“Oceans Seven” Adam Walker on ocean swimming technique

January 11, 2016

Those of you who’ve known me (or the blog) for long enough will know about my other life.

Back in the day, I used to be a swimmer. Specifically, a Channel swimmer. I’ve swum the Channel twice and done other long open-water solo swims. (You can read more about all that here).

But Adam Walker‘s sea swimming accomplishments are something else. Adam was the first British person to complete “Oceans Seven”, thought to be the toughest seven sea swims in the world:

– English Channel 2008 (finished 11 hours 35 mins)
– Two-way Gibraltar Straits 2010 (finished 9 hours 39 mins – he broke the British Record one way and was the first Brit to swim back)
– Molokai Straits in Hawaii 2012 (17 hours 2 mins)
– Catalina Channel in USA 2012 (12 hours 15 mins)
– Tsugaru Channel in Japan 2013 (15 hours 31 mins) (the first British person to complete this swim)
– Cook Straits in New Zealand 2014 (8 hours 36 mins)
– North Channel Ireland to Scotland 2014 (10 hours 45 mins)
So when Adam asked if he could grab a guest-blog spot on TFW, I had no hesitation. If I still have any open-water swimming readers, Adam’s story and stroke technique advice will be golden for you. And for the rest of you? Be inspired by his story, and consider reading his book “Man Vs Ocean” by Adam Walker (published by John Blake Publishing and available at Amazon here – Man Vs Ocean, Adam Walker, Amazon).
Man V Ocean Book Jacket

Over to Adam for some serious technique talk.

On 6 Aug 2014 I became the first British person to swim the hardest seven ocean swims in the world, known as the Oceans Seven.

My swim stroke was the conventional style of a high head and winding my arms, entering long and flat.

I trained with this style for 18 months, resulting in a ruptured bicep tendon whilst swimming the English Channel. Having completed the swim I had to have two operations. The surgeon told me that the bicep tendon had attached itself to the supraspinatus, and they were unable to separate them. He advised me to give up swimming as the arm rotations would irritate it and cause more injury. He said “If you do another long swim you will have serious long term problems!”

Giving up was not an option for me. I love the sport so much. So I began studying the front crawl stroke and how to take pressure off the shoulder, limiting irritation, and becoming more efficient.

At this stage I wasn’t concerned with speed, I just wanted to find a way to prolong my swimming career. Here’s what I learned.

Head position

After many months of practice and video analysis I established that having a still head looking downwards is critical in the stroke: if it’s not still, you could zigzag.

If you immerse your head then your legs will come up if you are on your side. It’s better to work with the water than lift your head up (which takes energy), not beneficial when the head is the heaviest part of the body.

Core movement

I thought about other sports such as golf, cricket, bowling, tennis and cross country skiing – they all use core stomach muscles to instigate the initial phase. Therefore it didn’t make sense for me not to use rotation as part of the swim stroke.

Rotating using the core only, allowing the hips to push the arms forward instead of throwing them overhead had a number of big benefits:

– Using fewer muscles
– Less impact when entering the water
– Reduced pressure on the shoulders
– Stronger propulsion in the stroke
– More length out of the stroke

If I drive the arm/hand into the water, I am using my chest as well to do this, using more muscles than necessary. Using the core helped keep my hand and arms as wide as my hips. If your chest dominates, more often than not they will drive into the centre line, particularly when you breathe.

You will then have to push them out again in order to pull back which takes time and is an added unnecessary movement. By driving them into the centre you have the potential to pinch tendons and cause friction which will eventually tether and cause significant damage (something unfortunately I know a lot about!)

Early arm entry

I was taught to enter my hand into the water as far out in front as possible to gain a good pull. However, if your hand enters the water early with a bent elbow and then extends under water this creates less resistance and will take pressure off your shoulders.

If you think about diving off a block in a race, they only allow you to go 15 metres under water. Why? Because you are faster under water than you are on top of the water. Therefore the sooner you get your hand and arm into the water the better.

Recovery arm

I discovered that by holding the front recovery arm in place until the stroking arm is just about to enter the water, I gained constant momentum. This aids with stability, which is necessary if you get knocked by a competitor or if a wave is about to hit you. This happened to me in the English Channel with my old stroke and I was flipped onto my back.


Pulling to your hip only is your ‘power section’ – beyond that it turns into a tricep movement with your power significantly reduced and delaying the time needed to get your hand back in for the catch.

Leg kick

My leg kick is just enough to keep me afloat, nothing too vigorous. 70% of energy is used up in your legs and you don’t get that benefit back. The kick is a sideways kick as you are swimming hip to hip (never flat).

By carrying out a simple two-beat kick I’m not wasting excess energy and am limiting the calories burnt. This is also important in colder temperatures.

