Up-and-coming female weightlifters
- Jourdan Delacruz (USA 49KG)
If you have been paying attention to the weightlifting scene in the United States, you have probably heard about Jourdan Delacruz. She is been breaking American records for years and now holds the 55-kilogram and 49-kilogram American marks for the snatch, clean & jerk, and total at both the 55-kilogram and 49-kilogram weight classes. In 2018, she made her international debut at the Junior World Championships, where she finished in second place (at 53 kilograms). Delacruz went on to win the 2019 Pan American Games as well as the Pan American Championships in the same year (at 55 kilograms). Then Delacruz made the decision to reduce her weight to 49 kilograms, and she went on to win the 2020 Roma World Cup. This young superstar is only 22 years old and is just getting started.
- Deng Wei (CHN 64KG)
There is simply no other way to characterize this woman but as a strong woman in a position of authority. The Chinese gymnast Deng Wei has not lost a competition since 2014, and she has won five World Championships (or, each one in which she has competed), as well as the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Her most recent victories came in the World Championships in 2019 and the Asian Games in 2019. Aside from that, she holds the women’s world records for the snatch, the clean and jerk, and the total, with weights of 117 kilograms, 145 kilograms, and 261 kilograms, respectively.
However, if it were not for the reality that China does not have enough Olympic berths to accommodate all of its competitors, Wei’s CV would be much more spectacular. As of right now, they will be able to send four men and four women to the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. She even missed out on the 2012 Olympic Games as a result of this, despite the fact that she had collected more points than the Olympic gold champion in her weight class the previous year. Despite the fact that Wei is not a rising star, she is nonetheless a woman in weightlifting to keep an eye on in 2021 — and perhaps beyond.
- Sara Ahmed (EGY 69/71KG)
Mohamed Ahmed burst onto the world stage of women’s weightlifting with a third-place finish at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro (at 69 kilograms), making her the first female weightlifter in Egypt’s history to win a medal in the sport. Her success continued with victories at the 2018 Junior World Championships, gold at the 2018 Mediterranean Games, and a silver medal in the 2018 World Championships in her final competition.
Due to doping offenses, Egypt is now serving a two-year suspension from international competition. After that, Ahmed hopes to become the first woman from the Arab world to win an Olympic gold medal in the sport of weightlifting at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
- Katherine Nye (USA 71)
Katherine Nye is always up for a good time. At the very least, you can bet your bottom dollar that she will attempt at least one highly risky lift when she shows up to the tournament. Nye set a senior American and junior world record snatch of 112 kilograms at the 2019 Junior World Championships after missing her opening try on a one-kilogram increase and then jumping an unbelievable five kilos to achieve a senior American and junior world record.
In 2018, she competed in her first international tournament, placing second in the Junior World Championships. Her success has continued since then, with victories at the 2019 World Championships and Pan American Weightlifting Championships among her many podium appearances. At this point, she has put herself into a position to bring home a medal from the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
- Rim Jong-sim (DPRK 76KG)
The Queen of North Korea has returned home. Jong-sim is frequently referred to as “the grittiest lifter who has ever stepped foot on the platform.” She bounced back from a heartbreaking performance at the 2015 World Championships, in which she executed a clean and jerk effort while only having partial use of one leg owing to injury, to win gold at the 2016 Olympic Games. (She also won a gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.)
Her return this year has already been crowned with success, as she has previously won the Asian Games and the World Championship in gymnastics. Until Jong-sim competes in her third Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2021, she will be the only female athlete in the sport of weightlifting to have competed in three consecutive Games. If she were to win, Jong-sim would become the most successful female in the history of the Olympic Games in the weightlifting discipline.
- Shacasia Johnson (USA 76/81KG)
Shacasia Johnson is a name you may not be familiar with because she has been eliminated from a number of major events — but if you did not know who she is, now you do.
In addition to posting exceptional totals, the American has also cleaned the heaviest weight in the class (145 kilograms) and even broke the previous American snatch record of 109 kilos. She also won the gold medal for Team USA in the IWF Grand Prix in 2019 while representing the United States. Unfortunately, she does not have enough Robi points to be eligible for the games. (Robi points are used by the International Women’s Federation to determine eligibility for the Olympic games.) You gain them by participating in national and international competitions on behalf of your country.
