Loughborough president Laurence Holt shares words of encouragement for all 2017 MASS Championship hopefuls as we talk about what it was like to win the title.
Name: Laurence Holt
Course: International Business
Year of Study: second
Congratulations! How does it feel to be crowned the MASS Championship University Champions?
Unremarkable! How did we come from a team of just 12 members in 2008 to Mass University champions? I guess we have our competitors to thank.
After eyeing up our main rivals ( Cardiff ) we honestly thought all hope was lost, however over the series of the MASS Championship our members brought the fire and helped secure the title.
Amazing achievement by all the students who competed and we look forward to showing off the trophy.
Which competitions did the team compete in, and how did they get on in each of them?
Across the year MASS brought a series of events, ranging from Physique to powerlifting. Fortunately for Loughborough, our members competed in 4 out of 5 sports covering a diverse range of results. Both the Powerlifting and Weightlifting proved to be most successful with coupling PB’s and total Wilks/Sinclair scores.
Which is your favourite competition and why?
Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Powerlifting as it was filled with new competitors and put a refreshing twist on competing in MASS championships.
Was it hard to get members interested in competing?
Luckily for us, Loughborough already attracts athletes looking to excel in a variety of sports. Therefore with a little advertising and word of mouth, word quickly spread.
Give us the low-down on what it’s like to run a society?
Brilliant! I have had the pleasure of meeting and inspiring new members to the fitness world and attend some pretty cool lectures. With the backing of an enthusiastic committee a simple idea can turn into a extraordinary event.
Although it’s been a roller-coaster of ups and downs, I will be sad to be stepping down.
Does the work-load vary between term-time and holidays?
Running a society is simply what you make of it and the effort you put in. Work- loads and deadlines will come and go but a 1 hour meeting a week can make all the difference.
What’s the team’s training like in preparation for a competition?
This is a hard question. Some members prefer to train alone and focus on personal goals whilst others prefer to meet up and carry out joint training sessions. Irrespective of training routines all members however are keen to motivate and provide a helping hand before the big day.
Do other committee members help out with the competitions?
Yes, all competitions are seen as a responsibility by committee members to ensure athletes attend events to deliver a ground breaking performance.
In the end, is it all worth it?
YES, what’s the worst that could happen? You loose all your gains and look like Jeff Seid
What advice would you give to 2017 MASS Championship hopefuls?
What have you got to loose. If you don’t know have a go.
What’s next for you?
Hit the gym and get bigger than Dave Bissell himself. It’s always good to aim high Laurence 😉
Where can our readers follow your society?
Easy. Simply type in Loughborough Fitness and Wellbeing society on Facebook and await approval.
The naked truth about who rubbed oil on who… (Josh bares all for our readers)
Exclusive access to the macros and meal plans from the start of prep to the final grind
Exclusive workout routines that will get you pumped to take away try
Last week, we caught up with MASS athlete Josh Bridgman just days before he stepped on stage at the UKBFF Finals. (Click here to read about his journey). With the finals under his belt and a 2nd place trophy in hand, we decided to dig a bit deeper and find out everything you want to know about what it’s really like to be a top-level competitor…
6am: Wake up and check body (I was too bloated from overeating and very, very soft)
6:15am: Shower and scrub body one last time.
6:30am: Start drinking lots and lots of water to remove the bloating I had.
7am: Leave Loughborough to get to Nottingham for my tan at 8:30am.
7:45am: Arrive in Nottingham, Still drinking lots and lots of water.
8am: Registration for UKBFF Finals.
8:30am: Tanning appointment.
9am: Walk up and down stairs 10 times to keep heart rate up and try and flush the water and salt out of my body (still drinking lots of water)
10am: Show starts, still panicking about being bloated, still drinking water and haven’t eaten.
10:30am: Stop drinking and realise what’s done is done.
11am: Put my Shorts on I will be wearing on stage.
11:30am: Go down to the pump up area, plan through how I will pose one more time and my t-walk.
12am: Start pumping up.
12:15-12:20pm: On stage for the competitors to be cut down to the top 15. (call outs)
12:45pm: Final 15 Announced and back on stage for quarter turns and more call outs
1pm: Final 15 cut down to top 6.
1:30pm: Top 6 do T-walks and have comparisons
1:45pm: Top 6 are given the position they came.
2pm: Junior physique completed and all done!
How did you feel the day before the finals?
I was nervous, but very excited to eat my carbs and fill my muscles out the night before show day!!
What was your peak week strategy and how did it affect the package your brought to the stage?
I actually changed nothing, I felt I was lean enough already and only needed to fill out with a nice meal the night before, so no changes in water, food or salt anything like that!
