Born in Doncaster, England, young Fraer Morrow has competed as a weightlifter all around the world. In 2019, at just 21 years of age, she traveled to Romania and brought home a gold medal and two silvers at the European U23 Championships.
Before this, Morrow had picked up valuable lifting experience in the United States and Australia. Looking ahead, Fraer is being coached by the 1994 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Giles Greenwood, and has her sights set on the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
Muscle & Fitness sat down with Morrow, to find out how she got into the sport, what tips she may have for other lifters, and what her approach to training and nutrition looks like.
Your Instagram account shows off some of your skills as a gymnast. What is your gymnastics background?
I started gymnastics when I was 6 years old. My [mother] was a gymnast, so it was something that I wanted to try. She also became a coach, and would often train me at the club that we attended. I trained in four-piece (Floor, Bars, Beam and Vault). I was always so much better at floor and vault because of the explosive power that I naturally had. So, because of this, I found it hard to enjoy the beam or bars. Then, I finally moved over to tumbling. I loved doing flips and throwing my body in the air, and competed at national standard, until I decided to back away from the sport and do it more for enjoyment rather than as a competitor.
How did you get started with weightlifting?
It got started through CrossFit. I was a little stuck with what I wanted to do with my training, as I wasn’t competing in gymnastics anymore. I wanted to lose some of the weight that I had piled on since then, so CrossFit stood out and interested me. I learned that I enjoyed lifting weights over the cardio pretty quickly!
Weightlifting requires explosive strength. How do you work on that?
I do a lot of jumps to help with increasing my explosive strength. Box jumps, long jumps and high jumps all help. I’ve seen that some weightlifters work on their sprint too.
Considering you’ve managed to stay very flexible, what is your relationship with gymnastics like now?
Once a gymnast, always a gymnast! But, I’m defiantly not as flexible as I was back then. I have found it easier to keep most of my flexibility from gymnastics training because I still stretch and keep on top of my mobility. I still like training certain gymnastics moves.
You are able to do some really great movements on the pedestals. Is this mostly for fun or do you find that this helps with form and balance?
It is mainly for fun, but I still do handstands and overhead work as part of my weightlifting training. You need to be able to hold weight above you head, and be stable, so I feel if you are unable to do that with just your body weight, how you are going to do it with a barbell and weight?
What would you say to girls that would like to try weightlifting, but might feel intimidated?
If you are wanting to go into a gym and train, then take a friend, or someone you feel comfortable being around. Ask a personal trainer for help on the lifts. They know how to teach. For those that want to get into Olympic lifting specifically, seek out an Olympic weightlifting coach.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to improve their lift?
Keep working with the barbell to get the correct technique. Weightlifting is a very technical sport and is hard to master. For advanced lifters I would still recommend technique training. I have been lifting for six years and I’m still learning technique. I would also recommend supervision from a coach.
Do you have your sight set on Olympic competition?
Two years ago, I decided not trial for the 2020 Olympic games because I couldn’t raise the funds for all the expenses required. I have big dreams for the 2024 Paris Olympic games, though!
Fraer Morrow’s Typical Snatch Workout Session
“Before every training session, I do a full-body warmup, to make sure I am feeling good for the workout ahead,” she says. “I then move on to smaller weights, to warm up with the bar, getting myself ready for my working sets.”
Morrow will run through the muscle snatch, overhead squat, hang snatch and power snatch, increasing the weight in order to build up to the working sets. During the warmup phase, Morrow’s rep frequency will vary according to her 1 Rep Max. At 50% of her 1RM, she might perform 6 to 8 reps. Generally, the final warmup set will be around 90%, consisting of 1 to 3 reps.
Snatch Working Sets:
Once Morrow reaches the working sets, she will attempt full snatches at 100% of her 1RM. This may involve smaller increments, such as 92%, 95%, 98% and so on, building up to failure.
“I will do snatch pulls and squats, and then will finish with bodybuilding-style types of exercises such as leg curls and leg extensions.”