10 reasons why bodybuilding prep is better when you’re single

April 24, 2014

Just a bit of fun in today’s blog post, and one for all my single fitties!

It occurred to me last night, as I stirred my blended broccoli and tuna “soup” (don’t knock it til you try it – delicious – I can’t get enough!) that bodybuilding contest prep/dieting/whatever you want to call it is perhaps simpler (if not necessarily easier) as a singleton.

So, big up my fellow singletons (and do let me know what you’d add to this list).

10 reasons why bodybuilding prep is better when you’re single

1) You can make meals which look like babyfood (or the result of babyfood) without anyone asking what it is, why you’re eating it, or commenting that it looks disgusting. You can see that it looks disgusting. You just couldn’t care less.

2) You can stink your house out doing something like…oh, I dunno…. roasting 2kgs of brussels sprouts at a time (I hear some people do that kind of thing) and nobody cares. The dog seems to positively enjoy the oleracea odour.

3) You can get up and do cardio at 6:30am on a slightly squeaky piece of home cardio equipment, whilst watching a chick flick on Netflix. It’s fine, you’re not disturbing anyone.

4) You can wear gym kit all the lifelong day! Even “lightly worn” stuff…. ;)

5) Tired? Done a high volume squat session today? Fancy going to bed at 8:30pm? Then off you go. Snores will not disturb your slumber.

6) Want to look muscly? A bit weird? Veiny? Then you go for it. (Sure, you might be alone forever but hey… remember the 2kgs of brussels sprouts!)

7) Your cupboards will not be full of biscuits or breakfast cereal (or anything that’s not in your contest diet plan) unless you put them there.

8) We’re all a little (or a lot) selfish when prepping for a bodybuilding show. Most of us are self-aware enough to know it, but when you’re single, it’s far less of a problem (and carries far less potential for guilty feelings!)

9) Your cheat/treat meals can be completely designed and dictated by you to suit your wildest dreams (and your macros.

10) Too tired to wash your hair? Again? Well… it is a bit grim but never mind. It can go another day I’m sure.

Bonus 11) And this last one is a bonus extra from a male bodybuilder friend of mine (one for my male readers, if I have any…) Single and not getting any? Perfect! Dieting male bodybuilders tend to suffer from a drop in testosterone levels, and a coinciding lack of interest in sex. No partner, no pressure. Although… surely it’s all extra cardio, right?

Hope you took this in the spirit in which it was meant :) Do you have any to add to my list? Or perhaps you’d like to suggest items for a counter-argument: why is it better to *not* be single whilst prepping?

10 reasons why bodybuilding prep is better when you’re single is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

UK gyms owned by natural bodybuilders

April 20, 2014

UK gyms owned by natural bodybuilders (a work in progress!)

Well, what else is there to do on a rainy Easter Sunday? ;)

Actually, this is part of a new blog series I’ll be starting soon. I aim to make a list of all UK gyms which are owned/managed by natural bodybuilding competitors (current or retired!), and then visit as many of them as possible and write a blog post about each one. Hopefully the blog series will eventually become a useful guide to gyms owned by natural competitors.

It might take me about 74 years to get round to them all but hey, I like a challenge! And I’m only 21 so it should be fine ;)

In the meantime, if you own or manage a gym and you’d like it to be on this map or on my “Nic’s natty gym tour”, please get in touch.

UK gyms owned by natural bodybuilders is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

Dealing with DOMS

April 18, 2014

Reader question time! Let’s talk DOMS.

I was asked recently:

“How you deal with leg DOMS? THE “worst of all” DOMS… how do you get back up off the loo when your glutes are screaming in pain? What do you eat post work out on leg day, have you got any tips for recovery, etc? I know some people say a black coffee before and after training reduces DOMS, others say taking a regular dose of magnesium for 1-2 days after helps, others say pineapple or tart cherry juice with PWO shake. It goes on and on…”

First up, what is DOMS? DOMS stands for “delayed onset muscle soreness”, so it’s a fancy way of talking about that muscle soreness you get a day or two after a training session, race or event.

DOMS can feel like soreness, stiffness, tenderness or even weakness in the affected muscle. It’s caused by tiny tears in the muscle fibres (caused by the training you did) and the subsequent repair to the tissue as the muscle hypertrophies.

You know when you think you’ve got away with it? And then, perhaps 48 hours later, bam: crippling soreness, making it difficult to do such handy every day tasks as walk down the stairs, crouch down to get something out of the freezer or (as the reader mentions) get back up off the toilet.

