THIS GIRL CAN - Olympic Lift, by Brodie Holmes

Friday, 24 November 2017

Brodie oly lifting

Brodie came along to our Olympic lifting session with Zoe Smith, read her article here!

On Monday this week (the first day of BUCS This Girl Can week) Brookes Sport organised an Olympic lifting workshop for women in the Sports Performance Gym. They arranged for Zoe Smith, Olympian in 2012 and Commonwealth Champion in 2014 to come and help teach Olympic lifts. The session was fully booked, and it wasn’t just for experienced Olympic lifters!

Women's Olympic lifting at Brookes Perform

There was a mix of CrossFitters, rowers, swimmers and complete beginners to the sport in attendance! Zoe talked about how she began weightlifting having switched from gymnastics on the advice of her coach, and her career took off from there!

Upon arriving we met one and other and got chatting, it’s always nice to meet new faces! Zoe introduced herself and we had some time for question and answers regarding the sport, Zoe and her experience. Interesting topics which arose consisted of those around male domination in the sport, working around weight categories and being afraid of the bar (yes, even experienced Olympic lifters can be afraid of it too!).

Hearing Zoe talk about what she has had to overcome throughout her lifting journey was truly inspiring. The dedication, hard work and commitment she has shown to the sport, even through the injuries, challenges and obstacles she has faced.


Unfortunately Olympic weightlifting has historically been a male dominant sport which often puts women off, and although women were officially awarded a world championships in 1987, it took until the 2000 Sydney Olympics before they were able to compete at a games.

There is a stereotype of groaning men bodybuilding in the free weights areas, but over the past few years the amount of female lifters, bodybuilders, and women who just want to try lifting weights has risen and is still on the rise.

Women's Olympic lifting at Brookes Perform

Many women fear from looking at men they will “bulk up” through lifting weights but this just is not the case. Women also seem to find the area of the gym with free weights daunting - I know I did at first! Male-dominated spaces, big (and I mean biiiig) guys, unwelcoming noises and feeling very small!

The difficulty I faced, and that many women still do, is getting into the sport due to the level of male domination, both because of what you see and think, and also because of what you are told. I’ve been told so many times that I “don’t look like I lift” or “why would you want to lift, it makes you look manly”.

The ideas put into my head to begin with are what held me back for such a long time. I spent ages telling myself I couldn’t do it! It is people like Zoe who are the image women need to see, we can do it too. Not just the men.

Women's Olympic lifting at Brookes Perform

During the session, Zoe took us through the snatch technique in reverse, step by step. For those of us who already have some experience, this was a great opportunity for us to see how we could improve our technique and get advice from an elite athlete. Meanwhile, for those new to lifting it was a great opportunity to be taught step by step and really focus on what they were doing whilst Zoe (and John - one of Brookes Sport’s Strength and Conditioning coaches) could watch over everybody and guide them through the process of the technique.

Although some struggled at first, everyone gave it their best and really shined through the session.

The workshop had such a positive response and had to be limited it to first-come-first-serve due to space in the gym we had available. There is a really strong demand for this type of workshop for women, and those who took the opportunity were confident enough to take their first step into beginning the sport, or at least testing the water to see if it’s for them.

Women's Olympic lifting at Brookes Perform

If you are interested in taking up Olympic Lifting, or strength and conditioning, Brookes Perform hosts open S&C sessions in the Sports Performance Gym on a Mondays and Wednesdays at 6pm.