My suggestion is to swim the majority of a triathlon with a two-beat kick, then kick a little more in the final 50m or so to get blood flow into the legs in readiness for transition. The limited leg kick will serve you in good stead when you get onto the bike as they have had limited use. On my 17 hour Hawaii swim, when I climbed out of the water, my legs were so fresh they didn’t feel as if they had be used.

How my new stroke technique has saved my career

This stroke, which my clients are calling ‘The Ocean Walker’ technique, has not only saved my swimming career but meant I was the fastest man on a 21-mile two-way swim in Windermere, and completed all seven channels including fastest British crossing of Gibraltar Straits one-way, and became the first British person to do a two-way crossing.

I’ve had three operations in total on my left shoulder, I can’t sleep on that side and I can’t hold over 10 kilos of weight with a straight arm, yet with the ‘Ocean Walker’ stroke I can swim 17 hours and am 1:15 mins faster over 1,500 metres and 5secs faster per 100 metres.

And my stroke rate has gone down from an average of 72 SPM to 52 SPM, showing that holding form in the stroke is generating more speed. I am saving 1200 strokes per hour! I am not pulling any harder than I did previously, actually if anything I am pulling with less power, showing the importance of body position and efficiency.

What I have realised is the key to swimming efficiently is to make the water work with you. By being relaxed, getting body position right and reducing resistance you will go faster.

The best athletes in the world are normally the ones who make it look effortless, use timing to their advantage and are efficient in what they do. Just look at Roger Federer or Usain Bolt!.

(It’s me, Nic, back again…. 😉 )

Thank you Adam, what an incredible amount of information. For more information on the ‘Ocean Walker’ stroke and Adam’s swim camps and 1-1 coaching, go to Ocean Walker.

Want to read more about Adam’s amazing swims? He’s on a “blog tour” and here’s where you’ll find him:
Man vs Ocean blog tour banner

“Oceans Seven” Adam Walker on ocean swimming technique 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.


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.

thefitwriter profiled on Fitcetera’s Yeah She Lifts

March 6, 2014

This week I’ve been interviewed by Georgina over at Fitcetera for her series about ladies wot lift called “Yeah, She Lifts”.

nicola joyce yeah she lifts

Check it out here (please excuse the overshare – I don’t think I’ve ever told that particular story before and I don’t know what possessed me to do so now!)

Thanks for the opportunity, Georgina aka Ms Fitcetera!

PS I don’t often write guest blog posts for people but when I do, they’re full of advice for fitpros about how to write press releases which get read – and used. Check it out over on FitPro Client Recipes.

thefitwriter profiled on Fitcetera’s Yeah She Lifts 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.

Inspirational readers: Chris and his 14-stone weight loss

July 30, 2013

Welcome to the first in a new blog series where I shine the spotlight on a totally inspirational “real life” person.

To kick us off I’ve got a humdinger of a story. Please read, you won’t believe the stats and photos!

I met Chris through his wife Kat who is a friend of mine. They both came to the NPA Finals, one of my bodybuilding competitions, last year (thanks!) and since then I have been pleased to count Chris as a friend too.

Over the last 13 months, Chris has lost 14 stone. Yes: FOURTEEN stone. About 88kgs. Half his body weight. And he’s still going. This is not a before-and-after story. It’s a before and now, and just watch me achieve even more than I already have story.

336_87969585432_3039_n80 kilo weight loss story

Over to Chris, and his Blackburn-based PT Liam Ainsworth.

Tell us about your amazing weightloss and fatloss – so far!
At my heaviest, I was 28stone – that’s 392lbs or just shy of 178kg. My waist measured 64″, my chest 64″ and my bodyfat was about 80%. That was in June 2012.

Now, 13 months later, I’m 14 stone 3lbs or a shade over 90kg. My waist is 38″, my chest 42″ and my bodyfat about about 24%.

You asked about my target physique goals. This is an interesting point: for whatever reason, I decided on the completely arbitrary figure of 185lbs. But more recently I’ve set myself the goal of 15% bodyfat, with a view to building more muscle and focusing on how I look and feel rather than a number on a scale.

What was the trigger which made you decide to start losing weight?
That’s tough and I’m still not sure it was one thing. At the time, Kat (my then girlfriend, now my wife), had been ill with digestive issues for while and had to have surgery. Seeing her laying in a hospital bed suffering basically because we were eating the wrong things was a wake up call. I had recently suffered a knee injury which turned out to be a completely ruptured ACL and badly torn cartilage which meant my mobility was becoming restricted. I was a mess.

When Kat came out of hospital she was determined to be healthier and bought the first pair of bathroom scales we had ever owned. I stood on them one morning and saw that I weighed 28 stone. I nearly cried.

About this time, I got a new job. My office is 3 miles from my front door and about 500 yards from the gym I’d been a member of for 3 years and not set foot in for 18 months. I decided to make a change.

Had you tried to lose weight and get healthier before?
Of course. At high school aged 14 and weighing 17 stone I had gone on Slim Fast for 6 months, lost a little then piled on even more.