Tell us a bit about your grooming and tanning routine…
Well 5 days out, I started scrubbing down, keeping my skin as smooth as possible to make sure the tan sticks well to me and it didn’t end up uneven. 2 Days out I completely shaved my body down (yes everything, haha) And then the night before just went over any bits of hair I missed or anything that had grown back. I woke up nice and early on game day and had my tan at 8:30am on the day of the competition!
Who came with you to the competition?
I was so so lucky to have a few people there, most importantly, my mum and girlfriend were there. I also had a lot of friends from University there! 2 people flying over from the middle east to watch and friends coming up from London and Stroud to come and watch! Couldn’t believe the support!
What was the atmosphere like backstage?
Tense, everyone was nervous and we could all feel it, everyone sizing each other up and pretending like we weren’t doing that!! But we all got on well and i definitely made some new friends.
How did it feel to be up on stage?
Incredible. The screaming crowd, Seeing my friends and family shouting my name and having all the hard work come to reality at that moment. Adrenaline was pumping, heart rate was flying. But what a feeling!!
Did your posing go to plan?
I feel my posing could of been better, but I nailed my T-walk in my opinion. Just need to sort my quarter turns out and overall presence on stage.
At what point did you realize you would be among the top placings?
When they called the top 6, I already could not believe it!! I went there for top 5, so when they called 6th out and it wasn’t me, my smile got bigger, and bigger, and bigger with each placing they announced. I really could not believe I got 2nd in the end! Especially with all the talent on show.
3 words to describe your feelings at coming 2nd in the finals:
Surprised, happy and overwhelmed, in that order.
What did you indulge in after the show?
I went to TGIS with my family and friends. It was more about the company than the food, but when the server asked if I was hungry when I ordered the biggest burger, he knew from the look I gave him that I was ready to put it down! Also my mum made a Nutella, Oreo and hazelnut cheesecake which went down very quickly that night!
Have the post-show blues hit in or are you still on an absolute high?
I am still flying high! Though a little bloated from the food, excited to bring a better package to the Amateur Olympia I qualified for on the 31st of October!
10 things we really want to know but have always been too polite to ask, about what really goes on backstage…
1. Most outrageous thing you saw someone eat backstage:
I saw people drinking honey, heaps of peanut butter and the smell of vodka was in the air!!
2. Amount of time spent thinking about the bikini girls:
Zero, because I have a girlfriend and she is the only girl I think about! hahaha
3. Percentage of guys who brought their Mums along:
Definitely over 90% – I saw a lot of guys running in their mums arms afterwards, then again so did I!
4. Biggest ego award goes to…
I wouldn’t want to point one person out, but I definitely got knocked out the way by a few big heads!
5. Average number of selfies per competitor:
At least 5 per competitor, check instagram!
6. Do people share their cheat food?
Yes!!! I couldn’t believe the amount of people that offered a lot of their own food!
7. Anyone shed a tear as they came off stage?
A few of the bikini girls who didn’t do well, and also some who did very well!
8. Is there a risk of smudging your tan with toilet paper? (You know what we’re getting at…)
Yes. That is all.
9. Who rubs oil onto who?
Tanning ladies onto everyone! Although a few guys made some new friendships through oiling each other haha…
10. How many more Facebook/Instagram/Twitter followers did you acquire?
Name: Josh Bridgman
University: Loughborough University
Degree programme and year: Masters: International Business. Just Graduated.
In brief, walk us through journey from SPC to UKBFF National Finals?
From the SPC, I decided to try my luck at a UKBFF Qualifier in Cumbria in June! Fortunately I came second and gained qualification into the British Finals this coming Saturday (3rd October). Between June and October I went travelling around America, but still trained twice a day and added some size! Now its the final week after cutting down my body fat again for the last 8-9 weeks.
Tell us a bit about the UKBFF National Finals – what’s it all about?
UKBFF National finals are an accumulation of the UK’s best physique/bodybuilding and Bikini athletes. The top 2 or 3 who have competed in one of the many qualifiers around the country then qualify for the final.
What was your motivation for entering the UKBFF scene?
It was natural progression, coming to an end at University, the next competition for me to do was UKBFF. It is the most recognised federation in the country so I thought I would try it out!
How did MASS SPC prepare you for the world of professional bodybuilding?
MASS SPC is a fantastic stepping stone for professional bodybuilding. It gives you Vital experience and the classes David puts on have helped me so much with my stage presence and confidence. Moreover, the friends gained in the process are for life and that’s something I will value forever!
What is it about stepping on stage that keeps you coming back for more?