- Eileen Cikamatana (AUS 81KG)
Despite only having been on the international competition stage since 2016, Eileen Cikamatana made a strong first impression with a third-place performance in the Youth World Championships in 2017. In 2017, she finished second in the Junior World Championships in Germany. People on Cikamatana have remained silent even though she was in the 90-kilogram weight class, which was three weight classes above her prior weight class.
She then went on to win gold in the Commonwealth Games in 2018, which was her maiden international competition. Since that breakthrough performance, Cikamatana has attempted to break the world record for clean and jerk twice, successfully doing so twice and raising the record to 151 kg. Her second effort at 150 kilos failed, so she decided to try her luck at 159 kilograms (a brave, but ultimately unsuccessful endeavor) in 2019. She has also won the IWF Grand Prix in 2019 (at 87 kilos), as well as the World Cup in 2019 and 2020. (at 81 kilograms).
Eileen has demonstrated that she is fearless, and for this reason, she is someone you should have on your weightlifting radar.
- Tamara Salazar (ECU +87KG)
A only 22 years old, Salazar has already placed third at two World Championships (in 2018 and 2019), as well as at a single Pan American Games (in 2019). All of these contests resulted in bronze medals for her, and she has only suffered defeats against past Olympic winners or world champions. Salazar competes in a class that is stacked with incredible talent, but it is apparent that she will rise to the occasion and join them at the top of the podium in the near future.
- Mary Theisen-Lappen (USA) (+87KG)
Mary Theisen-Lappen is making major waves on the American lifting scene, despite the fact that she has only been lifting for three years.
She has jerked more weight (from blocks) than any other female weightlifter in the United States, a whopping 182 kilos (400 pounds), and is considered a favorite to break the current American clean and jerk record (the current record is 162 kilograms held by Sarah Robles). Her first Team USA slot was earned this year, and she will most likely spend the bulk of 2021 working toward a Pan American championship position with the team.
- Li Wenwen (CHN +87KG)
Since placing second in Li Wenwen’s debut international competition, the 2019 IWF World Cup in Fuzhou, China, the 20-year-old has gone on to do incredible things.
She competed in both the Asian Championships and the World Championships in 2019 – and she won both of them. Wenwen achieved the current world record snatch of 147 kilos while competing in the Asian Championships. Then, at the World Championships, she grabbed a world record that was just one kilogram below her previous best and established two new ones in the clean and jerk (186 kilograms) and the total (186 kilograms) (322 kilograms). In addition to her outstanding performance, she also bested Tatiana Kashirina, who now holds the all-time record total with 155-kilogram snatch and 193-kilogram clean & jerk, in her first six-for-six performance. “It was a great experience,” she said.
Weightlifting for women
Even while some weightlifting advice is universal, there are several pieces of advice that are not, particularly when it comes to training women and men. In terms of physiological, anatomical, and hormonal differences, women and men differ from one another, and this might have an influence on how training should be scheduled for women.
Historically, exercises designed specifically for women have tended to emphasize the use of lesser weights and a greater number of repetitions. Additionally, many women avoid lifting large weights because they are concerned about becoming “bulky” or “too muscular,” denying them the opportunity to develop the power and strength that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.
Perhaps we could replace our worry of becoming “bulky” with more realistic anxiety about losing muscular mass instead. Women lose between 3 and 8 percent of their muscle mass every decade after the age of 30, and the rate of loss becomes considerably more pronounced beyond the age of 60. Falls and injuries are more likely to occur when you have less muscle, which is especially true as you get older. This is another reason why muscular training is so essential, as it helps you retain muscle mass and strength as you get older.
Differences in hormones
Women’s hormones are cyclical throughout the month, as opposed to men’s, which are normally steady throughout the month depending on the phase of their menstrual cycle (if they have one).
The menstrual cycle is divided into four weeks, which corresponds to the month of the month. The follicular phase, which lasts around 14 days, is the first part of the menstrual cycle and is the most active. Because of the hormonal profile, the training experience is the same for both men and women throughout this point of the training cycle. It begins on the first day of bleeding and continues until the end of the cycle.
