Manon Bradley is a World Record holding powerlifter, multiple World Champion and powerlifting coach and was the first female President of the British Drug Free Power-lifting Association based in the UK.
Manon has taken the lesson’s she has learned in powerlifting into the rest of her life and even started a blog to share these lessons with others: CLICK HERE to visit
Check out this video of the incredible story of Manon’s journey through powerlifting:
Video created by: Nicola Leddy
Our interview below is with Manon herself, and also one of her athletes Natasha Thompson who recently competed at her first powerfliting competition as she squatted 80kg, bench pressed 55kg and deadlifted 110kg.
If you want to know more about powerlifting you can contact Manon at:
In 1992, whilst drinking from the water fountain in the gym the man behind me in the queue said “you’ve got great legs for bodybuilding”. That was my first coach – Patrick. He taught me the basics of lifting weights – he taught me my incline dumbbell presses from my preacher curls. I never did become a bodybuilder. But I learnt the joy of lifting heavy things, of feeling my muscles grow and get stronger and I loved the look on the faces of the men in the gym when I was able to pick up more than them!
I continued to enjoy lifting weights and sought out decent weightlifting gyms wherever I went. It wasn’t until 2004 that I learnt about competitive powerlifting. In April I entered my first comp and in May I became European benchpress champion in the under 70kg category. After 12 years of lifting weights I became an overnight success!
In the under 70kg class
World champion 11 times in benchpress and squat
European champion 9 times in benchpress, squat and deadlift
British champion more times than I can count (!)
Previous world record holder in the squat – 115kg (beaten by 1kg)
Current world record holder in the benchpress – 83kg
In 2015 my friend Charlie started coming to the gym with me. She had been unhappy about not losing her baby weight 2 years after the birth of her adorable daughter but she didn’t want to spend hours in the treadmill being bored. I had suggested weightlifting many times and finally she agreed.
Training with Charlie soon became Training Charlie. She was keen to know how to squat, benchpress and deadlift. As her lifts improved and the weights went up so did her confidence. She told me recently that back then she thought of herself as “just a wife and mum”. But the weight lifting gave her a personality, a place, something of her own. She became a “powerlifter”.
I realised then that coaching, for me, isn’t just about teaching correct form and perfecting technique – it is about unleashing the power within, enabling someone to see their own strength and helping them to set it free.
I also learnt that as I coached Charlie I was also coaching myself – my own technique improved as did my lifting, enabling me to break my own benchpress world record:
Charlie then bumped into Natasha and her love for powerlifting seeped out of every pore so much so that it wasn’t long before Natasha asked if I could help her.
Of course I agreed and we arranged for Natasha to come over to visit (we now have a gym set up in our own home) and she has been visiting about once a month ever since. She began her powerlifting journey in September 2016 and has just taken part in her first competition. She did brilliantly and far exceeded what she thought she could achieve only a few weeks earlier.
I was introduced to Manon via a chance meeting with a friend of hers at my local gym (which also happens to be a spa destination). Charlie had come in to train and I had noticed she was using a powerlifting belt, I was intrigued and we got chatting. I could see that she was very passionate about powerlifting, that just made me want to know more. Charlie introduced me to Manon online and we started chatting.
I had got to a point in my training that I was looking for something more, but I wasn’t sure what at the time. Manon then invited me to train with her one evening, just to see if it was for me. No pressure, if I liked it, great, if not, no worries. She put me through my paces and I just loved it. It was that evening when it all came together and I realized I had ‘found my sport’.
When I train with Manon, I want feedback on my form and what I can do next to progress my lifting. I always want to improve my technique, and Manon is great at giving me the right information at the right time. I love it when I have something new to try in between our training sessions and I always look forward to showing her what I have achieved. Her dedication to her own training is inspiring, she walks the walk as well as talks the talk.
It was a fantastic feeling at the end, but I won’t deny I was a little nervous to start.
Manon guided me through the event, advising me when to warm up for my lifts, supporting from the sidelines when I was lifting, handing me the bar on my bench and giving me encouraging feedback at the end. Having someone else who knows how the day works is very useful. As you have quite intense moments when you are lifting, then lots of waiting around while others compete. As a musician and conductor I’m used to an audience but powerlifting is a very new skill and it was a challenge to put myself out there in a room full of people most of whom had competed before.
For anyone wanting to take part in powerlifting – stretch your hip flexors! (they are always too tight!) And learn how to compete. It is not good enough to turn up on the day and assume you will achieve whatever you did in training. Competition and training are very different beasts – you have to know the difference. Having your coach with you on the day will make a huge difference.
For anyone thinking of coaching others I say “try it”. You will be surprised at how much you know and how much joy there is in seeing others achieve.
Belief, the fact that Manon believes in me, my potential, my ability and my strength gives me the confidence and drive to succeed. She encourages me to be the best I can be at that moment. Her attention to detail in giving me specific feedback when we train and she also sets realistic goals. I feel very lucky that I have a coach that I’m inspired by.
I truly believe that women can be empowered by sport – particularly stereotype busting sports such as powerlifting. This Autumn I am organising a day of “Empowering Women through Sport” to bring the joy of finding your strength to as many women as possible. I hope it will be the first of many such events.