Book Review: “Science & Development of Muscle Hypertrophy” (Brad Schoenfeld)

September 7, 2016

brad schoenfeld book review nicola joyce
When Human Kinetics asked if I’d like to review Dr. Brad Schoenfeld’s new book – “Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy”, I didn’t hesitate. Brad is one of a small number of people in this industry who I trust as an authoritative voice. He’s one of my go-to sources for research and smart discussion around the science of gaining muscle.

I interviewed Brad ages ago for Muscle & Fitness magazine and have followed him (online, not literally, that would be weird and impractical) ever since.

“Science and Development…” is Brad’s latest book. It’s the ultimate resource if you’re interested in the current research behind muscle hypertrophy. But before I get into my review – and why you really need to get a copy of this book – here’s how to follow Brad so you can stay up to date with what he has to say. >> Brad Schoenfeld PhD on Facebook and on his website/blog.

What is muscle hypertrophy? It’s the fancy name for increasing muscle size. So this book is essentially about the Science of Swole.

The book is exhaustive. It covers every factor which could influence muscle hypertrophy, including training, nutrition, genetics, gender, and age.

It’s divided into seven chapters:

Hypetrophy related responses and adaptations to exercise stress
The mechanisms of hypertrophy
Role of resistance training variables in hypertrophy
Role of aerobic training in hypertrophy
Factors in maximal hypertrophic development
Program design for maximal hypertrophy
Nutrition for hypertrophy

As you’d expect from Brad Schoenfeld, the book is a compilation of the latest science-based principles, research, and meta analyses. It’s got more than 825 references. And the most important thing (IMO)? It’s written in a very accessible, applicable way. It’s research, but it’s practical too.

Put it this way, the last time I “did science” was at GCSE (which is longer ago than I care to admit). And I can understand it just fine!

If you’re a strength, power, or physique athlete (or someone who enjoys training with weights but doesn’t compete), or if you are a coach or PT, you need this book. Anyone who is interested what happens to our bodies when we train to gain size will find it useful.

Here’s just a taster of what you’ll find in the book:

– how the body structurally and hormonally changes when exposed to stress
– ways to most effectively design training programs
– current nutrition guidelines for bringing about hypertrophic changes
– the specific responses and mechanisms that promote muscle hypertrophy
– how genetic background, age, sex, and other factors affect the hypertrophic response to exercise

There are even sample programmes to help you design a three or four-times a week undulating periodised program or a modified linear periodised programme.

As far as I can see, it leaves no muscle hypertrophy stone unturned. And if there’s one person I’d trust to do a great job on this topic, it’s Brad.

What more do you want, people? Get it, read it, apply it. 🙂

You can get the book (hard copy, PDF, eBook) from Human Kinetics or from Amazon.

Book Review: “Science & Development of Muscle Hypertrophy” (Brad Schoenfeld) 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.


39 Book Recommendations I’ve Swiped From Smart People

May 30, 2016


For a few weeks now I’ve been swiping book recommendations from various Facebook posts. It’s about time I pulled the lists together. Full disclosure: this is a self-serving blog post. I’ll put the list here for my own reference, and if someone out there benefits from it too then great!

These 39 books are all titles I haven’t yet read (or listened to), so I can’t personally recommend them. It’s a long list, and not particularly organised. But I hope you get something from it.

(I download all my audiobooks from Audible.co.uk – I haven’t checked to see which of these books are on Audible yet.)

If you’ve read any of these, did you love it, hate it? Think I should put it at the top of the list… or think I’d be wasting my time reading it at all?

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BOOKS FOR YOUR BRAIN BOX

Self Development
Psycho-Cybernetics, Maxwell Maltz
The Untethered Soul, Michael Singer
A New Earth, Ekhart Tolle
Leadership & Self Deception, The Arbinger Institute
The Compound Effect, Darren Hardy
A Million Miles In a Thousand Years, Donald Miller
You Are Not So Smart, David Mcraney
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn
The Game of Life & How To Play It, Florence Scovel Shinn
The Happiness of Pursuit Chris Guillebeau
An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth, Chris Hadfield
How Will You Measure Your Life?, Clayton Christensen and James Allworth
Legacy, James Kerr

Mindset
The Book of Five Rings, Miyamoto Musashi
The Obstacle Is The Way, Ryan Holiday
Blink, Malcolm Gladwell
Mastery, Robert Greene
It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be, Paul Arden
The Magic of Thinking Big, David Schwartz
The Confidence Game, Maria Konnikova
Wooden, John Wooden
The Art Of Exceptional Living, Jim Rohn
How I Found Freedom In An Unfree World, Harry Browne
The Brain That Changes Itself, Norman Doidge
Various recommendations of books by Robert Greene
Winning Through Intimidation, Robert Ringer
Rising Strong, Brene Brown
The Art of Asking, Amanda Palmer

