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.


12 Years In Business (Part 2)

June 3, 2016

Sorry for the cliffhanger!

1st June 2004 was when I set up in business as a freelance copywriter. So, 2 days ago, I wrote a quick blog post about how I got to that point in my life and career.

Recap here if you need to catch up.

So there I was, in 2003. I’d just been made redundant from my Conference Production job. And I was ready to move out of London.

I made my way to Southampton (long story involving a man, which is another story for another day, preferably over a gin & tonic please… although you could read this if you can bear it!)

Once there, I took a role via a recruitment agency. Trouble is, their geographical knowledge of the south coast wasn’t great. And my knowledge about the A-road system in that part of the world was nonexistent. As a result, my new job turned out to be a couple of hours away. My heart wasn’t in it from the start. Quite honestly, I was terrible, and I made no effort to be better. I sometimes wonder if I wanted to be sacked? Anyway, I was.

In hindsight, I should never have taken another “real job”.

I should have made the leap right away.

But I guess I needed to be certain….

I’d always wanted to write as a career. As a kid, I wrote (terrible) short stories, meticulously hand-written in A4 hardcover notebooks. One of my clearest memories of primary school is when a local author came in to give us a talk. I studied English and critical writing for both my BA and Masters degrees. And my 32-year streak of keeping a journal recently made it onto BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour.

At the time, I was training to swim the English Channel. I thought to myself, look, if I can’t get a foot in the door as a sport and fitness journalist with a first-person feature story about swimming the bloody English Channel, then I clearly can’t pitch, can’t sell, and can’t spot a good story. I’ll give it a go.

And that’s what started it all.

From that initial feature, I struck up good relationships with the Editorial teams at various sport and fitness magazines. Over the years, my journalism career grew, and I’ve now written for consumer magazines, trade journals, the membership magazines of NGBs, the Washington Post, and books published by The Observer and by Weider/Muscle and Fitness.
nicola joyce journalist
Early on, I realised that I would struggle to build a business on journalism alone. I wanted to be more commercial, to deal with clients, to have a scalable business, and to make more money.
nicola joyce copywriter
So I took on copywriting work for local businesses. My journalism skills and experience were a useful foundation.

I networked relentlessly. I put myself out there at fitness industry events (Paul Mort’s FEB was pivotal for me). I took training courses with industry bodies and with independent copywriting coaches. I studied sales, marketing, advertising. I branded myself, walked the talk, and grafted hard to deliver good work.

And now it’s 2016. I can’t quite tell you how I got here. A strong brand, good quality work, focusing on a nice. Tenacity, consistency, and enjoying what I do.

A lot of exciting things are happening at The Fit Writer towers. Business is changing, and I’ll be rolling out at least one new service soon.

But copywriting for the fitness industry will always be at the core of what I do. I love it.

…I’m so glad I was made redundant in 2003!

See you at:
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12 Years In Copywriting Business: Part 2 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.


12 years in business! (Or “Why Being Made Redundant Was The One Of The Best Terrible Events In My Life”)

June 1, 2016

nicola joyce freelance copywriter the fit writer

12 years ago today, I officially set up in business as a freelance copywriter.

In 1999, I left Uni after hanging about for an extra year doing a Masters (partly because I wasn’t ready to leave).

I worked in admin for a holiday company in my University’s city (mostly because I wasn’t ready to leave) and then made my way to…where else… London.

I lived in a houseshare in Archway with Uni mates. I shared a house in the wilds of South Woodford with one Uni mate, our very old landlord, and his disgusting German Shepherd dog. I lived in a beautiful house with my new London friends (and – randomly – a friend from secondary school) in Tulse Hill. We said we lived in Dulwich.

I worked in “conference production”, which these days would probably be called Content Development & Offline Marketing For Corporate Events (or something).

The company was owned by a huge publishing brand. My job involved interviewing very high-level execs, extracting research information from them, and writing it up into various formats (including the titles, topics, and structure of the conference, as well as the copy for the conference brochure, promotional web copy, and letters).

This was before email was widely used in marketing. And long before social media was big enough to be a marketing tool.