Later I’d been put on diet pills by various doctors. Some were like speed and would leave me wide awake at 4am.

What had the barriers been in the past and why do you think it worked this time?
Honestly I think I just didn’t want to enough, for whatever reason I didn’t care enough about my health to commit to looking after myself.

The day I stood on the bathroom scales and saw that I was 28 stone I said to myself, “you’re going to die. You’ll be walking upstairs and drop dead or you’ll wake up one morning and discover you’ve had a massive stroke.”

I knew then I needed to do something.

I’ve always been a bit a a geek, I love a gadget so I found a phone app that I could use to log my food intake, exercise, weight. This was brilliant in the early days because it kept me honest and helped to break some of the bad habits. I still use the app now, over a year later as I still don’t fully trust myself and having the tool to monitor myself helps, does that make sense.

I went to see Kat’s PT at the gym, Liam, firstly to try and get help with the knee (I didn’t think I needed help getting fit… that was simply a question of eating less and doing boatloads of cardio, right? How wrong was I! 😉 )

Liam has saved my life. I know that sounds incredibly dramatic but hear me out. I have trained once a week with Liam for over a year now and every week without fail I learn something new, whether it’s nutrition advice, physiology or just a new way of making me ache for two days! Without this I would have more than likely got bored after a month and failed again.

What was the one thing you learned, changed or did differently this time which really worked…. your “secret weapon”?
Protein. Liam quickly got me to swap my diet around so I was eating 50%-60% protein. I was shocked by how little I craved the sweet things that had been a regular part of my diet. Protein is my friend. My diet has been approx 1500 calories a day made up from a mixture of tuna, chicken, eggs, the odd steak, broccoli, spinach and sweet potato.

How do you keep going, day after day after day for so long when (I imagine) it sometimes seemed an impossibly long journey?
I’ve been doing this for 415 days now (thank you, clever phone widget!) Always having a goals has been the key.

When I started in June last year we had a friend’s annual BBQ planned in August and I said I wanted to lose 50lbs by then. I managed to lose 54lbs and from then on I have always given myself something to aim for and focus on.

Now, if I don’t hit that particular goal, it feels like a complete disaster… So I know I still have some work to do on keeping things in proportion, but if you don’t push yourself hard who will?

What have you enjoyed the most about it all?
Finding new ways to cook! Crustless quiche was a great find: grilled chicken, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus and eggs all baked in the oven, what’s not to love delicious hot or cold.

I love leaving the gym looking like I’ve been hosed down, barely able to walk or move my arms. There’s no better feeling than knowing that what you’ve just done is going to ache in the morning.


Looking at your photos I imagine you have some pretty funny/incredible stories to tell…

There have been a number of times when my wife Kat has lost me in a crowd only to look straight at me and not recognise me. At a family function a couple months ago, two of my Uncles ignored me all night, then admitted they hadn’t recognised me.

The story that I like most though is when I went to hospital for my ACL reconstruction in May my surgeon was convinced they had the wrong patient and had to ask for my notes again to double check!

Did you ever feel like giving up?
The odd thing is for the last year I’ve never thought, “sod this I can’t be bothered any more”. I think its because I finally decided for myself I needed to do it.

Did you ever fall off the wagon? How did you get back on?

I struggled after my ACL surgery because I couldn’t train. I got bored and watched Game of Thrones while eating bowls of porridge for two weeks. I had made the decision before the operation not to weigh myself while I was recovering. I knew I was slipping into bad habits so weighed myself and I had gained 4kg in 2weeks – that was the kick I needed to get my focus back.

What has inspired you and kept you motivated? What do you say to yourself, or look at, or watch, or read when you need a boost?
Kat introduced me to your blog and we came and watched you compete (at the NPA Finals last year), a day that I will never forget. I came away thinking, “my god that’s amazing, I may never look like that but there are no excuses for not being as fit and healthy as possible.”

Through your blog and Facebook I found some other inspiring individuals whose knowledge and attitude have helped me enjoy this journey, Phil Learney, Ben Coomber and Andy McKenzie all spring to mind. So thank you for that.

Before my Wednesday PT session with Liam I always send him a text insulting him in some way or another in an attempt to wind him up so he pushes me that little bit more as revenge.

I completely admire your focus and dedication. Leave us with five things you’ve discovered – the Wisdom of Chris – to motivate and inspire us!
1) Squat

2) Make small changes one at a time that you find manageable.

3) Stop wishing for things that require you earn them.

4) Pick up heavy things, put them down, pick them up again.

5) Eat proper food.

5.1) Did I mention squats? 😉

amazing 14 stone weight loss story

Thanks so much for sharing your story and your strengths with us, Chris. Here are a few words from Chris’s PT, Liam Ainsworth, who works around Blackburn and the North West.

Tell me about Chris as a client. Why has he succeeded where so many fail?

On meeting Chris it was pretty clear that he had the mental capacity to succeed in his goals. A couple of things are critical: an achievable timescale and a goal.

