Collegiate Women Resistant To Resistance Training
This weekend I attended a seminar where two graduate students and campus recreation professionals from Southern Illinois University presented the topic. The study they presented was interesting and very much worth noting. For those of you who read this, I would love to hear your opinions on solutions to the presented problems.
With both of them being personal trainers and avid lifters themselves, they questioned why other women did not want to participate in resistance training like they did. With the question set, they set out to find out why.
Out of the time period in which they counted how many women visited the weight room at SIU only 300 out of 7,000 people were females. Astonished by this fact, they went on to do some further research with questions.
They found that most women fell under a few mind sets. Either they weren’t sure what to do down there, they felt intimidated, they felt out of of place, and/or they had been told they had no business being down there.
So what makes it so that some women lift weights while others don’t? I mean, it has been proven through science time and time again that the benefits are far too great to risk even losing a chance on. This should be enough to want women to lift right?
Well as it turns out, a lot of this comes down to psychological barriers that women encounter as well as societal pressures.
Most interesting was the application of Bandura’s thought of self efficacy and how it applied to lifting. As explained, it was shown that while a person may have a high level of self esteem; if they perform poorly at an activity it doesn’t matter how high their esteem is because they will be brought down by their lack of self efficacy. This coupled with the idea that women don’t belong in the weight room and the intimidation of other men who “seem” to know what they are doing, makes it so that they don’t want to even bother trying to learn.
The most ironic thing about this however is that women don’t have any reason to be afraid of looking dumb. If they only knew that most of the guys down there don’t even know what they are doing either they would feel so much better actually participating and learning. Only difference is these guys feel obligated by society to strength train and so they have no shame going down there when they have no knowledge in the area.
This presents a lot of opportunities to be able to change the way that women view strength training. One, in the sense that from the interviews more women just need to be educated on the benefits. Two, and most important is the ability to build self efficacy and confidence in women to pursue strength training. Third, the need to start changing the way we treat women and how they should view weight training in society.
This is all especially important in college level women because of the studies that have shown correlating the habits that are built in college and how they translate to the same habits you will carry the rest of your life.
So in my opinion, our best option is to not only educate and motivate; but build confidence! We need professionals in the field who aren’t afraid to show these women what they are capable of. As beginners, we like women, have to all start somewhere and we shouldn’t let social barriers stop us from even coming close to unlocking the true potential our bodies hold.
Biggest question is, how do we do this? That may be something I’ll have to set out to accomplish in my professional career.