I went in at the very lowest level, and eventually became a Lead Producer in two different conference departments.

The in-house training was market leading at the time. It set the blueprint for various conference companies which followed it its footsteps.

It taught me…

** to think VERY quickly and commercially.

** to come up with themes, topics, and titles against tight deadlines, and to write them in the most compelling way. Our events lived and died by delegate bookings. Not enough sales? Your event would be cancelled, and you lost money (for the firm, and for yourself).

** to be fearless about picking up the phone and asking strangers to give me their thoughts about industry trends.

** how to write for the web, for email, for direct mail, for marketing and sales, for post-sales.

** how to use my curious mind to learn just enough about a lot of topics in a very short amount of time.

Then I was made redundant.

But it was OK. Around that time, I’d met the guy who would be my husband (then my ex-husband), and I was training to swim the English Channel. I was growing, and I’d outgrown the conference world. Truth be told, my mind was already out of there.

You might think that’s when I set up “thefitwriter” and went freelance.

You’d be wrong. I had one more lesson to learn…

Keep up with me on social media
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Instagram

12 years in business! (Or “Why Being Made Redundant Was The One Of The Best Terrible Events In My Life”) 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.


I’m 6 Years Old (So I Guess I Should Actually Blog…)

April 26, 2016

WordPress informed me today that this blog is six years old. In blog terms, that’s positively elderly. But a blog isn’t a blog if it’s not actually updated… so here goes!
the fit writer blog nicola joyce 6 years birthday

I’m not sure I’ve got a lot to say…

…so – for anyone still out there and interested – here’s a stream of disconnected ramblings about training, food, and my newest bits of home fitness kit.

My most recent blog posts were about powerlifting. Specifically the BDFPA full power Nationals in February (so long ago already?) where I squatted 105, benched 60, deadlifted 150 (but I’d like it to be known that I got 160 to my knees!) You can read about that comp by clicking the clicky <<< .

Directly after that meet, I really wanted to do more powerlifting. I had grand plans:

1) the BDFPA single lifts nationals (initially just deadlift, but then I fell in love with squatting and decided to both deadlift and squat)
2) a BDFPA qualifier, ideally with my girlbro Charlie, to qualify early for 2017 nationals
3) nationals in 2017

But then various annoying logistical issues got in the way – travel, dog sitters, accommodation – and I had to make an executive decision.

I decided to shelve my powerlifting for the year (I’m happy enough with the progress I made between my qualifier and Nationals), and to revert to plan B: get back to training, do a late qualifier (Jan/Feb 2017) and see how I get on.

What am I up to now, then?

TRAINING

I’ve brought more bodybuilding aspects of training back into my life (although my training has definitely altered since my time focusing on powerlifting). I’m enjoying doing a wider variety of exercises, and paying attention to body parts I didn’t have the time (or the need) to train as a powerlifter.

Remember “notch watch” from way back when? (No, nor do I really and I wrote it.) Well, that belt has long since been thrown in the bin (it perished – literally – after languishing in the boot of my leaky car). But I still wear my Inzer belt for heavy squats, and I’m down 3 “notches” on it since the start of the year.

EATING

Things got a little wild there out in the hinterland of powerlifting, so yes I am dieting, but very slowly and extremely “flexibly”. No meal plan, no eating out of tupperware, and no cutting carbs (indeed no cutting anything). I’m just paying attention to what I’m eating, tracking it, and working to macros. Carbs are lovely and high, and I’m loving life! I’m dieting to macros, rather than to a meal plan, but it’s a very “flexible dieting” type approach. Carbs are no lower than 180, and I got above 200 twice a week. I think I might turn into a rice cake soon!
rice cakes bodybuilder
MOVING

Cardio has made a re-appearance, partly to support the slow diet and partly cos it’s Summer and it’s a lot nicer to ride my bike and pull my sled around the field in this kind of weather.