Chris was getting married in Cyprus in about 12 months time, and had a wake-up call seriously damaging his knee (deep down believing it probably wouldn’t have happened if he weighed less).

Chris not only listened to the advice and strategy I outlined but lived it. Not 70% or 80% but a lifestyle change both mentally and physically. Chris ‘walked the walk’ (even with a damaged knee).

Did you know when you first met him that he would succeed in such a massive transformation
I hoped he would. It was clear at the beginning that he had the desire but I was worried that his knee would stop him. I hate it when I’m wrong but in this case I’m glad I was. To date we are close to a 14 stone weight loss achieved in a little over a year. After the first few had gone, it began to seem that there was no limit. I still train him as hard as we did at the beginning as I know he can do more. The journey hasn’t ended yet, and I make sure he knows that.

What approach/es or protocols did you take with Chris and why?

All the right ones. I’m critical of the industry. It’s more than just making people sweat and taking their money. You need strategy on training and more importantly diet (which is 80% of the process). I’m a CHEK trained professional and keep up to date with my education so I can get results for my clients. Chris did a Metabolic Type test which means we found out what food his body really needed. He came out as a ‘protein type’ which meant 60%+ of his diet needed to be good fresh high quality protein (organic where possible). If you put the wrong fuel in a car how would you expect it to run? Well that’s what most people are doing all the time! Wrong fuel, in pain and on some sort of prescription drugs! It’s my job to help sort that out.

As far as training was concerned that was easy! It all boils down to movement – no machines, no vibration plates, just natural human movement (even with a bad knee). Squat, bend, lunge, push, pull and twist. If you can master these movements you will be pain free and functional. Life is dysfunctional! I don’t know of any animal that doesn’t know how to move naturally or eat correctly. That’s all we are – animals. The more you forget that and sit at a desk 8 hours a day eating microwaved food the worse you will feel and the shorter your lifespan will be.

What advice do you give to clients who have such a long way to go (but who obviously have the mental tools there to achieve it)

What’s the alternative? The definition of madness is ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result’! Change what you are doing and your body will respond. There are too many excuses and not enough positive action being taken. Take a long look at your life and how you can improve it and take inspiration from others who have achieved great things. The motivation is out there and if you want it bad enough you’ll do it – don’t just join the herd!

What advice would you give my readers who feel they are at the start of a very long fitness/fatloss journey?

Get the right advice, get a goal and a plan and stick with it. DIETS DO NOT WORK! Eat like the animal you are and believe in yourself. We are the pinnacle of evolution and yet the sickest of all living things on the planet. With the correct movement and diet I’ve seen people achieve fantastic things, and no matter what level they start at they can always improve. Never stop learning! Find something that motivates you (for me, it’s my two daughters: I want to see them grow up fit and healthy people not dysfunctional malnourished and unhappy so I train to make that happen).

Get passionate and change your life. No excuses. Chris is a great example and a real pleasure to train.

I hope Chris’s story has inspired you, motivated you or given you that little extra push you need to go after your own goals.

If you know someone who would like to feature as an “inspirational reader” story, get in touch with me. 🙂

Inspirational readers: Chris and his 14-stone weight loss 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.

Biosignature assessment at 2 weeks out

July 8, 2013

I’ve been having biosignature body fat caliper tests throughout this prep (as I have in previous years) – I had one at about 8 weeks out, one at about 4 weeks out and one today (just under two weeks out – eek!)

As mentioned previously, what I’m always most interested in when it comes to these tests, and like to compare each time, is the skinfold measurements themselves.

Here are the readings from today –
8 weeks out vs 4 weeks out vs 2 weeks out!

Chin: 5.6mm/3.8mm/3.6mm (-0.2mm since last time, -2mm total (so far!))
Cheek (face… !): 8.4mm/7.6mm/7.4mm (-0.2mm since last time, -4mm total)
Pec: 1.8mm/1.8mm/1.8mm (no change)
Triceps: 14.4mm/11.4mm/12.2mm (up 0.8mm since last time (hm!), -2.2mm total)
Sub scap: 6.8mm/6.0mm/5.8mm (-0.2mm since last time, -1mm total)
Mid aux: 3.3mm/2.8mm/2.6mm (-0.2mm since last time, -0.7mm total)
Suprailic: 6.4mm/4.6mm/4.4mm (-0.2mm since last time, -2mm total)
Umbilical: 8.4mm/7.0mm/5.8mm (-1.2mm since last time, -2.6mm total)
Knee: 6.6mm/6.6mm/5.6mm (-1mm since last time, -1mm total)
Calf: 13.0mm/10.6mm/9.6mm (-1mm since last time, -3.4mm total)
Quadricep: 21.2mm/17.0mm/15.4mm (-1.6mm since last time, -5.8mm total)
Hamstring: 17.6mm/13.2mm/10.8mm (-2.4mm since last time, -6.8mm total)

(Really hope my mental arithmetic is correct – it’s 9pm on a hot evening on my lowest carb day of the week with 13 days to go til comp. HELP ME WHERE IS MY ABACUS! 😉 )

I’m really pleased with the quad and hamstring (leg) readings – my legs were lagging behind and, although I could see with my own eyes that they’d started to come in well over the last two weeks, it’s good to have it clarified in numbers. I’m not sure why I now have a fat tricep! All I can do is press on, keep doing what I’m doing, and trust that it will come down eventually.

