Basic Information About Competing In UK Drug-Tested Bodybuilding Comps

May 15, 2016

Almost every week, I get asked about how to go about competing in drug-tested/natural bodybuilding competitions. Tis the season, I guess!

Having just Facebook messaged someone the same information (for the third time this week), I thought it might be useful to actually pop it all in a blog post.

If I stuff this first section full of enough SEO phrases it might even get picked up on Google πŸ˜‰ “Natural bodybuilding comps in the UK”, “How do I start natural bodybuilding in the UK?”, “I want to do a natural bodybuilding show but I’ve no idea who the organisations are or when the competitions are, help, where do I look for information?”

That should do it πŸ˜‰
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So, here’s what I send people when they ask me about competing in drug-free BB comps…

There are three drug-tested/ drug-free/ natural bodybuilding organisations in the UK at the time of writing.

Who, What, Where?

UKDFBA – United Kingdom Drug Free Bodybuilding Association (website is in the link, and they have a FB page). They are the UK affiliate of the WNBF. The UKDFBA run a series of UK qualifiers, then a UK final. There is also a Pro Show and an International Show alongside the UK Final. They award WNBF Pro Cards at the Final. They then take a Pro and Amateur team out to WNBF Worlds.

BNBF – British Natural Bodybuilding Federation (website is in the link, and they have a FB page). They are the UK affiliate of the DFAC. They run a series of UK qualifers, a UK final, then they take a Pro and Amateur team out to DFAC Worlds. They award DFAC Pro cards at their UK Final.

NPA – Natural Physique Association (website is in the link, and they have a FB group). The NPA isn’t affiliated to an international federation. They have UK qualifers and a UK final, and sometimes then take a team out to the UIBBN competition.

Drug Free & Banned Lists

UKDFBA and BNBF are both 7 years drug free.
NPA is lifetime drug free.

They all use urine testing and polygraph testing. Although most of the “things you can’t take” are obvious (or ought to be!), some people are completely unaware of just how strict “drug free” is. So, if you choose to do all or any of the drug-tested bodybuilding organisations’ comps, it is 100% your responsibility to check the banned list OF THAT ORGANISATION and be certain you are in the clear. The information for each organisation’s rules and banned lists are on their website. If you can’t find it, contact the organisation representative.

Categories

All 3 associations have classes for men, women, teens, juniors, and older competitors (Masters). They all have Novice classes and weight classes. Some have Bikini and Men’s Physique. Some have Masters Figure as well as open Figure. Some of their women’s classes will be split by weight. Some have beginners’ shows and first-timers categories. The women’s categories tend to differ between organisations.

My (quick) advice would be:

– Choose the category your body is best suited to (or that you think your body will be best suited to, if you haven’t competed previously)
– Download the judging criteria, and/or contact the Head of the organisation to ask for the guidelines. Be sure you are clear about posing, footwear, whether there’s a posing routine or a T-walk (etc).
– If in doubt, ask advice. The organisation will be friendly and approachable and happy to help (if they’re not, find one that is!)

I’m very happy to chat more about any of this over message or email. I appreciate that it can seem overwhelming and confusing – like any new sport at first!

What To Do Next

Look at the Federations listed above, and their shows/calendars. Choose either by show dates and location, convenient to you (and your prep).

Mark your calendar. Train and diet. Keep in mind the judging criteria of your category. Put together a posing routine or T-walk to music.

Learn the poses you’ll need to do, and practice!

But more than that… do your research:
– make friends on Facebook with people who have done your category in your chosen organisation. Take a look at their competition pics and videos.
– look on YouTube for competition footage and competitors’ individual posing routines (or T-walks).
– see if you can get along to a show (ideally run by your chosen organisation, but anything will help!) Seeing a bodybuilding show before you compete is invaluable experience.

Then there’s stuff like posing suits/bikinis, tan… but that’s all for further down the line.