The luteal phase, which lasts around 14 days, contains a greater concentration of hormones than the other phases. The chemical composition of a woman is more catabolic in nature as a result of this, and it may be more difficult for her to increase the intensity of her exercise as a result. That is because from ovulation through the luteal phase, recuperation may be more difficult, sleep is frequently disrupted, and overall energy levels may be lower than they would be otherwise.
Depending on your individual response to exercise during the luteal phase, you may find it advantageous to lower the amount of your training and, in some cases, even the number of rigorous training days you undertake.
Research shows that muscular training during the first two weeks of the cycle may result in a “significantly greater gain of lean body mass than regular training,” even though training volume and intensity may need to be lowered in the last two weeks of the cycle. Incorporate muscle exercise into your regimen throughout your monthly cycle, but especially during the first two weeks, and you will see significant results. This may imply that you strength train more frequently or with a higher volume during the first two weeks of your menstrual cycle (for example, three to four times per week), and then consider reducing your strength training frequency to two to three times per week for the remaining two weeks of your cycle.
Differences in physical form
It is common for women to have broader hips than men, which causes the Q-angle to be bigger in women than in men. This is due to the fact that women tend to have wider hips than men. This is one of the reasons why women are more prone to knee injuries than men. For example, women in their college years suffer from knee injuries at a rate that is two to six times higher than that of males.
Additional differences in training
Given the variations between the sexes, it is critical that you concentrate on the knee and lower back stability to assist reduce your chance of injury when exercising. A well-rounded muscular-training program should focus on fundamental functional motions such as the squat, deadlift, horizontal push, horizontal pull, vertical push, vertical pull, and rotational movements, as well as more advanced exercises.
Depending on your objectives, energy levels, and hormonal cycle, you should aim for two to four days of physical exercise each week at the very least. Exercise your entire body twice a week if you train two days a week. Squatting plus upper-body push exercises (such as the bench press or overhead press) on one day and deadlifts plus upper body pull exercises (such as pull-ups or rows) on the other day will give you a complete body workout.
If you are exercising three to four days a week, try to split your workouts between lower- and upper-body exercises on each of those days. On one day, concentrate on lower-body squatting and quad-centric activities (such as Spanish squats and leg extensions), and on the following day, concentrate on upper-body pushing and/or pulling (such as bench press, pull-ups, rows, overhead presses, Arnold presses, etc.). Finalize your workout on the third day with deadlifts and glute and hamstring-centric movements (such as hip or glute thrusts, single-leg deadlifts, and forward-leaning walking lunges). On the fourth and final day, focus on upper body pushing or pulling (do not repeat the previous day’s upper-body work completed earlier in the week).
However many days you train, every day should involve some type of core training that focuses on planking, heavier carries (such as suitcases or farmer’s carry), and rotating work in a variety of positions (such as Russian twists or banded chops). In terms of repetition ranges (reps), aim for 5-10 total sets per muscle group each week in order to maximize strength. Rest times between sets should be at least 1-2 minutes in duration in order to maximize recovery for the following set.
Despite the fact that there are physiological variations between men and women, there is no reason to drastically modify your exercise regimen. Instead, keep track of any swings in your energy levels throughout the month, and strengthen your shoulders and knees to reduce the likelihood of injury if you do sustain one. Concentrate on lifting bigger weights (while still keeping proper form), pushing yourself properly based on how you feel, and remember that this strength training will significantly improve your overall health and lifespan.
Why should women lift?
Many ladies may begin a weight-lifting regimen solely with the intention of improving their appearance. Perhaps she came across a social media post or magazine article that featured photographs of ladies who were extremely slender and toned, and she wished to copy them. Perhaps she has been informed that lifting weights would aid her in her weight reduction efforts as she embarks on a weight loss regimen.
These intangible motivators may be true in some cases, such as the fact that strength training may improve one’s appearance. Even while an increase in lean body mass can assist in fat reduction, the advantages of strength training pale in contrast to the very real and often life-changing benefits of participating in a resistance training program.
