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Record ID: 2e3948cc-59a8-45c7-9f40-a6cde279089f
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Type: Web Page
Title: Strength becomes her - Empowering women through physical strength
Authors: Kelly, Erin
Pumpa, Kate
Minehan, Michelle
ANRA Topic: Health, primary care and specialist service responses
ANRA Population: General population
Categories: ANROWS Completed Register of Active Research projects
Year: 2021
Publisher: University of Canberra


This project aims to examine the use of maximal strength training (MST) as a therapeutic approach to rebuild feelings of power and control for survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV). Physical activity is an empowering experience for women and has been positively correlated with self-efficacy, self-esteem and confidence. Higher levels of self-efficacy have been linked to increased resilience to adversity and decreased vulnerability to stress and depression, all of which are essential factors for recovering from IPV. For women, physical activities focused on increasing female physical strength, such as MST, are believed to be particularly beneficial as they challenge the traditional stereotype of female physical weakness and promote a sense of competence, confidence, independence and control over their bodies.


This project aims to assess the viability of an MST program to empower and improve the mental health of survivors of IPV.


The program is being run in two 10-week blocks. During the 10-week training block, women attend two one-hour training sessions per week. Each training session accommodates 10 women and is facilitated by two qualified strength and conditioning coaches. The training sessions are centred around maximal strength training, a training style focused on increasing physical strength.

This is a mixed methods study. Participants complete pre- and post-intervention measures. These include questionnaires relating to their mental health and wellbeing, an isometric mid-thigh pull (IMTP), a dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan and an interview on completion of the program.


Survivors of IPV are at increased risk of experiencing a range of mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. It is anticipated that this program will help to reduce the severity of these mental health issues as well as foster self-efficacy, self-confidence and positive body image. In the existing literature, the use of MST as an intervention to improve the mental health and wellbeing of survivors of intimate partner violence has not been examined. This research project will address this gap and determine the feasibility of an MST intervention with this population.


ACT Department of Health




February 2021


July 2021

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