That was a whistlestop tour through the drug-free bodybuilding competition scene in the UK. I’m sure there are things I’ve forgotten. Official folk: if I’ve got any of the facts and information wrong, please comment/messsage me and I will correct it.

And if anyone reading this ever wants any advice, tips, or “where to go next”, please get in touch. I love the sport and love to help. If I’m not the right person to ask, I’ll try to find out who is!

Basic Information About Competing In UK Drug-Tested Bodybuilding Comps 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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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!
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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 πŸ‘ŒπŸΌ

A video posted by Nicola Joyce βœ’οΈπŸ’ͺ🐢✌️ (@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.


2 x World Champion!

November 24, 2014

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I’m back at my desk after a week away in Boston, where I competed in the WNBF/INBF World Championships as Team UK’s amateur female bodybuilder. I’m delighted to tell you that I won, thereby retaining my World title (blog posts about last year’s INBF Worlds are here and here) – and can now say I am a “2 x World Champion” (even if it feels a bit weird to say so!)

Like most sportspeople, I place significant amounts of pressure on myself. I’m very competitive and expect a lot of myself. With many things in life, the further you go, the more you need to achieve in order to fulfill your own expectations (even if those expectations are of yourself). Sport is certainly no different.

That’s why this World blog post will be a little different to last year’s. I’m just as happy, just as excited, just as proud of myself. I had just as wonderful a time out in Boston with the rest of Team UK, and feel just as privileged to have been given the opportunity once again.

But, this year, my pride and pleasure at winning are joined by seeing where I need to improve, how I want to move forward, and where to go from here.

First of all, a few words about the experience of going abroad to compete as part of the UKDFBA‘s Team UK.
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Once again, being part of the Team was absolutely fantastic. Last year was one of the best times (if not the best time) of my life and this year did not disappoint. The team were all great people (I knew some of them already but there were lots I hadn’t ever met or hadn’t really spoken to), the UKDFBA’s planning and organisation was flawless, our accommodation was really great, and we had some great opportunities to bond as a team (Team training at local Gold’s gym, for example). I come away from Worlds 2014 – as I did from last year’s Worlds – with solid friendships, amazing memories, and having been part of something very special.

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Onto the comp itself

As already mentioned, I won my class and thereby retained my World title from last year. Last year there were only four competitors (split into three LWs, one HW – me – and then an overall which I won). This year there was just one open class of three (no over all) which I won. πŸ™‚ Cheery wave to the other two ladies, if they’re reading this! It was great to meet you and share a stage with you πŸ™‚

I am of course delighted to have won, it feels great (if a little surreal!) to say I “retained a World Title” and to say I am “2 x World Champion”. But I’ve got mixed emotions, too, which weren’t present last year. I guess this is what makes competitive bodybuilders what we are! And what keeps us hungry, keeps us pushing forward, stops us ever settling for mediocre, average, for “just OK”.

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As much as I am over the moon to have won, I’ll tell you now that I wasn’t completely happy with how I looked. I did not look as good as I did at the UKDFBA UK show, and I wanted to look the same (or better!) I’d been really pleased – shocked, even – with how I looked at the UKDFBA show this year. But I was heavier, less lean, less conditioned at Worlds and I am disappointed and cross with myself for that. I know why – my diet and mindset weren’t 100% in those weeks between UKDFBA and Worlds. I did diet, of course, but it wasn’t perfect enough for me.

I need a little more think-time before I could tell you why this was. I know that I was so hugely focused on UKDFBA (and the goal of winning there and taking the Pro Card on offer), that when I came 2nd (especially when it was on a tiebreaker) I had a mental wobble. I don’t think I fully appreciated at the time, but a couple of weeks later I saw it had affected me more than I realised.

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None of that is an excuse, and I know that to be a successful bodybuilder I will have to develop ways to prevent things like this affecting me, and to refocus very quickly and turn my attention fully to the next goal regardless of how I am feeling. It’s unlikely to be the last time I fall short of a goal – this is sport, after all!