- To foster the development of healthy movement patterns and to alleviate discomfort.
What about the old proverb that goes something like this: “if you keep making that face (or in this case doing that movement), you will get stuck that way?” Although this statement has a grain of truth in that the human movement system is extremely susceptible to muscular imbalance and the formation of dysfunctional movement patterns, it is not without flaws.
A large number of individuals suffer from persistent neck, back, knee, or shoulder discomfort. As many as 70% of people may cope with one of these disorders at some time in their life, according to some estimates (Davis et al., 2012). Musculoskeletal pain and related disorders are the most common cause of disability in the world today, accounting for over half of all cases. This sort of discomfort is typically attributable to improper movement habits that have developed over time (Corbett et al., 2019).
Strength training with a competent fitness expert can assist in targeting muscle parts that are underactive. It also has the additional benefit of improving general movement patterns, which results in considerable reductions in musculoskeletal discomfort (Rodrigues et al., 2014). The basic line is that strength training can assist us in maintaining pain-free movement.
- Increased self-confidence and the setting of realistic objectives for one’s life
Poor body image is a prevalent problem among women of all ages, but especially among younger women. Strength training has been shown to improve women’s opinions of their bodies, as well as their self-esteem levels in general, according to research. This is true when compared to other forms of exercise, such as walking or running (Seguin et al., 2013).
Women are frequently under pressure to see the number on the scale drop, and they may participate in disordered eating practices and fad diets in order to achieve this goal. Resistance training programs can assist women in shifting their attention away from weight loss and toward developing strength.
In a 2002 study, Szabo and Green discovered that participating in a resistance training program improved the psychological outcomes of women who had a history of eating problems. Overall, strength training regimens have the potential to liberate us from the cycle of diets and unrealistic body image expectations.
- An increase in the metabolic rate during rest
The majority of our total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) is derived from our resting metabolic rate (RMR), which accounts for 60 to 70% of total daily energy expenditure. Because muscle is a highly metabolically active tissue, a person’s lean body mass (muscle, bones, connective tissue, and body water) has a significant impact on their total RMR and metabolic rate, as well as their overall RMR and metabolic rate. In other words, it consumes more energy to maintain its own existence than adipose (fat) tissue does (Summerfield, 2016).
- Lower chance of developing metabolic syndrome.
According to the National Diabetes Statistics Center, 8.6 percent of the population has type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM). This indicates that about one in every twelve persons in the United States is today affected by type 2 diabetes (Westcott, 2012). In the same way, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is currently the leading cause of death among women in the United States.
These two conditions are connected because the prevalence of CVD is significantly higher in persons with dm, and those with dm have a significantly larger risk of receiving a future CVD diagnosis (Garcia et al., 2016). These two conditions develop as a result of metabolic malfunction and inflammation in the body, respectively. Weightlifting can considerably enhance insulin sensitivity, metabolic efficiency, and the presence of pro-inflammatory markers in the bloodstream and tissues.
Individuals who engage in regular strength training may have a 40 to 70% reduction in cardiovascular disease risk (Liu et al., 2019), as well as a 40 percent reduction in diabetes risk (Liu et al., 2019). (Shiroma et al., 2017). What is important to remember is that strength training can help us considerably lower our chances of developing diabetes and heart disease.
- Enhancement and preservation of bone mineral density
It is common for osteoporosis to be a quiet condition, characterized by bone fragility that does not manifest itself until the affected individual suffers from a fracture. Was it ever brought to your attention that one in every three women would have an osteoporosis-related fracture at some time in their lives? Osteoporosis is the most common bone disease in the world, and it has gotten even more prevalent as people’s life expectancies have increased across the world.
Increased risk of fractures and eventually immobility is associated with this condition, which is defined by decreasing bone mass and overall weakening bones in the afflicted individual. In the same way, as muscle and fat are dynamic tissues, bone is a dynamic tissue in that the body is continually regenerating and replacing it. For this tissue to stay strong and healthy, the rate of bone accretion (growth in bone) must be greater than the rate of bone reabsorption (decrease in bone) (Sozen et al., 2017).