Biosig experts, if you have any thoughts, comments or suggestions on my tricksy triceps, let me know!

So, that’s a total of another 7.4mm off in these past two weeks, to add to the 21.1mm off between the previous two tests.

I’m pleased!

Running all the skinfolds through the Poliquin software today gave me a reading of 8.9% bodyfat today (-0.8% from 2 weeks ago and 3.5% from 8-ish weeks ago) which I’m pleased with for this stage in prep (don’t forget that I plan to have a good long season of comps – this first competition in two weeks is not the only goal). Putting the same skinfolds through the 7-site Jackson/Pollock bodyfat calculation brings me out at 12.08% which I’m also happy with.

Regardless of the final number, I use these test results as one part of an ongoing set of markers to chart progress.

That’s me done for the night! Byeeee!

You can get in touch with Aimee, who did my biosig, at her website – Tunbridge Wells Kent Personal Trainer or connect with Aimee on Facebook or Twitter.

Biosignature assessment at 2 weeks out 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.

Biosignature assessment at 4 weeks out

June 21, 2013

I had a biosignature re-test today (if you’re interested in reading more about biosignature testing, or seeing the results of all of mine, I’ve put all the relevant posts together here: biosignature test blog posts).

I had my first biosig of this prep four weeks ago exactly and went back to see Kent biosig practitioner Aimee Stevens today for a retest.

2013 prep biosigs

Here’s the screenshot with both tests on (click to enlarge). Ignore the weight (which is the weight of me, my bottle of water and my meals) and, to an extent, ignore the bodyfat % (I say that partly because every method differs, and also because the % takes bodyweight into account). What I’m always most interested in, and like to compare each time, is the skinfold measurements themselves.

Here are the readings –
8 weeks out vs 4 weeks out
Chin: 5.6mm/3.8mm (-1.8mm)
Cheek (face… !): 8.4mm/7.6mm (-0.8mm)
Pec: 1.8mm/1.8mm (no change)
Triceps: 14.4mm/11.4mm (-3mm)
Sub scap: 6.8mm/6.0mm (-0.8mm)
Mid aux: 3.3mm/2.8mm (-0.5mm)
Suprailic: 6.4mm/4.6mm (-1.8mm)
Umbilical: 8.4mm/7.0mm (-1.4mm)
Knee: 6.6mm/6.6mm (no change – hmmm!)
Calf: 13.0mm/10.6mm (-2.4mm)
Quadricep: 21.2mm/17.0mm (-4.2mm – yippee!)
Hamstring: 17.6mm/13.2mm (-4.4mm – also yippee!)

If my end-of-the-week maths serves me right, that’s a total of 21.1mm off – with the biggest changes being in 1) hamstring 2) quad and 3) calf. Looks like it’s been all about the legs this past month!

What I liked about today’s retest is that (most of!) the areas which were a bit too high for my liking last time have come down (legs in particular). And now everything is a bit more in line and even – with the exception of that knee reading!

All the number-crunching gave me a reading of 9.7% bodyfat today (-2.7% from 4 weeks ago) which I’m very pleased with. Whether or not we think it’s a true 9.7%, it doesn’t matter – I use it as a measurement and a set of numbers to compare against each other each time. Given that I was (by biosig testing/measurement methods) 6.7% in 2011 around the time of my qualifier competition, and then 4.1% for the BNBF British Finals, I feel in a good place given that I have four weeks left until my qualifier this year.

As long as everything’s moving in the right direction, I’m happy.

I’ll be heading back for another test in a few weeks – by which time I hope to have leaner knees 😉 (and leaner everything else for that matter).

So, here we are with 4 weeks (on Sunday) to go til my qualifier! I’m having a long catch-up with coach Vicky next week, to discuss training and diet changes for the next few weeks. Exciting! 😀

Have you ever had a biosignature assessment?

You can get in touch with Aimee, who did my biosig, at her website – Tunbridge Wells Kent Personal Trainer or connect with Aimee on Facebook or Twitter.

Biosignature assessment at 4 weeks out 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.

New biosignature assessment for 2013

June 4, 2013

Nearly two weeks ago now (where is the time going…?!) I had another biosignature assessment. Long-time readers might recall that I had my first biosig about a month out from the BNBF British Finals in 2011, and a follow-up assessment just a few days before the Final, and then one biosig last year, as well.

