This is my first real column for TPS, and I have a whole slew of bones to pick, because I am a disgruntled, cynical, abrasive middle-aged hag.
So, let’s just start here, with one of my favorite soapboxes.
Women’s Bench Press.
Yeah, I am mainly talking powerlifting, but trust me, these concepts translate down the pre-workout pike to women and lifting in general. How many chicks at the commercial gym bench press, with an actual barbell, and put more than dimes on the bar (and trust me, they could)? Hardly any. So although I am writing from a powerlifter’s perspective, much of this applies to all you ladies with a uterus, ovaries, boobs, nails did, hair did, or any combo thereof.
How often have you heard it…..or thought it….”women just can’t bench” “women are just better at deadlift and squat”….we squat, we deadlift, those numbers generally look great compared to our abysmal benches.
So why are women so “traditionally” bad at bench?
Were we born lacking pectoral muscles, or only mutant and partially-formed lats? are out brains missing the “bench gene”?
Well, look what I just quoted…..traditionally. I believe bench press for women is much like math in school……a self-fulfilling prophecy fed by gender bias and cultural old-wive’s tales mentality.
Women are often raised to believe men are better at math, numbers, science, etc.
They see way more boys around them excelling at math, they feel a cultural push towards the arts and words, and they start shrinking back into the bushes like Homer in that silly hedge meme.
So we get worse at math, thus fulfilling our own prophecy, and the one society helps cultivate in us.
OK, before i get a radical femi-nazi tag to go with the pink shirt and combat boots I stomp on balls with regularly, let me add that women are highly involved in this process. We do it to ourselves as much as we are led down the poverty bench path; and then we rationalize and excuse and devalue the very thing we could excel at…..by using terms like….poverty bench. huh.
Look at that.
So now we tackled the women-suck-at-math phenomenon, let’s look at the I-don’t-want-to-look-like-a-man defense.
We women could have asses the size of ponies and get applause and accolades…..legs the size of tree trunks and be worshipped in the streets…..but you get a big thick chest, broad capped delts, and a big-as-a-barn back, and suddenly we are “men”.
Ass and legs are comfortable spheres in which women can excel. They are highly sexualized, a sign of femininity, desirable, culturally acceptable (to a point, of course). but a big upper body is looked at much differently.
Get a pair of arms on you, and suddenly you’re a precocious dyke, a disgusting gross man, and probably grew a dick to boot (I have personally heard all these, and more). If only it were that easy…….
So what does all this ranting about sex, gender, culture and random bullshit have to do with your bench??
Well…..you need a strong, developed upper body to have a great bench, and to even have one on par with your squat and pull. So you have to train it, seriously, with determination and no half-ass excuses, JUST LIKE YOUR SQUAT AND PULL.
This means BENCHING. it also means bench accessories…..triceps, forearms, lats, rear delts, chest, and a strong core. So act like a damn bodybuilder for once and add some isolated or even compound accessory work.
Make it your focus.
Stop ignoring your lagging lift…..and for most women it’s the bench. In a field of women pretty good or really good at squat and pull, get that edge on your total by growing a killer bench….because while the peach gang is asleep at the wheel you can join up with the gorilla gang and trounce some asses. If nothing else, round out that total and stop using the term “poverty” about ANY lift.
- Will your upper body get bigger?
Is that bad?
In powerlifting, form follows FUNCTION.
So do the damn lifts you need to in order to get better, and don’t worry about how you’ll look. You are a building a machine, with a purpose, to complete a goal.
You are not out there to “lift while looking like a girl” or give society a “woman who can do both” lift and be sexy/cute.
You’re a fucking powerlifter, so go act like one, for pete’s sake.
And before you dismiss this as radical whining…..think about how many hot ass/because squats, peach gang, get you a girl who can do both, and talking-about-lifting- while-excusing-it-by-saying-she’s-still-feminine memes and motivational quotes and statements you’ve seen…..a lot. How much of any of this shit do we see with men?
Not a lot…..although men, too, face weird appearance expectations, but of a different sort.
So….bottom line, GO GET A BIG FUCKING BENCH, BITCH.
by Stephanie Tomlinson