HELP… Where do I start?!
This is the most common question I get on the Weights 4 Women Facebook page. After receiving another one this week I decided to turn it into a blog post.
Please bear in mind that this answer will NOT suit everybody. This does not take into account injuries, illnesses, motor control and movement patterns etc
However, this answer does HELP a lot of people!
First of all – I would see if the gym has an instructor who can show you how to use the machines in the gym safely and effectively. This should be available in most gym.
Bonus – if you can afford to hire a good coach (do your homework), this will be the biggest return of investment you can make in terms of understanding movement patterns, muscles, exercises and programming
The reason I say machines first instead of free weights is to initially build some level of strength and stability against resistance in a controlled way (machines are fixed, less chance of injury).
Because you`re new to training, stability will be difficult under load. For example, the shoulder and hips are two of the key players here. So as a beginner I always try and get someone to use AS MANY machines as possible.
Although standing shoulder presses, squats, deadlifts, romanian deadlifts, split squats etc are fantastic exercises, they are also complex. Because they are complex there is a higher risk of injury due to you being new to weight training / instability. Because the machines take the stability control out of the lift you can start to feel where different machines target and how your muscles contract. For a beginner, this is quite important as many people don’t have the awareness of how a contracting muscle feels under resistance.
Practice contracting muscles WITHOUT any resistance and get use to what it feels like, where contracts as you shorten and lengthen muscles. If you can’t contract a muscle with no resistance, you will find it very hard to contract effectively with resistance.
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!
So initially get use to as many machines as possible. Stick to around 8-10 reps and focus on getting stronger first. Because you`re new to training and won’t be lifting heavy loads you can have very short rest periods and recover well, around 45 seconds. 2-3 sets per machine should be adequate.
Once you have built some strength over a few weeks, months – I would then have someone show you free weight exercises with dumbbells and barbells. You would have built some strength and stability by then and you can execute the exercises properly and safely. This means you can now continue to learn and progress.
As a few months pass you can then start looking at more complex exercise planning as you will know have all the tools in the box!
The most common new year goal we hear at Weights 4 Women is to lose body fat / lose weight.
This time of year there are many companies trying to capitalise on this. People trying to sell you a quick fix, detoxes, juice cleansing and the rest of the rubbish our social networks are spammed with.
If you haven’t read my article on the myth of detoxing, this is for you – http://www.weights4women.com/should-i-detox-weight-training-for-women/
You need to remember there are no magical drinks or no magical foods that are going to answer your new year problems.
Losing weight is both complex and simple, and it has to do with our energy balance.
There are 3 options – stay at maintenance , calorie surplus or a calorie deficit.
If you want to lose body fat / weight you need to be in a calorie deficit. In simple terms, you need to expend more energy than you are taking in (food & drink).
This is where tracking what you eat and drink is EXTREMELY important.
Apps such as MyFitnesPal are brilliant for this!
If you don’t know what your consuming on a day to day basis then the task becomes very difficult. It`s like trying to throw darts at a target whilst wearing a blindfold. Track your calories and try to be consistent daily, this will give you the best chance going forward.
So how will I know if I am in a calorie deficit?
By tracking what you are taking in each day you should be consistent with what ever number you are hitting in terms of calories. Once you are at a point that is consistent, are you losing weight or gaining weight? Or are the scales staying the same?
If the scales are staying the same then decrease your calories by 100 and monitor and track again. A good guide is to lose 1 to 2lbs per week. Any more then you risk losing muscle tissue (which is the last thing we want – more muscle = a higher RMR = more fat burnt at rest). You are looking to make long term sustainable changes that are maintainable after you have reached your goal weight.
Whilst weight training will amplify your results and progress, it is not needed. You just need to move a little bit more (walk instead of taking the car, use the stairs instead of the lift, stand instead of siting etc) and eat a little less.
If you are using a gym this new year, I wish you the best of luck! Although at times the gym can seem a scary place, it`s a community of friendly, like minded people who have similar aims and goals. Every one started out somewhere and we all remember that!
Any questions, feel free to send me a message. If this helped you, please share with others!
Welcome to Weights 4 Women Mercy!
Please introduce yourself and give us a bit of background information on how you were introduced to Olympic Weightlifting?
Hello, I am Mercy Brown and I am 20 years old and have been competing in Olympic Weightlifting for 5 years. In this time, I have been to every international except an Olympic Games. Across the years I have medalled in multiple internationals which include the European Youth 3rd Place, European Junior Champion, European Senior 3rd place. I also came 4th at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
I would like to congratulate you on your recent performance at the European Championships in Norway. Can you explain to the readers how the competition went?
