What To Expect From A Speedflex London Class

September 11, 2018

Speedflex London invited me to try their flagship class, so of course I said yes (thank you). Here’s how it went, what I thought of it, and why I challenge you to give it a go! (Spoiler alert: you’ll work harder than you thought possible in 30 minutes but feel amazing the next day!)

Speedflex Helps Put The “I” In HIIT

We all know about HIIT – high intensity interval training, right? Great for burning a lot of calories in a short amount of time, and a good way of hanging on to muscle mass rather than just getting “skinnier”. But – the clue is in the name – HIIT has to be intense. Not just a bit hard. It has to push you right out of your comfort zone. And be honest, how easy is it to REALLY push yourself to true “intensity”?

Speedflex promised me a lung-busting HIIT workout, but the bit that really got me interested was the method. Speedflex uses nifty kit to turn your HIIT workout into a resistance session.

I might have hung up the bodybuilding bikini (for now… never say never and all that) but I still train with weights. And whilst I might not want to put on any more size, I’d like to hang on to the muscle I have! (At a 40-something lifetime drug free female, that’s no easy feat and certainly won’t “just happen”).

Speedflex would be a great workout for anyone in my position (wanting to hang on to muscle but work on fitness – oh and not get too fat despite eating pretty much whatever…) It would also be a good workout for anyone who wants to build a bit more muscle but doesn’t want to do the freeweights or gym weights machine thing.

Speedflex London (where I went) offer several different classes. I did the Classic (the flagship 30-minute class). But all the classes use Speedflex’s unique weight training machine. It’s really clever – it actually changes resistance level based on how hard and fast you push/pull/press/row (etc) it. There’s no momentum, but constant tension which increases as you put in more effort. So when you get a bit tired, the resistance comes down. But when you’re ready to go at it, it throws more at you.

This means you can achieve a challenging level of intensity no matter how experienced/new/strong/tired/fired up (etc) you are.

No kit to load, nothing to drop on yourself, and no sudden jerking movements – Speedflex is really safe but (trust me on this!) very challenging!

Fun fact: did you know that Speedflex was formed in 2011 by a group of entrepreneurs including Alan Shearer. You do now!

About My Speedflex Class

So – enough about the sciency stuff. What is a Speedflex class actually like (and would I recommend it)?

First up, I had my inbody assessment which I’ll talk about in another blog post. All Speedflex attendees/members get regular inbody assessments so you can track changes to your body composition with real data. Very rewarding!

Then I was given an induction – how to use the Speedflex machine, using my own weight/strength to alter the resistance as there are no pins or plates or stacks.

After that, it was into the class – a 30 minute high-octane combo of giant sets using the Speedflex kit, battle ropes, slam balls, and kettlebells.

Each class is different (check out the different versions of Speedflex class here) but each instructor will naturally design the sessions a bit differently, too.

Our coach Tigan was smiley on the outside but don’t be fooled – the man knows how to design a killer session! Our group was a mixed ability of men, women, sportspeople, and beginners but it’s fair to say we all got what we wanted from the session. Sweat pouring, gasping for breath, just enough recovery time to go again… It was one of those sessions where halfway through you’re thinking “this is never going to end!” and then with 5 minutes to go you feel like it wasn’t so bad and you could push a bit more… Perfect!

It took me a while to recover (as you’d expect, when my heart rate had hit 90%+ of max!) But afterwards I felt good – tired but not destroyed, and no DOMS the next day (<<< this is a big USP of the Speedflex system – little to no DOMS).

Would I recommend Speedflex?

Yes, without hesitation. Great for freshening up your fitness routine, perfect for people who don’t like “the gym”, highly effective for weight/fat loss and muscle gain, and an amazing way to do true HIIT.

Want to try Speedflex? They have a 2 week free trial (unlimited classes in that time period) so you can get a real feel for it. Just ask at your local studio or click here. At the mo, there are Speedflex studios in London, Coulby Newham, Cork, Darlington, Dunfermline, Durham, Dallas, Dubai, Edinburgh, Reigate, Mansfield, Newcastle, Norwich and West Byfleet.