This process can only take place if the skeleton is subjected to some level of stress (which must be greater than the stress of daily activities). Resistance training is the most effective method of applying the appropriate amount of stress to bone tissue in order to aid in bone formation (Hong & Kim, 2018). Overall, strength exercise is beneficial in maintaining a strong and healthy bone structure.
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Considerations for women over 50 who want to lose weight by weightlifting
Several studies have shown that women may continue to participate in strength training regimens far into their post-menopausal years. The decline in circulating anabolic hormones (estrogen and testosterone), as well as the reduction in muscle satellite cells, may make muscle hypertrophy more difficult to achieve, however, it is still feasible with well-designed exercise regimens and nutrition timing strategies (Sims, 2016).
There is nothing unique about this time of life that stops a woman from obtaining extraordinarily high levels of strength at this point in her career (if desired). There are, however, a few factors that should be brought to your attention.
CVD problems are more likely in those between the ages of 40 and 60. Additional illnesses such as high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes may preclude specific types and intensities of exercise and/or necessitate medical clearance from a physician prior to beginning an exercise program, depending on the frequency of the condition.
Another important point to mention is the possibility of developing osteoporosis among women in this age group, and high-impact exercise, exercises that increase the risk of falling, and exercises that place a significant amount of pressure on the spinal cord may all be contraindicated in some women of this age group (Mishra et al., 2011).
Is it possible to lose weight simply by lifting weights, or should I put more emphasis on cardio?
Skeletal muscle is a metabolically active tissue that contributes significantly to your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). In a healthy individual, skeletal and cardiac muscles contribute to around 30% of total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) (Mcpherron et al., 2013). The more the amount of skeletal muscle a person possesses, the higher their resting metabolic rate will be. In a similar vein, having a sufficient amount of lean skeletal muscle increases insulin sensitivity. If you are trying to reduce weight, these characteristics will assist you in losing more weight over time.
Cardiovascular exercise, on the other hand, is a vital component of any weight loss program. When there is a caloric deficit, or more specifically when total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) exceeds total daily energy intake, weight loss happens (TDEI). Strength training may burn fewer calories per session than cardio activity, and as a result, cardio is required to enhance total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). Consider the situation in terms of a financial equivalent.
Cardiovascular exercise is equivalent to your daily income from your employment, but strength training is equivalent to your investment in the stock market. Cardiovascular exercise will directly raise your TDEE, but strength training will increase your skeletal muscle mass and indirectly increase your TDEE by raising your resting metabolic rate (RMR) (Summerfield, 2016). A well-rounded fitness regimen with the objective of fat loss will incorporate both aerobic and strength training, as stated above.
Will strength training cause me to become very bulky?
While massive, bulky muscles are a fantasy for some women, the prospect of developing such muscles may make others feel anxious about beginning a strength training program. For the most part, females have smaller muscle fibers and a lower concentration of type II (fast-twitch) muscle fibers than their male counterparts, as well as a significantly lower serum level of testosterone (the most potent anabolic hormone) (approximately one-eighth to one-tenth the level found in males).
These characteristics allow for greater muscular hypertrophy (growth) in males as compared to girls, even when the two groups are subjected to equal training loads (Miller et al., 1993). In addition, it is crucial to realize that gaining significant muscle mass takes a significant amount of targeted high-volume strength exercise combined with a rigorous nutritional approach.
To put it another way, it takes a great deal of effort and devotion on the part of both men and women to achieve success. Finally, while partaking in a strength training program may result in some muscle hypertrophy (yay increases), it is unlikely that you would develop large, bulky muscles as a consequence of this activity.
Is it possible for me to be injured when lifting weights?
Gym equipment might appear to be scary at first glance. A common fear among women who lift weights is that they may damage themselves. This is especially true if they have an underlying musculoskeletal problem (i.e., back, knee, or hip pain).
Inappropriately designed strength training programs are more likely to reduce the risk of injury and, conversely, may ameliorate the symptoms of musculoskeletal pain syndromes provided suitable remedial exercises are performed (Clark et al., 2014). Conclusion: Consulting a competent fitness expert is the most effective approach to identify and fix movement compensations, as well as to learn safe and suitable weight-lifting techniques.
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