Strong(wo)man competition and a 140kg deadlift

April 9, 2015

What’s filthy, involves a lot of pulling, and makes you feel like your insides might burst out through your eye sockets?

Strongman!

On Easter Sunday I did something a little bit different: took part in a local strong(wo)man competition.

I’ve done one previously but that was a private, gym-run thing. Whilst this one wasn’t a huge event, it was open to anyone and so I had no idea who else would be in my category – other than my pal Linda.

Linda is a powerlifter but we manage to peacefully co-exist training together at the gym ;) She sometimes makes me go in the monolift, and I sometimes make her do 20+ reps of something.

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We decided a while ago to enter this strongwoman comp, and headed up to Terry Hollands’s gym to train with real strongman kit (you can read about that here).

The events listed for our category were:

Farmers walk, 45kgs in each hand, 50 metres
Viking press, 55kgs, reps for 1 minute
Deadlift knock out starting at 80kgs
Seated hand-over-hand truck pull, 25 metres
Loading medley (“to be decided on the day”)

We did what we could in terms of training and preparation, but I’ll be honest: I didn’t really feel like I’d trained enough. I was hoping brute force and persistence would get me through. And my deadlift, which is decent.

Here’s how it went down:

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Farmers Walk

The weight was no problem, but in the comp we had to turn around a marker. I’d only trained to walk, drop the handles, turn myself 180* and pick them up to walk back. Turning around the marker seemed a tricky challenge, so I went for “slow but steady” (to avoid falling over). Result? I came last in this. So I was first up in the….

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Viking Press
This Viking Press looked nothing like the one we’d trained on at Terry H’s, but it didn’t feel too bad. 55kgs is heavy, mind you! I think I banged out 19 reps in the minute, which is more than I’d done in training. The referees seemed impressed, so I had high hopes. Until the women who went after me got 20s… and 30s…. I think I was 2nd to last in this event.

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Deadlift
I was looking forward to this! I love deadlifting lots, and rarely train for it in any kind of kit (not even always a belt). We were allowed belt and chalk, but no straps. 80, 90, 100, 110 went up just fine. 120 started to feel a bit heavy. 130 was a struggle but there was no way I wasn’t going to get it. 140 was scary. I have pulled 140kgs before, but so long ago I was beginning to think I made it up. In front of a crowd which included friends and family, I eyed that mofo up. If I started to lift it, it was coming all the way up. And it did… excruciatingly slowly and excruciatingly painfully. It felt like my insides were going to come out through my eye sockets, taking my eyeballs with them. A good look, I’m sure. Still, who cares, I legit pulled a 140kgs deadlift. With 3 of us left in at this stage, the refs put it up to 150kgs. I set up and gave it a pull. Nope. Not moving. I bowed out, chuffed to bits with 140.

Sled pull
We’d been expecting to pull a truck towards us, hand over hand, with a rope. That’s what we’d trained to do. For some reason, this event was replaced with a sled drag. The rope was attached to a prowler/sled which was loaded to (I believe) 140kgs. We had to sit and just heft the damn thing over the line. Trouble is, sleds aren’t on wheels, so there was no momentum. And we were pulling it over a muddy and stony surface. I went second or third on this, so the ground was still “fresh”. The sled got wedged behind a stone at one point and I genuinely thought I couldn’t shift it. With every competitor, the ground got worn down a little smoother until eventually the sled was (kind of) running in a groove. But I was still pleased with my time. This event was a lung buster!

Loading medley
I had no idea what we’d be loading. Hopefully not the stones, since they started at 80kgs. And ideally not those 55kgs concrete blocks. Oh, what’s that? We are loading those 55kgs concrete blocks? All 5 of them? And we’re picking them up and running them a short distance to a truck before chucking them in? OK, good. This was hard. I had no clue how to even tackle picking the blocks up (arms underneath and deadlift them up to lap them heft them in?) I truly didn’t know if I’d be able to do one, let alone all five. As it turned out, I managed all five with a few seconds to spare, and not before declaring “I’m going to die!” (rather dramatically if I do say so myself). “No you’re not,” was the response from the official!

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I came 4th (of 5!) by just 1/2 a point, to my friend Linda. We had always said we were representing the gym, and she very graciously offered to share her trophy with me. It’s now on the shelf at the gym along with various other bodybuilding, powerlifting and strongman trophies.

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There was a big gap between Linda and me, and the two ladies who came 1st and 2nd. They were beasts (in the nicest possible sense). Whereas Linda and I are just only slightly beastly ;)

I didn’t ache the next day… but by two days later I was sore almost all over. Traps, front delts, biceps, neck and upper back were all suffering. Lower back was feeling the effects of my max deadlift followed by the awkward action of the loading event. And I was so tired!