Oh – and I apparently burned 342 calories in the 30 minute class (as measured by the MyZone system – used in all Speedflex classes so you can see how hard you’re working and challenge yourself).

Let me know if you’ve got any questions – or if you try a free class like I did!

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 14 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.

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Brace Yourself: A Mass Sense Of Entitlement & Elitism Is Coming…

January 3, 2016

Ah, January.

Specifically, January in the gym. Or, out on the roads (if you’re a runner), in the pool during lane-swimming sessions, or in your favourite exercise class/bootcamp session.

Social media this week is full of whinges, whines, and passive-aggressive memes about “newbie” exercisers. The problem? Apparently they are all about to arise from their sofas (where they’ve been lazing for the past 20 years whilst us fit-folk have been #beastmode 24/7). And they’re about to have the audacity to venture into our gyms.

That’s not all! They’re going to mess things up for us for a few weeks in January (you know, using the equipment and possibly not knowing how to load a bar properly) and then they are going to GIVE UP AND GO AWAY AGAIN! (Why could that be… ?)

These gym-newbies are thus a dual source of sustenance for the gym community’s elitist comments and holier-than-thou attitude. Firstly, they turn up at the gym never having been before (remind you of anyone… like… you? And me? And indeed everybody?) Then they fail to stick it out (because, of course, they haven’t got the commitment and willpower you have. It could also be that they were put off by that sense they had of not being quite welcome. Or perhaps, just maybe, it’s because the gym isn’t for them after all).

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Well, I hate this time of year. Not because of the gym newbies. Because of the attitude of gym “oldies” who posts memes like this one, and write stuff on Facebook, and then crow with I-told-you-so glee when the newbie isn’t there any more in February.

I get it, I do. It’s annoying when you turn up to squat, and all the squat racks are taken. It’s frustrating when the weights are all out and strewn around the floor. It can be irritating when you really want to use a certain pair of dumbbells and they’re being used by someone who doesn’t look like they know what they’re doing.

But I really think we need to get over ourselves.

Worst case scenario: you are doing your final workout before a competition. Or you’re someone who makes money from your sport/physique, and you can’t do the exact workout you wanted to do.

I can’t imagine there is ever a situation where there’s literally not one thing you can do in the entire gym that day. If there is, I guess you need to talk to management and tell them they’ve been ambitious with their new sales targets, or need to re-invest in kit.

Here’s what I hope I’ll be doing if any new folk decide to join my gym in January.

  1. Say hello and/or wave (depending on the Headphone scenario)
  2. Introduce myself
  3. Ask if they’re new (because I’m terrible at remembering people I’ve actually already met)
  4. Ask if they’ve come from another gym or if this is their first go in a gym environment
  5. Tell them amusing stories about the gym dog
  6. Tell them to let me know if they need a hand with anything
  7. Say goodbye and hopefully see you again soon

It’s really not difficult. I was new to the gym, once, too. I still feel unsure and a bit intimidated and nervous if I go to do a brand-new sport or type of training. And I just think it’s nice to be nice.

After all, what’s the alternative? Whingeing about how people are lazy and can’t be bothered to do anything about changing their weight, health and fitness… ? Oh wait… our industry tends to do that, too. 😉

What are your thoughts on the January gym-influx scenario? To what extent is your training affected? Have you posted that ^^^ meme and do you plan to unfriend me on FB now? 😉 (bye)

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Brace Yourself… 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.


Ever Seen A Snowman Sissy Squat?

December 12, 2015

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I have! Today I squatted with Buddy the Elf and Frosty the Snowman aka my friends Miky and Jamie. A load of us went over to the fantastic Ripped Gym in Harlow – home to one of our own (WNBF Pro Mark Oakes) for the annual Christmas “natty meet”.

Our community of natural bodybuilders have various gym-meets throughout the year, sometimes organised by the gym owner, sometimes by the bodybuilder who trains at the gym.

Date and venue are set, word is sent out, and whoever can be there turns up to train, chat and have something to eat afterwards. It doesn’t matter if you’re experienced or new, competing or off-season, retired or yet to compete. You just have to want to train and have a bit of a giggle with the good folk of natural BB.