A note on the Pro Card thing

Pro Cards are only on offer at Worlds to class winners when there are five or more in the class. A lot of people have said they were sorry that a Pro Card wasn’t on the cards again this year for me. But to be perfectly honest with you? I don’t feel I deserved it. I do want to be a WNBF Pro – it’s my ultimate goal in this sport. But, based on how I looked at Worlds, I don’t feel I’m ready (in terms of physique or mindset). Not quite. Nearly… but not quite. The fact that I have “missed out” a few times now by a whisker kind of confirms what I feel: that I am very very nearly there (but not quite), that I still have lessons to learn and improvements to make. I don’t want a Pro Card until I’m ready for it.

My next steps?

A very good, very constructive off season. I may or may not take a year off competing. Either way, I’ll be training hard and heavy, making improvements to physique, mindset, my knowledge about training, diet and my own body.

Stay tuned for a blog post about what to do if you develop horrendous edema/water retention after spending 5 days celebrating in an American city after coming off a long bodybuilding prep diet and then get stuck on a middle seat on a night flight between two large sleeping men (I will come up with a catchier title, promise!)

Thanks for reading!

2 x World Champion! 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.


A few photos and videos from UKDFBA 2014

October 12, 2014

ukdfba natural bodybuilding championships 2014

I’ve already blogged about my most recent competition – the UKDFBA (United Kingdom Drug Free Bodybuilding Association) UK Open Championships. My show report is here.

In that blog post, I promised some official photos, video and report. The report’s not out yet but I have the photos and the show video, so – for those who are interested – here y’go!

Quarter turns (I’m second in from the right of the pic)

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A few from the comparisons/compulsories

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Pose down!

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From my individual posing routine
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Here’s a video of my routine


And a classic couple of shots showing the “moment of strewth”
πŸ˜‰

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And here a video clip of that result being announced

Official photos by Fivos at Showshoots.
Video clips taken with permission from official video by Chris Lambert.

A few photos and videos from UKDFBA 2014 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.


So close but so far… (UKDFBA 2014 show report)

September 30, 2014

ukdfba natural bodybuilding championships 2014

On Saturday, I competed in the female bodybuilding class at the UKDFBA (United Kingdom Drug Free Bodybuilding Association) UK Open Championships. Here’s my show report. My emotions are still a bit all over the place so apologies if this isn’t my usual hilarious (!), witty (!!) style.

I’ve included some photos (from my instagram as always!) but have purchased the official photos (by Fivos at Showshoots) and will pop some of those up when I get them. I’ll also share the show report when it is published.

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This was the first show of the year for me, and my first since the INBF Worlds last November. You can read about my goals and aims for the show in this blog post – prep update – 2 weeks out.

There’s plenty I enjoy about the UKDFBA show. Not only does it tend to attract great numbers across the classes (including ladies bodybuilding – which is unusual!) but the depth and quality is great. It’s a good atmosphere, enjoyable for competitors but also for spectators and all the people who come to support and “crew” for competitors. This is really important to me! And I get to meet up with lots of my bodybuilding “family” at this show, some of whom I only see once or twice a year. It’s a real kind of party/reunion type event as well as a good bodybuilding comp to be part of.

On Friday I travelled up to Leamington Spa with my sister, and my Mum joined us at the self-catering apartment a bit later, as did the folk we were sharing with. So Friday afternoon and evening was chilled, fun, relaxed and a big giggle really. I had two coats of tan sprayed on by a professional spray tanner, did a few rounds of posing, Mum made some final adjustment to my bikini (I’d lost a bit of fat on my glutes in the last week and the bikini bottoms were gaping/sagging) and I tried to get a decent night’s sleep (always a challenge the night before a comp – excited, nervous, and paranoid about wrecking my tan!)

On Saturday morning I did another couple of rounds of posing and took photos – I was really pleased with how I was looking. Legs (in fact everything, but particularly legs) had been tightening up day on day and I don’t think I’ve ever looked like I did on Saturday! I was so chuffed!