(Sled from Celtic Strength)

Bit of sled work out on the field tonight with my push/pull sled, handmade and custom painted by @simoncelticstrength 👌🏼

A video posted by Nicola Joyce ✒️💪🐶✌️ (@thefitwriter) on Apr 13, 2016 at 2:45pm PDT

No plans for events/comps/meets just yet. I’m really enjoying getting some structure back into my nutrition and training, and seeing where it leads me over the next few months. If I end up in shape, I have the option of UKDFBA (bodybuilding) later in the year. To all UKDFBA competitors and the general UKDFBA “fam” – I will be at as many qualifiers as possible this year, and I can’t wait to see you!

I’m better at updating my social media…

Facebook
Twitter
Instagram

I’m 6 Years Old (So I Guess I Should Actually Blog…) 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.


Your A-Z of Powerlifting jargon

March 7, 2016

With my recent foray into the world of powerlifting, the content of my blog posts has changed. Just as you lot got used to “mandatory posing” and “bikini bite”, I’m throwing you for a loop with talk of “openers” and “bombing out”. Here’s my A-Z of powerlifting lingo.

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(You might also like The A-Z of Bodybuilding Lingo and the weeing-into-a-cup content of The Grime Behind The Glam.

Attempt
The name for each “go” at a lift. In full power (see below) powerlifting, every lifter has three attempts for the squat, then three for the bench and then three for the deadlift. You have to declare your weight for each opener at weigh in or registration. And then you declare your second attempt weight after you lift your opener, and your third attempt weight directly after you lift your second attempt.

Arch
The funny posture powerlifters get into when they set up for benchpress. Why do they do it? Because it reduces the distance between point A and B. As long as you follow the rules of your federation (usually head and bum on bench, feet flat on the floor), you can have as big an arch as you can manage. The higher the arch, the less distance the bar has to travel to the chest.

Bar’s loaded
What the referee will call out when your bar has been loaded with your desired weight. That means it’s time to get on the platform (see below) and get ready to lift.

Bench
Benchpress – the second lift of a powerlifting event. The one most people will ask about when you tell them that you go to the gym. (aka “how much can you bench press?”) Also the name of the thing you lie on to do the benchpress.

Belt
One of the few bits of kit all powerlifters will wear. Unequipped (or “raw”) usually means you can only wear a belt and wrist straps (as well as your singlet and shoes, obvs). Equipped is a whole different world, involving bench shirts and other things I know very little about.

Bombing out
If you fail all three attempts, you bomb out. You can’t continue the competition, and that’s the end for you. So if you bomb out on squat (if you fail all three of your squat attempts), that’s it. Home time for you.

Carbohydrates
What powerlifters eat a lot of.

Cardio
Anything more than 5 reps in training.

Chalk
Either liquid chalk, or big blocks of chalk. Powerlifters rub it on their palms (to assist with grip, and to minimise the effect of sweating), and you can also rub it across your back where your squat bar will sit, and on your upper back and bum to help you stay in place on the bench.

Collars
The silver things that go on the end of the bar, after your plates (see below). Collars are different to clips (clips are the things you probably use on your bars in the gym). Their weight is taken into account as part of the weight on your bar.

Commands
What the referee will call out during all lifts. You will be given red lights if you fail to respond appropriately. Commands include “squat” and “rack” for squat. “Start” and “press” for bench.

Deadlift
The third and final lift of a powerlifting comp. The one which looks the least technical, but is often the most demanding. You can lift conventional (narrower stance hands outside your legs) or sumo (wide stance, toes turned out, hands inside your legs). The bar is on the floor. You walk up to it, and pick it up until you are standing up straight. The one which usually results in the most epic facial expression in the photos.

Depth
What you must hit on your squats. It’s deeper than you think. The top of your hip-crease must be below the top of your knee. Try it next time you squat.

Dumping the bar
What you mustn’t do if you fail your squat. Dumping the bar means throwing it from your back onto the floor. This is dangerous (to you and to the spotters) and could get you disqualified. Instead, let the spotters do their job. They will know that you’ve failed the lift and will take the bar from you. No harm done.

Flight
The term for a “batch” of lifters. Similar to “wave” in triathlon.

