women who lift

Michelle Regan
January 06, 2020

The world of women’s Olympic weightlifting is rife with misconceptions: it’s unsafe, it’ll make you bulky, it’s the same as body building. Tara McBride, Hawaii’s female Olympic weightlifting champion, is busting all of those myths and more.

Many women tell her they’re scared they’ll gain bulky muscle and they think they’re not strong enough to lift heavy weights. “Every girl thinks that they're weak and it just blows me out of the water,” says McBride. “Because every girl is so strong. Way stronger than they really believe.” She should know. In addition to setting records and completing the Ironman triathlon, she’s a co-owner and coach at Koolau Wellness Center and Crossfit Koolau.

She says many women come in with the goal of looking a certain way, losing weight, or flattening their stomach, but with that goal they’ll never be happy. When people focus on the external, their successes are rarely good enough. Instead, McBride suggests focusing on what your body can do. “I'm moving my body to be proud of what it can do rather than moving a certain way to make my body look a certain way,” she says. “By focusing on what your body can do, the side effect, the outcome, is you get the body you wanted in the first place.”

Here are a few facts to counter the myths:

  • Olympic weightlifting requires a lot of skill.
  • You’ll burn fat rapidly and gain lean muscle.
  • It’s a full-body workout that strengthens your core, arms, and shoulders.

Photo courtesy: Tupou Photography

Ready to start lifting? Here’s a circuit from McBride to get you started.

Warmup (5-10 minutes)
Start with a two to five minute walk. Then, two sets each:

  • 8 jumping jacks
  • 8 in-place lunges
  • 8 arm swings
  • 8 push-ups
  • 8 good mornings

 Dynamic stretching (after you warm up)

When you’re stretching, spend more time on tight areas to make sure you’re primed and ready to go.

Pick one of the three circuits below for your workout of the day.  

Circuit 1
Do as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes.

  • 10 goblet/front squats (below)
  • 10 push ups
  • 30-second jump rope

Goblet squat

Circuit 2
Four rounds each:



Circuit 3
Five rounds each with three minutes of work and a two-minute rest for a total of 25 minutes.

Strict press

Cool down
Two- to five-minute walk and then five to 10 minutes of any stretches that feel good.

Read about Tara and Tom McBride's journey to Ironman in the winter issue of Island Scene.

Photos courtesy of Tara McBride

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