The adrenaline rush, the fans shouting and screaming, the fact that all the people on stage with you have worked months if not years just for 5-10mins on stage. It’s every ounce of effort you have that has been put into this moment all coming true. Relishing in it is one of the best feelings I’ve ever had! It’s a bug!
What was the main thing you took away from your experience at the SPC?
The SPC was the start of my journey. I will never be so thankful for David to pushing me into doing this event! It has really kickstarted my passion for fitness and bodybuilding and now my career.
How has your prep evolved throughout this journey?
Prep has changed so much each time! I now take a more calculated approach which allows me to relax a lot more and not stress about getting lean enough, because when the plan is in motion, nothing will stop you! I’m using lower carbs this time around, as well as lower fats and higher protein has really helped me keep my size and continually lose bodyfat. It’s all a learning curve and I will most likely change things the next time around as that’s the best way to learn!
How would you summarize your approach to training?
Pretty Brutal if I’m honest. I like to warm up very well, get blood into the muscle I’m working, and then go for an all out assault on that muscle. Taking to failure through the positive part of the motion and then failure through the negative part of the motion. Complete failure to force the muscle to grow!
How does your training leading up to a show vary from the off-season?
Leading up to a show volume will go up, training intensity will go up, rest time will go down. Generally aiming to burn more calories and fully fatigue the muscle! Also introduce cardio when I need to. Anywhere from 10-30 mins 2-5 times a week.!
How do you personally determine what constitutes a ‘good workout’?
A good workout to me is when you can’t give anymore, because if you come out the workout and you could of given that extra rep or set, then why not? Someone else is probably doing that so why shouldn’t you?
How has your strength been affected by cutting?
Strength always takes a big hit, but for me it’s no problem as I leave my ego at the door. Bodybuilding is not about moving the most amount of weight possible, it’s about sculpting and perfecting your physique – sometimes it needs a more calculated approach rather than blunt force trauma!
What will you be doing back stage to pump up on Saturday?
Back stage I will have some dumbbells and just go through an all out circuit for upper body, getting blood into my muscles and generally getting my heart rate bit higher. I won’t over do it though; you don’t want to get fatigued before you go on and have to pose – keeping your abs tight while breathing heavy is not fun!!
Do you think that training or nutrition plays the greater role in achieving a stage-ready physique?
Both. People say its 70/30 or 60/40 or honestly for me its 50/50 If you don’t put everything into both then there’s no point in the other. 100% diet and 100% training. If you don’t train well, your diet becomes useless, other than making you a healthier person etc. And vice versa.
Do you subscribe to a certain way of eating?
I do IIFYM, but I remain lactose and dairy free (personal choice) Generally my diet is based around whole grains and lean meats – I don’t have pizza, burgers and other foods which are considered unhealthy (unless it’s a cheat day!). I do this for wealth of life and making my self as healthy internally as externally. So lots of vegetables bit of fruit and a balanced diet.
Does this approach vary in the off-season?
Not really no – I will just increase the amount of food I eat compared to on season. Maybe a few more cheat days and if I want something I will generally have it.
How have you tried to counteract hunger whilst cutting?
Taking my mind off it! Going for a walk or generally remaining busy takes my mind away from food. If you’re bored, or if I’m bored at least, I head straight to the fridge!
Have you had any slip-ups along the way where you have deviated from your diet?
Nope. I have implemented days where I can be more relaxed on my diet; this allows me to focus on keeping to the plan during the days where they are scheduled. Generally my cravings and hunger problems are contained by these relaxed days! Though I’ve been close to caving in!
How have you handled social eating or meals out during your competition journey?
I have my scheduled days where I can go out with friends for food and generally relax more. This keeps my sanity level stable! But throughout the week I do not eat out.
How have your primed your nutrition during peak week?
I have done absolutely nothing! I calculated it perfectly this time around, allowing me to cruise into the final week, not having to change anything as I feel I am lean enough and ready for action!
Have you planned a post-show indulgence?
Cheesecake. I am a fiend for cheesecake. I cannot wait!!
What is your post-show nutritional strategy going to look like?
I’m going to have to reverse diet, and slowly taper off my cardio. Ended up on relatively low calories this time around with quite a lot of cardio. If I just stop and start eating with no cardio… Ill definitely gain a lot of unwanted fat. I’m thinking it will take around 4 weeks for this to end and for me to get into a full bulk, which I intend to stay in for a long time! Time to put on some muscle as I’ve been dieting most of the year.
An inside on what it’s really like to be a bodybuilding competitor
What are some of the sacrifices you have had to make to reach your goals?