Whilst I recognise that they’re not necessarily completely accurate (what method of body-composition testing is, other than autopsy? 😉 ), I do find the data fascinating. For more information about the biosig method and assessment, take a look at my previous biosig blog posts (linked to above) or Google it. Briefly: it’s a skinfold test, using calipers, which assesses 12 specific sites on the body that relate to individual hormones. The result shows your hormonal profile, and the practitioner can then advise on lifestyle, training and nutrition tweaks you can make to get you healthier (and leaner, if that’s your bag).

And, like any form of measurement, I like using biosig tests as comparisons as I make my merry way along the Path of Prep.

So, I had a biosig test two weeks ago with a biosig practitioner here in Kent – Aimee Stevens. She hasn’t calipered me previously and it’s worth bearing in mind that different practitioners will do things slightly differently, no matter how hard they try to replicate the process. My reading came out as 12.4% bodyfat which I was pleased enough with at the time (just over 8 weeks out from my qualifier) although I would hope (and am confident that) it’s come down from then. I’ll be going back in a few weeks to find out!

Here’s the report (clicking on it ought to enlarge it)

And here’s what Aimee had to say:

The Biosignature Modulation body fat assessment is a testing criteria devised by Charles Poliquin, based on the hypothesis that individual body fat testing sites are hormone modulated, therefore allowing practitioners to target site specific fat loss.

Nicola Joyce 24th May 2013
Body fat percentage is currently 12.4% (lean body mass 55.6 kgs)

Hamstrings (estrogens)
Calves (growth hormone/sleep)
Triceps (testosterone)

Body fat is good/lean, therefore it is perhaps more insightful to look at each individual site reading comparatively and set targets from here in order to achieve increased leanness for competition. One thing to bear in mind: the Biosignature Modulation testing is devised solely as a tool to reduce body fat, therefore – no matter how optimal the site readings are – it will always point out priority sites 1, 2, and 3 for focus. Under ‘normal’ circumstances I would encourage Nicola to maintain this body fat percentage, however for competition it is a different ball game!

Very optimal sites are seen in her chin/cheek, representing a good overall leanness. The pec site reading is low, as is sub-scapular (hypothesised to represent high carbohydrate tolerance), mid axillary (thyroid), supra-illiac (insulin), and umbilical (cortisol).

Hamstring – first priority – would be the first port of call for reducing body fat in this case. For a female, 17.7mm is a good lean hamstring, and as discussed this is no cause for concern. For Nicola to reduce this further we would firstly look at any exogenous exposure to estrogen toxins (for example non-organic produce, plastic exposure, cleaning products, cosmetics, etc). My second step would be to optimise Nicola’s ability to detoxify:
– Improve gut health, mainly through a high quality pro-biotic and increased fibre
– Ensure diet is antioxidant rich, greens supplements are a fantastic way of boosting levels
– Supplement with a good B complex, high quality fish oil, magnesium, possibly zinc

I do not personally feel Nicola would need to follow an estrogen detoxification specific protocol at this point, but would encourage her to keep her (filtered) water high, and drink lots of green tea. It is interesting that Nicola’s quad reading is 21.2mm, which is slightly high for 12.4% body fat. The quad reading is hypothesised to be indicative of estrogens that your body is producing, for example being on the contraceptive pill. In combination with the guidance above, perhaps sauna protocols (infrared if it is available) might be useful in reducing this site.

Calves as priority 2 is slightly high again for a lean girl, so 12.4% (double the fat as on her hips for example!), therefore lifestyle changes to induce sleep should be put into place at this important stage, and increased magnesium should help. Triceps being third priority is slightly unusual for such as muscular lean girl (14.4%). I often find that heavy weights reduces this site. I would expect this to be well below 10mm for Nicola. Her next training stage is higher volume, which should lead to a reduction in this site, but Nicola could also look at boosting zinc which is a testosterone modulator.

profile_aimeeAimee is a registered biosignature practioner, holds credentials from top UK universities, further certification from the Australian Performance Training Institute, and has worldwide experience of training 100+ clients across 3 continents.

You can get in touch with Aimee at her website – Tunbridge Wells Kent Personal Trainer or connect with Aimee on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks Aimee and see you again soon!

New biosignature assessment for 2013 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 on fitness video shoots

March 26, 2013

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

Hey guys! It’s been ages since I blogged but I know you’re all interested in what I get up to (can’t blame you) so I thought I’d put paw to keypad and tell you about yesterday.

Most of my working days are pretty boring really, sleeping in my bed whilst Nic types, or sleeping in my bed whilst Nic is at meetings, or helping Nic think by whining or chomping loudly on a chew. But some days I really have to step up to the plate and basically be Nic’s assistant.

(^^^ my thinking face)

Yesterday we drove to East Grinstead to help out on a DVD and photoshoot for Muscle & Fitness magazine. It was really cool and I thought you should all know what happens on one of these days.

