Mr. International on Women’s Bodybuilding
Irene L. Hause
Photo Credit: Collins
Strength & Health
Noted for his progressive thinking, Andreas Cahling is one of the first well-known male bodybuilders to train with women. In this exclusive interview he shares his feelings and opinions on the sport of women’s bodybuilding.
Question: Why do you think so many women are training with weights?
Answer: Because they got poor results when they tried all the things advertised as “effortless” methods for quick weight loss, spot reducing and firming up. In the middle of all this garbage, the real answer – weight training – was finally brought to their attention.
What can a woman expect to gain from weight training that she couldn’t obtain through some other form of exercise?
Total fitness! Because of the concentration and dedication required, weight training works your mind as well as your body. Physically you gain muscle strength, firmness, flexibility and endurance. With your posture and general appearance thus improved you are going to feel better psychologically. So, weight training is beneficial in improving the whole woman.
What has been your association with women’s competitive bodybuilding?
I’ve been following the development of the female bodybuilding movement since it began. Also, I have occasionally trained with several competitors, such as Rachel McLish, Claudia Wilbourn and Stacey Bentley.
How do you feel about men and women training as partners?
The sex of my training partner is unimportant. What matters to me is that my partner and I should have compatible personalities. I prefer working out with a humble person, one who doesn’t have an obnoxious attitude and who won’t divert my mental attention from my workout. I want someone who will be fully supportive.
Sometimes you’ll hear complaints about having to change the weights back and forth when training with a woman. But male training partners have to do that too because each partner will have special areas in which he is stronger. You cannot expect two training partners – male or female – to use the same weight for every single movement.
Does training with women heighten or lessen the competitive spirit?
It can add what I call the “show-off factor.” Whether you like it or not, males, in our society, are taught to try to impress the opposite sex. When a woman is around, a man will often squeeze out an extra rep or two whereas he might have otherwise quit.
Are women bodybuilders more or less dedicated than their male counterparts?
They are equally dedicated . . . and there is no doubt about it.
Tell me where you think women’s competitive bodybuilding is and where you think it’s going.
Although it’s still in its infancy, I think it is here to stay. It could very well become the sport of the future, with more participants than any other activity. Gyms and health clubs for both men and women are popping up all over the country like McDonald’s hamburger stands.
Do you think women’s bodybuilding will ever supplant the male version in popularity?
Because our society puts more emphasis on the quality of a woman’s appearance than it does on a man’s, I can see female bodybuilding surpassing the male version in terms of numbers. When it comes to competitions, the males still seem to draw bigger audiences. However, in the long run, I think couples competition might become the most widely accepted physique sport.
What factors would help women’s competitions and what, if any, hold it back?
If the judging favored the leaner, more average woman over the hardcore female athlete, it would probably gain faster acceptance with the general public. But, do we want bodybuilding or “body beautiful” competitions? If it’s going to be bodybuilding, I think that athletic factor – the athletic build – has to be in the forefront.
Is there the same camaraderie among women bodybuilders as there is among the men?
I respect all my competitors because I know they’ve put forth a great deal of effort to get where they are. Some of the women competitors, however, seem to have the wrong attitude toward each other. I think it is childish when competitors have bad vibrations amongst themselves. But fear and jealousy should diminish from women’s competitions with the passage of time.
What do judges look for at a women’s contest?
Because the sport is still in its infancy, there doesn’t seem to be any clear-cut criteria. On different occasions, different judges have been looking for different things. Basically, the controversy seems to revolve around the muscular versus the lean and sleek look.
Some of the women’s posing routines don’t look much different from what I’d expect to see at a modern dance performance. What do you think?
I look at it two ways. If you look at the competition as an athletic endeavor, some of the traditional male poses can show off a powerful female athlete. If you want more beauty and grace, some of the more flowing poses would be preferable. It’s a matter of opinion, though, and I can accept both.
Have women bodybuilders given the sport more or less credibility in the eyes of the public?
Definitely more! Lisa Lyon, in particular, has done a tremendous job in educating the public about bodybuilding. She’s a very credible spokesperson. She’s been on talk shows, and she’s been photographed by many of the world’s leading fashion photographers and has even appeared in Vogue magazine. Women’s bodybuilding is definitely setting a trend and eventually it is going to affect the way the average woman will look and dress.
