Strongman competition winner (or “That Time I Got 31 Deadlift Reps in 90 Seconds)

May 13, 2018

*is this thing on?* It’s been a minute since I blogged about a competition, but now I have something to tell you, so here’s an update. Not bodybuilding or powerlifting: strongman!

I haven’t stepped on a bodybuilding stage since 2016 (no firm plans to do so again, but haven’t “retired” either). But I’m always up for any kind of challenge – the more fun and weird the better.

Strongman definitely fits the bill! Pulling a truck? Flipping a tyre? Deadlifting a car? That’s weird in anyone’s book.

(If you’re not sure which one Strongman is – here’s the handy cheat-sheet I wrote, mostly for the benefit of my Dad).

Last Sunday’s Strongman & Strongwoman comp was hosted by my lovely friend Nikky Ricks at her gym – Waugh Machines – in Ramsgate. Strongman comps are few and far between, and tend to be organised by gyms, so I jumped at the chance to do something relatively local.

I knew the events and weights long in advance but didn’t get the chance to train on the kit (for various reasons). So I showed up with the knowledge that I am strong but… that’s about it.

The thing about Strongman is that nothing is predictable. Yes, there might be a deadlift event and you might love deadlifting. But WHAT will you be deadlifting, exactly? Not a bar with plates, that’s for sure.

Strongman is about full body strength, power, speed, and thinking on your feet.

The comp was split into three groups – men (split by weight) and one open women’s class – with different weights (but the same events) for each. There were four women in total.

Here’s how I got on.

Event 1 – truck pull

When I turned up at the venue, a couple of us ladies asked if we could have a go just to see if we could at least move it. I’ve done vehicle pulls in comps before, but never a sodding massive actual truck. It looked…. huge. Anyway, I managed to pull it across the line. We then realised that it had been loaded up to the advertised men’s weight. So we said sod it, we can do that, so give us that weight and put on extra for the men.

  • 9.7 tonnes over 20 metres for time.
  • Not sure where I came in this (2nd?) but I completed it

Event 2 – log press

This is where you clean (lift) the log from around knee height to chest, then press overhead. If you place the log back down, it’s a no-lift. I had no idea how I’d do with this. I don’t do this move in my regular training, and a log is awkward compared to a barbell.

We started at 30kgs then went up in 5kgs in a knock-out format. I was OK til we got to 45kgs – as I was pressing overhead, the weights slipped off one side, the log tilted, then the weights came off the other side. I was allowed another go, but obviously that had tired me out a bit. Anyway, I got the 45kg on my next go. There were a couple of us still in at this stage. The other lady tried to get 50kgs and didn’t manage. I stepped up, not at all sure that I would. It took two goes (but I didn’t set the log down, so that’s fine). After what felt like a very slow lock-out, I got it.

  • Very chuffed to log press 50kgs
  • And shocked to win this event!


Event 3 – car deadlift max reps in 90 seconds

(Here’s a video)
We didn’t actually get to deadlift the car (the guys did). But we had a 130kg tyre on the car deadlift jack. I’ve no idea what that actually weighs – obviously the angle and lever movement means you’re not actually deadlifting 130kgs. I got to go last in this which was great because it meant I could see what the others did and commit to beating them at all costs. Deadlifting is my favourite, and I would be gutted not to win this event! The lady just before me was banging them out like a machine. I counted 22. Right. 23 or more it was then.

I still had no idea how heavy the thing actually felt, though. I set up, lifted, stumbled back into a more comfy position… and went to a dark place haha! I literally just jammed my feet into the ground, gripped the bar, and refused to stop deadlifting until the 90 seconds was up. It felt… OK. Not that heavy (I reckon it was 100kg-110kg?) But it was a lung-buster. You try deadlifting ANY weight for 90 seconds let alone that. My body felt relatively OK but my heart and lungs were screaming. The referee was in front of me making sure I locked out and came to a deadstop on each rep. At one point I just shut my eyes and carried on lifting. I lost count completely and asked “how many?” “how many!” 27 was the reply. I’d already won but wanted to keep going. Bam bam bam…

  • 31 reps. In 90 seconds. PMSL
  • I won this

Event 4 – farmers walk into tyre flip
(Here’s a video)

I probably should have remembered that the deadlift was only the 3rd of 5 events. I still had this horrorshow to do. Farmers Walk/Carry (55kgs each hand) for 20 metres, drop, turn, and flip a 130kg tyre back for 20 metres. I’ve done a Farmers Carry before (although not this heavy as far as I can remember). But I’ve never done a tyre flip. I’ve tried one or two just in training and always find it so awkward and just horrible. I completed this – the Farmers was OK and at least I didn’t stumble or fall! – but the tyre flip was disgusting. I made a big song and dance of it, with various dramatic squeaks and yelps.

