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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Why I Had A Medichecks Blood Test (And What I Discovered)

July 6, 2018

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know I’ve done a few years competitive bodybuilding. In fact, I “prepped” (trained and dieted for) competitive bodybuilding shows in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2016, doing several shows a year.

That’s a lot for the human body to take.

Two years on from my last comp, and I still sometimes feel a bit tired. I have no idea if all the dieting has left me with any wonkiness as regards hormones, digestion, or nutrient levels.

I haven’t dieted for ages, but I know it can take a long time for things to return to normal. Especially when you’re a 40+ drug-free female. If I tell you that I used to have just one period a year (in my competing years), you’ll get an idea of what the body goes through.

All this is to say that I’ve been idly curious about how my body is doing, now I’m settling into a post-competitive-bodybuilding phase of life. Not curious enough to go to the GP or anything. But when my friends at Medichecks had an offer on their Well Woman Ultravit test, I decided to go for it.

The Medichecks Well Woman Ultravit test looks at health markers for red and white blood cells, liver health, kidney function, bone health, gout, iron status, and diabetes, measures of iron storage, thyroid function and key vitamins and hormones. Also ferritin, vitamin B12, folate, vitamin D, thyroid function and magnesium, female hormones FSH, LH and oestradiol, menopause and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Things I Was Worried/Curious/Catastrophising About

  • tiredness. I’m sometimes so tired, and there doesn’t seem to be a pattern to it. But then again, I stay up far too late watching Netflix, I scroll Facebook on my phone in bed, and generally do all those things I tell other people not to do when I write content for clients.
  • gout (bloody gout!) I’ve had a painful big toe for about 2 years. I just can’t work out what’s wrong with it. I went to the GP when it was really bad, and he told me it was “probably gout” – which made me feel like Henry VIII or something. I don’t think it’s gout, but the GP said it “probably” was so… y’know.
  • menopause. For a few months, I convinced myself I was in the early stages of menopause. This was based on the sum total of zero. But I’m 40, and I know the pre-menopause “things starting to wind down” phase can start up to 10 years before menopause. So, anyway, I was curious about that.
  • general hormone levels. I’ve always assumed my hormone levels are bomb-diggity, because I seem to be able to put on muscle easily, and my hair grows fast, stuff like that. But it would be interesting to know for sure.
  • nutrient deficiencies. I haven’t dieted in any way since I last prepped for a show, and I eat a pretty varied diet. But there’s always a chance I’m missing something, or that my years of harsh bodybuilding dieting is still affecting me.
  • I am a generally nosy/curious person.

How It Works

The test I had needed a venous blood sample (blood drawn by a medical professional). Some you can do yourself with a fingertip pinprick test at home. All I had to do was go along to one of the partner clinics (a local hospital in my case), wait for a bit, get the nurse to take my blood, and pop the test in the post. The actual blood part took about 2 minutes. It didn’t hurt. I felt absolutely fine after.

The Results

Medichecks get your results to you very quickly – I think it was 24 or 48 hours after I posted the test. It’s all confidential and done online so you can log in and view all the results. They give recommendations and explain all the results clearly.

You get a comprehensive PDF, but there’s no point me putting screenshots here as it’s all very detailed and medical!

Fortunately, there’s nothing wrong with me at all. No gout. No menopause. No wonky hormones or gaping holes in my nutrition. Just low iron (as explained below).

Unfortunately, this means I have no excuse for my “tiredness” other than watching Netflix too late into the night. (But the new season of GLOW has just started!)

Expert Comment

My friend and yours, all-round legend Dr Emil “Goliath” Hodzovic actually works for Medichecks. Emil is a medical Doctor (BSc Sports & Exercise Science, MBBCh Medicine & ISSN Applied Nutrition Student if you please) and a coach. He didn’t do my test, but I asked him to comment on the results from the point of view of someone who trains, has competed, and also knows the medical side of things.

Over to Emil:

Your creatinine is raised and actually a little high. This could easily be through muscle mass, having done a big workout, or dehydration (or use of creatine). But it is probably worth confirming that is usually normal for you. (FYI – eGFR above 60 is acceptable).

eGFR looks at the rate of filtration in the kidneys and uses creatinine as a marker. The factors above cause increased production rather than decreased kidney function but below a certain level, it’s worth making sure there is nothing else going on.

Your aspartate transferase is up a bit. This is entirely unsurprising in someone who exercises. Likewise with CK – creatine kinase.

Your transferrin is low and, actually, your ferritin is at the lower end of normal. This is definitely worth addressing via dietary changes and/or iron supplements. You are not anaemic yet (your Hb is normal) but I imagine if you continued it would likely go that way.

Your HDL and cholesterol ratio (Total Chol to HDL) are both great, reflecting both good genetics, exercise, and likely a good lifestyle.

Your magnesium levels are great, which suggests you are getting some from your diet as people who train hard can be deficient

Your thyroid hormones, thyroid stimulating hormone, and sex hormones are great.

Your Vit b12 is a bit raised. But this isn’t surprising as many supplements and energy drinks contain it, plus you are not vegan any more (!) so you’re getting plenty from diet too

And your Vitamin D is also great. This is another area where people can easily be deficient.