I don’t see my friends too much as they go out and eat a lot. I train twice a day most days so I have had to put people on hold for a long time. Generally putting myself before others, it’s a selfish sport at the end of the day. But I am excited for catching up with everyone and getting my relationships back with some people! hahaha
What has been the hardest part of prepping for the finals?
Honestly, this is my 5th prep this year, my body is telling me no more! The diet is really getting to my head, I get mood swings and if I’m hungry, I’m generally Hangry (hungry and angry).
Who has motivated or inspired you through the tough days of contest prep?
My Mum has done so, so much for me this prep. She tells me to keep going everyday, positive motivation from someone like your mum is so valuable when putting your body and mind through contest prep!
Can you share with us some of your top ‘hacks’ for surviving contest prep?
Drink lots of water… Eat wholegrains to stay fuller for longer. But essentially there are no quick-fixes or hacks, ultimately, you either want it or you don’t.
Can you confess to trying out any whacky strategies in pursuit of the dream physique?
Haha! Let me think… I have tried stupid workouts… lots of food… Old school techniques. But nothing works better than hard work and putting the basics into action!
Tell us a bit more about your Youtube channel:
Originally, I started my Youtube channel just to document my movement through the fitness industry. Now, it’s more of a passion. I want to make my channel everyone’s channel. If I post a video on, let’s, say ‘carbohydrates’, then I want anyone who can add to what I’ve said to comment so that when people arrive at my channel, theu will get more than just my personal perspective (I’m so far from knowing everything. Also I just love editing and making videos!
What are some of the stereotypes about bodybuilding you want to shake off?
We are not all meatheads. We are more approachable than your average human. We love what we do so don’t challenge us as to why we do it; it’s the same reason you play golf or football or anything like that. We do not (well, I do not!) eat chicken rice and broccoli everyday haha! It can be fun.
Where do you see yourself going from here?
I want to grow my YouTube channel, along with my physique and hope to compete in the USA eventually and the Olympia if possible. But until then I will just keep grinding!
If you had one piece of advice for a student thinking of competing in bodybuilding, what would it be?
Do it. Just Do it. If you don’t like it then you don’t need to do it again. But I guarantee if you’re interested in bodybuilding, you will love it!
Reinventing the push up into a viable bench press alternative.
You love to bench press. Everyone does. It’s a simple move, you can load up big weights on it, and it trains major muscles you love to see in the mirror. However, the bench press isn’t always the safest option. If you don’t have a spotter, it can be dangerous to overload yourself to a point where you might fail a rep and need the bar lifted off you. Furthermore, excessive bench press in your training can lead to a whole host of shoulder issues. Sometimes, when training your chest and triceps, it can be useful to revert back to the bench presses little brother; the PE teachers favourite; the push up.
You probably left the push up behind as soon as you discovered the bench press. You now probably view it as a warm up exercise, cranking out a few sets of 10 before you start your chest day. However, by a few simple tweaks shown in the exercises below, we can amp up the intensity of push ups so you can get great upper body results without even touching a weight.
Before you try some of the more intense and advanced push up variations, here are some key coaching points to make sure you’ve mastered the ordinary push up.
Make sure your hands are placed directly below your shoulders to ensure you’re stressing the correct muscles.
Keep your elbows tucked to your sides. Flared elbows are one of the most common mistakes when performing a push up. To help you keep tucked elbows, imagine you are trying to grip a business card in-between your arm pits.
Maintain a straight and rigid body. A rigid body during a press up involves straight legs, hips not sagging and a neutral spine position. To help with this, tense your glutes and core as well as pressing your legs and feet tight together before starting to complete your push ups.
Get low enough. Lowering yourself to the correct position in a push up ensures you work your muscles through a full range of motion. Lower yourself til your face is 2 to 3 inches off the ground then push away again.
Regular push up – start-finish position
Regular push up – mid position
Once you can perform a good set of 20-25 push ups following the coaching points above, it’s time to attempt some more advanced versions of the push up. Caution! Huge pecs and massive triceps may result from completion of these exercises.
Staggered push up
Set up: Set yourself up for a normal push up; hands below shoulders, core braced, elbows tucked. Now, take one hand and move it forward until it is below your eye line. Your hands are now in the staggered position.
Execution: Lower yourself as normal, then focus on driving through your hand that is still below your shoulder on the up phase. Use your more forward hand as a support. When you’re done, take a short rest, switch which hand is forward, and repeat.
Staggered push up – start-finish position
Staggered push up – mid position
This move increases the intensity on one pectoral at a time, by increasing the work each side does during one rep. It is a good first move to attempt after mastering the regular push up. Aim for 15 – 20 reps each side before attempting archer push ups.