That’s DOMS. It’s not the sole domain of bodybuilders and strength athletes (although you could be forgiven for thinking it was ;) ) I’ve had DOMS from swimming, cycling, running, martial arts training and… er… Pilates.

Dealing with DOMS

Here’s what I do to minimise DOMS (apart from just ignore it and hope it will go away – which it always does eventually! Although I have had DOMS last a full week in the past…!)

Eat up: if you want your body to repair itself, you need to give it a helping hand by actually feeding it. Yes, even if you’re dieting down for a show or shoot. So prioritise your post-workout meal and make sure it’s sufficient in macronutrients (carbs, protein) and micronutrients (eat real food to maximise your chances of getting anti oxidants, vitamins, minerals in). As an example, after a “big” training session (legs, back, anything involving deadlifts…) I’ll have a protein shake and a bit of fruit (pineapple is good – anti inflammatory) on the way home from training, and then a wholefood meal about 90 minutes later (usually potato, sweet potato or rice, some green veg, and white fish).

Hydrate: again, you can’t really expect your body to deal with damage, lactic acid, toxins etc if you don’t keep it hydrated. Ideally you will be well hydrated all the time, but definitely up your water intake if you think you’ve got DOMS coming your way. It will help! I aim for 3-4 litres a day as standard (easier than you’d think) and will add a litre or so to this on “bigger” training days and the day after.

Magnesium: magnesium supplementation/therapy doesn’t help everyone but it definitely helps me. I take magnesium citrate as a supplement (every night) but if I think I’m due a dose of DOMS, I will also have a bath with Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate heptahydrate) if I can be bothered (I find baths terribly boring) or I will use a topical magnesium spray. The one I am loving at the moment is Ben Coomber’s Transdermal Technology recovery spray (he didn’t ask me to say that!) It is, honestly, amazing. There have been days when I would have put money on getting DOMS, but I used the spray and… nothing. No soreness at all.

Ice: DOMS is due to inflammation. So, ice it! It might feel counterintuitive when you’re already sore but I promise it will help. I have been known to sit atop a 1kg bag of ice at work after a gym session. Feels lovely on sore glutes and hamstrings, let me tell you!

I hope that helps, maybe gives you some new ideas to try.

Have you ever had awful DOMS? Are there body parts you never get DOMS in, no matter how hard you train? How do you deal with DOMS?

Dealing with DOMS is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

Training update: the countdown has started to 2014 bodybuilding competitions

April 15, 2014

A few people have asked for an update about training, competition prep, and generally “where are you in your off-season/prep?”

I find it tricky to blog about “prep” when I’m so far out from competition, but I know I love reading about other people’s training, nutrition, mindset etc, so hopefully whatever I end up blogging about here today will be of interest to someone (oh, hi Mum! ;) )

ukdfba nicola joyce

Am I competing this year?
You bet! I have goals firmly in place but don’t want to share all of them here just yet. One thing I am happy to share (because it’s obvious) is that I will be competing at the UKDFBA bodybuilding competition in Leamington Spa in September.

If we use that “A” goal as our marker, I am 24 weeks out. Actually, no I’m not: I’m 23 weeks and 5 days out. Because, let’s not fool ourselves, there is a difference!

As of this weekend just gone I am into “under 24 weeks of prep” territory. To some, that might sound like ages. To others (me included) it seems like long enough (if things are going well) but, at the same time, really not very long at all. 24 weeks to diet down to best-ever stage leanness. 24 weeks to continue working on size and shape, symmetry and balance. 24 weeks to make some noticeable changes to certain body parts. Oh and 24 weeks to design and perfect a free posing routine, improve compulsories posing and fine tune stage presence.

If we say “a little over 5 months” rather than 24 weeks, it all seems a little more pressing… ;)

As anyone who’s prepped for a show will know (in fact as anyone who’s prepared for any time-specific and very detailed goal will know!), 24 weeks goes by in a flash. I know full well that I’ll be “20 weeks out” before I know it, and from there time will only seem to speed up.

I’m not working with a prep coach this year. I felt it was time for me to take charge of my own training, diet and prep approach and I feel confident that I can do it, if not better than anyone else, certainly as well as anyone else could. I may be wrong; we’ll see. One thing I know is that thanks to the help, guidance and education I’ve received from previous prep coaches and various bodybuilding friends and mentors over the past few years, I feel I have a fair bit of knowledge. And thanks to lots of reading, journalling, data gathering, monitoring and navel-gazing on my own part, I feel I know my body pretty well.

