Interviewed For “She Lifts” (Grab Your Copy – Promo Price)

September 22, 2016

My week kicked off with an exciting interview at 9am on Monday. This time, I was the one talking, not listening, as someone else asked me the questions…
she lifts discount promo code
My buddy Mike Samuels of Heavy Lifting Healthy Living asked me to be part of his new “She Lifts” project.

Are you a lady wot lifts? (If you’re reading my blog, there’s something like a 92.7% chance you are….)

Or a lady wot wonders about lifting, but isn’t sure what to do… how to get started… or how to REALLY get stronger and leaner (not “big and bulky”)?

Then take a look at this gem from Mike and Jason (Maxwell, of JMax Fitness – Mike’s co-author on the project). She Lifts is on special promo offer til Friday 23rd Sept It’s an incredible digital training resource for women who want to lift heavy, build muscle, and lose fat.

Here’s what you get

** 7 breakthrough lifting programmes written for women.

** Easy to follow program for building muscle, strength, and losing fat (no “bulking up”, I promise!)

** Templates for training 2, 3, 4, and 5 x week

** Programmes for women who are beginners, intermediate, and advanced.

** It’s all digital, so you can upload the programmes and videos your phone (or print out if you want)

The entire thing is on sale til END OF TOMORROW
Grab it now before the price goes up

For my video interview, I chatted with Mike about

The biggest myths surrounding female training, and strength training in particular.
(Hint – mine was about competing!)

Why women should include strength work in their programs?

My top 5 tips for women who want to get started with weight training.

My best advice re nutrition? Plus my approach.
(Hint – it involves potatoes 😉 )

The biggest difference between how women/men should train and diet?
(Do you even think there is one?)

Whether I prefer powerlifting or bodybuilding… And if I think they are compatible.

My advice for women looking to compete (in bodybuilding and powerlifting)…

So to get all that ^^^ plus the actual PRACTICAL and USEFUL bits of “She Lifts” 😉 like all those training programmes, videos, and lifting guidance to get you to your goals – take a look. The link for She Lifts is here. Tell Mike I sent you.

PS You also get bonuses like the “She Lifts” Glute Specialisation Guide
PPS Plus that video of me haha – not sure that’s a selling point! You do however get to see what I look and sound like at 9am on a Monday before a coffee…

Interviewed For “She Lifts” (Grab Your Copy – Promo Price) 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.


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.


How Reframing Weight Loss As Budgeting Helps Make Sense Of It All

August 23, 2016

fitness writer bodybuilding dieting

How good are you at handling your finances? Bear with me. This does have something to do with health and fitness!

I recently had a massive communication breakthrough about bodybuilding. So big, so rewarding, that I whooped when I heard about its success. In fact, I am claiming it as one of my finest moments in linguistic creativity. OK, OK – it was with my Dad. Dad has never really understood the dieting side of bodybuilding (despite seeing me diet through numerous “preps” in years gone by). But apparently, something I said to him recently FINALLY made sense to him.

What did I say? I simply compared dieting for fat loss to budgeting for financial savings.

We were talking about flexible dieting.

“It’s not that a bodybuilder CAN’T eat anything,” I said. “It just that they have a small budget to play with. So imagine that you only had £10 spend that day. You COULD buy some slightly-overpriced thing for £6.99 that you don’t really “need”, but then you wouldn’t have much cash left for the rest of the day. Plus you’d probably get home and think…”oh…is that all I got for my money? It looked better in the shop!” Or you could spend £1, £1, £1, £1 (etc) throughout the day. Then get home and think “wow! I managed to buy tons with my £10!”

Apparently this made sense to Dad.

I explained “going out to eat whilst dieting” like this:

“It’s not that they COULDN’T have the dessert, Dad. But it might make more sense to come out and just eat a main. That way, they still get to socialise, but no harm done to their “budget”. It would be like inviting someone out for a shopping day when they are saving up hard to buy a house. They can still come out! But they might say “I can come, but I really can’t spend more than £5 today because I’m saving up for the house deposit.” It’s not the going out shopping for the day that’s the problem. It’s how much they spend whilst they’re out.”

Losing Weight Or Saving Money: Why You Only Really Have A Few Options (Sorry!)

On a roll, I also used the finance/budget analogy with another member of my family recently. This person is keen to lose a bit of weight, but doesn’t want to do the meal plan/12-week transformation thing. She’s been there and done that, and doesn’t fancy the backlash (I don’t blame her).

This person is very good at managing her finances. Knowing this, I explained that there really are only a few ways to lose a bit of weight. And they are the same as being successful at managing money.

If you want to lose weight, you have to create a calorie deficit. That’s the bottom line. The law of thermodynamics is key. You have to consume less than you expend, or expend more than you consume.

If you want to save money, you have to create a financial excess. You have to spend less than you earn, or earn more than you spend.

Your options are:

1) Track your food/drink as you go along and stop when you’ve reached your spend limit (track your money as you spend it, or track your calories/macros in myfitnesspal or whatever you use)

Pros: this will help you work out where you are “overspending”
Cons: if you want to “save”, you’ll have to stop when you hit your target, which might be partway through the month/day if you are “spending” more than you thought

2) Pre-plan what you’re going to eat/spend and work to it (a financial budget, or a calorie/macro budget). This can be as rigid as a meal plan/precise spending plan, or as flexible as eating to macro targets/spending within various “categories”.