Archer push up
Set up: Again, set yourself up for a normal push up; hands below shoulders, core braced, elbows tucked. This time take one hand and extend it out to the side of your body. Raise your extended hand off the palm onto just the fingers and make sure that arm is straight. Imagine looking down on your body and you should see an image similar to an archer with his bow. Your extended hand is ‘drawing the arrow’ while the hand still under the shoulder is ‘holding the bow’.
Execution: Similar to the staggered push up, focus on driving through the hand still under your shoulder. Your extended arm should bend slightly as you lower to the bottom point of the push up. Switch sides again and repeat.
Archer push up – mid position
Archer push up – start-finish position
The archer push up is very similar to the staggered push up in that it isolates the work onto one side of your upper body. However, by moving the non-working arm laterally and further away from the body’s midline, the support is reduced, so the intensity placed on the working arm is further increased. Aim for 10 reps each side before moving on.
Lateral push ups
Set up: Slightly different to the others, you start lateral push ups with both arms extended laterally away from the body. If you looked down on your body, it would resemble a cross. You can keep your fingers facing forwards, or point them out laterally too; whichever is most comfortable for you.
Execution: Lower yourself down towards your left hand. You should be moving diagonally downwards, trying to get your left pec as close as you can too your left hand. Drive back up and away so your body becomes central again. Immediately repeat to your right side.
Lateral push up – mid position
Lateral push up – start-finish position
This exercise provides a more dynamic version of the archer push up, and the different movement pattern makes it a difficult move to master. Aim to hit 16-20 reps before attempting the daddy of all push ups; the one arm push up.
It is hard to let go of the staple upper body exercise of the bench press. Most of us are comfortable and feel at home with a bar above our chest, but you can achieve similar results, in a safer and equally as challenging environment with the push ups shown above. And as if this article hasn’t already done enough to convince you to try some advanced push ups in your next upper body workout, always remember that push ups work your core at the same time as your pecs and triceps.
BSc Sports and Exercise Science
The first ever MASS strongman competition was held in the ‘larger than life’ Warehouse Gym this March.
Amongst murals of the Kings and Queens of strength and acres of gritty strength machines for people who mean business, athletes from across the country battled it out to be crowned the strongest and hopefully earn points for their university in the MASS games.
After some close weigh-ins and an explanation of the events from MASS chairman David Bissell, the day quickly got underway; starting with the farmer’s carry. From the outset a high standard of competition was evident, amidst an atmosphere of encouragement and good natured competitiveness familiar to those who attended previous MASS events.
From the females, Cari Davies and Catherine Smith were neck and neck for first place alongside a strong performance from Sharon Shergill. Catherine dominated the log press to nudge ahead at the second event but a comeback from Cari’s now legendary deadlift skills left it all up to the last event; Catherine narrowly pipped Cari to pull the overall result back to a draw. This meant that Catherine won the junior gold medal, Sharon won silver from the juniors and Cari won the senior gold medal.
From the males, Zib Atkinsblazed through the events in first place across the board from the 85kg category, including a sub 30s time to load a 50kg stone, 65kg kettlebell and 70kg sandbag at the end of a 15m carry. This landed him squarely with the 1st place senior prize, alongside Jacob Hetherington as first place junior following the quickest time to load up to the 80kg atlas stone. The 105kg male category was more contested, although a solid senior victory was earned by Geoffrey Kirby, following a spectacular 43 reps at the 180kg car deadlift and RAPID 105kg atlas stone loading.
Finally, the MASS games points were awarded, including 25 points to Loughborough in first place, 20 points to Cardiff in second and 16 points to Nottingham in third. Overall, the first MASS strongman competition was a great example of the friendly, supportive and competitive student strongman community. And we got to pick up a car, which is pretty cool!
MASS stands for the Muscle & Athletic Sports Society and is a fore mostly a University society. MASS societies are ratified entities of their Students Union, they’re self-sufficient and have a committee of students overseeing each club who organise and run the events for all their members.
We’re MASS HQ, the central support system who administer and assist MASS societies nationally. We organise the MASS Competitions, organise visits from top athletes, get the societies their stash and produce Education materials.
At MASS, we aim to provide a community and platform for students to achieve their ultimate fitness goals through education and training.
You can start MASS at your University! We offer full support and backing to any student that would like to start a club, and there’s no better time than right now! Become a leader and inspire others by setting up a club today. For the full information and to begin your journey go to the societies area and select Start MASS At Your Uni.
If you have a question that isn’t answered in
or the Competitions page, then our expert team at MASS HQ are on hand to help. You can contact us via email, phone or post and we will try our best to get back to you with an answer within one working day of receiving your enquiry.
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