Bev Francis Training Philosophy

Beverley “Bev” Francis is an Australian gym owner and retired professional bodybuilder, powerlifter, and national shot put champion.

Best lifts
Squat: 500lb/230 kg
Bench press: 335lb/152 kg
Deadlift – 501lb/227 kg

Bev Francis (February 15, 1955) was born in Geelong, a city 45 miles from Melbourne, and lived there until she left high school. As a child, she was, in her own words, “an active tomboy,” and participated in all kinds of games.

In school she competed in netball, softball and hockey.

Bev Francis: “I think that one of the biggest influences in my future development as an athlete was the fact that I did classical ballet and dancing from the age of four until I was fifteen. This may be a little surprising, since I have just characterized myself as a tomboy, but somehow the ideas never seemed to me to clash.

Outside, mum could never talk me into wearing any frills or the colour pink, but for ballet I felt perfectly comfortable in a tutu and pink tights!

I was never a ballerina, but I did enjoy the work, and it was in ballet that I developed basic rhythm, strength, balance, a sense of movement and selfdiscipline. Also the idea of something very feminine mixed easily with my basic tomboy attitude.”

Her mother was a dancer and her father always loved long distance swimming, long distance running and performed all sorts of strength feats, such as one-arm push ups.

Editor’s note: The following training thoughts were developed in 1979. I really do not know how she would workout today. For questions I linked her website at the bottom.

Weight-Training Program

Weight training and lifting were part of her overall training for the shot put. The bench press and the full squat are, in her view, the two most important lifts for all throwing events, and consequently, she concentrated on them.

She did not train on the deadlift but she pulled a creditable 501lb/227kg. She included other movements and exercises to improve general body muscle condition and strength.

Olympic lifting was included in the program because these lifts involved the shifting of a weight in a movement. And this required more skill, coordination, speed and timing than the power lifts and it would improve the actions in shot putting.

Bev discussed her weight program in two categories: the program followed when she was starting out, and the program she employed in ther late 70s.

Here’s her workout routine when she started lifting
Her coach, Franz Stampfl, took her to the weight lifting room and discovered that her best lifts were 110lb/50kg in the bench press and 154lb/70kg in the full squat.

He setted up for her a program of 3 sets of 10 with 70lb/30kg in the bench press and 3 sets of 10 with 132lb/60kg in the squat.

In the same session, she would do arm curls, pulleys, and some sit-ups.

This was repeated everyday, seven days a week. The workouts rapidly grew to include 90-100lb/45kg in the bench press and 176lb/70-80kg in the squat, and the number of repetitions also grew.

She worked with the weights every day, and sometimes twice a day, doing squats and especially the bench press in every session.

She soon began working mainly with sets of 10, 5 , and 3 with as heavy weight as she could handle. She also did as many sets as possible, 10 or more. She supplemented these two lifts with many other weight training exercises also.

It was only by such intensive lifting that her strength grew so rapidly. Easy long running, flexibility exercises, throwing and sprinting combined with the lifting to give all round development and fitness.

Bev’s program around 1970
Bev’s program comprised two parts: the intensive phase and the less intensive phase (active recovery). In the first (“intensive”) phase, she often lifts twice a day, totalling as many as 40-50 thousand pounds a day of lifting.

“Intensive” Phase of Current Program
In her present program, she worked extremely hard for a period of 6-10 days, heavy bench press workouts every second day and heavy squat repetition workouts for 3 out of 4 days. On alternate days (in between bench press days,) she did a gerneral workout, used exercises such as arm curls, wrist curls, pulleys, leg extensions, hamstring curls, pullovers, lateral raises, barbell rowing, sit-ups, etc.

Active Recovery (Less Intensive) Phase
In this phase she did light squats and bench pressing every 2-4 days, the general workouts (as described above,) and more dynamic work such as snatches, clean and jerks, jump squats, and hopping and jumping exercises. During this period she lifted 6 times a week. It is generaly durig this active recovery stage that she found improvement in her maximum lifts.

On the other hand, it is during the intensive lifting stage, when she lifted every day and often twice a day, that she noticed an increase in her capacity for high repetition lifting of even heavy weights, such as weights only 20-40 pounds below her maximum.

An 8-day Cycle of an Intensive Phase

Day 1 Set Rep Weight
Bench Press 10 3 240lb/108kg
Squats 10 10 198lb/90kg

Note: She never begin a bench press workout with anything heavier than 70-100lb/45kg and gradually warm up by 20-30lb/13kg jumps, doing sets of 10 reps, up to 170-180lb/81kg.

Heavier than this, she drops the number of repetitions. Similiarly in the squats, she starts with 132lb/60kilo and warms up gradually in jumps of 22lb-44lb/10-20kilo. Warm ups are essential to avoid injury and soreness!

Example benchpress warm up: 10 x 90lb/40kg, 10 x 110lb/50kg, 10 x 130lb/60kg, 10 x 150lb/70kg, 10 x 170lb/77kg, 6 x 190lb/86kg, 5 x 220lb/100kg

Day 2 Set Rep Weight
Squats 5 10 242lb/110kg
Arm Curls 60lb/27kg
Upright rowing 70lb/31kg
Barbell rowing 90lb/40kg
Pulleys (behind neck) 120lb/54kg
Incline presses 60kg/132kg
Day 3 Set Rep Weight
Benchpress 10 10 190lb/86kg
Squats 10 5 242lb/110kg
Day 4 Set Rep Weight
Arm Curls 5 10 60lb/27kg
Single leg extensions 5 10 60lb/27kg
Hamstring curls 5 10 50lb/22kg
Calf raises 5 10 100lb/45kg
Rowing back exercises 5 10 120lb/54kg
Straight arm pulleys 5 10 70lb/31kg
Day 5 Set Rep Weight
Benchpress 10 4 230lb/104kg
Squats 10 8 220lb/100kg
Day 6 Set Rep Weight
Squats 10 6 242lb/110kg
Pulleys 5 10 110lb/50kg
Bent-arm pullovers 5 10 60lb/27kg
Wrist curls 5 10 70lb/31kg
Behind neck press 5 10 70lb/31kg
Reverse wrist curls 5 10 35lb/15kg
Day 7 Set Rep Weight
Benchpress 10 6 210lb/95kg
Squats 10 4 264lb/120kg
Day 8 Set Rep Weight
Dumbbell rowing 5 10 60lb/27kg
Arm curls 5 10 60lb/27kg
Straight arm pulley 5 10 70lb/31kg
Calf raises 5 10 100lb/45kg
Barbell rowing 5 10 80lb/36kg
Hamstring curls 5 10 50lb/22kg
Sit ups 5 40

At the times this shedule was written (1979), this was the intensive phase of Bev’s program. At the conclusion of this, she was going into a phase of 7 – 14 days of “active recovery,” at the end of which she was planning another intensive phase, which would include the following:

Bench press: 10 sets of 5 with 230lb/104kg, 10 sets of 10 with 200lb/90kg, 10 sets of 3 with 250lb/113kg.

Squats: 10 sets of 10 with 200lb/100kg. 10 sets of 3 with 286lb/130kg. 10 sets of 8 with 242lb/110kg. 10 sets of 6 with 264lb/120kg.

What’s about deadlifting?

She did not deadlift, but she was able to lift 501lb/227kg. It is not part of her program.

Bev: “It has no specific bearing upon my shotputting”

She has also a website with ton of training information, pictures and some books about training:

Instagram: @bevsgym

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