Pros: it will be very precise and you will likely “save” (or “lose” in the case of weight) quickly and accurately
Cons: it might seem boring and restrictive, depending on your mindset and personality

3) Wing it and hope for the best. This only works if you are a person who naturally doesn’t spend much money, or who earns so much you could never get into debt. (The weight loss equivalent is someone who naturally undereats, isn’t interested in food, or is so incredibly active that your calorie burn is through the roof).

Pros: if you’re one of the lucky ones, this will work for you. Until your lifestyle, income, or habits change!
Cons: it doesn’t teach you anything about finance (or nutrition) and you might be left wondering WTF when things eventually change.

Have my amazing analogies (!) helped something “click” in your brain? Funnily enough, the above conversation actually helped ME wrap my head around budgeting! I realised that if I can track my nutrition, I can track my spending. I’ve already made plenty of savings and changed some of my spending behaviour!

Do you reckon your success at nutrition/money could be transferrable skills?

How Reframing Weight Loss As Budgeting Helps Make Sense Of It All 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 UK Health Radio Interview: Bodybuilding and Channel Swimming

July 3, 2016

nicola joyce interview uk health radio bodybuilding

Does ANYBODY like the sound of their own voice? I don’t. It won’t surprise you that I’m far more comfortable being interviewed in print

…but UK Health Radio managed to persuade me to go on their Fitness Hour Show to big up the sport of drug-free bodybuilding. I’ll take any opportunity to talk about it people who might not know about the sport. So… here I am! In all my “I sound like a 5-year-old” glory.

You can listen again to it via this link >> Nicola Joyce bodybuilder interview on UK Health Radio

(I’m the opening interview on the show – it’s just after the first song – at around 5 minutes in)

As predicted, I went off-piste… here are a few of the topics the interview covers:

– My background in Channel swimming
– What goes through your brain when you’re swimming the Channel?
– What are the skills you need to be a Channel swimmer?
– Is swimming the Channel scary?
– How and why did I make the transition from swimming to bodybuilding?
– Can anyone get involved in bodybuilding?
– Is age a barrier in physique and strength sports… or a bonus?
– What are the different categories and types of bodybuilding?
– Is bodybuilding healthy or not?
– How can a bodybuilding lifestyle benefit our health?
– Why is lifting weights and eating like a bodybuilder healthy (even if you don’t compete)?
– What does “clean eating” really mean? Is it always a good thing?
– Healthy lifestyle improvements vs extremes of diet and exercise
– Advice for anyone wanting to get into bodybuilding

Hope you enjoy the interview. If you think it would be interesting or useful to anyone you know, please do share.

Nicola Joyce UK Health Radio Interview: Bodybuilding and Channel Swimming 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.


Stealth Cardio Tactics (No Treadmill Required)

June 23, 2016

Cardio doesn’t have to be a dirty word. It’s been a long time since I was involved in endurance sport, but I still enjoy cardio*. However, I don’t often fancy the idea of plodding on a cross trainer for half an hour.

(*I realise that i might be kicked out of the bodybuilding “fam” for admitting this.)

So I employ Stealth Cardio tactics.

If you enjoy working up a sweat, but don’t want to do “traditional” gym indoor cardio, here are my 4 current favourites.

nicola joyce on a bike
Cardio disguised as commuting
I’ve been riding my bike to the gym (and back, obvi) a couple of times a week. Only when it’s sunny, mind. It’s not far – maybe 4 miles each way – but it involves a steep hill whichever way I go. (The gym is in the “East Cliff” part of town which should tell you something). So there’s 30+ minutes of cardio right there.

Only it doesn’t feel like cardio because 1) I like riding my bike, 2) it’s serving a purpose to get me to the gym and back again and 3) there’s plenty to see.

PS That photo is not recent. But it makes me laugh because it’s me, riding my bike, apparently to swimming club (note the 80s towelling swimming bag).

dog in a kayak
Cardio that’s funny
If you only need to do cardio for general activity levels, then the best kind is the funny kind IMO. Frankie thefitdog would agree. Here we are, attempting to paddle about together in a sea kayak. Quite possibly I found that funnier than he did. But you get my point. Challenge your kids to some sprints around the local playing field. Go and play badminton (or whatever sport you used to love) with a mate. Cardio can be fun, honest.

tabata on concept2
Cardio that’s so tough you can’t think about it til later
When I do cardio at the gym, my new favourite is the rowing machine. I’ve had some great advice from my fellow writer friend Patricia Carswell of Girl On The River, who’s a Proper Rower. I don’t know why I love the Concept2 so much, but I do! I think it’s because it’s proper hard cardio which makes me sweat buckets and feel like I might die a bit. (Don’t forget, I come from a very “ultra distance” endurance sport background).