The competition was a very interesting competition and one that I had trained particularly hard for. This was my first European Seniors and there was a lot expectation that I had placed on myself, as I always want to do the best that I can. So much so that I was nervous, but training was good and I was fit. I was working closely with my support team which includes my coach George Manners, team head coach Keith Morgan, my physio Tim Allardyce at Croydon Physio. I was prepared well and performed well.
I came 3rd on the snatch and 3rd overall. I really didn’t expect to medal at my first European seniors but it was always realistic. I always prepare myself to do what it takes to get a medal so I was focused on each individual lift as I know the coaches won’t put me in a dangerous predicament. The weight that has been called is what I am capable of and that’s what I remember. I feel like that what made it a great comp without too much pressure.
What do you consider your greatest achievement so far?
My greatest achievement at the moment is medaling at the 2016 junior world championships. This was a medal I had been working for since my first international it was a goal I had in mind and one that I though slipped away. Preparation for this competition wasn’t great and I was burnt out training to attempt the qualification for Rio 2016. I decide that at my final junior worlds I would have fun, relax and do what I can. I went on to get 5/6 lifts I even stood up successfully with a PB attempt but it got called for a press out and even set multiple British Records. It was a great experience and one I treasure as it was a defining part of my career and my maturity as an athlete.
What does your training programme look like at the minute? Can you briefly talk us through it?
There is no specific look at my programme, my coach George Manners writes the programme and I do it. I never really look to deep into things because I don’t want to think on the bar and become critical of myself. I take the summaries of what I need to be doing and what we are working on and apply it and follow my programme.
Favourite lift – Snatch or Clean and Jerk?
Neither, both have their ups and downs.
Who inspires Mercy Brown?
My coach George Manners, my team mates and myself.
If you could give the females reading this one bit of training advice, what would it be?
Commit to your training and stay focused. In order to achieve what you want to achieve you have to invest the time into it. My coach always describes it as banking. You can only withdraw what you have deposited, so you need to be your goal, live your goal and work past your goal.
Participation numbers in Olympic Weightlifting have been slowly increasing over the last couple of years. How do you think we can get more women into the sport?
I feel that the GB women’s team are working hard at what they do which I feel has affected the increase, they have been inspiring and been working hard. We have broken many barriers and many stereotypical perceptions so I feel now it’s down to people changing their mind-set you got to break past your own stereotypes, your own stigma’s and doubts and worries. You’ve got to weigh it all up and decide what is more important, whether it’s how others see you or you see yourself.
What are your future goals? Can you share one short term and one long term goal with us?
My main goal is to compete at my second Commonwealth Games in 2018 and to compete at Tokyo 2020. Those are my priorities and as I have accomplished everything I’ve wanted, these will be the icing on the cake.
Thank you for your time, Mercy. Is there anything you would like to add?
You’re welcome and anytime. It has been a pleasure and I am grateful for the platform you’ve given to share about what I believe is my God given purpose.
I would like to take time to all that have supported me and all that continue to support me.
Thank you to my sponsors and partners that make all of this possible.
If any of the readers would like to find out more about you, where`s the best place for them to go?
You can find me on
Facebook: Mercy Brown
For any enquiries just contact me directly through one of my pages
Mechanical Advantage Set – Squats
Some of you may have heard of mechanical advantage sets, however I will presume a large percentage of the reader’s haven`t.
I will try to break down the information as simply as possible, so you will be able to implement it straight into your training.
A mechanical advantage set works on the basis of overload using 2 very similar exercises / the same exercise but with the manipulation of angles / strength curve so you are able to complete more reps in a set. For this example, I am going to use the front and back squat – targeting the glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps.
If you are not sure what a front squat is / the benefits, please have a read of this article before you continue – http://www.weights4women.com/3-squat-variations-for-you-to-try/
So how do you do it?
So you are going to start with the front squat, for this example we are going to use 8 reps as the goal for the working set. The weight you choose should be specific to the 8 rep target. If you are able to 10 reps, the weight is too light.
Once the 8 reps are completed, you re-rack the weight and then get in position to do a back squat. As we are generally stronger on the back squat vs the front squat, you should be able to produce more force and subsequently add some extra reps to the working set. Going from a mechanical disadvantage (front squat) to a mechanical advantage (back squat).
It is as simple as that.
Be sure to use a spotter on this for obvious safety reasons!
Let me know how you get on, if you have any questions – please feel free to send me a message on social media or through the website.