If you know me, you know I’m a fan of the iron. Heavy, light, fast, slow, kettlebells, barbells, all the reps or just a few, I love any and all forms of strength training.
I’ve spent the last few years gushing about the numerous benefits of strength training. Improve strength, confidence, bone mass, body composition overall badassery and so much more. What’s not to love?
Like many, I started lifting as a way to improve my body composition but little did I know that I would change more than just my appearance. In addition to the the anticipated benefits, there were a handful of unexpected changes and pleasant surprises that popped up when I started lifting that no one told me about, and after a quick check with my lady lifting friends, I’m not alone.
Consider this list the inside scoop on what may happen when you start lifting. You know, the type of stuff only your best girlfriends will tell you. I got your back, girl.
Lean, mean, fighting machine? If you don’t have any actual sparring skills, don’t worry. It seems that having a muscular build is enough alone for people to assume you could kick their butts. Despite having a pleasant demeanor and never having been in a physical altercation, I’ve heard, “I wouldn’t want to make you angry.” enough to think I’m the next UFC middleweight champion.
World record holder and teammate, Janis Finkelman, had a similar experience recently in Target. I feel you Janis, I feel you.
Your waist is small and your curves are kickin’ A decrease in body fat and an increase in muscle mass may cause things to….well, shift. As my fitpro friend, Amy Dix notes since lifting heavier, “My waist is smaller but my thighs are thicker. This makes shopping for jeans, literally a pain in the butt.”
(To which I responded with, “Why are you wearing jeans, anyways?” #leggingsAREpants)
But seriously, if this happens, I’d be willing to bet it also means your squat and/or deadlift are also growing, which is a great thing. Besides, jeans that fit perfectly off the rack are hard to find no matter what your shape is. So don’t fret. Find yourself a good tailor (or enjoy spandex everyday like I do) and keep it moving.
|I actually took this selfie to show my friends how hard|
I was "working" but I think it highlights the black hole nicely.
It’s the pits Lifting isn’t the pits but shaving your pits may become more difficult. Between more pronounced pectorals and a developing lat, I’ve been left with a bit of a black hole in the underarm area when I raise my hands overhead (see photo to the right).
The only workaround I’ve found effective for shaving is to awkwardly push my elbow into the side of the shower while simultaneously protecting my scapula in an effort to expand the surface area. I’m totally open to suggestions because at this rate, I may dislocate something or go full blown Euro style.
Can you open this? Of course most people don’t start lifting with the sole intent to improve grip strength but thanks to deadlifts and pull ups, pickle jars, jams, or screw top beers are no match for your grip. Toss out those ugly rubber gripper thingies because you’re a do-it-yourselfer now!
Forearms Speaking of grip strength, you can also add it’s cohort, jacked forearms to the list of unexpected surprises that arose from lifting. I never thought I could have such a fond admiration for strong….forearms. But now I find myself clenching my fist and slowly rotating my wrist to highlight the definition. While others are mirin big biceps and glutes, I’m checking out forearms veins. I didn’t see that coming….ever. Who am I?
Flex appeal Go ahead and just plan on spending an extra five to ten minutes in the morning in front of the mirror because, muscles. Even just the slightest definition in a bicep, tricep or quad will have you flexing in the mirror all googly eyed like the first time I saw Ian Ziering as Steve Slater on 90210.
Don’t worry mom If your mom is anything like my mom, she’s going to worry about your safety while lifting. After showing my mom some photos of my male teammates at 22nd Street Barbell lifting she asked, “Do you feel safe down there with those men?” “Those men” of course had beard and tattoos that would rival some of the best at Sturgis which made her a little uneasy. I assured her, they were cool and I was fine.
Teammate and fitpro, Bridget Smith’s mom also expressed concern that she might get injured. Look, you and I both know that safety, injuries (knock on wood) or accidentally getting too big aren’t anything to stress about, but mom’s worry. It’s in their nature. I’ve had great success with slowly dropping lifting nuggets in small doses over the course of a few months. Before you know it, they’ll be asking you to flex for their friends. (No really, my mom would ask me to do this. Totally weird, right?)
Wanna wrestle? Next to fighting (see item #1) it’s also assumed that you’re good at wrestling. Arm, leg or full contact on the mat style, it doesn’t really matter. People will want to wrestle you. I think it’s a compliment and if you can somehow wrangle winning some money out of it, more power to you.
Just FYI, I am undefeated in leg wrestling so you could say things are getting pretty serious.
Miss independent You know all those things you had to wait to do until you had help? Things like carry ice melt, put the jug on the water cooler, or haul luggage downstairs and into the car? Not anymore. Thanks to increased strength and confidence, those are one woman jobs now. (If you want them to be. Wink, wink)
Ride or die chicks I didn’t start lifting with the intent of meeting new friends but that didn’t stop it from happening. Some really great connections have sparked from a simple, “Can I work in with you?” and to my pleasant surprise, some of those ladies have become close friends. They don’t judge you wearing spandex all day, everyday or you constant need for food and water. They get you.
Your turn: What pleasant surprise and unexpected changes have you noticed since you began lifting?