Training partners/trios are usually arranged beforehand via Facebook. And so it was that I ended up arranging to train legs with Buddy Miky and Frosty Jamie.

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Miky and I have never trained before. Jamie and I have, although not in the gym. We did a 60 mile sportive in the Summer. It was pretty hot, very hilly, and a big ask! Jamie had to get off his bike and have a little sit-down outside somewhere rather prophetically named “Hellfire Caves”.

Today was slightly less punishing on the quads…. but only just 😉

Ripped Gym in Harlow is an amazing gym, huge and packed full of equipment. I swear you could be there for 6 hours and still not have time to do a set on every different bit of kit. I trained there back in February but there was still lots I wanted to try out today!

Here’s what we did

(I’m sure you can spot the bit where the guys said “are we done now?” and I said “yes, oh no, ooh, can we just do a few sets on […]?”)

Back squats 4 sets (I worked up to 70kgs) then 1 set paused squats (lower weight)
Plate loaded hack squats 3 sets 10-12
Barbell SLDL 4 sets 10-12 ish
Superset: lying hamstring curl (both legs), standing hamstring curl (single legs) <<< I love this bit of kit!
Sissy squats
Barbell hacks (only 1 set – I was taught how to do them properly – all I can say is ouch!)
1 x triple dropset on the leg press (cheered on by Jamie telling me “You’re a reindeer! You’re STRONG! ;D) )
Seal rows 4 sets

My legs are officially ruined!

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(Just in case you think I’ve had a particularly transformative off-season, I should point out this isn’t me on the seal row. It’s multi-titled Champ Robert Rodney).
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Then upstairs for a bit of posing (had forgotten how tiring it is and how much it makes my legs and back ache!)
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Then to Five Guys for a PWO meal. Sorry, Five Guys fans, but I was underwhelmed. It was OK but just OK. The company was great though 😀
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Thanks to Mark Oakes for organising today’s meet (herding cats?) and to Michelle at Ripped Gym for the warm welcome.

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Ever Seen A Snowman Sissy Squat? 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 At The Workout Mill

December 6, 2015

As part of my strategy to break up the long, boring bit of off-season (i.e. the Winter months), I’ve taken it upon myself to visit different gyms, train with different people, and invite myself along to other people’s training sessions.

Today was a visit up to The Workout Mill in Leamington Spa, home of WNBF Pro bodybuilder Richard Gozdecki who is a Director of the gym.

I’ve had the pleasure of training with Rich a few times now: at The Mill, and whilst we were all up at the UKDFBA’s Caledonian Classic show a couple of years ago. Rich knows what I’m capable of and we seem to get along well training together. So, when he heard that I’m doing a powerlifting comp, he invited me to join him for a Sunday deadlift session because he’s training for powerlifting at the moment too.

Bodybuilders powerlifting? Powerlifters bodybuilding? Dunno: we just both really love to train. 🙂

We started at 7:30am. I arranged to stay at my Mum’s for the weekend, but that still meant a 5am start for me. #yolo or something. I can have a nap later.

Here’s what we did:

Calves:

Seated pin-loaded machine – sets of 15 + 1 double drop set (15/15) + 1 triple drop set (15/15/15)

Standing calves superset donkey calves – 5 sets 10-12
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Hamstrings:

Standing single-leg ham ham curl (4 working sets)

Lying ham curl (4 working sets)
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Deadlifts:

4 warm up sets

5 working sets (135kgs for me, possibly 280kgs for Rich? I lost count of the plates tbh) 3-5 reps per set

4 sets working on speed off the floor (100kgs for me, not a clue what Rich used) – 5 reps

Then I stayed and did some cardio because The Mill has a Stair Master and I’m weird.
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Now I have to drive home.  I am sending a prayer to the Gods of the M25: no stop-start traffic, please. I’m not sure my legs can take it.

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Training at The Workout Mill 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.


A Weekend Training At Body Flex, Aylesbury (Two Training Sessions)

November 29, 2015

Remember when I created a Google map and list of UK gyms owned and run by natural bodybuilders? The map is here >> UK natural bodybuilders’ gyms <<. At the time, I pledged to do some kind of grand tour, visiting each gym to train, interview the owner and blog about the gym.

