As a society, we seem to be collectively less taken aback to see or hear about women lifting weights, and more supportive of the endeavour.
In addition, strength training has shot to the top of the recommendations list for many a mainstream health organization, including the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention; their website recommends strength training for men and women of all ages, listing benefits such as more muscle strength, increased bone density, better balance, weight maintenance, improved glucose control, and arthritis relief, among others.
It also acknowledges the benefits beyond the physical, saying that lifting weights “can also have a profound impact on a person's mental and emotional health.”
The advantages of lifting heavy-for-you weights (heavy depends entirely on the lifter) are myriad, from a higher caloric burn post-workout to greater loss of intra-abdominal fat to greater muscle definition. The “toned” look that many women are looking for is, in actuality, the building of more muscle and the burning of more fat, so going big (meaning doing anywhere from one to 12 reps with a "heavy" weight( moves you closer to toned than doing dozens of reps with a very light weight.
And that doesn't even touch the feeling of capability and confidence that comes with moving big numbers.
There are, unfortunately, still times where we may have to field unfounded warnings about bulking up (my standard response: women don’t have the testosterone levels to get totally jacked unless they lift often and eat very, very big, very, very often), but mostly the reaction is pure admiration and support.
People’s pre-existing ideas about what’s possible shift in an instant, and with every one of these interactions, we transform what it means when a woman says, “I lift weights.”
To be clear, we are not in any way obligated to usher in new expectations, but I like to believe that every time you act as an ambassador for big weights, an angel gets its wings.