I weighed in 1.8kgs less than on my home scales, which answered once and for all the question “just how sh!t are my scales at home?” (the answer being: “extremely”). In fact I weighed in lighter than I weighed in at INBF Worlds last year, by 2-3lbs.

I dashed off to bag a space in the dressing room I was in last year as I knew it was a good ‘un. Once I’d got myself and my friend Paula installed in there, I was happy – I just wanted to get us both a bit of space and somewhere to find peace and quiet during the day. I then spent the rest of the day chilling with my feet up in that room, or taking a few short wanders to say hi to folk out front.

OK so on to the actual show!

I felt confident going into it. Not 100%, of course. But definitely the most confident (in myself) than I’ve ever felt. This only increased as I pumped up. I could see with my own two eyes that I looked good, and I was getting better as I pumped and posed. As I looked around I just remember thinking, yes Nic, you look good. You have every right to feel confident and go out there with the attitude that you could take it.

As I walked out onto stage I felt I was my best ever (so far/to date) and that I knew I looked good. I was confident in my posing, my routine, and in how I was presenting myself. I guess – bottom line – I felt GOOD!

I can’t honestly remember where I was in the call outs, nor how long we were up there, but I think I was middle of one call out and next-to-middle of another (I could be completely wrong!) We were worked hard, and put through the quarter turns and compulsories several times. Then the head judge said that the judges had seen all they needed to and were happy with what they’d seen.

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(quarter turns and compulsories – click to enlarge if you so wish!)

I had a lot of support out there and heard a lot of you calling out and cheering for me – thank you very much if any of you are reading! It really makes a difference and I am very grateful for your cheers!

I left the stage feeling confident but not 100% confident. I guess I thought I could have won… but wasn’t sure. I don’t know. I certainly didn’t feel like I definitely hadn’t won. I felt good still. But you know how it is – you can never be sure… and I wasn’t…

It was then on to our routines, which I LOVE. I have a new routine and new music this year and have absolutely fallen in love with both so couldn’t wait to perform it for the first time. It went well, I didn’t forget any of it, I could have given it a bit more welly but I guess that’s always the way! I put a lot of time, thought and effort in to my posing and routines and personally think it’s a really important part of what we do (after all the spectators are there to see a show, and have paid to see us!)
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(routine pics – click to enlarge if you so wish!)

We were all called back on, did one final round of compulsories, then posedown which was good fun.
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(posedown pics – click to enlarge if you so wish!)

Then it was time for the results.

This wasn’t just a “I could win this class” situation. It was a “winner gets WNBF Pro Status and funding for the Worlds trip” situation. I can’t tell you how much of a crazy focus this has been for me. Regular blog readers will have gathered that I am massive on visualisation, mindset, focus, etc. It’s been pretty intense leading up to this comp! And now it was down to the next few seconds.

5th place was called – my friend Paula. I was delighted for her, it was her first comp, she was the only first timer in the class, she wanted to place… and she did.

4th, 3rd.… not me.

Holy Mother of Arnold. Here we go. I’ve either won it or… I haven’t, frankly. One matters, one doesn’t matter. That’s how I see it. One is a win, the other is not a win.

The head judge was saying that it was incredibly close… that, in fact, it was a tie-break. We were tied for first place, and the result of the tie-break is….

In second place….

Me.

Sigh.

OK. Smile, smile, don’t cry, look up, smile, walk forward, shake the winner’s hand, stand there and smile.

The winner was then called forward, and offered WNBF Pro status.

My emotions have been up, down and all over the place since. At the time I felt absolutely gutted and disappointed, but not so bad. I felt happy, in that I knew I was my best ever (so far!), very happy personally in how I looked and how I’d posed, etc. Happy that I’d improved a placing in a year (I was 3rd at UKDFBA last year) and happy (although it’s a bitter happiness!!) that it was so close. You can’t ask for much more (other than winning, obviously) than being in a tie break situation.

