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Olympian, and guest editor of Zela, Tia Toomey tells us what the world of weightlifting is really like.
Erin Riley

7 Jul 2016 - 2:57 PM  UPDATED 8 Jul 2016 - 11:47 AM

When people think of weightlifting, they often think of men, large men. But weightlifting is a sport that can have benefits for everyone, and there are many amazing female weightlifters.

Here are some common misconceptions...


It’s an ugly sport


“I think a lot of people think that weightlifting isn’t a pretty sport, and requires a lot of strength,” Toomey said. “It’s really interesting because a lot of people think it’s a very ugly sport really.”

But Toomey points out that weight lifting actually requires a lot of grace, poise and coordination to get the results. It is a sport in which technique matters.

You have to be a large person


“A lot of people think with weightlifting you need to be quite a large person,” Toomey says, but her own career shows otherwise. Toomey has been selected to compete in the 58kg division at the Rio Olympics, meaning her must weigh in at under that mark. Despite her small size, Toomey’s personal best combined total for weight lifting is 194kgs.


You don’t have to be fit


“I think when people think about weightlifting, they don’t think about people being fit, they think about people being overweight,” Toomey said.

But Toomey herself was crowned the second-fittest woman in the world in 2015, at the World Crossfit Games. Her achievements have only come after significant training.

“It has taken me just over two years to develop some sort of that muscle mass,” Toomey said. “That’s been seven days a week of three to four hours a day of hard training, lifting weights, increasing my weight, and improving my nutrition so I can put on muscle.”


If you lift weights, you will get big


Toomey is quick to answer this common misconception. “You will not get bulky if you don’t want to,” she said. 

“You can come to a Crossfit gym for five years, and you’ll tone up a little bit. Probably, on the scales, you might be a little bit heavier, but that’s only because you have toned that fat into muscle. But I can guarantee you if you only come for five to six times a week, for an hour, you will stay a nice, consistent fit, healthy body.”

“If you’re doing it all-natural and coming an hour a day and getting your workout done, you will not bulk up by lifting a certain amount of weights. You’ll tone up, but you won’t bulk up.”


Weight lifting isn’t for women


“I think weightlifting is a great sport for women, because it requires so much skill and technique and power in order to lift a particular weight in one or two particular movements, Toomey says. “If it wasn’t for weightlifting, I would not have the confidence I have now.”

“Who doesn’t want to be portrayed as a strong, independent, determined woman?”



Australian Olympic Weightlifter, Tia Toomey is guest editor for a special edition of Zela articles. Tia has written, commissioned and created content for readers around her passion of sport and her broader interests.


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