Before this post gets too long, I’ll briefly answer a few questions people have asked me recently:

What stage of prep are you at? (See above – 24 weeks out although I may do a show or two before UKDFBA… maybe…)

What does this mean diet and training wise? Am dialling in my diet slowly but surely, tracking my intake, planning my meals and sticking to a plan. Training is 5 days a week (lifting) and some cardio (as well as my twice daily power/dog walks). I’m not feeling any changes in strength or energy (yet) so am lifting very heavy and using quite a bit of volume, just because I feel it’s what gives me the results I want.

How is it different to this time last year and the year before? What have you going to keep the same? What are you going to change? The main difference I guess is that I am working by myself, no coach. I would say that I have taken aspects from my 2011 prep and my 2013 prep (we don’t talk about 2012 ;) ) and come up with an approach which I think will suit my body (because it’s a different body, certainly to 2011!), my lifestyle and also how I like to train. My diet is very similar to last year (so far) because it worked and I enjoyed it (thank you, coach Vicky Bradley!) although I will tweak it as I go along, as and when things need to move along a bit.

I’ll be back soon with another update, I’ve realised that there is a fair bit to say I guess, if people want to read it! I’ve had some great training sessions recently with visiting female bodybuilding pals – I’m so sore from this weekend just gone that I had to physically roll sideways out of bed this morning – so perhaps I’ll detail those for you. Or a day’s eats? I had homemade burgers for breakfast today! ;)

Do you think 24 weeks sounds ages, or like no time at all?

Hope your prep, training, gym visits, and sport-specific activities are going well. Whatever it is that you do, I hope you enjoy it. Cos, ultimately, that’s what matters!

Training update: the countdown has started to 2014 bodybuilding competitions is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

TheFitDog hosts a running magazine giveaway

April 10, 2014

TheFitDog has a big head at the moment. And I’m not talking about the generous proportions he was blessed with by mother nature. He’s puffed up with pride, far beyond his wrinkly jowls and square brain-box.


He’s in a magazine again.
nicola joyce running magazine

Eagle-eyed readers may have spotted him (and me, but that’s by the by) in the current issue of Women’s Running magazine. Remember when we went on a caniX training session? This article is the result*


Anyway, Frankie thinks that absolutely everybody should have the opportunity to gaze upon his handsome face and marvel over this athletic physique. So he’s offering one of you a brand new, slobber-free copy of May 2014 Women’s Running magazine.

To be in the mix – do these two things

1) share this blog post on Twitter (with my Twitter name @thefitwriter in your tweet somewhere)
share this blog post on Facebook (with my FB page link https://www.facebook.com/thefitwriter in the post)
2) leave a comment on this post to let me know you’ve done one of the above!

Frankie and I will pick a winner on Monday and get the magazine sent out to you ASAP.

Open to readers anywhere in the world :)

*In case you think I’ve gone a bit quiet with the “where you’ll find my byline this month” posts, I don’t do much journalism these days – it’s mostly copywriting. I put a fair bit of client news on my website newspage, when possible.

TheFitDog hosts a running magazine giveaway is a post from the Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

Audible sports audiobook of the month: Undisputed Truth: My Autobiography (Mike Tyson)

April 1, 2014

In this monthly blog series, I review a sports audiobook from audible.co.uk

March’s audiobook was Mike’s Tyson’s autobiography “Undisputed Truth”.


Undisputed Truth: My Autobiography (Mike Tyson)

Sigh. I wanted to love Mike Tyson’s “Undisputed Truth: My Autobiography”. I find him a fascinating character and he was one of the first boxers I was aware of. I like boxing as a sport. And I knew Mike Tyson’s autobiography would be compelling stuff.

But I struggled with this book. It was just… too much. He was too much. I suppose that’s the point. But, honestly, I found it all too much to bear much of the time. There were days when I set off on my walk and chose to listen to a podcast instead, because I just didn’t want more of Mike’s horrible stories in my ears.

Mike’s autobiography got under my skin and unsettled me. Like his opponents, I was out on my feet before we even got to the fights (and, actually, there’s not much of the story given over to his fights nor to his training). The many excesses of Mike Tyson make for uncomfortable listening.