  • 55kgs each hand Farmers (20m) into 130kg tyre (20m)
  • Not sure where I came in this but completed it

Event 5 – 50kg sandbag over 1.2m yoke for reps

If you’ve never tried to lift a heavy bag of sand off the floor and shove it over something at roughly chest height, let me tell you how it feels. Horrible, frustrating, aggravating, exhausting. A bag of sand does not want to be picked up, held, or manoeuvred. I don’t have a lot to say about this event. I asked how many I needed to beat (3) and I did…. 5. Because that’s the kind of person I am.

  • 5 reps
  • Won this event

All done. I really wasn’t sure if I’d won, because of the timed events. I didn’t know if I’d done enough in those to put me in first place. I thought I was second to be honest, because the lady with the 22 deadlifts had been very quick on the truck pull and carry medley.

Turns out I did win! I reckon there wasn’t much in it, and I know 2nd place lady is up for a rematch next year. Me too!

[Edited to add: since writing this, I’ve been sent the times and placings for each event and I actually won them all (!) But I do reckon it was very close on the timed ones:]

  • Truck pull 46.5 secs 1st
  • Log lift 50kg 1st
  • Car deadlift 31 reps 1st
  • Farmers into tyre flip 1 min 32 secs 1st (<<< longest 92 seconds of my life I might add)
  • Sandbag 5 reps 1st

I’ve put a few videos and photos on my Instagram (in my feed, but also as a Highlight at the top of the page) if you want to look.

Big thanks to Nikky and Paul at Waugh Machines for organising and hosting the comp, and to everyone who helped referee, encourage, motivate etc on the day. It really was a fun day with a fab atmosphere. Deadlifting + getting a suntan – what better way to spend a Sunday!

Have you ever done a Strongman event? Would you?

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.


BDFPA British full power (my 2nd powerlifting comp)

March 3, 2016

Six weeks ago, I did my first powerlifting comp – a BDFPA full power unequipped qualifier.

The British Championships was last weekend. Here’s how I got on with an extra 6 weeks training under my belt.

[Edited to add: someone messaged me after I posted to ask if this is raw/unequipped. Yes: belt, wrist wraps, that’s it. No knee sleeves or wraps, no straps]

A First-Timer’s BDFPA British Unequipped Full Power Championships

After a typical (and irrational) last minute panic about not making weight, I ended up weighing in much lighter than I thought I would, so that was my first “challenge” of the day completed! (No matter what the scales at home have been saying, I never quite believe it til I see it on the competition scales).

I’d set my openers the night before, and had to declare them at weigh in:

Squat 95kg
Bench 60kg
Deadlift 140kg

Just as a reminder, at my previous/first comp, I squatted 90, 95, 97.5, benched 60 (failed 62.5 twice), and deadlifted 130, 140, 150.

Today, I really wanted
– a squat PB (during training, I’d switched to low bar squatting, and seen some great progress in my training numbers, so was hopeful for a PB today)
– any sort of bench PB (60kgs in comp was frustrating me, because I’d been doing 65kgs paused for a few reps in training, and had got 70kgs a couple of times, too)
– but mostly, a big deadlift PB! The 150 at my previous comp had felt pretty easy, and I’d been dreaming of 160
– I also had a total in mind (325) although in hindsight I wished I hadn’t focused so much on a total, as this meant I made some 2nd and 3rd lift attempt choices which were probably too big

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Squat:
I was feeling much more confident with technique since switching to low bar, and with weight after the extra training block. I’d done a pretty aggressive cycle of squat training, and all that time under the bar had made me feel much more at home with squatting.

95 – went fine, felt good, got 2/3 white lights
100 – went fine, 3/3 white lights (delighted with this – remember that my 3rd lift at qualifier was an ugly 97.5 grind)
105 – went fine, went up, 3/3 white lights! I jumped in the air with joy and had a quick celebratory dance with my friend and weekend roommate CK (who was also competing in my flight)

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Bench:
Warm up wasn’t great as there were about half the amount of benches as squat racks, so we mis-timed things a bit and had to queue for warm up reps.
60 – went OK but didn’t feel great. 3/3 white lights
65 – not sure why I opted for this rather than 62.5 but I did. It got stuck half way up – no lift.
65 – tried again. The same happened.
Sigh. At least I got my first attempt, so I didn’t bomb and was clear to go through to my beloved deadlift!

