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Defensive Strength for Women: The Power of a Push

Photo by Bev Childress of Fort Worth, Texas

In our polarizing age of extremes, it is easy to lose ourselves in rhetoric and spin. The #MeToo movement began as something nearly every American united around. We were aghast to see how many men used their power differential, however, defined, to impose their will on females. Though the bullying label is insufficient and oversimplified, these acts were a manifestation of simple bullying psychology applied in the most heinous fashion. Bullies seek a sense of power and control by imposing their will on the less powerful.

We all agree that women should not have to fear sexually predatory men or any men for that matter. Still, the reality is that regardless of the lengths societies take to make these instances less common, pathological men will still seek to dominate women. Utopia is a delusion. So, what can you do?

Get Strong Enough

Look around the animal kingdom. Women are not intended to be meek, dependent, and fearful. They are ferocious mama bears and huntress lions. Broadly speaking, human women are at a genetic strength disadvantage, but this is overplayed.

Pound for pound their legs are as strong as any male’s, and they tend to possess far better mobility, allowing them to easily get into mechanically advantageous positions where their strength is magnified.

Regardless, the goal shouldn’t be to be as strong as your opponent, but strong enough. Anyone who has ever been around fights knows that as long as strength is comparable, it will not be the deciding factor. Furthermore, bullies don’t want to fight, they want to dominate. There is nothing more terrifying to a would-be assailant than a vicious, shockingly powerful counter.

Georges Hebert founded the Natural Method on the notion that life inserts hardship and chaos so we should be strong to be useful. Western women have been given a different message. Fashion norms condition them to believe the ideal woman is exceptionally gentle, soft, and feebly thin.

They feel obligated to avoid calluses and spend their days walking on three-inch spikes. Fortunately, this is being challenged by the popularity of a fierce US women’s soccer team and the growing number of moms opting for kettlebells, barbells, or CrossFit.

Women Must Get Strong

There are a seemingly infinite number of reasons for women to get stronger, from staving off osteopenia to stoking the metabolic fires, to kicking ass whenever and however life demands it be kicked. Still, many fear they will get too muscular. “Lifting heavy weights makes you bulky.” Tell that to model Kate Upton, who deadlifts over 200lbs, does sled pushes with over 500, and bear crawls pulling 300lbs.

The reality is becoming a bulky female would take years of obsessive training, supplementation, and rare genetics. Lifting heavy weights a few days a week won’t add any bulk, particularly as most of the adaptations are neurological, focusing on the bodies ability to more efficiently recruit and fire motor units. Lifting heavy is actually the best path to gaining a lot of strength without bulk. Let’s get started.

Create an Effective Body

Remember, your legs are far stronger than your arms. Kicking someone away or pushing them away should start from your legs and transfer through a strong connected body. We want to train efficient, effective movement patterns, not isolated muscles. The body is most effective when many muscles are synchronized into an efficient, powerful movement. Let’s make it simple. Prioritize these movements a couple days per week:

Warm Up (3 rounds):

  • X-Band Walk – x5 per side
  • Superman – x5
  • Split Squat Holds – x1 per side (hold bottom position for 10 seconds, then drive out)
  • Dumbbell Row – x10 each arm
  • Push Up – x5

When you are considering what to train next, take a look at the following ideas and start with your weakest area. Incorporating all of these exercises will benefit you in the long run.

  1. Sprints: Humans should maintain the capacity to sprint. Your best bet, when met with a violent altercation, is to create distance between you and your aggressor. Run as fast as you can and fling obstacles in their way. More noise is better. I recommend starting by running up a hill of 20 yards or less. Do 5-10 sprints recovering fully between each set.
  2. Squats: Nothing will transform lower body power faster than good, old fashioned squats. Start with heavy dumbbell or kettlebell goblet squats. Work towards heavy front squats and finally back squats. I recommend adding a little weight each set and doing a set of 5, then 3, then 2.
  3. Romanian Deadlifts: Power comes from the backside of your body—those muscles that lie dormant when we sit all day. Nothing attacks the hamstrings and glutes like a good RDL. Do 3 sets of 5.
  4. Dumbbell 1 Arm Push Press: This one will teach you to transfer energy from your legs through your arms. A great total body lift for total body power. Do 3 sets of 5 per side.
  5. Daily Pull Up Practice: Finding time for daily pull-ups ensures you won’t bulk and is a great barometer of relevant strength improvements.

This program won’t get you ready for UFC 234, but it will equip you with a far more capable tool kit if the need ever arises to defend and evade. If for whatever reason, this plan doesn’t jive with your lifestyle and preferences, I recommend looking into other training options. There are a billion ways to get strong and most plans will work. The best plan for you may simply be the one you will consistently do.

If you have time to train frequently, but in shorter bursts, I recommend Pavel’s Simple and Sinister or Power to the People. Both are optimal for creating massive changes in physical strength without bulk.

If you like my plan, but want variety and/or complexity, I have many more premium training programs that will be released over the coming months. These would be perfect for taking this plan to the next level. I even have a 3 phase plan to take you from a kettlebell beginner to a strong, confident kettlebeller.

Create a Strong Mind

I’ve emphasized strength because I believe a strong body and strong mind are the most crucial variables for successfully countering an attack. Still, there are other pre-emptive measures you may want to consider:

  • Playing tag with the kids. Life happens in three dimensions. Tag is fun and also surprisingly good training.
  • Pepper spray. That stuff hurts!
  • Practice Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Any martial art will help, but as I understand, BJJ is the best for overcoming strength differentials.

When in doubt remember that this fight is not meant to fair or civil. Kick for the groin, gouge eyeballs, bite, tear, and do what is necessary to separate yourself from the monster.

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