As the GB team return from Rio with their hoard of medals, there’s no doubt that elite female athletes inspire young girls to take up sport – from track cyclist Laura Trott, who won two Olympic gold medals, to Nicola Adams, who was the first women to win a gold medal for boxing in the history of the Olympics at London 2012, and won gold again in 2016.
Sport England’s most recent survey on sport participation, released in June 2016, revealed that increasing numbers of women are taking part in sport, stating: “…the overall increase is largely because more women are getting active, accounting for over 75 per cent of the increase”.
Not everyone competes at the highest level, but many women keep their fitness levels up through gym-based exercise, often working with a personal trainer for maximum results.
In a previous blog, The CrossFit Craze, we explained the basics of CrossFit, which combines strength and conditioning exercises, performed at high intensity.
This includes activities that can be competitive, for example Olympic weightlifting, running or gymnastics, but carried out for personal fitness benefits rather than competition.
The demanding nature of CrossFit training can seem intimidating to those who haven’t tried it, but in recent years, women of all ages have been waking up to its many benefits. And there’s no need to throw yourself in at the deep end: for example, you can start with bodyweight exercises or by lifting a PVC pipe and progress to heavier weights over time.
WOMEN’S CROSSFIT GAMES
At the 2016 CrossFit Games, Iceland’s Katrin Davidsdottir became the women’s champion for the second year in a row.
Katrin came to CrossFit after many years of training as a gymnast and some competitive experience of both track and field athletics. However, women at pretty much any level of fitness can start a CrossFit programme under the guidance of a personal trainer.
WHAT AGE CAN WOMEN START CROSSFIT?
Just like when girls join sports teams or take part in activities such as gymnastics from an early age, a personal trainer can work younger clients on CrossFit programmes, but they will need to monitor their activity carefully, as discussed in our blog on Gym instruction for adolescents.
However, it’s worth remembering that the only British female weightlifter who qualified for Rio was aged just 17. Rebekah Tiler, from Keighley, West Yorkshire, came second in Group B for the women’s 69kg competition, lifting a weight of 227kg.
At the other end of the scale, there are many women over 40 or 50 who are using CrossFit training to stay in shape and reduce the effects of ageing.
WHAT RESULTS CAN WOMEN EXPECT FROM CROSSFIT?
Because a typical CrossFit workout involves high-intensity exercise over a short period of time, those taking part often see speedy results, including weight loss, and improved aerobic and anaerobic fitness.
The weight-bearing exercises increase muscle mass and boost your metabolism, and the functional nature of the movements can help you carry out everyday activities with more ease.
However, because of the focus on speed and high-intensity, it’s important for anyone taking up CrossFit to take advice from or work closely with a qualified fitness instructor.