Deadlift:
(no photos of the deadlift I’m afraid – I wish I’d got someone to video my 3rd attempt!)

My happy place! I was SO fired up to get 160. Warm ups felt easy as anything.

At this point in the comp, I had a 165 total, so needed a 160 deadlift for that 325 total. 150 was my PB, so 152.5 would be a deadlift PB… but I had that total in my mind.

140 – fine. 3/3
150 – fine. 3/3
160 – I’ve never even touched 160 before. It left the floor fast, it went up… and it got stuck just below my knees. I battled with it for a bit, then admitted defeated. GUTTED!

Squat 105 (+7.5 from qualifier)
Bench 60 (= as qualifier)
Deadlift 150 (Grrr) (= as qualifier)
Total:
315 (+7.5)

Lessons learned:

I should have thought of each lift separately rather than chasing a total. I was never going to place top 3 in my flight, so I was only ever there to nudge my own progress forward. Why did I fixate on a random total number? If I hadn’t had a total in mind, I would have opted for 62.5 as my 2nd bench (and possibly would have got this?), and could have opted for 155 3rd deadlift, which I feel sure I would have got. This all would have meant a new PB in all 3 lifts, a successful final lift of the day, and a higher total anyway.

We live and learn! 😉

Huge thanks to BDFPA officials, spotters, loaders and referees – it was a great comp with a brilliant atmosphere and everything seemed to run like clockwork. And if any of the ladies (particularly those in my flight) are reading, thank you for contributing to such a friendly, fun atmosphere! Everyone cheering each other on despite being each other’s “competition” – the epitome of good sports 🙂

Back soon, possibly with a “Powerlifting Lingo Jargon-Buster” post (“what is a flight?”, “what’s bombing?”) and possibly with an answer to that old chestnut “what’s next…?”

Got any questions about powerlifting? Leave me a comment and… I’ll ask someone else to answer them, because I probably don’t know the answer either 😉

BDFPA British full power (my 2nd powerlifting comp) 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.


BDFPA Powerlifting Qualifier (307.5kg total)

January 18, 2016

Last Saturday, I did my first powerlifting comp (the BDFPA‘s Dean Mikosz Memorial). Quick version: a 97.5 squat, 60 bench, 150 deadlift for a 307.5kg total as a U70 unequipped lifter.

Longer version:

Got there bright and early, weighed in and set about getting hydrated (thank you client Bulkpowders for a generous gift of hydration drink and pre-workout gels for the day!)

Although there were other female lifters on the entry list, the others didn’t show up. So I was the only female competing full power on the day (you never can tell who will turn up, I guess – apparently there were quite a few women at this qualifier last year).

The day was split into two flights, under 80-something-KGs and over 80-something-KGs. So I was in the first flight, with the lighter men.

First up was squats (it’s always squats, bench, deadlift). And as my opening weight was the lightest of the flight, I was the first lifter.

This was pretty nerve-wracking! I’ve never lifted in a competition setting – on a platform and facing out in to an audience. The rack was different to the style I use for training. And being the first lifter, I hadn’t had a chance to watch anybody lift before me.

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That’s me in the warm up room – what an awesome old-school gym! My squat warm up had felt heavy, laborious and just not great at all. I don’t know if this was because it was earlier in the morning than I usually train, or because I didn’t warm up enough, or just due to nerves. No idea. But I wasn’t feeling great!

Anyway, little time to think about it. The comp started and I was announced as the first lifter.

Squat 1: 90kgs. Felt very heavy. But it went down, and back up again, and I got 3/3 whites (i.e. all of the 3 referees called it as a “good lift”).
Squat 2: 95kgs. Also felt very heavy. But again I got 3/3 whites although a couple of people in the audience told me I was only just deep enough.
Squat 3: 97.5kgs. I’ve done 100kgs in the gym, on more than one occasion, but I didn’t think it was happening today and I’d rather get another good lift than fail an over-ambitious one. After all, this is my first comp and just a qualifier. I only need to do as much as is needed to qualify. Felt very heavy, and was the slowest squat in the world on the way back up, but I fought for it and got it. 3/3 whites. Apparently it was deeper than my 95 and a better squat.

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Felt very relieved that squats were over!