But I have also gone through a slew of negative emotions: sadness, disappointment, feeling absolutely gutted, and (if I’m honest), angry. I’m not sure at what. Myself, I think. Angry that I didn’t get on stage absolutely dominant, that I left it up to the judges to make the decision, that I didn’t step up there and make their job easier for them. I won’t be making the same mistake again. Believe me, there’s nothing like losing something so important to you on a tie-break decision to focus the mind.

So, what’s next?

A few people have asked me what’s next, if I’m done for the season, if I have another chance at earning Pro Status, etc. I was always heading out to INBF/WNBF Worlds as part of Team UK, and am still doing that. The result of the UKDFBA decided whether I went out as the newly-crowned WNBF Pro, to compete in the Pro class, or as an amateur, to do the INBF show. Those are the only differences – I was always prepping onwards for Worlds and nothing has changed there. So: I am going out with the UK Team to compete in the INBF Worlds, to defend my over all women’s bodybuilding title from last year and – hopefully – to earn WNBF Pro Status by so doing. That’s the plan.

So close but so far… (UKDFBA 2014 show report) 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.


Prep update – 2 weeks out

September 9, 2014

ukdfba natural bodybuilding championships 2014
I’ve been neglecting my blog… Prep is full on, work is (happily) busy, and time has a habit of flying by. But I really must update: so here it is. Just a quick prep update since I know some of you like to read about what’s going on.

I’m now just 18 days out (EIGHTEEN!) from my first show of this year – the UKDFBA (United Kingdom Drug Free Bodybuilding Association) UK Open Championships. It’s in Leamington Spa on 27th and 28th of this month. The show is going to be epic – on the Saturday, there’s the Open show and then on the Sunday there’s a WNBF Pro Show (including Pro Women) and a INBF International Show. Apparently numbers are high in all classes and on both days, and there are competitors from all over the World coming for the Sunday show. I really can not wait!

My goals are clear: to win the thing. I don’t mind saying it. Those of you who know me already know it, and those of you who don’t probably won’t be surprised. There’s a lot resting on the win: the winner of my class (amateur ladies bodybuilding) not only takes the British Title but gets offered WNBF Pro status. :-O ❀

So, I'll certainly be competing on the Saturday, but have every intention (positive thinking!) of competing on the Sunday in some capacity, too. I've booked accommodation right through to Monday morning. If all else fails and I don't end up competing on the Sunday, I'll be up front and centre watching and cheering anyway!

So, prep.
I never really know what to tell you guys! Perhaps you can leave any questions in the comments section and I'll address them.

Basically I've been dieting, training, cardio-ing and ticking all the boxes every single day for a while now. A week ago I made some small but significant changes (with big thanks to one of the UK Team who helped me with his thoughts/advice/guidance). The changes are basically to keep my kcals roughly the same as they were, but to actually add in more carbs on a few days a week, but also to up my output. More food: more work. More energy: more attack. So I’m doing a little more cardio than I was, and some of the sessions are a lot harder than they were. Think running sprints, bike “efforts”, hill sprints. The rest of my cardio is longer, but steadier. I am still carb cycling (as I always do) but my low carb days are lower, my high carb days are higher, and my training is more intense. The idea is to keep my metabolism on side (after all, it’s the most powerful tool we have in the ongoing battle to get leaner than the human body wants to be!) and to “shock” the body, keep it from getting complacent, prevent it from slowing down and just ticking along.

So far it really seems to be working… I’m now seeing changes every day and am getting a lot leaner.

The question remains: is it lean enough, fast enough?

Only time will tell, and the moment of strewth will be on the 27th.

