Spreading the Word: How to Recruit More Girls Gone Strong

By Molly Galbraith

If you’re reading articles on our website, you probably don’t need much convincing that strength training (read: lifting heavy friggin' weights!) is not only a sure fire way to get leaner and stronger, it's also super fun and empowering.

In fact, many of you write to us asking for advice or guidance on how you can encourage other women in your lives to strength train too. We most commonly hear from:

  1. Trainers who have a hard time convincing female clients that heavy lifting is the way to go to get the results they want.
  2. Women who are frequently approached by friends and family seeking training advice, but their advice is usually disregarded when they mention that lifting weights is important.
  3. Women who lift and don't have a community of like-minded women near them, so they want help building one.

No matter the reason, I'm thrilled by the number of women (and quite a few guys, too!) who have contacted us seeking advice about encouraging clients, friends, relatives, and significant others to lift some weights. Your goal is our goal: to spread the word and recruit more women to join the Girls Gone Strong movement. Thank you!

Today I want to share some great advice to help guide you as you talk to the women in your life about this awesome thing we all love so much.

1. Listen to her

If a woman tells you that she is afraid she is going to get bulky, and you tell her that that’s stupid, she is instantly going to tune you out. Instead:

  • Listen to what she has to say, and ask questions regarding why she feels that way.
  • Validate her emotion (i.e. “I completely understand why you have that fear.  A lot of women do.  It’s very common.”)
  • Ask her to define “bulky.”  If her definition leans more in the direction of an IFBB pro female bodybuilder-type body, you know what to do. If her definition of “bulky” is more along the lines of Jessica Biel's body for example, you may have a harder time convincing her.

2. Educate her

Explain to her how the “bulky” myth has been perpetuated by mainstream media and explain why it’s difficult for most women to gain an appreciable about of muscle mass.  You can also point out that those who attain that IFBB pro-bodybuilder level of muscularity are often taking substances (like steroids) to achieve that.

Share pictures and videos of strong, fit, healthy women who love to lift. In fact, share this article with her, which illustrates the point quite nicely.

Women are constantly seeking knowledge regarding nutrition and exercise, and unfortunately, they don’t always get it from the best sources.  Lead by example and be a good source to whom she can turn for top-notch information!

Introduce her to sites like GirlsGoneStrong.com and the GGS Facebook Community so she can start doing some reading/researching on her own if she wants to. As a bonus, she will become part of a community of strong, positive, and supportive women.

3. Start off slowly, and meet her where she is.

If you're going to help a woman in your life to start lifting by giving her a program to follow or by training her yourself, an effective way to make her shy away lifting is to give her something that for her is "too much too soon."  This can leave her feeling intimidated, overly sore, inept, and feeling that she failed. No joke, friends. I see it too often when women are thrown into programs that are too advanced for their starting level. Heck, even I have made that mistake with my own clients and friends before, because I've been so excited to share my world with them.

One way you can introduce a woman to strength training, ensuring that she'll start at the level that's right for her, is to show her our very own Modern Woman's Guide to Strength Training. It's intelligently designed, sustainable, safe, and effective.

If you're going to train her yourself or provide her with some guidance at the gym, start her off with some really basic stuff. Things like: wall sits, bodyweight box squats, planks, band pull-aparts, glute bridges, etc.  This way she can experience some success almost immediately because these movements are easier to perform and she will likely master them quickly. As she experiences success, this gives you an opportunity to offer some sincere praise and reassurance, which can motivate her even more to keep going.

As she progresses, assuming she has proper form and good movement patterns, you can start loading those patterns or progress her on to more challenging bodyweight exercises like inverted rows, assisted chin-ups, and split squats.

Make sure she always has a little "left in the tank” at the end of her workouts, at least when she's starting out. Completely destroying her when she's just getting started in the gym may turn her off to lifting.

4. Watch her fall in love with lifting.

I have literally never worked with a woman who didn’t end up at least liking to lift, and the majority of them absolutely fall in love with it!

If you help her start off slowly, get her to move well, and help her master the basics, once you start loading her up with weights she will begin to feel that sense of empowerment that comes with moving heavy weights. Chances are, she’ll start loving it, and she will be prepared and eager to do more advanced exercises.

She will eventually ask if she can use more weight. It doesn’t take long for this to happen, and when it does, you’ll know you’re truly helping her. Why? Because she feels confident in her abilities and excited to be increasing the load she’s using.

You may be wondering how exactly I came to these conclusions about getting females to fall in love with lifting.  My answer?  It happened to me. I was introduced and before long, I fell in love with it. Over the last decade I have watched women time and time again fall in love with heavy lifting, especially when there's someone providing positive and encouraging support.

I have worked with women who initially didn't even know what a deadlift is. They maybe started out in group training or a single semi-private session per week. Before long they caught the heavy lifting bug. Many of them now deadlift close to (or more than!) 200 pounds for reps! Many clients who started out in bootcamp classes developed more confidence and a taste for strength and power. A couple of cycles of Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 program later, they were competing (some even set records) in a powerlifting meet!

The cool thing is, none of these women started training with the intention of competing in powerlifting. They all simply fell in love with lifting because they worked with someone who supported them by following the guidelines above.

If you want to help women in your life fall in love with lifting, take that advice and watch the magic happen. She will!

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About the author:  Molly Galbraith

Molly Galbraith, CSCS is co-founder and woman-in-charge at Girls Gone Strong, a global movement of 800,000+ folks passionate about women’s health, fitness, and empowerment. She’s also the creator of the The Girls Gone Strong Academy, home of the world’s top certifications for health and fitness pros who want to become a Certified Pre-& Postnatal Coach or a Certified Women’s Coaching Specialist.   The GGS Academy is revolutionizing women’s health and fitness by tackling critical (and often overlooked) topics like body image struggles, disordered eating, menopause, amenorrhea and menstrual cycle struggles, PCOS, endometriosis, osteoporosis, pre- and postnatal exercise, incontinence, diastasis recti, pelvic organ prolapse, postpartum recovery, and much more.   Learn more about Molly on her website and connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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