Your levels suggest possible supplementation (or just a lot of sunshine and being outdoors with all your dog walking!)

Thanks Emil. Not much for me to do really – except pay attention to my iron levels. I am terrible with supplements, by which I mean I just don’t remember to take them. I go in fits and starts with creatine, and I remember to take a multivit maybe 4 days out of the month. So I’ll take my multivit (which has iron in) every day. I know iron deficiency can make you feel tired, so perhaps this will address that issue. Or maybe I need to go to bed earlier and not take my phone into the bedroom… !

Everyday Health Is More Important Than #Beastmode

It’s good to know that simple everyday habits (like spending time outside every day, walking a lot, low stress levels, having a healthy and varied diet, and training) do pay off.

It’s worth noting I am definitely not a “fitspo” type person these days! I tran in the gym 2-3 times per week. I do yoga. I walk a lot. I don’t count macros or calories. I drink a lot of water. My point here is that I don’t think you have to be an uber hardcore fitness junkie to be healthy. Simple daily habits, done consistently, as part of a happy lifestyle, are the important thing.

Have you had a Medichecks test? Thinking about it? Feel free to comment – if I can’t answer your question, I’m sure Emil would pop back on with his expert hat on.

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.


Favourite Fitness & Nutrition Podcasts 2017

December 11, 2017

I like podcasts. Maybe you do, too. We should talk about that.

It’s been ages since I did a favourite podcasts post (my first podcast round-up was back in 2011 if you want a LOL, and then I wrote one in 2013 and later in 2013).

Many of those podcasts have departed to the great audio booth in the sky, and some are still around but either they’ve changed direction of (more likely) I have.

Either way, it’s time for an update. Here’s what I listen to on the regular.

(Most are about training and/or nutrition, but I’ve included some of my favourite business / personal development ones, too. You can only listen to so much industry chat, you know, however good the content and solid the banter!)

Got any recommendations for me? Leave me a comment.

Shredded By Science
(Lawrence Judd & the SBS team)

The SBS podcast is hosted by Lawrence Judd with regular input from Patrick (of Eat, Train, Progress) and SBS head honcho Luke Johnson. This podcast is mainly aimed at fitness professionals, but don’t have to be one to get a lot from it. If you’re interested in training, nutrition, and how the industry is changing, you’ll learn a lot (and laugh a lot!) They discuss great topics and have some brilliant guests. And Lawrence’s very dry humour often has me literally LOLing (awkward since I listen to podcasts when I’m out walking the dog)

3D Muscle Journey
(Andrea Valdez & the 3DMJ team)

3DMJ are kind of the OGs of the “flexible dieting” world, and the collected wisdom of host Andrea Valdez, Brad Loomis, Jeff Alberts, Alberto Nunez, and Eric Helms packs a punch. The 3DMJ podcast is firmly aimed at natural bodybuilding competitors, but anyone who is interested in training and eating for body recomp will get something from it. By the way, I’m #TeamJeff.


Muscle Box Radio
(Team Box)

The Muscle Box podcast will at any one time feature two or more of Team Box’s six coaches. Sometimes you even get all of them, which is equal parts hilarity and knowledge overload. This podcast will interest you if you’re into flexible dieting, training for hypertrophy, competing, and staying one step ahead of industry BS. Each of the coaches brings their own experience to the topics, and you’ll get plenty of clear advice to cut through diet and fitness confusion. Oh – you must like puns if you listen to this podcast. Sorry, I can’t decide which #TeamBoxCoach I am. That’s like asking me to choose my favourite member of Take That.


Push Pull Legs podcast
(Dan Meek and Tom Hall)

A second mention for Dan Meek (who is one of the Team Box coaches). The PPL podcast will interest you if you’re more into training as well as nutrition, since co-host Tom Hall is a powerlifting coach. As the name suggests, there’s plenty of training and programming talk on the PPL podcast, plus myth busting and the regular “Stupid Things We’ve Seen On The Internet”.

Sigma Nutrition Radio
(Danny Lennon)

If you’re into sports/performance nutrition, you’ll want to listen to Danny Lennon’s Sigma Nutrition show. It can sometimes be heavy going, but this is not designed to be magazine-style fluff. He has some outstanding guests on and discusses latest research, and his hosting style is really engaging. Listen to this podcast and you will be more clued-up than the majority of the people in the industry.

Mastery podcast
(Mark Coles)

M10’s Mark Coles is back with a new podcast that gives unmissable content on business mindset and personal development. He puts out some very short weekly content, aimed at getting you focused and fired up for the week ahead. And his longer episodes delve deeper into the key personal development topics that Mark is known for throughout the fitpro industry. I love listening to this on a Monday morning dog walk.

Mindset With Muscle
(Jamie Alderton)

Anyone who has the kind of attitude to life that means he will run backwards for 24 hours to raise money for charity is worth listening to (yes, Jamie did that). This podcast is packed with his trademark no-nonsense, practical, motivational content about business, personal development, and self-improvement. There’s something here for everyone. I deny you not to get fired up. (Although you might not go out and run backwards for 24 hours… but that’s OK.)

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.