Had a bit of a break here whilst the second flight squatted. Ate some decent food (stayed true to my bro roots: rice and tuna out of a plastic tub 😉 )

Bench 1: I went with 60kgs for my opener, a weight I only recently got for 2 reps in the gym. Maybe I could have opened with less. But I had no expectations for bench, I’ve only really started training flat barbell bench in the last few months. It went down and then up again. I got 2/3 whites (1 ref gave me a red due to me moving a bit before the “start” command). 2 of 3 is enough for a good lift.
Bench 2: I tried 62.5kgs despite never getting it before in the gym. It got stuck partway up and I battled it for a bit until the ref told the spotters to take it. A bit disappointing but I’ve never done 62.5kgs before so never mind. 3 reds – failed lift.
Bench 3: I tried the 62.5kgs again but the exact same thing happened again. I think I just need to train bench more, and iron out some technical issues.

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Another break here whilst the big fellas did their benching.

Deadlift time! Hooray! I love deadlifting, definitely my favourite lift by miles. I’d been waiting all day to deadlift.

Deadlift 1: 130kgs opener, very easy. I probably should have opened with more but wanted to feel confident.
Deadlift 2: 140kgs. This had been my PB in the gym for ages, in fact I only got 145kgs a couple of weeks ago and that felt a real struggle. This 140 went up FAST! The video (you can see it here) makes me laugh to see how fast it went up. You can hear someone in the background comment about how fast it was.
I decided to go for 150 for my third deadlift. I’ve never tried this weight before in training so it would be brand new territory and a PB if I got it. I really wanted to get a PB in my favourite lift as my final lift of the comp.
Deadlift 3: 150kg. I felt great walking up to the bar. I can’t really remember doing it, but it came up pretty fast, pretty smooth, no sticking points. It didn’t feel hard. Not easy, but comfortable. The video is here (you can see how pleased I am at the end).

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My total was 307.5 which was more than enough to secure a place in the full power unequipped Nationals. They are just under 6 weeks away.

In summary:

Squat was a bit disconcerting because I didn’t expect it to feel so hard and so uncomfortable. It just didn’t feel “right”. I don’t know if it’s technique, “attack”, confidence or something else I need to work on. Whatever it is, I will figure it out and work on it!

Bench was no more or less than I expected. I know there’s a lot more there once I get some more training sessions in the bank.

Deadlift was amazing and I’m buzzing! I also feel I have a lot more in the tank, I think I could have got 155 on the day (one of the spotters told me to do 145 for my second lift and 155 for my third, I wish I’d listened to him).

My goals for Nationals to be revealed, but are a “total” goal and a deadlift goal.

Over the next 5 weeks I’ll mainly be working on squat (weight, confidence, drive) and bench (technique, sticking point, a little extra weight).

I’ll leave it there before this gets far too long! If anyone from the BDFPA is reading, thank you for a very well organised, friendly, welcoming day. It was great fun and every single person I met was great. I’m a very happy new member of your Association 😀

BDFPA Qualifier: 307.5 Total 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 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.

J3F_7303

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.


A few photos and videos from UKDFBA 2014

October 12, 2014

ukdfba natural bodybuilding championships 2014

I’ve already blogged about my most recent competition – the UKDFBA (United Kingdom Drug Free Bodybuilding Association) UK Open Championships. My show report is here.

In that blog post, I promised some official photos, video and report. The report’s not out yet but I have the photos and the show video, so – for those who are interested – here y’go!

Quarter turns (I’m second in from the right of the pic)

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A few from the comparisons/compulsories

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Pose down!

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From my individual posing routine
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Here’s a video of my routine


And a classic couple of shots showing the “moment of strewth”
😉

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And here a video clip of that result being announced

Official photos by Fivos at Showshoots.
Video clips taken with permission from official video by Chris Lambert.

A few photos and videos from UKDFBA 2014 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.


So close but so far… (UKDFBA 2014 show report)

September 30, 2014

ukdfba natural bodybuilding championships 2014

On Saturday, I competed in the female bodybuilding class at the UKDFBA (United Kingdom Drug Free Bodybuilding Association) UK Open Championships. Here’s my show report. My emotions are still a bit all over the place so apologies if this isn’t my usual hilarious (!), witty (!!) style.

I’ve included some photos (from my instagram as always!) but have purchased the official photos (by Fivos at Showshoots) and will pop some of those up when I get them. I’ll also share the show report when it is published.

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This was the first show of the year for me, and my first since the INBF Worlds last November. You can read about my goals and aims for the show in this blog post – prep update – 2 weeks out.

There’s plenty I enjoy about the UKDFBA show. Not only does it tend to attract great numbers across the classes (including ladies bodybuilding – which is unusual!) but the depth and quality is great. It’s a good atmosphere, enjoyable for competitors but also for spectators and all the people who come to support and “crew” for competitors. This is really important to me! And I get to meet up with lots of my bodybuilding “family” at this show, some of whom I only see once or twice a year. It’s a real kind of party/reunion type event as well as a good bodybuilding comp to be part of.