But it was great fun and definitely a good way to spice up lifting and strength training.

Big thanks to the organisers of the event!

Have you ever done a strongman or strongwoman competition? What was your favourite event?

Thank you to Linda’s partner Jeff for the pics

Strong(wo)man competition and a 140kg deadlift 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.


Tested this week: Monkey Nutrition new Primal26 PRO whey protein isolate

March 29, 2015

Today’s fitness kit I’ve reviewed this week is a new product from one of my favourite supplement brands.

Primal26 new whey protein isolate review

I’ve reviewed a few Monkey Nutrition products on the blog. I like the brand for its honest, no-BS communication style and I like the products because they really are great quality (and they have some little gems in the range, like Moodulator the neurotransmittor/hormone support which really helps me sleep).

So when one of the Monkeys asked if I’d try the new Primal26 PRO advanced whey isolate, I said sure! I reviewed the previous version of Primal26 here, but this is a new and improved formula with digestive enzymes.
monkey primal26 whey review blog
I’m off-season at the moment, and have drastically cut down on the amount of supplements I take. Partly for cash reasons, but mostly because I truly don’t think many are needed when you’re eating well, sleeping well and getting enough recovery. Prep is perhaps a different matter. But in off-season, I really don’t use much at all. (Happy to blog about what I do use if anyone’s interested).

That includes protein powder. I work at home, the gym’s not far away. I usually just come home and eat a meal. But there are times when I need a protein powder after training – and on those occasions I will use whey isolate.

Why? Simply put, it’s the best form of whey available.

Monkey Nutrition’s Primal26 PRO whey isolate is a little different to most whey isolates. It contains digestive enzyme ProHydrolase, which helps with protein absorption. Whey isolate is always pretty gentle on the digestion anyway (much less lactose) but the addition of digestive enzymes to Primal26 PRO supports an increase in protein absorption (by up to three times) and helps ensure smaller, non-immunogenic protein peptides are formed. These help lower inflammation (as indicated by decreased CRP levels).

If you sometimes suffer bloating, gas or worse when you use whey protein, this product would definitely be worth a try.

Because your body is able to get more out of digesting this product, it means you can actually reduce your serving size without any loss of protein assimilation.

The product formula is clinically researched (you can read all about the clinical trials here, if you’re that way inclined) and

I tried Primal26 PRO in chocolate flavour, which is sweetened with Stevia and flavoured with organic cocoa. 26g pure whey protein isolate per serving – and that all-important ProHydrolase digestive enzyme.

Thanks for the supplements, Monkey Nutrition guys!

You can find Monkey Nutrition on Facebook and on Twitter.

Tested this week: Monkey Nutrition new Primal26 PRO whey protein isolate 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.


Defining happiness with Prof Paul Dolan for International Day of Happiness

March 20, 2015

Did you know? It’s International Day of Happiness!

Group hug!

What you might not know is that invest a lot of time in feeling happy. I start every day with journaling, and end it with a spot of meditation (hashtag: ommmm). I walk with my dog every day (at least twice) in the lovely countryside behind my house. I chill out. I do spiritual shit. I try to do more of the things which make me happy, and less of the things which don’t. And when I do have to do stuff which doesn’t make me jump for joy, I try to adjust my attitude about it.

And I’m always up for learning more about how to be happier.

So, when Penguin Books asked me to blog about Prof Paul Dolan’s new book “Happiness By Design” – about how we can design our lives for happiness – I said I’d be overjoyed ;) How to design your life for happiness – by thinking less and doing more. As well as being a Professor of Behavioural Science, Prof Dolan is also a bodybuilder (<< fun fact!) and has always been interested in the links between healthy lifestyles and happiness.

First up, some stats about happiness and grassroots sport from Join In, a London 2012 charity that puts more volunteers into community sport. (To find out more about volunteering opportunities in sport check the Join In website joininuk.org.)

join in research happiness volunteer sport grassroots
You can read Join In’s research about happiness and volunteering in sport here.

Join In have discovered just how powerful volunteering in sport can be for boosting happiness and wellbeing. According to their research, volunteers who are involved in sports clubs were less likely to feel anxious or worried and less likely to cry (aw!) And they were more likely to feel happy, part of their community and that their life has a purpose.

Purpose!

That little word has a lot of meaning according to Prof Dolan, as he explains in his “Happiness By Design” book. In fact, the tagline of the book is “finding pleasure and purpose in everyday life”.

happiness by design dolan book review
Happiness is difficult to define, as Prof Dolan admits early in the book. It’s completely subjective and highly personal.

