The way trainer Alex Silver-Fagan talks about heavy lifting will make you see that barbell as so much more than a weight.

By Lauren Mazzo
July 29, 2019

It's not just about the muscles.

Yeah, lifting heavy weights is a surefire way to build muscle and burn fat (and probably transform your body in all the ways you wouldn't expect)—but, when you're a woman lifting heavy-ass weights, it's about so much more than what they do to your body.

That's why Alex Silver-Fagan, a Nike master trainer, creator of Flow Into Strong, and author of Get Strong for Women, is on a mission to change your view of lifting heavy.

For starters, it's time to cut the cord between weights and the word "bulky."

"'Lifting weights makes you bulky' is the most frustrating thing I hear all the time, especially because I work so hard to show people that you can become strong physically and mentally from lifting weights," says Silver-Fagan. "Women, biologically, cannot get bulky like a man. We don't have as much testosterone, and it also depends on your muscles' biological predisposition of how they react to an external force (aka weights)." (Here's all the science behind why that's true.)

In reality, lifting weights is going to help with bone health and density, increase your metabolism, strengthen your joints, and all the connective tissue around those muscles, says Silver-Fagan. "You want to lift weights so you can lift your children one day, get up off the toilet seat, and continue to lead your life in a comfortable, non-injured fashion." (And this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the benefits of lifting weights.)

But, most importantly, lifting weights is a way to assert yourself into the world. It's a way to take the metaphorical glass ceiling, and smash it with a 50-pound dumbbell. It's a way to ignore what women have historically been told they should and shouldn't do—and do whatever the hell you want anyway.

"Being a woman is tough," says Silver-Fagen. "We're always meant to feel that we need to be smaller, tiny, dainty, and not get in the way and not speak our mind. The reason I love lifting weights is because it smashes all of those boundaries. It lets me feel like I can do whatever I need to do and helps me feel like I can take up space in this world—not be bulky in this world, but have a voice and be powerful. It's a reflection of mental strength to me."

By taking up space in the weight room, picking up that heavier dumbbell, asserting your power, and pushing the limits of what you (and others) think you can do, you'll take that attitude into the rest of your life as well—which not only helps propel you forward, but the rest of womankind as well.

First step: the weight room. Next: the world.

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