On Friday I travelled up to Leamington Spa with my sister, and my Mum joined us at the self-catering apartment a bit later, as did the folk we were sharing with. So Friday afternoon and evening was chilled, fun, relaxed and a big giggle really. I had two coats of tan sprayed on by a professional spray tanner, did a few rounds of posing, Mum made some final adjustment to my bikini (I’d lost a bit of fat on my glutes in the last week and the bikini bottoms were gaping/sagging) and I tried to get a decent night’s sleep (always a challenge the night before a comp – excited, nervous, and paranoid about wrecking my tan!)

On Saturday morning I did another couple of rounds of posing and took photos – I was really pleased with how I was looking. Legs (in fact everything, but particularly legs) had been tightening up day on day and I don’t think I’ve ever looked like I did on Saturday! I was so chuffed!

I weighed in 1.8kgs less than on my home scales, which answered once and for all the question “just how sh!t are my scales at home?” (the answer being: “extremely”). In fact I weighed in lighter than I weighed in at INBF Worlds last year, by 2-3lbs.

I dashed off to bag a space in the dressing room I was in last year as I knew it was a good ‘un. Once I’d got myself and my friend Paula installed in there, I was happy – I just wanted to get us both a bit of space and somewhere to find peace and quiet during the day. I then spent the rest of the day chilling with my feet up in that room, or taking a few short wanders to say hi to folk out front.

OK so on to the actual show!

I felt confident going into it. Not 100%, of course. But definitely the most confident (in myself) than I’ve ever felt. This only increased as I pumped up. I could see with my own two eyes that I looked good, and I was getting better as I pumped and posed. As I looked around I just remember thinking, yes Nic, you look good. You have every right to feel confident and go out there with the attitude that you could take it.

As I walked out onto stage I felt I was my best ever (so far/to date) and that I knew I looked good. I was confident in my posing, my routine, and in how I was presenting myself. I guess – bottom line – I felt GOOD!

I can’t honestly remember where I was in the call outs, nor how long we were up there, but I think I was middle of one call out and next-to-middle of another (I could be completely wrong!) We were worked hard, and put through the quarter turns and compulsories several times. Then the head judge said that the judges had seen all they needed to and were happy with what they’d seen.

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(quarter turns and compulsories – click to enlarge if you so wish!)

I had a lot of support out there and heard a lot of you calling out and cheering for me – thank you very much if any of you are reading! It really makes a difference and I am very grateful for your cheers!

I left the stage feeling confident but not 100% confident. I guess I thought I could have won… but wasn’t sure. I don’t know. I certainly didn’t feel like I definitely hadn’t won. I felt good still. But you know how it is – you can never be sure… and I wasn’t…

It was then on to our routines, which I LOVE. I have a new routine and new music this year and have absolutely fallen in love with both so couldn’t wait to perform it for the first time. It went well, I didn’t forget any of it, I could have given it a bit more welly but I guess that’s always the way! I put a lot of time, thought and effort in to my posing and routines and personally think it’s a really important part of what we do (after all the spectators are there to see a show, and have paid to see us!)
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(routine pics – click to enlarge if you so wish!)

We were all called back on, did one final round of compulsories, then posedown which was good fun.
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(posedown pics – click to enlarge if you so wish!)

Then it was time for the results.

This wasn’t just a “I could win this class” situation. It was a “winner gets WNBF Pro Status and funding for the Worlds trip” situation. I can’t tell you how much of a crazy focus this has been for me. Regular blog readers will have gathered that I am massive on visualisation, mindset, focus, etc. It’s been pretty intense leading up to this comp! And now it was down to the next few seconds.

5th place was called – my friend Paula. I was delighted for her, it was her first comp, she was the only first timer in the class, she wanted to place… and she did.

4th, 3rd.… not me.

Holy Mother of Arnold. Here we go. I’ve either won it or… I haven’t, frankly. One matters, one doesn’t matter. That’s how I see it. One is a win, the other is not a win.

The head judge was saying that it was incredibly close… that, in fact, it was a tie-break. We were tied for first place, and the result of the tie-break is….

In second place….

Me.

Sigh.

OK. Smile, smile, don’t cry, look up, smile, walk forward, shake the winner’s hand, stand there and smile.

The winner was then called forward, and offered WNBF Pro status.

My emotions have been up, down and all over the place since. At the time I felt absolutely gutted and disappointed, but not so bad. I felt happy, in that I knew I was my best ever (so far!), very happy personally in how I looked and how I’d posed, etc. Happy that I’d improved a placing in a year (I was 3rd at UKDFBA last year) and happy (although it’s a bitter happiness!!) that it was so close. You can’t ask for much more (other than winning, obviously) than being in a tie break situation.