Remember the time I went to The Training Lab gym, met WBFF World Champ Shaun Stafford and was sick on the floor ? That was for a photoshoot and magazine article (inexplicably, the magazine didn’t want me in the photos – I am still waiting for the Editor to get back to me with exact answers on that).

It was the same yesterday, I wasn’t so much required to be in the DVD but, like Nic, I was a very important part of the behind-the-scenes activity.

Nic’s jobs:
– to sit down
– to write stuff down
– to talk to people and ask them things
– to remember all the funny things that were said and write them down for later
– to think a lot

Well now take a look at my list of jobs and I think you’ll start to see that I’m just as important:
– to lie down
– to get patted by people and try to lick them
– to watch all the funny things happening
– to think a lot (whilst sleeping)
– to guard the gym door so nobody came in during filming
– to guard the camera equipment
– to not get in the way
– to be a team mascot so all the people being filmed were chilled out and happy

Um… HELLO… how can a day like that happen without me? I haven’t asked Muscle & Fitness what my fee for the day is but I’m sure they’ll let me know in due course. Probably they will add it on to my fee for the other time when I was so helpful with the photoshoot.

Every time I do one of these jobs I make lots of cool new friends. Me and Andy McKenzie, who owns and runs The Training Lab gym, are basically best friends now. Especially since I wasn’t sick on his floor this time!


But also yesterday I met a man called Nick “Headhunter” Chapman, who was really big and sort of scary but secretly I think he’s not that scary at all, it’s just his job (he is an MMA fighter, which means Mixed Martial Arts). I caught him smiling at me when he walked past and he said “hellooooo there!” which really wasn’t very scary. But shhh don’t tell anyone, in case any of his MMA opponents are reading.

I also met a nice man called Mike who is very clever and invented a thing called a Unikurve (which is the fitness equipment we were making the DVD about). He showed me photos of his own dog and even gave Nic some advice on my bald patch (too embarrassing to blog about), thank you Mike.

Finally I met a cool dude called Wayne who gave me lot of cuddles, here is a picture of us (sorry I am a bit blurry, I was very excited). Wayne used to be in a TV show called Gladiators where his character was called Doom, but personally I think that’s silly because he wasn’t Doomy or Gloomy at all. And I know just how annoying it can be when strangers only refer to you by your stage-name (I am so famous all around the town for my dog-coat modelling, sometimes I just want to free myself from the shackles of fame and cry out “but my name is Frankie!”) So I was very respectful to him and didn’t call him Doom once, just Wayne, which is his proper name.


Anyway that’s enough chit-chat for today. I will be back soon with a more fitness-themed post, probably on the topic of powerwalking and why it is my cardio of choice.

I hope you enjoyed this unique insight into what it is like to be a dog working in the fitness industry.

Until next time, bye!

TheFitDog on fitness video shoots 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 Woof Coat

February 9, 2013

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


Hi guys! I know Nic often does kit reviews on the blog so I thought it was about time I did one of my own.

A few weeks ago, Nic was in a coffee shop (I know – massive shocker!) and she saw a dog wearing a really nice coat. She asked the dog’s owner where the coat was from and the lady said “I made it, I have a little business called Woof Coats.” Nic was so impressed at Willow’s lovely coat that she asked the lady if she would make me a coat, too.

Nic had to give the lady lots of info via email including various measurements (being measured with a tape is very fun – my top tip is to wriggle around loads!) and any choice of colour/material. I told Nic my favourite colour is YELLOW which is the colour of bouncy balls 😀 but Nic said she thought red might be nicer for a coat. The coat lady used to be work as a fashion designer and textiles person in London, so Nic thought it best to leave the choice of design and material up to her.

Well! I got my coat today and I have to say it is just about the best thing ever!

We went out and about for a photoshoot and I felt like the bee’s knees! (In fact, Woof Coats strapline is “our dog coats are the cat’s pyjamas”, which I thought was really offensive til Nic explained that it means they are the best).


I posed in front of the Racecourse, and the entrance to the Castle, because truly in my Harris tweed coat I feel like a posh dog who lives in a stately home or something.


Then we went to the beach, because I am not a posh dog who lives in a stately home, I am just a Staffy cross who lives near the sea. I worked on my model looks – one I like to call “whimsical horizons” (middle left) and one I like to call “steely glare” (bottom left) –

I posed on the beach. And I posed on the rocks, in case anyone ever needs a dog to do modelling in an outdoors-wear catalogue.

About 10 different people asked Nic where my coat was from and she told them Woof Coats in Sandgate! One man said he preferred my coat to his own coat, and another man said “well Frank you are a male model now mate!”

