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16 Weight Lifters On Instagram Tell Us About Their Bodies

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    Photographed by Lauren Perlstein.

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    The rise of women who lift heavy and train hard has been a long time coming. Yet female athletes of all types still face the disgusting wrath of Twitter trolls and worse for participating in these traditionally masculine activities. And although we know there isn't one body type that universally means "fit," that classic slim, trim, and toned figure reigns supreme in the fitness industry.

    However, over the past few years, women interested in weightlifting and strength training have created a welcoming community on Instagram. Hashtags upon hashtags have sprung up to celebrate #womenwholift, finding your #quadgoals, and ladies who were #grownstrong. Used by pro athletes and beginners alike, Insta has become a way to learn from and be inspired by the best while getting encouragement for your own progress.

    So we asked women from all different areas of weight lifting — including bodybuilders, CrossFit athletes, and powerlifters — about their bodies and the amazing work they put into them. Click through to learn how they fuel their workouts and get ready to add 'em to your #fitspo lineup.


    It's your body. It's your summer. Enjoy them both. Check out more #TakeBackTheBeach here.

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  2. Photo: Via @love2lift.

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    Lexi Berriman (@love2lift)

    Favorite pre-workout snack:
    “Right now my favorite pre-workout snack is two cups of white sushi rice, cinnamon, vanilla, unsweetened almond milk, and Truvia. I stir it up for a healthy rice pudding.”

    Favorite post-workout snack:
    “My post-workout is always the same: It's Dymatize ISO-100 [a whey protein powder] in Birthday Cake or Fudge Brownie. I stir in a half-cup of oats to the shake and drink it up.”

    Favorite workout song:
    “‘Can't Stop The Feeling’ by Justin Timberlake is so fun, it has to make my favs list right now.”

    Describe your body in one word:
    “Strong.”

    Why that word?
    “Because when you look at me that's what you see. I look like a girl, but I have muscle. I'm not all done up, but I pull off the messy/sweaty look.”

    How do you feel about the way we view women who lift?
    “I think it's awesome. It's being embraced more every year. The best part is that, at some point, [everyone has] to lift weights for your health inside and not just aesthetics.”

    What have you learned about your body from lifting weights?
    “I have learned that I never want to stop. I have clients in their 70s that get excited when they get stronger, so that drives me to want that my whole life.”

    One piece of advice you would give to a beginner:
    “Just start. Honestly, all you have to do is show up. It doesn't matter how much you can do, but you gotta show up.”

    Anything else you’d like to add?
    “My piece of advice would be to respect everybody that is working towards something. Every day you train, give yourself a compliment. Then set another goal to reach!”

  3. Photo: Via @crystalkantu.

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    Krystal Cantu (@krystalcantu)

    Describe your body in one word:
    “Strong.”

    Why that word?
    “My body has been through a lot in the past 27 years, mentally and physically. It’s proven time after time that it can withstand some of the toughest challenges life can throw your way. It has bounced back from things you’d think one could never come back from, and it’s continued to remind me that all things are possible.”

    How do you feel about the way we view women who lift?
    “I’ve seen different reactions when it comes to women with muscles. Some people find it extremely attractive; others don’t. But I’ve learned over time that the media is nothing but controversy and does nothing more than cause a stir. The media shouldn’t be looked at or cared about when it comes to your body. If, in your heart, you feel sexy, know that you are sexy. If, in your heart, you feel ugly, know that you are beautiful. The media does not define you.”

    How do you think that view has changed over time?
    “The media throws a mixture of views when it comes to women in general. When I was younger, I was made to believe that I was supposed to be thin to be attractive. As time went on, you saw more and more women look stronger and healthier versus extremely thin. I think, now more than ever, we as a society have realized that healthy no longer means skinny and beauty now comes from within and shines through. Muscles are beautiful, curves are beautiful, all women are beautiful.”

    What have you learned about your body from lifting weights?
    “In the time that I’ve been lifting weights, I’ve noticed a significant difference in my overall strength (mentally and physically) and my confidence. Lifting empowers me as a woman. Lifting encourages me to do more, not only in the gym, but in everyday life. Lifting frees my spirit and calms my mind. Lifting is the medicine most doctors won’t prescribe you, but it sure as hell is the medicine that has healed me.”

    One piece of advice you would give to a beginner:
    “If you want to do what I do, do it. Don’t question yourself, don’t doubt yourself, and don’t hesitate. Practice every day and enjoy the ride, for it is the journey that is most beautiful, not the destination.”

  4. Photo: via @ejanss.

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    Ewa Januszkiewicz (@ejanss)

    Favorite pre- and post-workout snacks:
    “Pre-, intra-, and post-workout snacks are always carb-heavy, which means delicious. [That includes] things like cinnamon coconut rice, fruit, pasta, or, if I want to be fancy, my favorite Starbucks drink. Having my intra-workout (during the workout) shake is the most important, though, because it provides me with lasting energy throughout my training and prevents hunger. Of course, protein is a must as well. Sushi is a common post-workout treat for me.”

    Favorite workout song:
    “That’s tough! Spotify playlists are my go-to. I like to go back to the '90s and 2000s hip-hop/rap songs. Currently it’s been ‘Dip’ by Danny Brown.”

    Describe your body in one word:

    “Powerful.”

    Why that word?
    “My body is strong, adaptable, muscular, and explosive. But to me it goes beyond my athleticism. My body houses my brain — my intellect, my emotions, my personality. My body is truly powerful — I am its sole proprietor, and with it, I overcome hurdles. Take me as a whole, and I am unstoppable.”

    How do you feel about the way we view women who lift?