But I have also gone through a slew of negative emotions: sadness, disappointment, feeling absolutely gutted, and (if I’m honest), angry. I’m not sure at what. Myself, I think. Angry that I didn’t get on stage absolutely dominant, that I left it up to the judges to make the decision, that I didn’t step up there and make their job easier for them. I won’t be making the same mistake again. Believe me, there’s nothing like losing something so important to you on a tie-break decision to focus the mind.

So, what’s next?

A few people have asked me what’s next, if I’m done for the season, if I have another chance at earning Pro Status, etc. I was always heading out to INBF/WNBF Worlds as part of Team UK, and am still doing that. The result of the UKDFBA decided whether I went out as the newly-crowned WNBF Pro, to compete in the Pro class, or as an amateur, to do the INBF show. Those are the only differences – I was always prepping onwards for Worlds and nothing has changed there. So: I am going out with the UK Team to compete in the INBF Worlds, to defend my over all women’s bodybuilding title from last year and – hopefully – to earn WNBF Pro Status by so doing. That’s the plan.

So close but so far… (UKDFBA 2014 show report) 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 World Champion… me… really?

November 13, 2013

Yes, really. It still feels bizarre to type “World Champion” and “me” in the same sentence, but it’s true, so I’d better get used to it 🙂

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This is just a quick post after the INBF World Championships last weekend. Partly because I wanted to get a blog post up before too much time elapsed, but mainly because I still don’t know where to start when it comes to writing about the entire experience.

Perhaps you can post any questions in the comments; it might help me know how to tackle the task of writing about it!

To cut a long, wonderful, memorable story short:

I went with the UK Team to compete at the WNBF and INBF Worlds in the USA last weekend. The INBF is the amateur half of the federation (the WNBF is where the Pros compete). I was the only amateur female bodybuilding competitor on the UK team (there were 12 of us in all, including male and female Pro athletes, a female amateur figure and fit body competitor, and male amateurs across the age and weight classes).

I weighed in at 124lbs, which placed me in the heavyweight female bodybuilding class (they split us at 118lbs).

On the day of the competition, shortly before going on stage, I found out I was the one and only HW competitor 😦 I was disappointed (and saddened) because I wanted some competition, and didn’t want to be on stage by myself. It’s a long way to go, and a lot of prep, to “win by default”. But I can’t control who doesn’t turn up on the day, and who doesn’t compete in qualifiers and national finals, and who doesn’t get selected for the other countries’ teams.

So I went on stage as the only HW competitor (they did end up putting the LWs and me on together, so at least I was on stage with others, although we were still being judged as two separate classes).

So, yes, I won the World HW title too, but I was the only competitor.

However, the real competition of the day for me was the over all. I would be up against the LW winner later on in the day to contest the over all and to push for the World title. I’ve never competed in an over all before, never gone back on stage for a second time against just one other person, never been in the position of knowing it’s either me or her who will get that main title.

I did it… and I won! I can’t remember the moment when my number was called, but I can remember feeling joy, elation, disbelief, excitement, relief and… I dunno! Everything! 😀

Winning the over all meant I became the INBF World female bodybuilding champion for the year. 😀 It’s been my dream, my goal and part of what I’ve been working towards for the last two years of my time in this sport. The other part – WNBF Pro status – is now next year’s focus 🙂

That’s enough for now, jetlag is pressing on my eyelids and telling me it’s time for bed.

I’ll be getting official stage and backstage “mini photoshoot” images shortly and will share some with you.

In the meantime, if you do have any questions about the comp, the build up, the weekend with the team, my plans moving forward or anything else, please do leave a comment. It might help me write a better post-comp review when I have more energy!

Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for all your support, enthusiasm, interest, good lucks and congratulations.

A World Champion… me… really? 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.


NPA British Final 2012 photos

November 9, 2012

Sorry for being AWOL – I’ve been moving house 🙂 I still don’t have broadband or a phone (<— self-employed person's problems) but I’m making do with dongles.

Anyway, 2 minutes ago I realised that I’d promised you a second blog post about the NPA British Final (my write-up is here) once I’d got the official photographer‘s pics. Well, he sent them ages ago, but I forgot.

Here they are! Enjoy 🙂 (I think you click on them to make them bigger if you want) And all the very best to the British Team who are preparing to step on stage at the INBF/WNBF Worlds today and tomorrow in Atlantic City.





