All in all I have to say that I love my coat. Nic says I should give a proper review so here are a few points to note:

Why I love my Woof Coat
, by Frankie (aged 4)

– Harris tweed with a decorative patch made of contrasting fabric
– made to measure and a one-off design
– lined in cosy corduroy
– very smart button with a stretchy loop
– easy to wag my tail whilst wearing it
– easy to run in (I checked this)
– easy to wee and poo in (I also checked this)
– very well made
– not restrictive in any way
– not embarrassing to wear like some coats you see on other dogs
– only £30! (Nic says she can’t quite believe this and that the lady should put her prices up)
– designed and handmade by a proper clothes designer who used to design clothes for humans


You can check out Woof Coats online (I might be featured on the website, how exciting!) and they are also on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks Woof Coats for my great coat!
I really love it a lot! Frankie xx

TheFitDog’s review of his Woof Coat 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 on fitness photoshoots

August 8, 2012

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

Hey guys! Sorry it’s been ages since I wrote a blog post. Nic’s been hogging the blog with all that Olympics stuff. Anyway, I’ve kicked her off the laptop tonight (she says sorry, no Olympics-inspired blog post today) cos I’ve had a WELL exciting day and I think you all need to hear about it right now!

Have you ever been a fitness model in a fitness photoshoot? Nor had I – until today! Nic and I drove down to somewhere called The Training Lab which is a really mega-cool gym in East Grinstead because a magazine called Muscle and Fitness had asked her to write an article and be in the photos for it, too. (I have never read Muscle and Fitness but I don’t read much as a general rule).

Nic and a man called Shaun Stafford (who is an actual fitness model) had to do a workout and another man called Andy McKenzie (who is a coach) had to tell them what to do and then another man called Simon Howard (who is a photographer) had to take photos of them. It was a bit confusing for me, meeting so many new people, but I got it in the end. Andy was the one shouting at Nic and Shaun, Shaun was the one with loads of muscles and no top on, and Simon was the one who kept putting a camera in front of his face (I think perhaps he was a bit shy, I’m not sure).

We got there and I warmed up for the proper photos by posing outside The Training Lab

Then I lay down in my bed in the physio room and Nic tied my lead to a kettlebell so I couldn’t go off exploring by myself.

Then Nic and Shaun did lots of cool stuff like jumping over hurdles and putting chains around their necks – I really wish I could have joined in, especially the jumping (which I love) but Nic said no I had to sit in my bed 😦

At one point I could hear everyone shouting and yelling at Nic and I got really angry so I pulled the kettlebell and wandered into the gym. I was so mad I was ready to bite them (even though I’ve never bitten anyone before but, you know, don’t push me!) But Nic laughed and said “it’s OK, go to your bed”. Apparently the shouting and yelling was to do with Nic squatting a bar with chains on?

What I learned today is that everyone has a role on a photoshoot. For example, today:

– me: artistic director. Basically what I did was sat on my bed and transmitted my excellent ideas for photos into Simon’s brain and then he did them. He was pretty good! My job was the most important, obviously, although many people might say you wouldn’t know it. That’s because I am a true professional and don’t like to make a song and dance about my high skill level.
– Simon: the photographer. This is a really important role in any photoshoot otherwise you have no photos and then the magazine gets really cross.
– Nic and Shaun: the models. Nic said I must point out that she isn’t really a model, she just pretended to be one for the day. Shaun however is a real one, it’s his actual job and he even won a big competition and got his Pro Card! And you could totally tell – he was way better than Nic. Plus I really like his hair.
– Andy: the coach. You don’t have to have one of these on a photoshoot but if it is a sport or fitness photoshoot then it’s a good idea, because the coach can tell the athletes what to do and make sure they are doing everything right and not hurting themselves. He was a really nice man too and even said I can come back again.

There was only one strange thing about the whole shoot – Simon only took one photo of me? I can only assume that the photo he took was so perfect that he didn’t need to spend ages asking me to do the pose over and over again. That is what you get for being a top model like me. I did offer Shaun some tips but he said he was OK thank you.

Luckily Nic made sure she took some on her little camera so here they are (these aren’t Simon’s, I expect they’ll be a bit better)

Everyone said I was really good today, for example let me tell you a few things they said:
– Hasn’t he been good?
– How cute
– Good boy
– What a lovely dog
– Aw he is cute
– Hello there fella
– Hello fatty (????)
– Very good

Again I can only stress that professional and experienced models like myself can expect compliments like these on shoots. Those of you who are new to the industry might have to work a little harder until someone calls you Good Dog or Fatty.

One last observation from today – being a fitness model is exhausting! I am really tired now and very thirsty. And on that note I am going to go to bed – I haven’t had any naps today and my brain is very sore from all the thinking.

It was lovely to meet Shaun Stafford, Simon Howard and Andy McKenzie and I really enjoyed visiting The Training Lab. If you’re nearby, you should totally go! Oh and you should wish my new best mate Shaun loads of luck in his upcoming competition which is the WBFF Worlds in Toronto (which is in Canada, which is abroad). I reckon he’ll win for sure but as I said to him today, if he’d like any last-minute tips from me on how to be really brown or how to have shiny hair, or how to get really muscley by sprinting after a football, I will be happy to oblige.


TheFitDog on fitness photoshoots 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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