Business
Think & Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill
Three Laws of Performance, Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan
How to Get Rich, Felix Dennis
Learn Or Die, Edward Hess
Simple Success Secrets No One Told You About, John Carlton
The E-Myth Enterprise, Michael Gerber
Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert
The Way You Do Anything Is The Way You Do Everything, Suzanne Evans
Steal Like An Artist and Show Your Work, Austin Kleon

Fiction
The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig

(This isn’t my entire list… ! Back soon with the second half)

39 Book Recommendations I’ve Swiped From Smart People 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.


My Month Of HRV (Heart-Rate Variability) Testing

May 10, 2016

Most of us know about tracking heart rate to measure intensity (usually of cardio) but how many of you track resting heart rate? Perhaps you already take resting heart rate every morning to note “spikes” which might suggest you need to take a rest day.

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) takes that one step further.

I was sent a HRV tracker by Bioforce and have been using it for the past month. The data has been really interesting – and it’s revealed a lot more than I thought it would.

What’s HRV?

HRV doesn’t just take your heart rate. It measures variations in the intervals between heartbeats. Why is this significant to people who train?

Variation in these intervals is physiological, and hugely affected by our sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems.

In short, HRV monitoring can give you valuable data into how stressed you are, how well you’re recovering, and how ready your body is to train today.

The phone app (and web interface) charts your data on graph which clearly shows peaks, spikes, and fluctuations in your HRV. Red days suggest you should take it easy, rest, work on recovery. Green suggests you’re well recovered and ready to push hard.

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How It Works

You use a traditional chest strap heart rate monitor* which measures your resting heart rate and sends it to the phone app via Bluetooth (*although Bioforce is about to launch an alternative to the strap – ear and finger sensors).

It measures for 2 mins 30 seconds, to gather enough data (I like the fact that it measures for a comparably long time).

ultimate hrv training book bioforce
The Book

The Bioforce strap and app comes with an impressively large and in-depth book about heart rate variability (written by Joel Jamieson). Its 138 pages cover HRV’s application within sport and fitness, what your results mean, and how you can use the data to optimise your training and recovery. There’s even training and programme design. The book is a huge bonus to the Bioforce product.

My Experiment

I expected to find the data interesting (I’m a bit of a numbers geek when it comes to training, health, nutrition) but what I didn’t expect was to see so many patterns developing. As an aside, I weigh myself every day. Without fail, my HRV was in the orange or red zone on days I also weighed in heavier or the same – suggesting that lack of quality sleep (or a late night) affects my recovery in more ways than one.

I also noticed regular patterns in my HRV relating to sleep, work stress, my menstrual cycle, and my training programme.

Pros & Cons

If you love data and numbers, and find your own biofeedback fascinating, I think you’ll love learning more about heart rate variability by using the Bioforce system. It’s easy to use and has been made very simple to understand (although you can delve much deeper into the research if you want!

The only possible downside I can think of is your morning routine. If you’ve got small kids, noisy neighbours, or an erratic schedule, you might find it a challenge to find 3 minutes to chill out at roughly the same time very day (ideally before you get out of bed).

The Bioforce system has an impressive army of fans already, including powerlifter Jim Laird, Crossfit Games Champion James Fitzgerals, and Molly Galbraith of Girls Gone Strong. If you want to join them (and me!), find out more about Bioforce HRV here.

My Month Of HRV (Heart-Rate Variability) Testing is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

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


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

March 29, 2015

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

Primal26 new whey protein isolate review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for the supplements, Monkey Nutrition guys!

You can find Monkey Nutrition on Facebook and on Twitter.

Tested this week: Monkey Nutrition new Primal26 PRO whey protein isolate is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

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


Defining happiness with Prof Paul Dolan for International Day of Happiness

March 20, 2015

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

Group hug!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purpose!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Defining happiness with Prof Paul Dolan for International Day of Happiness is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

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


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

March 13, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s what I got in my box.

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

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

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

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

20% discount code for your first Fuelify box

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

Thanks for the sample box, Fuelify!

You can find Fuelify on Facebook and on Twitter.

Tested this week: Fuelify fitness snack box and 20% off your first box is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

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


TheFitDog’s review of his Dog Buff from Kit Shack

February 27, 2015

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

Hey guys and bitches! How have you all been?

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

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

dog buff

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

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

My new dog buff solves all those problems.

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

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

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

dog buff uk

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

Those ducks are totally jealous of my dog buff!

Those ducks are totally jealous of my dog buff!

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

You can check out Kit Shack online</a.

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

TheFitDog’s review of his Dog Buff from Kitshack is a post from the Fit Writer blog.

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


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