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. πŸ™‚

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.


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.


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.


Tested this week: Supplemented.co.uk and 10% discount code

February 16, 2015

Today’s fitness kit I’ve reviewed this week is a new UK company with a very useful service.

Meet Supplemented, a no-frills, honest supplements and vitamins company that makes ordering health supplements really easy.
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Matt from Supplemented got in touch with me via the naturalmuscle forums, where the company are a sponsor. That immediately suggested good things to me: if the admins at naturalmuscle trust and rate a company, chances are I will too.

Supplemented are a small food supplements company based in London. Their focus is on providing top quality supplements, vits and minerals (they actually use exactly the same UK manufacturers as some big-brand suppliers and popular High Street chains) at very cost-effective prices.

Take a look at the prices, you’ll see what I mean. What I really liked about the Supplemented business model is that delivery is so hassle-free. It’s all sent directly from London, foil packed and letterbox friendly. So you won’t need to take time off work to sign for a parcel, or “discover” it behind your bin or with a random neighbour.

And the products are safe for tested athletes, too (a big selling point for me). Supplemented.co.uk’s suppliers are Informed Sport registered and audited, which means their products are all produced at a facility that has full compliance for both ingredients and the manufacturing process.

The guys at Supplemented sent me:

CLA (conjugated linoleic acid)– 1000mg per capsule
Green tea extract – one of my must-have supplements all year round
BCAA tablets – I’m not sure of the ratio but I’d guess 2:1:1, at Β£7.99 for 90!
Creatine mono tablets – 750mg per capsule. Something I’m adding to my stack this off-season!

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As you can see (dog for scale) the packets are small and slimline, ideal for popping through the letter box with your normal post. The products are all top quality, and I really rate this new company and hope they do well.

Their range goes well beyond the sports supplement and bodybuilder type stuff – there are vitamins, minerals, joint care products, omegas, probiotics… etc.

10% discount code

Supplemented.co.uk have a discount code for thefitwriter readers – add MEMBERSDISCOUNT at checkout for 10% discount on your already very cost-effective order! Delivery is free regardless of order size.

Thanks for the supplements, Supplemented guys!

You can find Supplemented on Facebook and on Twitter.

Tested this week: Supplemented.co.uk and 10% discount code 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: Emergen-C vitamin drink launched in the UK

January 24, 2015

Hands up who’s had that tiresome virus this Winter? Yeah, me too. Hands down if it lasted a week. Two weeks? Yep my hand is still in the air… I was more or less wiped out for three weeks by the dull visitation that was This Winter’s Super-virus. SO BORING.

However, the folk at Emergen-C vitamin drink sent me a bumper pack of EMC samples and the timing couldn’t have been better.

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I can’t claim that the Emergen-C cured my cold (I refuse to call it flu because, let’s face it, it wasn’t. It was just a bad cold virus). But I definitely felt better after a few days of drinking it. And I handed out sachets of EMC to friends and family who were also ill and they said the same.

What is Emergen-C? I’m sure I recognise the name…?

If you’ve been to the USA you’ll probably have seen it. It’s been an American favourite/favorite for years, but we haven’t been able to get it here in the UK. Til now! EMC launched over here at the end of last year and is now widely available (Boots and other major retailers).

It’s essentially a slightly fizzy Vitamin-C drink, available as flavoured powder, with added B-Vitamins and other nutrients.

It’s a great thing to have on hand for a drink in the morning or throughout the day, or you could add it to any smoothie or protein shake concoction.

Each serving Emergen-C has 1000mg (that’s 1g to you and me) Vitamin C as well as Vitamin D, six B-Vitamins (B1 – thiamine, B2 – riboflavin, B3 – niacin, B5 – pantothenic acid, B6, B12) and potassium, calcium, magnesium and zinc, manganese, and chromium.

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The ingredients list is pretty lengthy, so super-clean eaters might want to put their specs on and scrutinise: fructose is the first ingredient, and cane sugar, gelatine and soy bean oil are all on the list.