What do male bodybuilders think about their female counterparts?
As bodybuilders, they’re aware of the incredible discipline and hard work that goes into the sport. Whether they like it or not, they at least have to respect the women competitors.
Are husbands or boyfriends of most competitive women also into bodybuilding?
I can’t really say, but the husband or boyfriend should certainly be supportive. Yet, the woman will be on stage, getting a lot of attention and publicity, so she might prefer someone who is not in the limelight. One star in the family is enough. Otherwise, it might get to be too competitive, and a rocky personal relationship can be very detrimental to contest preparations.
What is the major personality difference between women physique competitors and women who are not involved in the sport?
The urge to body build can come from many sources. It can be a desire for some type of improvement. It can be looking for a career opportunity, or it can be just a matter of wanting to shape up. In all cases, however, there seems to be a need for acceptance that makes one go out on stage. A lot of bodybuilders – men and women – will probably deny it, even to themselves, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting to be accepted. I think it’s great!
Overall, are women bodybuilders more or less vain than other women?
Less vain! They don’t spend two hours getting ready to go to the gym. The serious female bodybuilders dress comfortably in the gym and they aren’t overly concerned with makeup and such things that should be very secondary considerations when working out.
Do you think women bodybuilders are more or less vain than their male counterparts?
It almost seems to me that the men are more vain. No further comment, however.
What is the most important physical quality for a potentially successful female bodybuilder?
Having the genetic potential to build a proportional physique.
What psychological quality is most important?
Persistence! Let me give you a quote from Health Research magazine: “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
What psychological trait do you think is most likely to hinder a bodybuilder’s progress?
Self-doubt! You cannot do what you cannot picture in your mind.
What suggestions can you make to keep workouts from becoming boring?
Change your exercise routine frequently and try to have an energy peak by eating such foods as grapes, cherries or bananas just before working out. You have to have a positive attitude and be in the right mood; you must have a feeling of strength, confidence and aggressiveness.
What would you advise a woman to look for in a gym?
Plenty of equipment, well-functioning equipment for every single body part.
What value do you place on Jacuzzis, steam rooms, saunas and pools?
The benefits of Jacuzzis and pools are questionable. It depends on how many chemicals are poured into them. Steam is so moist that it almost blocks your own sweating. But a dry sauna makes you perspire, so saunas are great cleansing agents.
Whenever I detect a need to flush my system I get a couple quarts of fruit juice or bottled water and go in and out of the sauna, thereby exchanging a couple of quarts of liquid through my body The next day my skin tone is much improved, so I know I have flushed out lots of toxic waste matter.
Do you think women should supplement weight training with jogging?
Though jogging doesn’t appeal to everyone, it can be very beneficial for cardiovascular endurance. For those a little overweight, it puts too much strain on the knees and ankles. Personally, I prefer bicycling. It won’t strain the joints and is a prime fat-burner.
At what age can a female begin weight training?
Mental maturity is the key factor. Working with heavier weights should be saved until after puberty. Beforehand, however, a girl can use light weights in combination with calisthenics and other physical activities.
Conversely, then, is it ever too late for a woman to begin weight training?
I don’t think anyone who has movable joints is too old for weight training. As an extreme example, let’s take an elderly woman who is really out of shape. If she began with stretching and went on to combine flexibility movements with a light wooden stick as a “barbell,” she would definitely improve her condition. Whether she could progress to a point where she could work with light weights would then be up to her and, hopefully, her qualified trainer.
On a more personal note, my mother – who is 65 tears old – had stiff shoulders and she began doing presses with a very light barbell. She definitely improved her strength and flexibility in the affected area. And if you’ve ever seen the physical therapy department of a hospital, you know that working with weights is a major factor in many rehabilitation programs.
Finally, is a good body enough to make a woman sexy and attractive?
A woman can have a fantastic body but if she has a lifeless personality to go along with it, she is not attractive to me. If, however, she possesses both, that’s a super combination! If she is outgoing, warm, humorous and dynamic, in combination with a nice physical appearance, she is dynamite!
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Note by neckberg: Use the tag-system for more articles and thanks again to Irene for sending me articles from the past!