One of my favorite magazine/journal covers ever comes from an old issue of Training & Conditioning. I love the title “Barbie Doesn’t Play Sports”. To me, it promotes a hard working, tough image. To me, that sums up my feelings about successful female athletes. They aren’t afraid to work hard. They aren’t afraid to work hard on the court or the field. They aren’t afraid to work hard year round. However, as important as it is, sometimes it is hard to get these same females into the weightroom. Why is this? I think that this is largely because of it being an area that they are unfamiliar with. Strength training is scary for a lot of females. Many of them have been bombarded by images from female bodybuilders. These pictures always depict some lady who is loaded up on every supplement (legal & illegal) that she can pump into her body. Unfortunately, this is the image of strength training that gets burned into many females minds. They quickly decide that if lifting weights makes you look like that, they don’t want any of it. Unfortunately, females need to be in the weightroom. Why?
- Injury prevention – Just like male athletes, females need to develop strength to help prevent injuries and limit the severity of those that they do get.
- Improved performance – A stronger athlete can run faster, jump higher, accelerate quicker, and decelerate more effectively. These all lead to better sport performance.
- Correction of weaknesses – Females who haven’t ever taken part in a solid strength training program tend to have various muscular weaknesses. These then add to injury problems and limit their performance potential. Strength training can quickly start the athlete down the road to correction.
- College preparation – Any high school athlete that wants to go on to play in college needs to strength train. Not only will it help their performance (and therefore their recruiting), it will make them stand out once they get to college. If the first time that an athlete has ever lifted is when they show up to college, they are already behind. In my mind, if a female shows up on day 1 and is already comfortable and proficient in the weightroom, she has set herself apart from many of the other incoming freshman athletes.
So, how do you get females into the weightroom? Educate and market. You may have to teach them about the benefits and get them to realize that they won’t end up looking like the female Hulk. You are also going to have to really make a motivated effort to get them started. Once they start to see some benefits, the marketing should take care of itself.