I know you like details so here are a couple of training sessions I’ve done recently

BACK
4 x 15 Close grip pull down
2 x 10 Heavy CGPD
2 x 10/10 dropset CGPD
4 x 15 Wide GPD final set a dropset
4 x 15 Bent over barbell row final set a dropset
4 x 12/12 single arm dumbell row.
Deadlifts
2 x warm up
5 x 8
2×10 Dorian nautilus pullover machine thingy
Rear delt face pulls with multigrips (<<< my favourite bit of gym kit!) superset straight arm push downs

HAMS
– seated ham curl – 2 w/u sets, 4 sets x 15 reps (4th set a dropset)
– lying ham curl – 4 sets x 20 reps
– 4 sets kneeling single legged ham curl superset 4 sets on seated ham curl, toes pointed – 12/12 reps on the kneeling, 15 on the seated
– SLDL barbell – warm up set then into 3 sets x 12 reps
– SLDL-esque thing standing behind the Paramount squat and using the bit you put the plates on as handles
– Seated calves – 4 x 30 reps

I must say I love SLDL of all sorts this year – up there with favourite exercise of 2014 I think!

And here are some recent pics (apologies for just copying them from my Instagram – that’s where my pics end up anyway so it’s the easiest way to get them here!)

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How is my prep this year different to last year?
Well, I’m bigger (I think/hope!) and – as always seems to be the case – it’s more difficult (or certainly “not as easy”) to get lean. That’s just the way it is! The first diet is always the easiest!

I’m eating more this year, and more of it is carbs. I’m eating more fish – partly because I live minutes from the sea and honestly what’s not to love about seafood which was out there swimming a few hours ago, and partly because I am kindly supported by fantastic local fishmonger Griggs (thank you, Andy!)

I’m probably taking fewer supplements, just because honestly I CBA with half of them and I don’t think many of them make a difference to me anyway. I’m not having much in the way of protein powders, because I don’t think I need them (I come straight home from training 99% of the time, so I just have a meal).

I’m sleeping more, and better. I sleep whenever I can, really. I am more chilled, happier and laid back (a good friend actually commented on this the other day and it was one of the nicest compliments she could have given!) I’m lifting heavier and keeping my weights higher and my lifts more compound-based. No circuits stuff or high rep/depletion type stuff, although that might change.

I’m rambling a bit now so will leave it there. But if you have any questions, please do ask away, I will answer if I can!

And, yes, I have a new (to me – second hand as always!) bikini, posing music and routine πŸ˜‰ The important stuff, right? SPARKLES AND DANCING! Haha πŸ˜‰

Hope you’re all well and enjoying your training, prep, racing, competing or generally being fit and healthy (<<< delete as applicable).

Prep update – 2 weeks out 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.


What happens at a bodybuilding posing class (and why should you go)?

September 1, 2014

I’m aching all over today! Why? Yesterday, I was up at The Workout Mill gym in Leamington for a 3-hour posing workshop run by WNBF Pro Richard Gozdecki and UKBFF and NABBA bodybuilder Max O’Connor.

I thought it might be interesting to give you a behind the scenes glimpse (in words, anyway – no pics were taken) of what happens at these things, and to tell you why you really should go to something similar if you compete.

Why is posing important?

Posing is incredibly important to competitive bodybuilders. It’s how we’re judged on the day. For my category, and in the federations I’ve done and do, we have to do:
quarter turns (the judges score “symmetry” in this round)
compulsory poses (used to judge “muscularity” and “conditioning”)
a free posing routine to music

If you can’t pose – and pose really well – you’re doing yourself a massive disservice. You could be the most genetically gifted bodybuilder with a beautiful structure, you could have trained as hard as you like, and dieted to achieve great condition… but if you then just stand there on stage, unable to pose, or posing badly, the judges can’t judge you. They can only judge what they see, after all.

Isn’t it just… standing there and flexing?

Nope. It’s really hard. Not just hard to learn, but physically hard. It hurts, it makes you out of breath, it makes you sweat. You’ll ache from it the next day. And the most you practice, the easier it is. If I told you right now to spread your lats, would you be able to do it? Can you engage your lats, switch them on, spread them without hunching your shoulders or pinching your scapula or bunching your traps? It’s not all front double biceps πŸ˜‰ (although we do those, too).