But he sticks his neck on the line and offers a definition: the “pleasure-purpose principle” which he details at the start of the book.

“Your happiness is determined by how you allocate your attention,” he writes. “Attention devoted to one stimulus is, by definition, attention that is not devoted to another… The scarcity of attentional resources means that you must consider how you can make and facilitate better decisions… You will be the happiest you can be when you allocate your attention as best you can.”

This book is a great read if you’re interested in happiness and emotional wellbeing. Is it how we think, or what we do? (The book suggests it’s the latter.) You’ll find out how to redesign habitual ways of thinking, to make more of the deliberate choices that bring pleasure and meaning to your world (for it’s that combination, says Dolan, which equals happiness).

Highly recommended, grab a copy on Amazon in paperback or for Kindle. Thank you for sending me the review copy, Penguin Books people!

Happy International Day Of Happiness! What are you doing today which will make you happy?

Defining happiness with Prof Paul Dolan for International Day of Happiness 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.


Tested this week: Fuelify fitness snack box and 20% off your first box

March 13, 2015

Today’s fitness kit I’ve reviewed this week is something yummy! Hands up if you like 1) snacks 2) surprises and 3) deliveries?
fuelify snack box review

Fuelify is a tailored fitness snack box service which sends sports snacks, fitness nutrition, bars, gels (and more) to your door.

And they’ve kindly offered you lot 20% off your first box – scroll down for the discount code!

Fuelify is a tailored service, choosing 6-8 products from the latest in sports snacks and fitness nutrition, customised to your fitness needs. You just tell them how you train, what kind of sport you do and what you need from your snacks and supplements and they send you some goodies.

It’s a great way of discovering new products from established and up and coming brands like Pulsin’, Nakd, Clif, Luna, CNP and more. You can see the entire range of everything they stock here.

I told Fuelify it was OK to send me a very general selection so I could get an overview of some of their favourite products.

Here’s what I got in my box.

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I actually gave the gels to a mountain biking friend, but I worked my way through the bars, electrolyte powder and the energy chews/shot bloks myself. All of them were great – some were brand new to me (the Nom brand) and some I’d had before (Trek).

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My favourite – for what it’s worth – was the Nom protein bar, made with pea protein and coconut oil. It had a lovely texture and was very filling, hitting the spot for me (I prefer fats to carbs, as a rule).

You can get a one-off box (ideal as a present), or opt for monthly or fortnightly subscriptions. I think this would be a great way to discover new favourites and try things you wouldn’t usually come across (or things which you usually have to buy in bulk).

And once you know what you love, you can head to the Fuelify store and buy bulk-boxes of your favourites!

20% discount code for your first Fuelify box

Use code TFW20 at the checkout or when you sign up to Fuelify and get 20% off your first box!

Thanks for the sample box, Fuelify!

You can find Fuelify on Facebook and on Twitter.

Tested this week: Fuelify fitness snack box and 20% off your first box 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.


Strong(wo)man training at Terry Hollands S&C Gym

March 10, 2015

I haven’t posted about training in ages. So here’s an update involving a truck, some large men, and a bit of falling over in front of my friends.

strongman training bodybuilding

Whether I compete in bodybuilding this year or not (#vague), I’m still in off-season, not dieting, and, y’know, enjoying living life not in a constant calorie deficit ;)

I’m taking the opportunity to do a few different types of training: I’ve been riding horses, going to the local boxing club, doing a bootcamp on the beach at 8:30am on Saturdays (!) and warming to the idea of a powerlifting meet.

So when there was talk of a local strongman and strongwoman event, all 5′ 5” of my good self said “sure, let’s do it.”

Happily for me, I know lots of strong men, and also some Strongmen.

And Terry Hollands’s (<<< apostrophe self-doubt panic mode) new S&C gym isn't too far from where I live. I’m sure you all know who Terry Hollands is but just in case my Dad is reading ;) he’s the most successful British strongman competitor in 20 years, and has competed in 10 World’s Strongest Man comps (3rd twice), and has held the titles of UK’s, Britain’s and England’s strongest man.

And yes, to those of you who’ve asked, he was indeed there (but no he didn’t coach me). I borrowed his wife’s belt though if that’s cool enough for you?

My gym-pal Linda and I went over to Hollands Strength and Conditioning gym last Sunday to muddle our way through an approximation of the events which will face us on competition day.

Here’s what’s listed for the event:

Farmers walk 45kg in each hand for 50m. 60sec time limit
Viking press 55kg for reps. 60sec time limit
Deadlift knock out 80kg start weight
Arm over arm vehicle pull 25m
Medley load event to be announced on the day.