That hasn't happened (yet?) but this weekend I took a road trip to stay with my bodybuilding buddy Chris Roche. We trained twice at his local gym, Body Flex in Aylesbury, which is owned and run by former natural World Champ Tony Montalbano (there are rumours of a comeback in 2016, but you didn’t hear it from me…)

The time of year between the end of one bodybuilding season and the start of the next can be a bit boring. It’s easy to feel disconnected from the close-knit community of natural bodybuilding. So I take it upon myself to invite myself to training sessions and travel around in order to hang out with the good folk of natural bodybuilding.
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This weekend was one of those road trips. I went up to Aylesbury, trained twice with Champ Chris Roche at Tony Montalbano’s Body Flex – all fuelled by Chris’s Dads excellent cooking (burp).

Chris is a Personal Trainer based at Core Strength Fitness in Aylesbury. He’s the UKDFBA British Teenage Champion 2012/13, BNBF British Teenage Champion 2013 and placed 3rd in the amateur U24s at the WNBF Worlds in 2013.
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I can’t remember when I first met him, but we became firm friends on that trip out to the WNBF Worlds in Boston in 2013. I remember thinking (shame on me!) that I couldn’t possibly be friends with a young fellamelad of Chris’s age. I am, literally, old enough to be his mother (cringe). We agreed to hang out for a day and I was wondering what the hell we’d have to talk about. Well Chris, my apologies! 😉 We had a great time on that trip and have remained good friends since. We’ve trained together tons of times – at Emporium in Birmingham over Bodypower weekend, and at various “natural meets”, and now at Body Flex.

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Here’s what we did:

Saturday: Shoulders, Abs
– Hammer strength plate loaded shoulder press: several sets adding weight each time, then a final drop set
– Single arm dumbbell lateral raises, the final one a drop set
– Single arm dumbbell overhead press, final one a drop set (I managed the 20kg for a few!)
– Rear delt dumbbell flys (Chris taught me how to actually do these properly)
– Real debts on the pec dec with horrible “holds” and a drop set
– Hanging leg raises

Sunday: Legs, Calves
– Barbell squats, 4 working sets (I did 70kgs)
– Plate loaded hack squat: 5 sets of 10-12 reps with minimal (30 seconds or less) rest (yuk)
– Plate loaded leg press: 15-20 reps for 3 sets (heavier every set) then a quadruple drop set (yuk)
– SLDL with dumbbells – 3 sets (I used the 30kgs for these which I was pretty happy with)
– Nordic hamstring curl (ouch)
– Seated calves on plate loaded machine
– Toe presses on leg press

Great couple of sessions, thanks Chris!

What did you train this weekend? Have you trained at Body Flex? Can anyone guess which gym on my map/list I’m training at next weekend?

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A Weekend Training At Body Flex, Aylesbury (Two Training Sessions) 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.

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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 😀 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.


What happens at a bodybuilding posing class (and why should you go)?

September 1, 2014

I’m aching all over today! Why? Yesterday, I was up at The Workout Mill gym in Leamington for a 3-hour posing workshop run by WNBF Pro Richard Gozdecki and UKBFF and NABBA bodybuilder Max O’Connor.

I thought it might be interesting to give you a behind the scenes glimpse (in words, anyway – no pics were taken) of what happens at these things, and to tell you why you really should go to something similar if you compete.

Why is posing important?

Posing is incredibly important to competitive bodybuilders. It’s how we’re judged on the day. For my category, and in the federations I’ve done and do, we have to do:
quarter turns (the judges score “symmetry” in this round)
compulsory poses (used to judge “muscularity” and “conditioning”)
a free posing routine to music

If you can’t pose – and pose really well – you’re doing yourself a massive disservice. You could be the most genetically gifted bodybuilder with a beautiful structure, you could have trained as hard as you like, and dieted to achieve great condition… but if you then just stand there on stage, unable to pose, or posing badly, the judges can’t judge you. They can only judge what they see, after all.

Isn’t it just… standing there and flexing?