Why do you have to learn it?

Like any skill, there’s an art to it. You need to learn, ideally from someone who can actually see you moving and touch you to help you get it right. You definitely can’t just rock up and hope for the best. Nobody was born knowing how to do bodybuilding poses, and watching Pumping Iron really won’t be enough.

Is it important to practice?
Yes! As often as possible. Not only will practicing your posing help it become second nature, but you’ll be able to find your own style, make those subtle little tweaks which show your physique off and highlight your strengths (and hide your weaknesses, which is what also what it’s about!) Posing practice actually helps tighten you up and “bring you in” (<< quality BB lingo for you right there) during prep. And the more you practice posing, the easier it’ll be on the day. You’ll sweat less under the lights, so your tan won’t run as much.

Surely it’s easy?

It’s really not. I’d like to think I’ve got a decent level of proprioception, but there are still a couple of poses I find very difficult. Not just physically, but mentally. My head just doesn’t know what I mean. And I favour one side on some poses. Ask me to do them on the other side (as can happen on stage) and I fumble and bumble. No bueno!

All of that is a preamble, explaining a little about why I drove up to Leamington Spa to attend a 3-hour posing workshop yesterday. It’s important!

So, what happens at these things?

Yesterday, we were split into two groups – one with Rich, one with Max. This was roughly done by federation. Most of the people I was with are prepping for the UKDFBA UK Open show, the remaining NPA qualifiers (or the Finals if already qualified), or the BNBF British. I was one of two females. But posing with men is no problem for me, as I do exactly the same poses as them.

We started at 9am, changing into bikinis/trunks (no point being shy at posing class!) and went through our quarter turns one by one. I stuck myself front and centre, cos that’s my style πŸ˜‰ Everyone received individual feedback and critique, positive or negative/where improvements could be made. There are mirrors, as it’s always good to be able to see yourself, but it’s also important (IMO) to *not* look at yourself in the mirror sometimes during poses. After all, there are no mirrors on stage and if you can only hit a pose when you can see your own reflection, you’re going to struggle on the day.

After the 1/4 turns we went through all eight compulsories, and got individual feedback. We were able to learn from each other as well as from “teacher” Richard.

We had a few breaks for water/food if necessary during the couple of hours of posing – it really is hard work. I was sweating more than I do during some of my training sessions.

We then went through everything exactly as it would be called on the day of a comp, without stopping for critique. It’s important to know how the poses “flow”, and to be able to hold them for a reasonable amount of time. You never know how long you’ll have to hold them on stage, it could be quite a long time.

After that, people had the opportunity to run through their free posing routines or to work on putting one together if they haven’t yet done so. I took the chance to just keep on posing, jumping in with some of the guys in the other group. As far as I’m concerned you really can’t practice enough, and should grab every opportunity!

Here are the compulsory poses I have to do as a female bodybuilder with the UKDFBA/INBF
(WNBF… one day! πŸ˜‰ )
Front Double Biceps
Front Lat Spread
Side Chest
Rear Double Biceps (showing one calf)
Rear Lat Spread (showing one calf)
Side Triceps
Abs and Thigh Pose
Most Muscular (this is technically “of your choice” but they can call specific ones so you’d better learn ’em!)

I said no photos were taken but that’s no quite true. Richard is almost as keen on selfies as I am… so… this happened:
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After the class? I trained hamstrings and calves with Richard (a WNBF Pro Heavyweight who’s currently off-season) and Troy (a very impressive junior who won his class at NPA and is prepping for more shows). We were training for nearly two hours.

Yeah… suffice to say that I’m pretty tired and sore this morning πŸ˜‰

Competitors, have you been to a posing club or class? Do you struggle with any particular poses?

What happens at a bodybuilding posing class (and why should you go)? 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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