Women are often encouraged to opt for cardio instead of weight training claiming that it will help them achieve a better shape and that women are not built to do strength training. Those people could not be more wrong and Becky (@beckycandrews414) just shared her story to prove her point why women should participate in strength training. #yourstory
Ok I think I want to start by saying getting into strength style training was hands down the most positive action I have ever taken in my life. It has changed my life for the better in so many ways, probably too many to even write about today. But I’ll rewind a little with an introduction to me and my background and how I came to be involved in the exercise style I am today…
My name is Becky and I am 23, I currently study an MSc degree in Physiotherapy, a career I decided to pursue after my undergraduate degree in Sports and Exercise Science. So you kind of get the picture that I have been involved in sport for most of my teenage years and into adulthood, but my type of training has changed massively. I began rowing when I was around 13 years old, I was tall, a little lankly with long legs suitable for the sport. Being involved in rowing taught me some incredible life skills like commitment, drive, ambition, hard work. Rowing was all about the skill, and the fitness, it was heavily aerobic based and was understandably about getting fitter to race and win. Strength training barely made an appearance, if we were lucky we were allowed to do some bench pulls but really rowing did not expose me to any strength training AT ALL.
My other half started Crossfit way before I did, he used to go at silly o’clock in the morning before work and I remember thinking ‘that’s ridiculous why would you do that it can’t be that fun or interesting that its worth a 4:30am get up for’. After months of him trying to persuade me to try Crossfit, I eventually caved, I told him I would go for the 3 introduction sessions and probably never again.
I was SO novice at Crossfit when I started! I had a vague idea what squats and deadlifts were and I obviously had an aerobic exercise background so I wasn’t starting from nothing, but WOW I realised there was SO much more to exercise than monotonous back and forth repeated movements. After doing Crossfit for around a year only a couple of times a week, I started to pick some goals to try and achieve; things like do my first press up, then my first pull up, try and deadlift 100KG and so on….. once I started to see a change in myself and my body a little, I decided to completely give up rowing and do Crossfit full time.
If you don’t know much about Crossfit it is essentially a sport that incorporates; fitness like running, rowing, cycling with weightlifting like squatting, deadlifting, the clean and jerk and the snatch and gymnastics elements like pull ups and handstands. The first thing I noticed about Crossfit was the people; the coach I had for my introduction sessions and the coaches I then met from there on out (a massive shout out to Crossfit Liverpool), were SO amazing. They were knowledgeable, kind, caring, inspiring and helpful beyond belief, they helped me understand how the body works in regards to strength training and helped me understand the sensible achievable time frames of gaining more strength. The other people training around you are also amazing, everyone is there to better themselves and to try and achieve things, everyone lifts each other up to do the best they can and that is something I did not find in the rowing world.
I have now done Crossfit and strength training properly full time for around 4 ½ years, I have gone from being a complete beginner, to becoming a competitive Crossfitter competing in competitions right from novice category to elite team competitions and more. Some of my best achievements in life are within Crossfit, being able to achieve things you genuinely NEVER thought you could. I never thought I would be able to do a pull up, let alone string 20+ of them together, I never thought I would be able to squat a barbell weighing 70+kg and then one day your cleaning it and jerking it over your head, the journey through strength training is one I have never regretted starting.
As a woman, I want to encourage other women (and men of course) into trying any type of exercise that is maintainable for you, something you can really get involved with and go through a journey with. But I really want to tell you how amazing strength training is …. Of course I have found Crossfit / weightlifting and I love that, but there are so many other incredible strength sports including powerlifting, strongman, Olympic weightlifting alone, bodybuilding styles and more. Strength training gives you so much more than I ever imagined, it makes me feel like I’ve worked hard, it makes me feel like I am so strong I could conquer anything, it makes me feel like I really can achieve anything I put my mind to just by applying the work you put into training into other areas of life.
Now I’m not trying to get anyone to run to your local Crossfit gym and give it a try (although you totally could do this), I just want people to see how accessible and amazing strength style training is! Even if you start off really small, just trying out one type of lift a week (a squat, a deadlift, a bicep curl, a press up progression) I promise you will start feeling changes that might make you want to carry it on and progress even further!
Strength training has of course changed my body composition, I carry more muscle and this is something I am SO PROUD of, it represents years of effort and body adaptation. BUT my physical appearance is NOT the reason I strength train, it is simply a by-product of the effects of getting stronger, the way strength training makes you FEEL is so much better than the way you look. Forget about achieving steps or burning calories just to try and validate yourself by the socially conformed idea of beauty. NO, strength training will make you want to achieve heavier lifting numbers, improve a skill, become mentally stronger, improve your confidence and make you feel like you are beautiful because of what you CAN DO and not because of how you look or the size clothes you wear.
Remember that exercise is a medium to express yourself, make yourself feel HAPPY, relieve your stresses and boost your mood, it can be hard of course it can, but I promise the rewards will outweigh this every single time. And I know I am biased…. but lifting a barbell or a dumbbell is an incredible way to achieve all these things and will change your life for the better, I promise <3.
PS. If you’re interested in strength training and don’t know where to start here are some great accounts / people who may provide more insight into different strength sports, what they entail to see if its something youd like and perhaps how to get involved in them (and also I’d love to chat to anyone with any questions)! @beckycandrews414
@megsquats (also on youtube)