Zoe Smith Olympic Weightlifter ()Zoe Smith Olympic Weightlifter () © Copyright

Lift like a champ

Olympic weightlifter Zoe Smith shares some of the secrets of her success and sets you a three-day lifting challenge

Zoe Smith is still only 21, yet she’s already represented Team GB at the Olympics and won Commonwealth Games gold for England. Not bad for someone who also had her funding cut, and missed a year of competition through injury. Here, Zoe explains how to train and live smarter.

Try new things
“When I was 12 years old, my coach Yvonne told me I was probably never going to make it to the Olympics as a gymnast, but I just might for weightlifting. It was probably just a hook because they needed me to fill the numbers because they were short, but I was open to the idea.”

Want to lift? Take up gymnastics
“Doing gymnastics is a great platform for weightlifting because it’s all about learning new moves and you also have to be strong and flexible - who knew? You’d be surprised how many people find it difficult to get into the right positions in weightlifting because of limited mobility, so my experience of lifting my own body weight and throwing my body around really helped. Gymnasts are so strong nowadays there are heaps that go into weightlifting.” 

Zoe Smith London 2012 ()


Train less, recover more
“Weightlifting is more about recovery, so I tailor my training programme so I get equal rest and training time. Full time training absolutely isn’t for me. Double sessions everyday is hell on earth.”

Think big, not butch
“It’s kind of sad that I have to keep justifying my sport. The fact is that some of society has this image in their head that all of us weightlifters are butch and masculine women and that does affect young girls wanting to get into the sport. You have to be strong minded.”

Hit your muscles hard with this weekly weightlifting workout

Monday or Day 1
5 sets of 5 repetitions each
Barbell Back Squat
Barbell Bench Press
Bent Over Barbell Row

Wednesday or Day 2
5 sets of 5 repetitions each
Barbell Front Squats
Standing Military Press
Barbell Deadlifts

Friday or Day 3
5 sets of 5 repetitions each
Barbell Back Squat – 5 sets with 5 repetitions
Barbell Bench Press
Power Cleans

To avoid injury, make sure you take a time out between each set and pick a starting weight that you can do for a total of 5 sets with 5 repetitions without struggling. Start light and focus on proper form (practice with just a bar if it’s your first time) and bump the volume up 2.5kgs each session for as long as you can. This is the simplest way to get results fast.

National Lottery players raise £34m every week, helping 1,300 athletes prepare for Rio 2016 and funding community groups, arts, heritage and sports projects near you. Lotterygoodcauses.org.uk 


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