My Vegan Month: 1 Week In

November 5, 2017

It’s not quite one week in to “World Vegan Month”, but Sunday seems a good day for a round up.

In case you missed it, I’m “going vegan” for the month. I’ve gone into this with no preconceptions, no expectations, and no particular concerns. So these round up blog posts will simply be what’s on my mind, and what (if anything) has surprised me about being vegan so far.

How have I felt?

Surprisingly, no different to usual. Hunger and appetite are about the same. If anything, I feel less hungry – more balanced – than eating my usual foods. I don’t know if this is an increase in fibre, or food volume? I should point out that I haven’t done a complete 180* in my food choices here. I was already eating a “good diet”, of “mostly whole foods”, with almost everything prepped from scratch by my own hands. I already ate a lot of veg, quite a lot of pulses/lentils.

So what’s changed?

Well, obviously no meat, fish, or eggs. I didn’t eat much dairy anyway (for some reason it makes me a bit queasy these days). But of course there is a bit of dairy in things like sauces, chocolate, dressings etc.

Snacks and “quick grab” foods are more difficult

The few times I have felt hungry have been the times I’d typically grab a quick “something”. Doing that is much more difficult as a vegan, it turns out. Maybe not once you’ve got used to it, I suppose. But where I might make myself a quick protein mugcake (EGGS!), or some scrambled eggs (EGGS!), I’m now left opening and shutting the fridge door thinking: “hmmm”.  There are plenty of things I can snack on, of course. But at this stage in my vegan adventure, I can only think in meals. (Thank you to Bulk Powders who gifted me a box of their Chocolate Coconut vegan protein bars which have been my sweet treats!)

Protein is a little harder to hit

It’s not difficult to eat protein as a vegan – plenty of plant sources have decent protein (tofu, pulses, lentils) and of course there is trace protein in pretty much everything. But it’s more difficult to – say – bump up a meal by 20g protein. Because vegan protein is tied in to other macros. So I have been having more servings of protein powder than usual (thanks again to Bulk Powders for this vegan protein powder!)

You have to rethink “meal construction”

As an omnivore, you tend to think of your macros separately. “OK, for my carbs I’ll do potatoes…. I’ll have chicken with that for my protein, and if I need any fats in there I’ll put some butter on top.” Or whatever. A bit more creative than that, but you get the idea. You can’t do that with vegan foods, because (as mentioned), the macros are all attached. So I’ve been trying to find higher protein versions of “carb” foods – like these pasta shapes (made from lentil flour and green pea flour), so then I can just have a veggie sauce on top and the macros are pretty decent.

Food shopping is eye-opening

I did a late night dash to the supermarket on the 1st, because I realised I didn’t really have enough food in the house to create a vegan meal. It was eye-opening. I realised how people must feel when they first embark on a “healthy eating plan” for the first time. All of a sudden, entire sections of the shop are off limits or completely redundant. You have to scrutinise labels (who knew that not all Quorn products are in fact vegan? Not me!) The shop took ages (see “scrutinising food labels”) but by the end of it my trolley was pretty sparse.

Question of the week

What is creatine? I mean, what is it actually made from? Is it… vegan? (I hope so! If it isn’t, please let me down gently!)

Um… what else?

  • Gym performance is absolutely fine. I’ve had a wicked week’s training actually.
  • My guts are fine, thank you 😉
  • Sleep is fine/no different.
  • I haven’t craved/been hungry for/missed anything in particular.

Recipe

I will be using Fitproclientrecipes during the month, to try a whole load of new meals and snacks. I’ll report back.

For now, I will leave you with a recipe I’ve just made up on a whim. I call it Curried Cauliflower & Tofu, because that is what it is.

Ingredients:

  • 20ml oil
  • 400g raw cauliflower, chopped
  • 400g firm tofu, water pressed out
  • 200g tomatoes, chopped
  • Spinach (as much as you want, it will wilt away to nothing anyway)
  • 1 lemon (grate a bit of the rind, and squeeze all of the juice)
  • Garlic paste or fresh garlic
  • Fresh coriander
  • Cumin seeds
  • Turmeric powder
  • Red chili flakes or fresh chili
  • Ground black pepper
  • You could put more herbs/spices in if you have them – I don’t)

Instructions:

  • Heat the oil in a heavy pan (lidded one)
  • Put in the cubed tofu and all the herbs/spices apart from the fresh coriander
  • Let the tofu brown a bit (you won’t be able to tell, because turmeric makes everything yellow, including my fingers, my kitchen surfaces, and my utensils)
  • Add the lemon rind, tomatoes and cauliflower
  • Put the lid on the pan and let it cook away
  • Add the lemon juice & spinach, turn the heat down, and leave it.
  • Put the fresh coriander on top when it’s done

Macros per 1/4 of this recipe:

  • Cals 193
  • P 15
  • C 8
  • F 12

So. There’s my rather underwhelming update after 5 days as a vegan! Let me know if you have any questions (or suggestions).

I’ve got some interviews with real actual (as in permanent!) vegan athletes lined up, as well as more recipes, review of vegan protein products, and anything else that comes to mind! Requests are welcomed.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.


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.


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