Bullish Life: How to Get Muscles and Ignore Haters Who Hate Lady-Muscles


Jennifer Dziura writes career and life advice weekly on TheGloss. Here is an archive, and here is an archive of Bullish columns from our sister site TheGrindstone.

I’m a fellow woman trying to find a good workout that isn’t full of bullshit and I believe that you might have the answers.

Just read a ton of your work and I think that you’re fucking awesome. I have a hard time trusting the blond haired, giant thigh women all over the fucking internet telling me how I can get sexy curves.

I want to be strong and I want it to show. I was inspired by that picture of you flexing an awesome bicep during one of your comedy stand ups so… I was hoping you could direct me somewhere that I could trust for information on workouts, etc.

Thanks! I realize how busy you must be, but I would appreciate anything! Even if it’s one website link! OK THANKS!!!

Thanks so much for the vote of confidence! (If you want to see the standup comedy bicep photo, it’s here.)

I know what you mean about the fitness glamazons. I dislike those #fitspo graphics on Pinterest, all featuring models who would be gorgeous whether they worked out or not, and a few of whom have had their artful sweat beads sprayed onto them with a spray bottle. (I mean, who has perfect makeup and perfectly dry hair, but has sexy beads of sweat running down their six-pack? No one sweats that way).

To be clear, the Pinterest ladies are indeed “real women,” and there isn’t anything wrong with them, but they tend to have remarkably similar body types (ripply six-packs but extremely thin arms and legs). #Fitspo photos also tend to include very few photos of anyone who is larger-framed, not white (very tanned white), or even a little bit butch or androgynous.

Anyway, onto the good stuff. I stay WAY away from Shape and Fitness (that’s two different useless magazines). Oh, I should eat more yogurt and try jumping rope this summer? I can swap out a blueberry muffin for a handful of blueberries and save 200 calories? I never would have figured THAT out one, thanks! Basically anything with a regular-looking model or actress on the cover, I stay away from.

Anything with a scarier, veinier, “manlier”-looking woman on the cover is great, because those magazines (and books) will actually contain useful information (and the real scoop on how much and how hard you need to work out, and it’s not jogging in the park or taking the stairs at work or wearing a pedometer to see how many steps you take on the school run), and also because there is ZERO chance you will end up looking more muscular and veiny than you want, very much like how you are unlikely to just wake up one day and discover that you are a licensed medical doctor. Because that shit takes years of hard work, and if you don’t want to go any further, it’s really easy to stop. In fact, stopping is the default. It takes a lot of effort not to stop. So, do what bodybuilders tell you, and stop — or scale it back — when you want to. If you ever get more muscular than you want, just hang out and eat sandwiches for two weeks. Trust me, it’ll go.

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    • Natalie B.

      It’s refreshing to read that it’s okay to ignore the fitspo all over the internet. I *know* I can, but sometimes it’s really great to hear it from others. I’d never considered doing less than a bodybuilder instead of more than a skinny model. Revolutionary! Thank you!

    • C.


      • Jen

        “Nasty girls” week kind of soured me on Crossfit. Oh, and getting kicked out of one for “disobedience.”

      • Erica

        Is there any chance you will share the story of your disobedience, which sounds hilarious? Please please please?

        Btw: so much love for this article, and the final paragraph was the cherry on the protein shake.

      • Jen

        I might have to save that for another article. It was insane. Here’s my shaved head, though! http://www.jenniferdziura.com/uploaded_images/college-762694.jpg

    • Kim

      http://www.stumptuous.com is amaaazing as well as the book The New Rules of Lifting for Women.

      • geez louise

        Love Stumptuous!

        Also glad to have found this place.

    • http://katwhitfield.wordpress.com/ Kat

      “Most trainers are a bit shocked to work with a self-motivated person who will actually do 12+ workouts and keep records of them in between training sessions!”

      Ahaha, as a personal trainer I can attest to this. Do this and you will forever have the admiration of your trainer for your dedication and they will be MORE than happy to help you in every way possible. (If they actually like their job, that is)

      I’m also working on a new genre of fitspo, let’s call it realspo. I too agree that there is nothing wrong with photos of women with model physiques, but that’s LITERALLY ALL THERE IS. Also your point about having their hair just so and make-up just right and beads of sweat that don’t look like real sweat is spot on. Check out some of the pictures here if you want: http://truefitspo.tumblr.com/

      Women of color, curvy women, sweaty butts, bruises and T-Shirts? Who would have thought?!

      • Jen

        Love it! Between that and the profile of Cheryl Haworth on stumptuous (recommended by Kim below), I think this is a pretty great comments section.

    • Annak123

      try this

      as Edwin answered I am inspired that people able to get paid
      $6222 in four weeks on the internet. read more w­w­w.J­A­M­20.c­o­m

    • kj

      Oooh! Oooh! I bought “Strong Curves” by Bret Contreras about 6 weeks ago after seeing it reccommended online, and I have been waiting the opportunity to endorse it! The book contains 4 different 9 week workout plans which you follow based on your fitness level and goals, with nary a tiny pink dumbbell in sight… It finally convinced me to venture into the terrifying “bro zone” of the gym and pick up a barbell. The workouts are very structured and taylored to women, in the “these are the best exercises for female biomechanics” sense, not the “your goal should be to be as small as possible” sense. …best $20 I have ever spent!

    • inna

      Finally! Women and men have the exact same muscles, and in order to achieve strenghth they both must do the exact same excercises. Everyone has a different body type no matter how fit or ripped they are and I never understood why these “fitspo” pictures prefer one type as if it’s healthier or fitter then another. Olympic gymnasts, runners and swimmers are all at their peak but have very different body types. We should aspire to be the healthiest we can and not fall into another “perfect body” illusion even if it looks heathier than the previous ones.