Why women are picking up the iron...

The Olympics may have been 3 years ago, but the inspirational athletic women who graced our screens have left a lasting impression. The influence of our British athletes has meant that women across the country now aspire to the 'strong not skinny' mentality. Gone are the skinny waif ideals of women, now women want to be strong and are proud of the tonnage they're lifting in the weights section of their gym.

In 2011 just 0.9% of women were engaged in weight training, this has increased dramatically by 2013 to 20% and this figure still seems to be increasing. Many women are now favouring the weight room over other styles of training. This can be put down to their greater understanding of how weightlifting can and will positively affect your body physically and mentally.

The old clichés that weightlifting will bulk you up is a thing of the past as women are now far more educated on the exercises that can transform their bodies and improve their fitness levels.

Abandoning the myth of the she-hulk, most women simply do not possess the level of testosterone necessary to support a bulky physique, instead you will be left with a leaner, more defined body. The first and most dramatic effect of lifting weights is on fat loss. The more muscle you have, the more calories you're going to burn at rest. So building muscle is the trigger for your metabolism to speed up and get rid of that stubborn fat.

A clear sign of the times is the fact that in 2010 there were only two women competing at the Commonwealth weight championships, now in 2015 there is an entire squad. The rise of this all-female team has been supported by UK Sport, as last year they made a landmark and controversial decision to cut men's weightlifting funding and channel their efforts into supporting women. This was synonymous with the investment of campaigns such as, 'This Girl Can,' an attempt to get more women into sport.

The community of females pumping iron is supportive and enthusiastic, a sisterhood is being forged amongst women, and despite it being a solo activity it's not about competing with others but more about how far you can push your own body.

With all of the positives stacking up, weightlifting is the future for women's training and as more and more women are seeing the benefits of lifting iron, others are being influenced to try it for themselves.

Hannah Richards

MA Journalism