In this episode, we discuss why women should lift weights. Host Dr. Scott Jablonka, Carolina Movement Doc, is going to debunk a couple of myths and squash some of the stigmas that go along with female weightlifting with special guest, Charlotte Quan.

Women should lift weights. Weightlifting is empowering. It allows women to become stronger and it builds confidence in your body and beyond. And contrary to popular opinion, weightlifting will not make you look like a man. It will not make you look bulky.

The Move More Podcast

Charlotte Quan

Charlotte Quan has proven, you are never too old to change things up. Movement does not discriminate because of age.

She is the owner of CrossFit MH at Mint Hill Functional Fitness. Before CrossFit, she considered herself a runner. She has been running for 25+ years. She ran local races from 5 to marathons. In her 40s she felt herself breaking down.

She started her CrossFit journey at the age of 47 when her husband introduced her to it. It has become the main form of exercise she does. Like many women, she couldn’t even do a pull-up when I started CrossFit. Now at 56 years old, she qualified and competed at the No Bull CrossFit Games 2021.

As a woman in fitness, she truly believes that the “barbell is king and cardio is queen”. Seek the barbell out, it will transform your life both physically and mentally. Strong is beautiful. It is empowering.

Charlotte at the CrossFit Games


Definition: According to NBC News, “a form of high-intensity interval training, CrossFit is a strength and conditioning workout that is made up of functional movement performed at a high-intensity level.”

NO BULL CrossFit Games

The CrossFit Games are the World Cup of the CrossFit world. According to Wikipedia, “Athletes compete in a series of events at the Games, which may be various standard CrossFit workouts consisting of metabolic conditioning exercises, weightlifting, and gymnastics movements, as well as a range of activities from other sports such as swimming and cycling.” Typically, events are not revealed until the start of games to test the readiness of the athletes.

At 56 years old, Charlotte Quan qualified to compete at this prestigious event. She still can’t believe it.

She was a part of the CrossFit Open and advanced onto the age group qualifiers with 200 others. Within that group, she made it in the Top 20 which earned her an invitation to the Games.

What is weightlifting?

Definition: According to GlobalNews, “Weight lifting isn’t just about bulking up and building muscle mass, the experts say. Its benefits include improved posture, better sleep, gaining bone density, maintaining weight loss, boosting metabolism, lowering inflammation and staving off chronic disease, among a laundry list of positives.”

What got Charlotte Quan into weightlifting?

The aesthetics of weightlifting intrigued Charlotte Quan. At the gym, she saw a lady a little bit younger than her and she told her husband if she could look like her even a little bit, she’s all in.

It wasn’t easy. She enjoyed the lifts when she started in CrossFit. But she knew if she wanted to compete she was going to have to get stronger.

This is especially the case with smaller athletes (Charlotte weighs in at 103 pounds) such as herself. Charlotte decided to take about a year off of CrossFit to focus on strength because of her size.

The stigma of women in weightlifting


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by CharQuan (@charquan)

The stigma Michelle found tends to be on media, including social media. She’s seen a lot of negative comments on Instagram.

Her husband was, on the other hand, very supportive. He had pushed her to focus on lifting for its benefits. In her youth, her brother encouraged her to become athletic. He wanted her to be strong. She’s been very fortunate to have support throughout her life.

Fun Fact: Weightlifting will not cause you to look bulky. That requires a lot of training and extreme focus on diet.

Not all women are that fortunate. And there are a few things that cause this stigma.

According to an article from Boston Magazine, part of the issue is the lack of education. People feel like when you want to lose weight you shouldn’t lift heavy weights. The bigger issue is American society does not approve of women who lift. People believe women should be “toned but never jacked.” This is why women tend to gravitate towards cardio exercises. The goal of women dictated by society says women should look fit, slender, and soft. Women don’t look good with muscles.

Weightlifting myths

Weightlifting makes you look like a man

It absolutely does not make you look like a man. It makes you look strong.

Charlotte does not want to go into older age with a frail look. Her mother got really think as she aged. She was an avid mall-walker. She did not lift weights. Charlotte wants to look strong and capable.

Dr. Jablonka adds that we don’t want to fall into that spiral of decrepitude. We still need to get up from the chair. We need to be capable.

You can’t squat when you have arthritis in the knees

Charlotte Quan has not found this to be the case. She has adjusted her routine to allow for much more warming up. But she firmly believes that while things may be harder because of arthritis, people should continue to weightlift.

We recommend you work with your doctor and a movement specialist to find out what works for you and what adjustments you may need to make to be able to perform lifts such as squats correctly.

Running is better than weightlifting

Both are great. Whatever gets you moving is key. Go with what is going to keep you showing up. However, even Dr. Clay Sankey, owner of TruMotion Therapy and avid runner, admits weightlifting has a lot more health benefits. If you must choose one, both Dr. Sankey and Dr. Jablonka recommend weightlifting.

But why not both? Dr. Jablonka pushes his clients to do both for a holistic approach to health.

Benefits of weightlifting


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by CharQuan (@charquan)

Charlotte Quan says lifting weights is empowering. When she lifts, she feels powerful. And it’s something she carries throughout all places of her life. This feeling of power causes you to feel more confident. It changes your life for the better.

How to get started weightlifting

Charlotte recommends CrossFit. There is generally a portion that focuses on weightlifting and it’s a great way to get started for novice lifters. It’s how she got started.

When she decided to focus on building strength, she worked with strength coaches.

Dr. Jablonka recommends you check up on your coach’s credentials. Not all coaches know what they are doing. And it’s important to work with someone who is going to help you lift correctly. Anything done incorrectly can be dangerous.

Charlotte’s number one advice, especially toward young athletes, is consistency. You have to stick with it. People come in with an idea that they can grow muscles quickly and that is just not the case. You can’t fake consistency. It only comes with time.

Beyond that, you need to focus on nutrition and recovery. Nutrition is key to helping replenish your body after a weightlifting session. Sleep helps your body rebuild. Together, this will help you see results, but it will take time.

Follow Charlotte on Instagram for more information about her journey.

Carolina Movement Doc

If you are in the Charlotte, NC area and want to improve your movement, come see Dr. Jablonka at the Carolina Movement Doc. Anyone else can reach him online. He loves discussing the science of pain and anything related to movement.

Want more movement tips from Dr. Scott Jablonka? Listen to older episodes of our Move More Podcast.