    “I think there has been a lot of progress in societal acceptance and even empowerment for strong women, especially given the positive media coverage surrounding sports like weight lifting, power lifting, gymnastics, and CrossFit. However, I think society is still very selective of which women they are accepting of when it comes to being strong or having muscle.

    “This comes down to a lack of education and understanding of strength sports, and the remaining negativity is still deeply rooted in our culture’s perspective of “acceptable” (yet skewed) beauty standards. More so than ever before, body acceptance and health are being promoted. But, honestly, I am concerned that this is just another societal trend, rather than a cultural change.”

    What have you learned about your body from lifting weights?
    “That it is healthier, and I am happier, when I focus on performance rather than aesthetics.”

    One piece of advice you would give to a beginner:
    “If it scares you, then do it. Nothing worth doing is ever easy. Practically speaking, though, I suggest you don’t rush. Focus on technique and process rather than the end goal.”

    Anything else you’d like to add?
    “Don’t ever put a ceiling on your goals. Don’t limit yourself. Be passionate, be kind, and kick ass."

  5. Photo: via @trackfu.

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    Kimberly Walford (@trackfu)

    Favorite pre- and post-workout snacks:
    “For pre-workouts, I like to have something that’s heavy with carbs, like a sandwich or popcorn. I also take my pre-workout supplements, like creatine, because I need extra energy throughout. Something else I’ve really tried to focus on over the years is eating during my workout, even if it’s just a piece of candy or a protein bar, just something with carbs to keep my energy levels up while training.

    “For post-workout, I like to finish with a heavy meal, especially anything with chicken, rice, or potatoes just to make sure I’m getting the protein and carbs that I need.”

    Favorite workout song:
    “Right now it’s ‘Beast’ by Rob Bailey."

    Describe your body in one word:
    “Explosive.”

    Why that word?
    “When I get under a bar, I want to harness as much energy as possible in a short amount of time. I have to be explosive to make it happen.”

    How do you feel about the way we view women who lift?
    "Sometimes that [negative stereotype] is rooted in a lack of education about the benefits of strength training for women. And it’s also rooted in good old-age stereotypes that, for women, lifting heavy is going to limit your ability to reproduce, or it’s going to make you look less feminine and less desirable to men. It really sucks that that’s still how it’s seen by some people in society. But I’m thankful to say it seems like, over the years, we’ve really started to dispel those stereotypes by seeing people like myself and other female lifters.”

    What have you learned about your body from lifting weights?
    “It’s resilient and it has the ability to adapt. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten wiser about paying attention to flexibility and core exercises and utilizing the proper biomechanics as you lift longer. Those are the things that are going to allow you to stay in this sport as long as you want to — and help stave off injuries.”

    One piece of advice you would give to a beginner:
    “Find a great coach. Take the time to research the individual you choose to work with to guide you in your career… Figure out what type of lifting you want to do, [then look at the] state chair of that particular federation. Go join the Facebook and Instagram [of that federation] and talk to people on the page. You may find your coach on there, too.” (Ed note: For example, the International Weightlifting Federation or USA Powerlifting.)

    Anything else you’d like to add?
    "As always, I have to say thank you to my sponsors, SBD Apparel, Concrete, and Apeman Strong. They help support our sport, and that's what we need.

    "My message to the lifters is that if you are interested in starting this sport, do not be deterred by what anyone else tells you unless it’s something positive. You need to have a strong belief in yourself and stay focused on what you want to accomplish in order to make it happen. As long as you never lose sight of that, you can always find what you need to get to your goals."

  6. (Photo: via @prettystrongbec)

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    Becci Holcomb (@prettystrongbec)

    Favorite pre- and post-workout snacks:
    "I don't really have a favorite pre-workout snack. Either I won't eat or I'll have something small about an hour and half before I train, or I feel sick. Post-workout is a different story. I usually have some sort of protein, some sort of potato (tater tots and sweet potato are two of my favorites), and a veggie."

    Favorite workout song:
    "'You Can't Stop Me' from Andy Mineo."

    Describe your body in one word:
    "Perfect."

    Why that word?
    "Growing up, my mother told me from a very young age that I was fat, I couldn't do anything, I should never wear sleeveless clothes because I had fat arms, and more. This really screwed up my self-confidence. It took me 26 years to get out of that mindset. I was able to do this by getting out of my comfort zone and trying out power lifting. Today, I am proud of my body. It may not be considered the perfect body, but it is so perfect for me. I have been able to accomplish so much that I didn't know I could do."

    How do you feel about the way we view women who lift?
    "I think how social media portrays us in pictures is not the most accurate. You normally see either very skinny or very ripped women. [But] there are a lot of female lifters who look [somewhere in between] or heavier. I think this can discourage some women and girls from lifting, because they don't look like all the lifters they're exposed to."

    How do you think that view has changed over time?
    "I think [the idea of] women who lift is becoming more common, so it's less of a spectacle. Years ago, women were viewed as frail creatures who couldn't do anything but stay at home and take care of the house. That then evolved into women doing more aerobic exercise, and slowly, weight training has become more commonplace."

    What have you learned about your body from lifting weights?
    "I have learned so much! My body is capable of so much more than I thought. When you walk out and squat 500+ pounds, it’s exhilarating. There's something about lifting weights that lifts your spirit to a level of pure independence."

    One piece of advice you would give to a beginner:
    "Don't give up. The training might get hard, your body might protest, but don't give up. You can do so much more than you know. You have to stick with it."

    Anything else you’d like to add?
    "Get out of your comfort zone. Only then can you truly experience the world and discover who you are."