey Tammy! Thanks for reading the article. I hope you’re competing again soon and feeling great!

    @Corneilia – Well said, Cornelia. People get funny ideas in their heads just because it isn’t something that THEY do. Just like Arnold Schwarzenegger said, “I think it’s funny that people drive around in circles as fast as they can,” in response to people criticizing him for bodybuilding. To each their own. If you want to lift, well, hell, go for it! :) Thanks for reading the article!

  17. Ken O'Neill says:

    Deadlifts are great, and so are good mornings. Those good mornings address the whole posterior kinetic chain. Folks who’ve done leg curls for years find 3 sets of good mornings cause for half a week of extreme hamstring and glute soreness.

  18. [...] 49. Giggling and Powerlifting by Ginger Vieira [...]

  19. [...] lived with Type 1 diabetes for 12 years, but I’ve been a powerlifter for merely two and a half. When I first began powerlifting, I quickly found a reason that had [...]

  20. Sportsgirl says:

    Would be nice if more women would get into powerlifting. Have you tried Strong(wo)man?

  21. Todd says:

    @Ken, I agree, Good Mornings are awesome for the posterior chain. I always forget about them, but through them in every few months.

    @Sportsgirl, It would be nice to see more female participation in powerlifting. I haven’t tried any strongman events, but it always looks fun on the “World’s Strongest Man” events when they show it on ESPN2.

  22. @Sportsgirl – I haven’t tried any StrongWoman events either. It doesn’t interest me quite as much. Maybe it’s my ignorance, but to me powerlifting lifts are about fine details, hard-to-notice finesse and careful careful movements and muscle use. Whereas StrongWoman/StrongMan, while I’m sure involves a great deal of technique, seems to be more about brute-strength.

  23. [...] 49. Giggling and Powerlifting by Ginger Vieira [...]

  24. [...] To read the rest of the article, view the original posting on The! [...]

  25. [...] lived with Type 1 diabetes for 12 years, but I’ve been a powerlifter for merely two and a half. When I first began powerlifting, I quickly found a reason that had [...]

  26. Ryan says:

    My girlfriend is a power lifter and gets a bunch of slack from some of her friends, but they never challenge her to a fight! Plus, from a guy’s perspective it doesn’t hurt having a gf with some muscle. Inspiring article!
    Ryan´s last [type] ..Cheap Squat Racks

  27. Todd says:

    LOL @Ryan, it never hurts to have a buff gf.

  28. [...] In Progress – It’s quite possible that Ginger is the baddest chick you’ve ever met. It’s also possible that she’s the sweetest. Bottom line, [...]

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