Nope. It’s really hard. Not just hard to learn, but physically hard. It hurts, it makes you out of breath, it makes you sweat. You’ll ache from it the next day. And the most you practice, the easier it is. If I told you right now to spread your lats, would you be able to do it? Can you engage your lats, switch them on, spread them without hunching your shoulders or pinching your scapula or bunching your traps? It’s not all front double biceps 😉 (although we do those, too).

Why do you have to learn it?

Like any skill, there’s an art to it. You need to learn, ideally from someone who can actually see you moving and touch you to help you get it right. You definitely can’t just rock up and hope for the best. Nobody was born knowing how to do bodybuilding poses, and watching Pumping Iron really won’t be enough.

Is it important to practice?
Yes! As often as possible. Not only will practicing your posing help it become second nature, but you’ll be able to find your own style, make those subtle little tweaks which show your physique off and highlight your strengths (and hide your weaknesses, which is what also what it’s about!) Posing practice actually helps tighten you up and “bring you in” (<< quality BB lingo for you right there) during prep. And the more you practice posing, the easier it’ll be on the day. You’ll sweat less under the lights, so your tan won’t run as much.

Surely it’s easy?

It’s really not. I’d like to think I’ve got a decent level of proprioception, but there are still a couple of poses I find very difficult. Not just physically, but mentally. My head just doesn’t know what I mean. And I favour one side on some poses. Ask me to do them on the other side (as can happen on stage) and I fumble and bumble. No bueno!

All of that is a preamble, explaining a little about why I drove up to Leamington Spa to attend a 3-hour posing workshop yesterday. It’s important!

So, what happens at these things?

Yesterday, we were split into two groups – one with Rich, one with Max. This was roughly done by federation. Most of the people I was with are prepping for the UKDFBA UK Open show, the remaining NPA qualifiers (or the Finals if already qualified), or the BNBF British. I was one of two females. But posing with men is no problem for me, as I do exactly the same poses as them.

We started at 9am, changing into bikinis/trunks (no point being shy at posing class!) and went through our quarter turns one by one. I stuck myself front and centre, cos that’s my style 😉 Everyone received individual feedback and critique, positive or negative/where improvements could be made. There are mirrors, as it’s always good to be able to see yourself, but it’s also important (IMO) to *not* look at yourself in the mirror sometimes during poses. After all, there are no mirrors on stage and if you can only hit a pose when you can see your own reflection, you’re going to struggle on the day.

After the 1/4 turns we went through all eight compulsories, and got individual feedback. We were able to learn from each other as well as from “teacher” Richard.

We had a few breaks for water/food if necessary during the couple of hours of posing – it really is hard work. I was sweating more than I do during some of my training sessions.

We then went through everything exactly as it would be called on the day of a comp, without stopping for critique. It’s important to know how the poses “flow”, and to be able to hold them for a reasonable amount of time. You never know how long you’ll have to hold them on stage, it could be quite a long time.

After that, people had the opportunity to run through their free posing routines or to work on putting one together if they haven’t yet done so. I took the chance to just keep on posing, jumping in with some of the guys in the other group. As far as I’m concerned you really can’t practice enough, and should grab every opportunity!

Here are the compulsory poses I have to do as a female bodybuilder with the UKDFBA/INBF
(WNBF… one day! 😉 )
Front Double Biceps
Front Lat Spread
Side Chest
Rear Double Biceps (showing one calf)
Rear Lat Spread (showing one calf)
Side Triceps
Abs and Thigh Pose
Most Muscular (this is technically “of your choice” but they can call specific ones so you’d better learn ’em!)

I said no photos were taken but that’s no quite true. Richard is almost as keen on selfies as I am… so… this happened:
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After the class? I trained hamstrings and calves with Richard (a WNBF Pro Heavyweight who’s currently off-season) and Troy (a very impressive junior who won his class at NPA and is prepping for more shows). We were training for nearly two hours.

Yeah… suffice to say that I’m pretty tired and sore this morning 😉

Competitors, have you been to a posing club or class? Do you struggle with any particular poses?

What happens at a bodybuilding posing class (and why should you go)? 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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