And here’s what Linda and I did:

Bit of battle ropes and light Viking press to warm up.

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Viking Press 55kgs for 60s x 2 rounds.
– OMG this was so very difficult. I am in agony today! I got 11 reps, then 7 reps, yes in one whole minute (!) It was killer though I promise!

Farmers Walk 45kgs in each hand, inside (4 “lengths” of around 10m)
– I was somehow quite good at this?

Arm-over-arm seated vehicle pull using Linda’s truck which weights around 2.5 tonnes (?) – we’ve no idea what kind of vehicle will be used on the day
– This was surprisingly easy once I got it going. I suppose the thought (and visual) of pulling a truck that people actually drive around in makes your brain think “nope”. But it’s totally doable. Think I did this in about 28 seconds.

Loading medley. Again we’ve no idea what we’ll be loading on the day, but we used a light barrel, a 30kgs-ish dumbell, a 32kg (I think) kettlebell and a 65kgs (I think) sandbag.
– This was OK, I found it a bit of a struggle being relatively short (for strongwoman!) but we’ve no idea how high the platform will be on the day. Sandbags are a b*stard to load!

Farmers Walk 45kgs each hand, outside this time (2 “lengths” of 25m)
– Again I was pretty quick on this – 23 seconds the first time round, then I fell over at the end of the second go (still 26 seconds even with the fall!) And no I am not posting the video!

Then some tyre flipping “for fun” with a 180kg tyre.
– I’m glad this isn’t in the event, it definitely favours taller people! Felt very uncomfortable (maybe a padded bra would have helped!)

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Strong(wo)man training was amazing fun and a brilliant change to my normal strength training. The two hours flew by and it didn’t really feel like training at all.

I’m really looking forward to the comp :D I’ll keep you updated (although I have no expectations and not a clue about how I’ll do).

Hats off to strongmen and strongwomen, your training is killer and I think I’ll be sore for a week!

Oh, and one last thing? In bodybuilding, “lightweight” is U55kgs. In this comp, U75kgs is the cut-off. In your face, bodybuilding! ;) (Love you really).

Thank you to Linda’s partner Jeff for the pics (strength sports – not designed to look attractive! Haha!)

Have you ever done a strongman/strongwoman comp? Did you fall over?

Strong(wo)man training at Terry Hollands S&C Gym 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.


Mini-Interviews With Successful Women In Fitness (International Women’s Day)

March 6, 2015

Sunday is International Women’s Day and the theme for 2015 is “Make It Happen”. Here are four amazing women who are making things happen in the fitness industry: specialist coaches, women’s ambassadors, academics, authors and pioneers who are shaping the industry, making it a better place for women to train, learn, work and compete.

Thank you, ladies!

(I didn’t have room to feature all the women I admire in the industry. In fact, this series of mini-interviews are ones which had to be (ruthlessly!) cut from a blog post I wrote for a copywriting client – you can read it here. Who would you include in your own list of Successful Women In The Fitness business?)

Molly Galbraith women in fitness industry girls gone strong
The women’s ambassador
Molly Galbraith’s website
Molly Galbraith
is a strength and conditioning coach and co-founded Girls Gone Strong (GGS), a website dedicated providing women with the absolute best health, wellness, nutrition, training, and lifestyle information. A former gym owner, she now focuses full-time on GGS and her personal work. She fell in love with health and wellness while finishing her business degree at the University of Kentucky and had the opportunity to study under some of the best and brightest strength coaches and trainers in the industry. So, as well as getting her MBA in 2007, she is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach (CSCS) through the NSCA in the USA.

“I’ve been involved in lots of different ventures and encountered many ups and down in the industry, from a failed nutrition and training software business, to the successful 7500 sq. ft. private studio gym I recently stepped away from, to the my information products that have sold in over 45 countries, and of course the phenomenon that is Girls Gone Strong. My main focus is the continued success of Girls Gone Strong, and sharing great information with as many women as possible.”

sohee lee walsh women in fitness industry interview
The physique specialist
Sohee Walsh’s website
Sohee Walsh
(formerly Sohee Lee) is known for her work around reverse dieting and specialist physique transformation coaching. Sohee is also a published fitness writer and co-hosts a popular podcast with Dr Layne Norton. She studied Human Biology at Stanford University and is an NSCA-Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. The route to SoheeFit Systems, LLC includes an Internship at Cressey Performance and coaching roles at Tyler English Fitness and Peak Performance NYC.

“My niche and passion is teaching women how to eat right, lift hard, and thrive in their daily lives. I got to where I am today with hard work, focus and a lot of time learning the basics with the best in the business.”