I’ll be back soon with a blog post about breakfast. Yes, it’s the off-season, which means eating and baking and cooking oh my!

NPA British Final 2012 report 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.


NPA British Final 2012 report

October 31, 2012

Hello! I owe you a show report – Sunday was the NPA British Final, my last comp of the year.

Well, guys, I don’t really know what to say because… I came last. Yup! 6 in my class (Ladies Physique 55kg+) and I came 6th.

There it is. There’s no point sugar-coating it, or giving it all the “yes I came last but think of all the people who didn’t even compete!” or any of that balls. 6 of us in my class, and I placed 6th.

Obviously it wasn’t what I wanted, hoped for or (honestly) expected even right up until the moment my name was called (perhaps I’ve got reverse body dysmorphia, where I think I look OK when really I look shit haha!) But hey, it is what it is, and if this “annus horribilis” of mine has convinced me of anything, it’s that, really, it’s not a big deal. Not a bodybuilding result, not anything really! Has anyone died? No. Then we’re OK.

Despite a disappointing and upsetting result, I had a great day, and I’m happy to tell you a bit about it. I’ll also post some of the pro photographer’s pics (Fivos Photography) when I get them (regardless of what I looked like, the photos will still be fantastic because Fivos is the man!)

As with all my comps this year, my sister joined me for the weekend, making it a wonderful weekend away. The hotel we’d been recommended by the NPA was lovely! We hunkered down for the evening, sis with her room-service dinner and me with my tin foil parcels of cold turkey breast, and she popped a couple of coats of tan on me during Strictly Come Dancing.


I slept pretty well and was very pleased with how I was looking in the morning. I know I didn’t write much during the weeks between the UKDFBA comp and this one but that’s partly because I dieted SO hard and did a lot of extra training (mostly cardio) in a bid to come in with better conditioning. I didn’t have the time or energy to blog much and didn’t have a lot to say. Anyway, I really felt as though those two weeks of hell, fish and cardio had paid off: I looked tight and lean and was drying out nicely. I was really happy with how I was looking and felt I’d continue to improve throughout the day of the comp, too.


At the venue I checked in, weighing in a smidgen heavier than at last year’s NPA Final (57.1kgs, and they split Ladies Physique into under 55kg and 55kg+). There were 5 of us (and 4 in the lightweights) and the other 4 ladies were imposing names. I knew it would be a fantastic contest – as it should be, this being a British Final!

Then came the news that one of the favourites had weighed in a smidge over the cut-off, so – joy of joys! – she and her washboard abs would now be in our class. One more competitor, and what a competitor! I knew this would make our class even tougher, but I didn’t feel outclassed, I knew I probably wasn’t challenging for top 3 (I’d had so much to do getting condition back on track), but felt quite happy at the idea of battling it out for the other spots. And nothing would stop me from giving it 100%, after all, first place is there to be taken and nothing’s decided until they call the results!

A happy twist of fate happened when I found myself in a little dressing room with 7 times NPA British Champion, Carol Streeter. There was only room for one other person and I got lucky when I knocked on the door before anyone else. So, for the rest of the day, I shared the company of this lovely and inspirational woman who was a joy to be around. Thank you Carol for the chat, the posing tips and the feedback 🙂

On we went for “prejudging”, the bit in plain bikinis where you do your quarter turns (symmetry) and compulsory poses. I’d had a sneaky look at the other ladies, of course, and realised that I wasn’t the leanest (but also didn’t think I was the un-leanest), nor was I the biggest (but I wasn’t convinced I was the smallest either), and I felt happy about my symmetry and balance. In short, I still felt that I probably wouldn’t be troubling the top ladies but that the bottom half of the placings were all to play for.


Prejudge went well, I felt as if I hit my poses just fine and was certainly posing very hard! I’m told we were onstage posing for 15 minutes, which if true is ages! I was sweating and aching and shaking – a good workout!

We were all sent to the back of the stage, before the judges called us forward in turn for our “call out”. Everyone was called forward and arranged around the woman in the middle (first to be called out). Name after name was called… and then mine. Last. Now, people say it doesn’t matter where you are in the call out but I think it does. If the judges want to see you, they’ll call you first/second/third so you’re right there in the middle being compared side by side with the others. Then they stick the ones they’re not so fussed about out on the end. I was out on the end. I felt gutted, but knew there was no point acting defeated whilst I still had time on stage. Besides, I was enjoying myself! So I continued to pose as hard as before – harder, in fact. I don’t think I’ve ever posed that hard! Someone should set up a camera in the back of the stage sometime because I’m sure the faces we pull when we’re facing the back, doing our rear poses, are hilarious (mine certainly must be!)