Full power
The name for powerlifting competitions where the lifters do all three lifts. You can also have push/pull events (bench and deadlift) or single lift.

Good lift
3 (or 2) white lights show after your lift. Hooray!
Hitch
One of the few ways you can fail a deadlift. Hitching refers to the small movements a lifter sometimes makes when the deadlift bar gets to mid-thigh. It’s a small stop-start movement to inch the bar up the thighs.

Hole (The)
The “hole” is the term given to the very bottom of the squat, when you hit depth. You need to be powerful out of the hole (so to speak) to successfully squat the weight back up.

Lock out
The final bit of each lift, where you make it clear that you’ve finished the lift. Particularly important for deadlift.

Lifter
You.

No lift
2 red lights, or 3 red lights. Sometimes a no lift is obvious (the person got stuck at the bottom of the squat, couldn’t press the bar, or couldn’t lock out their deadlift). Sometimes it’s less obvious (they didn’t quite hit depth on the squat).

Nose tork
Ammonia in a little bottle (essentially very strong smelling salts). Lifters sometimes waft it under their nostrils before a max attempt.

Openers
Your first lift of each exercise. Choosing your weights for openers is strategic and challenging! Open too light and you might risk having to jump up by too much weight in your subsequent lifts. Open too heavy and you risk failing the lift.

Pause
What you have to do with the bar during the bench press. It’s only a short pause (long enough for the referees to see that the bar is at your chest, and for the referee to call out “press”) but it’s very different to touch-and-go style benching.

Plate
The name for the large weights that go on the bar.

Platform
Where you lift. Usually just a small area of special flooring (to take the impact of weights). The platform will have squat rack or bench, bars, and spotters on it waiting for you to step up and make your attempt.

Rack
The bit of kit that holds your squat bar, ready for you to unrack, walk out (see below) and wait for the squat command.

Rack height

Squat racks can be adjusted. You need to go and squat the bar a couple of times after you weigh in, find out your rack height, and tell the officials so they can adjust it when it’s your attempt.

Raw
Another word for “unequipped”, this means powerlifting with no additional kit. Just a belt and wrist wraps (as well as your clothes and shoes, obviously).

Singlet
The delightful outfit lifters wear.

Squat
The first lift of a powerlifting competition. You get under the bar, put the bar on your back (not too low, as per the rules), walk out, wait for the “squat” command, squat down (to depth of course), and stand back up. Do not move your feet until you hear the “rack” command.

Talc
Just regular talc, but you put it on your thighs before deadlifts to help the bar slide up smoothly and to avoid the need to hitch (see above). There’s a technique to talcing up – after all, you don’t want to get it on your palms or on the soles of your deadlift shoes!

Total
The all-important number you get when you add up your heaviest squat, bench and deadlift of the day. If you compete full power, this is then number that matters.

Walk out
Part of the set up for the squat. The bar will be in a rack. You get underneath it and stand up to lift the bar from the rack. You then need to walk backwards so you have free space to squat down. This little walk is called the walk out. The ideal walk out is three steps: back, back, side.

Weigh in
The bit where you find out whether you should have laid off the ice-cream for a few more weeks before comp. As long as you are within your weight category, it’s OK. (For example, I lift as a “70” lifter, which doesn’t mean under-70. It means 70… or under. So if I was 70 on the day, that’s fine.) If you weigh in heavy, you have the opportunity to go and go a bit of cardio (or a poo) and try again. Or you can just lift in the next category up. If you weigh in light, you can’t move down a category.

White lights
The sight every lifter really wants to see after each attempt. There are three referees, and each of them has a “red” or “white” light button. They will press a button after your lift, to signal whether they assessed your lift as good or a fail. White lights are good. Reds are a fail. You need 3 white lights or 2 (of 3) for it to be a good lift. 2 red lights, or 3 red lights, is no lift.

9/9

How you’d describe your meet if you got all 9 lifts (3 attempts in squat, bench, deadlift) successfully.

Your A-Z of Powerlifting Jargon 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 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.