Jen Sinkler women in fitness industry
The Fitness Writer
Jen Sinkler’s website
Jen Sinkler
is an established fitness writer and personal trainer who has been writing for a range of health magazines since 2003. Jen authored Lift Weights Faster, an online library of over 130 conditioning workouts, and Lift Weights Faster 2 (due for release on March 10th 2015).

Jen is listed in Huffington Post’s “20 of the Best Fitness Experts Worth Following on Twitter”, Shape magazine’s “Top 30 Motivators of 2013”, Greatist’s “15 Must-Read Trainers Rocking the Web in 2013” and was named one of the “100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness” in both 2014 and 2015.

As well as a professional writer and editor, Jen is a certified RKC 2 kettlebell instructor and holds coaching certifications through USA Weightlifting, Primal Move, Progressive Calisthenics, Onnit, TACFIT, CrossFit and DVRT (Ultimate Sandbag). During her undergrad studies, she did an editorial internship at the North American Review, went on to become communications specialist in the marketing department of Marsh and McLennan, then joined Experience Life magazine, where she served as the editorial director of fitness until she left in 2013 to start her own company.

“Through my writing and coaching, I’m intent on shifting the way women view strength and fitness, The mantra running throughout everything I do is embracing an unapologetically strong approach to training and life. I aim to expand my female clients’ capabilities in a safe and supportive setting. I see a small number of private clients and co-coach the women-only strength training class at The Movement Minneapolis, (the gym I co-own with my husband). I also present at health seminars across the U.S. and run private workshops at host gyms.”

Headshot Gillian Mandich
The academic
Gillian Mandich’s website
Gillian Mandich
is a PhD(c) in Health and Rehabilitation Science at Western University, certified yoga and Yoga Tune Up® teacher. She co-hosts the Holistic Health Diary podcast and TV show, teaches health promotion at Western University, and sits on the Advisory Board at Examine.com where she is also a reviewer. Gillian also hosts and produces Health Science Radio and writes for numerous print/online media. And she is President of the Western Chapter of the Canadian Obesity Network.

“I work really hard to have my brain, skills and talents (and how I help people) speak, instead of how I look, and I love surrounding myself with other women do the same. I got to where I am today with hard work, persistence, and an unwavering belief that anything is possible.”

Mini-Interviews With Successful Women In Fitness (International Women’s Day) 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’s review of his Dog Buff from Kit Shack

February 27, 2015

*This is a blog post from Frankie the office dog*

Hey guys and bitches! How have you all been?

Sorry I haven’t blogged for you in ages (which in Dog Years is Really Ages!)

I’ve got a sweet product review for you all today: ideal for you outdoors-y type dogs who still like to look smart even when you’re muddy.

dog buff

My friends at Kit Shack (online shop which sells mainly outdoor gear, hats and buffs for humans) send me a smart DOG BUFF and asked me to use my handsome good looks and incredible writing skills to review it.

You guys already know that I have a Woof Coat, but what you might not know is that I love my old neckerchief (Nic’s sister had it made for me one Christmas). But the annoying thing about that thing is that it has to be knotted on, and then the knot slips round and flaps in my face, and if I have a drink you can bet your life the flappy bits of the knot will go in the puddle or in my food bowl.

My new dog buff solves all those problems.

It’s thin and stretchy, not at all restrictive, and totally comfy. I really like wearing it and push my head right through it when I see Nic get it ready. I dunno why… it feels comforting and I guess I know I look extra-handsome with it on.

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The one I got sent is blue and yellow as you can see, with cool pictures of bones and balls all over it. But you can get other ones in different sizes too – take a look at the Dog Buff range.

Here are my fashion recommendations if you want my advice (you do):
= black dogs like my cousins LOTTIE and DORA – red buff
= brown dogs like me and my cousin NALA – blue/yellow buff
= white dogs with spots all over like my friend PONGO – yellow buff

dog buff uk

It’s the perfect buff for this Winter/Spring transition time, giving just the right amount of warmth without being hot. The bright print means Nic can see me better even when I try to camoflague in the mud and sticks. And it has two thick reflective strips on it which are really bright when we are walking along the road in the evening.

Those ducks are totally jealous of my dog buff!

Those ducks are totally jealous of my dog buff!

The Dog Buffs from Kit Shack would get two thumbs up if I had any thumbs, but I don’t. So I give them a massive wag of the tail and a big smile instead!

You can check out Kit Shack online</a.

Thanks KitShack for my dog buff!
I really loved reviewing it! Frankie xoxox

TheFitDog’s review of his Dog Buff from Kitshack 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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