We were sent off and I felt… I don’t know. In some ways I felt deflated because I gathered from my call out (and the fact that I’d tried to make eye contact with the judges and hadn’t noticed their gaze lingering on me at all) that I hadn’t made an impression. But I’d felt so good up there, and was personally pleased with how I was looking. Perhaps I’m deluded! Oh well.

I watched some of the show with my family and friends, chatted more with Carol and her husband and enjoyed the show, before it was time to get ready for the night show (sparkly bikinis and individual posing routines).


My routine went by in a flash and I was worried I hadn’t done it justice, because it seemed to be over before it had begun, but I got some great feedback on it and people said they really enjoyed it. Phew, cos I really enjoy it too!

We were asked to do a couple of poses (not the whole lot as we’re sometimes asked to do at the nightshow) before the fun of the posedown – always a laugh and no different this time! I was still feeling great and dared to think I might be in 4th or 5th place, although to be perfectly honest I had no idea at all.

We lined up at the back of the stage and 6th place was called.

Me.

Oh, hi! I came last!

Hey ho. I can’t tell you how I felt, not shocked or upset but just… sad, really. I haven’t yet asked for judges’ feedback (if any of you are reading, I’d welcome it!) but will do so because I would love to know where I went wrong. I’d like to think that I was just the “worst of a good bunch” – it was certainly a very strong line up of fantastic women, and perhaps I was just the weakest of a very good bunch. But, of course, I’d love have some detailed feedback so I can improve. It’s the only way!

How do I feel now? Well, I move house/office/life in three days time and have work to finish up, a house and office to pack, and an awful lot of emotional goodbyes to do. I don’t feel that I have the time or emotional “space” to think much about how I’m feeling about the result of the comp. I feel tired, very very tired. This year has sucked a lot from me, and I do feel that competition prep has taken, and taken, and given very little. I’m hoping that once I’ve moved, and settled, and drawn breath, I’ll be able to look back and assess where I went wrong, what I could have done differently (if indeed I could have done anything differently!) and what I could change for next time. And, of course, what I can learn from it all. Because there’s a lesson in everything. I just need to find it.

Thanks for reading. Photos to come!

(Puppy says he doesn’t care that it says 6th place. He can’t read anyway!)


NPA British Final 2012 report 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.


UKDFBA – 5th place

October 16, 2012

You can’t win ’em all, as they say. Indeed you can’t place 2nd, 3rd or even 4th at ’em all.

I owe you a show report, but it’s going to be a very short one because I am disappointed both with the result and with my own performance at last weekend’s UKDFBA bodybuilding show in Rugby.

The show itself was fantastic – very well organised, extremely friendly and with a phenomenal level of competitors (not just in my class – each and every class was amazing).

But I wasn’t so fantastic. I placed 5th in a class of 6. I know, not great. Not great at all. On the plus side (because there’s always got to be a plus side), I have a shiny medal, which is kind of fun. It’s hanging at the top of my stairs with the side which says “5th” turned outwards, so I see it several times a day. Yep, it stings. It needs to.

(There were other plus sides, of course: lots of fun and banter backstage with the other ladies in my class, and with various other friends, a weekend away with my fabulous sister having some quality sister-time, the fun and excitement of competing, which I love regardless of my placing.)

I know what went wrong but I don’t know why… For something which is judged purely on the physical, bodybuilding is one hell of a psychological sport. I have a lot to think about, a lot of coping strategies to develop and also a bit of kindness to find for myself somewhere along the way 😉 I’ve had one hell of a year, none of it particularly conducive to a lonely prep and consistent dieting. I’ve done my best but at times that hasn’t been enough, and Saturday was one of those times.

I feel I need to apologise to those friends and family who came so far to watch me give such a below-par performance (some of you getting stuck on the M1 for two hours for the pleasure!)

What’s next? I wrestled with the concept of doing the NPA British Finals in (less than) two weeks. I asked advice, feedback and honest opinions. I took them all on board and spent a tearful evening asking myself if I could, should and wanted to go through two more weeks of prep (and they’d need to be extremely tough two weeks) in order to get on stage again.

The answer is yes. I like to finish things I’ve started, and I know I can be better than I was on Saturday. Whether or not two weeks is enough time to make enough changes remains to be seen, but I’m going to give it my all.

And, just so the Universe knows: next year, I intend to have a more peaceful, balanced, settled background for my prep, thank you very much! 😉

Wish me luck as I put my hood up and my headphones on, heading off into two weeks of fish, greens and cardio…

UKDFBA – 5th place 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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