The little sachets are ideal for stashing in your handbag, gym bag or desk drawer for daily use or when you feel you need a pick-me-up. I’m glad I’ve still got some left – although I’m happy to say I’ve now banished the bug this time round!

Head over to the Emergen-C UK website for recipe ideas and your free sample. You can also find EMC UK on Facebook.

Thanks for the EMC samples, Emergen-C people!

Tested this week: Emergen-C vitamin drink launched in the UK 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: Lewis Moody’s SuperVitality nutrition range

January 7, 2015

The bits and bobs I’m reviewing in today’s fitness kit I’ve reviewed post came to me directly from former England rugby international, Lewis Moody. Well, maybe not actually from his own sizeable hands (although I’d like to think so). But they were developed by him and the company is run by him.

SuperProtein Blueberry

SuperVitality has a range of sports supplements including protein powders, smoothie blends, electrolytes and bars aimed not just at sports people but at anyone wanting to supplement their gym performance, support a healthy lifestyle (or lose weight) with no-nonsense products based around healthy, natural ingredients. That said, the company do support plenty of high level and elite athletes, in sports including tennis, football, polo and arm-wrestling! You can read more about SuperVitality’s ethos and how it came about here.

Lewis has ulcerative colitis (it’s OK, he said I can tell you) and the range is backed by dietician Barbara Cox which might give you an idea about the all-natural basis of the product development and ingredient selection. There are no artificial ingredients or sweeteners – any product which is sweetened contains Stevia (SuperVitality are one of the first UK companies to develop Stevia into supplements).

Granola

The range includes performance and protein products including high-energy granola, good quality protein powders, BCAAs, creatine, pre-workouts and energy bars – all designed to be both nutritional and with natural ingredients and sweeteners.

Much as I was tempted by the granola, I opted to test out the Super Protein in Raspberry, and in Blueberry Smoothie, and three of the flapjack-style bars: Cherry & Almond, “Full of Fruit” and Apple & Ginger.

So, what’s the verdict?

The bars are an easy review! Delicious, very tasty, very moreish! Tastes differ but personally I liked the apple/ginger, then the cherry/almond, then the fruity one, although I’d buy any of them. I’m not a mad flapjack lover, by the way, so don’t think that I’d rave about any old flapjack. I usually find flapjacks waaaay too sweet, too big and too stodgy. These come in at 60g (weight), and around 250-260 kcals each, high in carbs as you’d expect and with a fair bit of that from sugar. They are, however, flapjacks, so let’s not be too surprised by the carbs! I liked that they are relatively small, and not too chewy and dense. Fantastic for endurance athletes I reckon, or as a treat snack!

On to the powders. I knew right away that these weren’t just whey protein powders, and they don’t pretend to be. In keeping with the theme of the SuperVitality range, they contain extras (including “superfoods”). As always I’ll encourage you to do your own research and form your own opinion about the ingredients.

What I noticed is that these powders make a thicker, tastier, and much more satisfying shake than plain old whey, even when just mixed with water.

The raspberry diet protein contains calcium caseinate and whey for the proteins, raspberry powder, and acai berry, CLA, l-carnitine and raspberry ketones, along with Stevia for sweetening.

The blueberry contains calcium caseinate and whey for the proteins, blueberry powder, flavourings and Stevia for sweetening.

Both are sold as a post-workout option (which is how I had them) but they’d be great as a shake during the day too as taste great and feel filling. I imagine they’d also be lovely in oats if you’re a proats kinda guy/gal. They really do have that smoothie kind of texture and taste.

Both are low in fats and carbs per 30g serving (around 1.5g of each) and give about 24g protein.

Thanks for the protein, Lewis and the SuperVitality team!

You can find SuperVitality on Twitter at @superprotein.

Tested this week: Lewis Moody’s SuperVitality nutrition range 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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