When I tell people I lift heavy, I’m met with a mixed response. Some think it’s amazing, others are confused.

‘But you’re not big,’ they might say. Or ‘that’s a bit scary.’

Unfortunately, the myth persists that weight training turns women into hulks. At 56kgs, I’m proof that strength training will not make you look like the cover model of a bodybuilding magazine.

I started weight training about eight years ago. I’d done some kettlebell training at my local gym and was pleased with the tone and strength it gave me in a short space of time. Training with a barbell seemed a natural progression.

I was the only woman in the weights room, so I relied on fitness blogs and online tutorials to teach me the basics of lifting, as well as a few personal training sessions. This started an obsession that led to me becoming a personal trainer.

I’d always been too scared to enter powerlifting competitions, although the weights I was lifting in the gym attracted attention. Other lifters encouraged me to compete, but I worried I’d let myself down. Then, about a year ago, I decided to go for it. I needed a new training goal and decided it was time to show everyone what I could do.

My first competition was a South East England regional. I was nervous and made some mistakes, but came away with a bronze. However, after dropping a weight category and getting to grips with the powerlifting rules, I started winning gold. I placed 4th in the British Championships last year and I’ve just qualified for this year’s final in November.

Weight training has given me positive goals to work towards; squatting twice my body weight, smashing 20 pull ups or winning a medal at national level. When my only target was to stay slim, exercise was simply about working off that pizza I shouldn’t have eaten. I’d spend hours on the cross trainer and wouldn’t leave until I’d burned enough of that day’s food. For all that work, I saw little change in my body shape. My weight didn’t budge and my body fat percentage was average.

Don’t get me wrong, cardio has it’s place in any fitness routine, but my fixation on burning calories turned me into a hamster on a wheel.

Weight training gives me a far better return for fewer hours at the gym. Although my weight is still 56kg, my body fat percentage has halved from 26% to 13%. An increased muscle mass has given me a toned rather than bulky appearance and transformed my body into a fat burning furnace. When you consider that 1 pound of muscle burns 75 calories per day, while 1 pound of fat burns only 8 calories per day, it doesn’t take a maths whizz to realise that weight training will make your metabolism sky rocket.

After 40 (I’m not far off), women lose about 8oz of muscle every year. Weight training will counteract that muscle loss, as well as reduce the risk of injury, back pain and osteoporosis.

The basics of weight training are simple and it’s an activity anyone can do, regardless of age, skill or fitness level. All you need is a willingness to learn and a commitment to achieving your health and fitness goals.

Being consistent is the key to life-changing results.