It wasn’t all bad. The early years – when he was under the mentorship of trainer and manager Cus D’Amato – were what I was hoping for. Full of strong, inspiring sports psychology, an insight into what went into the making of an undeniably great champion. D’Amato was presented as a persuasive, perhaps manipulative, very effective mentor who did a fine job of convincing a young Tyson that he was meant for greatness and would not – could not – be beaten.

But after Cus died I’m afraid it all went downhill, for Mike and for me.

The rest of the book was an exhausting barrage of womanising, violence and drug use in an emotional void. I felt like I was out for the count. I’m no prude but it was all just so depressing. And I couldn’t even find it in myself to feel sorry or sympathetic. I found myself desperately hoping there’d be some kind of reprieve at the end of the book but as time ticked on I realised that, nope, this was 99% of the story. Which I suppose it was.

I should mention that it’s not narrated by Mike himself – the narrator is Joshua Henry (I couldn’t find any info online about him) who does a great job of bringing the story and all its colourful characters to life. Maybe too good a job, and that was part of the problem for me. I found it difficult to listen to Mike’s awful stories, terrible treatment of people, and dismissive attitude to the pain he’d caused, narrated through the self-satisfied smile of an autodidact.

There is a reprieve of sorts, although I won’t spoil the “end” (and those of you who are Tyson fans will no doubt have kept yourselves up to date with his career anyway). But it was barely enough to make up for the battering I’d taken by sticking with Mike and his story. I was relieved when it was all over, to be honest. Happy that he’d found some peace, desperately sorry for him over the death of his child, and pleased that he’d been given a second career in acting. But I think I can safely say I won’t be listening to this book again. I might scan back for some of D’Amato’s best motivational quotes. But I’ll leave Mike to it. Peace out, Mike.

Let me know if you have a favourite sports book you’d like me to review, or if there’s a title in Audible’s library which you’ve had your eye on.

Audible.co.uk is the UK’s leading provider of new and classic audiobooks and has a range of autobiographies, investigative journalism and sports training titles.

Undisputed Truth: My Autobiography (Mike Tyson) is available only from audible.co.uk

Audible asked me to write the reviews and provided me with free credits for the purpose.

Audible sports audiobook of the month: Undisputed Truth: My Autobiography (Mike Tyson) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

Learn from the Champs: natural bodybuilding Q&A with best of British beef

March 25, 2014

There must be something in the water. Because Britain seems to produce a huge amount of very, very good natural bodybuilders. And, because the sport is so small and friendly, these people walk amongst us ;) Such is the family feel of our sport, I’m able to call various World Champions, British Champions and multi-titled bodybuilders “friends”.

Last weekend, there was a natural bodybuilding training meet at Future Fitness gym in Coventry. I couldn’t go (prior engagement) but the event was filmed in two parts for NMTV.

I watched the Q&A section this morning. It’s beyond motivating. If you’re into natural bodybuilding, want to find out more about what goes into the mindset, training, diet and off-season approach of champions, or just need some fire in your belly for your next gym visit, give this a watch (the link is below).

The video features
Richard Gozdecki NPA British 2010 winner, UKDFBA 2011 winner (and WNBF Pro Card), Pro Debut 2011 at WNBF Pro Worlds – HW winner & Overall, WNBF Worlds 2012 HW winner
Gavin Gibson NAC Novice British 2008 winner, NPA SE HW 2010 winner, UKDFBA LHW 2011 winner, INBF amateur World Champion 2012 & Pro Card winner – now competes as a WNBF Pro
Matt Argall NPA Midlands 2012 overall winner, 2012 & 2013 NPA British winner, UIBBN 2012 World LW Champion
Steve Howarth perhaps the most decorated Masters Champion in British natural bodybuilding: 5 x amateur British titles, 2 x amateur World titles, and won DFAC Pro card in 2013
Mark Oakes 4 x British titles (NPA and ANB), 3 x overall British titles, 2 x UK titles (1 of them an overall), 1 World UIBBN Title, and now a WNBF Pro with one WNBF World title (2013)
Nigel St Lewis BNBF Novice British winner and NPA Novice British winner (both in 2011), NPA British HW winner 2013, UIBBN World HW Champion 2013
(I hope I got all of that right!)

and they answer questions relating to mindset, training protocols, contest prep, dieting, the logistics of work/life/training, how their approach has changed over the years, and what’s next.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Thank you to all the guys for taking the time to be part of it, and to Mark for facilitating (and to Toby for filming and editing).

You can catch the rest in the NMTV series here.

Learn from the Champs: natural bodybuilding Q&A with best of British beef is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


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