It only took about 4,900 years for weightlifting to embrace women, but a much shorter time for glove makers to recognize that women need their own specific gear
PARKER, CO -- Weightlifting has been around for at least 5,000 years when Chinese soldiers were required to lift weights as part of their training, so the U.S. Olympic Committee tells us. And images of Greek athletes, muscles bulging as they competed in the original Olympic Games, are an indelible part of our western culture. This venerable competition survived the demise of the ancient world to rise like a phoenix and become an event at the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.
It was a mere 101 years later that women weightlifters would participate for the first time in the world championships for weightlifting. US women won eight medals competing in the world championships over the years. It wasn’t until 2000 at the Olympic Games in Sydney that women weightlifters could lift for Olympic gold, however. Tara Nott, lifting in the 48kg class, was the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal in her event. Cheryl Haworth, lifting in the 75 and up kg class, won a bronze medal in the Australian Olympics, lifting 258.5.
While women weightlifters were waiting to get an Olympic event of their own, American women competed nationally in the Miss Olympia, a competition which began in 1980. Among the standards for competitors in the competition, Wikipedia tells us, was to be “fitness models for the average American woman.” Rachel McLish, the first winner of the competition, was very promotable and raised awareness of women’s weightlifting.
But just because these women were stronger than the average female, they were not spared the sex discrimination that women in every other sport suffered on their way to the top. The International Federation of Bodybuilding & Fitness (IFBB) made several changes to the rules for female body builders in the 1990s in an attempt to feminize the sport, according to Wikipedia. Judges were told to deduct points from women who were “too big,” which meant too muscular. In 2005, the IFBB created a rule that required women to reduce their muscle mass by 20 percent in order to enter the Ms. International competition. Meantime, men’s body building rules have not changed.
Women weightlifters have changed the sport now to be more about weight lifting and less about how they look. Originally, women competed in bikinis to show off their muscular development. Now they wear gym clothes, tee shirts and shorts and a good pair of sport shoes. As always, sport clothes and equipment makers recognized a good market when they saw it: Just as the sports bra is now available in every style and size for every activity, women weightlifting gloves have now become a staple with sports equipment purveyors.
Until weightlifting gloves came along, lifters used straps or wraps to protect their hands and some still do. Gloves, however, offer weightlifters several benefits, according Livestrong.com. Protection is the foremost benefit because lifters who workout many hours a week can develop painful blisters and rough calluses. In addition, bars that have seen a lot of use can flake into sharp fragments causing abrasions to the hand.
The second benefit is to the lifter’s grip which can be strengthened by the use of gloves. Gloves eliminate the sweaty grip that comes with a serious lifting workout. A good weightlifter’s glove can be easily washed and dried -- again, dealing with the sweat factor. And finally, just the act of putting on the gloves can build a lifter’s confidence as it becomes part of their pre-lifting ritual.
Gloves for the men weightlifters have been around for a while but they don’t work well for women. According to Livestrong.com, the glove must fit snugly; having a wrinkle in the palm of the glove while lifting 150 pounds is not an option. The solution, of course, was to create weightlifting gloves specifically made for women.
Women’s weightlifters’ gloves come in several fabrics and styles. Neoprene and leather gloves offer the best grip. Most gloves have the ends of the fingers cut off to allow for air circulation. Some gloves have an adjustable wrist band which lends additional support during lifting.
For a women’s weightlifting glove of your own, see Ladies Only Sports line of Harbinger weightlifters’ gloves for women. We offer four models: women’s flex fit, the training grip, pro wash & dry and the power glove, all at $25 or less. Check them out at http://www.ladiesonlysports.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=weightlifting+gloves&x=0&y=0.
Ladies Only Sports is the online source for active women, with a complete line of sports bras, workout tops and bottoms, workout gear and such accessories as jewelry, pom-poms, water bottles, heart rate monitors and pedometers. Call 877-567-5239 for complete details.