Send Your Social Proof Hero On Fiction’s Most Famous 12-Stage Journey

January 13, 2016

the-heros-journeyThe “hero journey” concept (or “monomyth”) is central to story telling. It’s been described by Jung, Joseph Campbell, and plenty of others.

Think about the latest film you saw, or TV series you watched, then take a look at the 12 stages on this image. The “hero’s journey” is present in the best, most compelling, most memorable stories.

And it’s SO relevant to the fitness industry, isn’t it?

Do you use the idea of a “hero’s journey” in your content?

It could be for your own story or – more likely – your clients’ stories.

Here are the 12 stages of the “hero journey” (with my own thoughts about how it applies to fitness industry content):

1 = Ordinary World

Where your client is before he finds you. He’s safe, but bored and oblivious of what awaits him on his journey. We get to know all the details about him at this stage. He’s human.

2 = Call To Adventure

Something happens to launch our hero onto his adventure (journey/transformation). Is it a threat to his health? A wake up call? It’s something that disrupts the safety and comfort of his Ordinary World. What is the challenge or quest that presents itself?

3 = Refusal Of The Call

Your hero might want to accept the challenge, but he’s got fears/doubts. There are barriers. He refuses the call… and suffers (again) in some way. Does his health suffer? Or his self-confidence? How do things get worse (and why did he refuse)?

4 = Meeting The Mentor

Here’s where you come in! Your hero needs expert guidance… and finds it. For the fitness world, the “mentor” he meets is in the form of advice, training, and practical guidance. He now has the strength and courage to go on his journey.

5 = Crossing The Threshold

Our hero is ready to go on his journey to better health and fitness. He crosses the threshold from his old, familiar world, to this new one: the fitness lifestyle. What actions does he take to signify his commitment? Where does he go?

6 = Tests, Allies & Enemies

The middle of the story. He’s out of his comfort zone but he’s not yet at his destination. There’s plenty to threaten him, tempt him and derail him. External sources (environment, foods, lack of supportive peers) and internal (self-doubt, dip in motivation, lack of self-belief). What tests does he face? What obstacles? Which os his skills are tested? How does he overcome (and how do you help him)? He finds out who can be trusted (…you!)

7 = Approach To The Innermost Cave

The “inmost cave” in our fitness context could be mindset, belief, eating issues, prior failures with diet or training. It will be a huge internal conflict and something which lots of your readers will also recognise in their own story. As he approaches the mouth of the cave, your hero once again faces his biggest personal battles. He’ll need to call on everything he’s learned. This is a chance for a pause in the story to recap on where he’s come from, how he got here, and what he learned.

8 = Ordeal

This is the ultimate test in your hero’s journey. It could be a big physical test (useful for fitness stories) or a massive emotional/psychological crisis. His biggest fear, or his most terrifying enemy. He needs to face it, and he needs to face it now. It’s time. Through this ordeal, he will be “reborn” and the new version revealed. This is the high point of the story, but everything is on the line.

9 = Reward

The enemy (within or without!) has been defeated. Your hero has been transformed (<<< ooh, what does THAT remind you of in the fitness industry?) He emerges stronger. And with a reward. The reward in our context could be better health, improved home life, or a better body (very visual and easy to use as social proof).

10 = The Road Back

Your hero is ready to return victorious. He’s not anticipating any threats or battles. Instead he is looking forward to some form of vindication. What would that be for your hero?

11 = Resurrection

Oops, there’s one more challenge for your hero to overcome before the end of his journey. He will face up to something bigger than himself, and the victory will have far-reaching consequences that leave an impact beyond his own journey. Your readers need to feel part of this: his success (or potential failure) will have a real emotional impact on them.

12 = Return With The Elixir

Your hero is back home, a changed person. He’s grown (maybe literally, in our fitness context). He’s learned plenty. He’s changed. He is the person he always dreamed of being. He is a hero. What does his journey mean to others? Hope? A solution? Proof of what is possible?

Remember the structure of the “hero journey” next time you’re writing some story-style content. If I can help you brainstorm ideas, structure content, or write copy, get in touch.
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Send Your Hero On Fiction’s Most Famous Journey 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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