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Rugby Tip of the Month: Dispelling myths about women and weight lifting

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If you've logged into any social media during the month of March, chances are you saw something related to the strength training facilities made available at the NCAA Women's Basketball tournament. And not only did I empathize with the athletes and coaches, but I was frustrated with the idea that the administration probably neglected to consult with a credentialed strength coach on what was needed.

Mia Hamm, legendary USA Women's Soccer player, once said "My coach said I ran like a girl, I said if he could run a little faster he could too." But what if we replace "ran" with "lifted"? Or "faster" with "heavier" in relation to how strong one was?

With that in mind, I'd like to address a few myths about women and weight lifting:

1) "I'll get too big"

Team sport athletes, like Rugby players, would be in the weight room 2-4 times a week, at most. The type of training one should be doing, along with the volume, is WAAAAY below that which one would have to do to prepare for a bodybuilding or figure competition.

Do some athletes experience a noticeable change in weight? Yes, and usually in the form of healthy, lean muscle mass which is only helpful in a contact sport like Rugby

2) "I don't want to get hurt"

Injuries from weight lifting occur when one is reckless or following a program/exercise that is not appropriate for their experience. Having a well designed program that fits one's ability and accessible equipment can provide the right progressions throughout the season/year.

3) "I don't have time"

An athlete does not have time NOT to strength train if they plan on playing a sport as intense as rugby. And not just for the ability to produce more force, but to help protect your body in a way that allows you to absorb more force in the tackles, rucks and scrums.

4) "I don't know what to do (where to start)"

Even gravity (bodyweight) is enough to start making a difference. Whether it's in your bedroom or at the neighborhood park, there are plenty of ways to adapt certain movements to start making a difference.

Want help on getting started?

Send me an email,, with "Strategy Session" in the subject line to schedule a FREE 15 minute conversation. We will quickly brainstorm some ideas on how you can safely start, or enhance, your strength training routine.

Yours in Health & Performance,  Justin Goonan, MSc, CSCS Owner/Coach  Universal Sports Strength & Conditioning 


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