I’ve mainly being doing “a href=”https://www.tabataofficial.com”>tabata on the rowing machine. If you’re not sure what tabata is, it’s a structured form of intense interval training. One “tabata” is 8 rounds of 20 seconds HARD work/10 seconds recovery (4 minutes). I do 2 Tabatas – 16 rounds, for a total of 8 minutes.

I’ve also done a couple of 5000m rows, and a 2000m row just to see how long it would take me. Point being, if you choose a form of cardio that’s so challenging that you can’t zone out or get distracted, you might actually feel more inclined to do it. Maybe. If you’re weird like me!

Cardio that’s so short you don’t notice it til later
Finally, this is something I’ve been doing once a week: adding 1-minute bursts of cardio in to my weights workout (as giant sets). At first I wasn’t sure if this would actually feel effective. Erm… I can report that it definitely does.

The idea of course is to make the 1-minute bursts hard, so your heart rate stays high and you break a sweat. You could do this by hopping on a piece of cardio equipment, or by using a skipping rope, or doing any kind of bodyweight move like burpees. If your gym has conditioning kit (battle ropes, sled, prowler) or strongman events equipment (farmers walk handles, tyres to flip) then that would work, too. You can easily add 20 minutes of cardio to your day by doing it this way. 20 x 1-minute feels more manageable – and more fun – than 20 minutes of zombie mode on the cross trainer.

Do you do any cardio at all? What’s your favourite approach?

Stealth Cardio Tactics (No Treadmill Required) 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.


3 Audible.co.uk Fitness Mindset Book Recommendations

May 8, 2016

Need some audio book recommendations? If you’re interested in human psychology (as it relates to healthy living, fitness, nutrition), habits, mindset, and nutritional science, check out my three recent favourites.

If you haven’t got an Audible.co.uk account, sign up! Listening to audiobooks is a great way to actually “read” (if I didn’t listen to audio versions, I’d only get through about 25% of the amount of books). If you like the book enough, or think you want a paper copy so you can mark it up, you can just buy it afterwards.

Most of my Audible library is non-fiction books about sport psychology, mindset, productivity, nutritional science, and human behaviour.

(I also listen to fiction – I think it’s important for copywriters to read/listen to a wide range of writing – and I just finished “The Tiger’s Wife” by Téa Obreht – the youngest winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction. It was AMAZING and I’d thoroughly recommend it. I was bereft when the nice Audible man said the familiar “Audible hopes you have enjoyed this programme…”)

mindset dweck blog review
Mindset, Carol Dweck

Mindset presents a huge body of research in a very accessible way. It’s fascinating, but practical too. It centres around “growth” and “fixed” mindsets and how they can either limit us or help us set goals and achieve incredible things. The book is split into four sections: mindset relating to business, sport, parenting, and relationships. It turns out that our mindset isn’t set in stone, and this book gives plenty of practical tips for changing yours, once you’ve identified how it could be holding you back. There are lots of interesting case studies (some very famous – listen to the Sports section and you’ll get the distinct impression that Dweck is not a McEnroe fan!) Dweck looks at how our individual mindset is shaped by – and starts to develop – in childhood, but makes it clear that there’s plenty we can do at any age to change it. I imagine this book would be an interesting listen for business and sports coaches, parents, business owners and entrepreneurs, and anybody wanting to get more from life. I’ve recommended this book to so many people!

mindless eating wansink blog review
Mindless Eating, Brian Wansink

The title Mindless Eating is a bit misleading – it’s by no means just about mindless eating. In fact, it’s about how our food choices, behaviours, and habits (good and not-so-good) are shaped by our home and work environments, and of course by restaurants, shops, advertising, and food industry marketing. Even if you think you are totally clued up about how the food industry works, you’ll be stunned by some of the findings. If you want to change your food behaviours, or if you just find the psychology of food and eating interesting, you’ll love this book. It’s grounded in research but is very engaging and actually very funny (I’ve heard Wansink on a few podcasts and he’s hilarious). Learn about the “halo effect” of so-called healthy foods and healthy living fads, discover the hidden cues that probably affect you every day, and get clued up on ways you can redesign your environment to help you be more in control of how much you eat. I bet this book will change the way you look at food, eating, shops, restaurants, and even your own kitchen – in a good way!

willpower instinct mcgonigal blog review
The Willpower Instinct, Kelly McGonigal.

I’m still listening to The Willpower Instinct but I’d recommend it already. The title is slightly tongue-in-cheek, because McGonigal argues that “willpower” isn’t actually set in stone. In fact, she presents the idea of “I will”, “I won’t” and “I want” powers instead. This book is about the science of self-control and can be applied to any habit you want to change. You’ll hear about what willpower is (and isn’t), and how it’s actually a biological function, not a virtue to be boasted about or longed for. The book sets out simple ways to identify things in your life that make “willpower” difficult, and ways to improve your environment and reactions so you are more successful at achieving your desired responses and actions. Each chapter has an exercise you can do (based on McGonigal’s popular Science Of Willpower course at Stanford University). You can listen to the book straight through and pick the exercises which will best help you, or work through it methodically and do each exercise in turn. Either way, I bet you’ll find it fascinating.

Have you listened to (or even actually read!) any of these? What did you think?

3 Audible.co.uk Fitness Mindset Book Recommendations 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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