UKBFF Athlete of the Week - Nick Swann

by John Plummer

Nick Swann, a gym owner from Stamford, Lincolnshire, finished second in the over-50s bodybuilding class at last year's UKBFF British Championships.

Name: Nick Swann

Height: 178 cm

Contest weight: 92 kg

Off Season weight: 106 kg

Best contest results: 1st in Masters over 50 at 2017 UKBFF East of England 2017 and runner-up by one point at 2017 UKBFF British Championships Masters over 50.

Competition History

Apollo 2015 Masters Over 50s champion

UKBFF 2015 Cumbria Classic Masters over 50s champion

UKBFF 2015 British Championships 4th in Masters over 50s

UKBFF 2017 East of England Over 50s champion

UKBFF 2017 British Championships 2nd in Masters over 50s

Ambition: To win the UKBFF Masters over 50s British Championship and compete in the Arnold Classic Europe.

Sponsor: Offers welcome

Coach: Brandon Marjoram (ex-UKBFF British champion)


Nick Swann winning the East of England Championships last year. PHOTO: Simon Howard

Nick Swann winning the East of England Championships last year. PHOTO: Simon Howard

Why did you get into weight training?

I have always been active. I played football as a teenager and cricket until I was 40. After this I trained at a local leisure centre to keep fit. When my son joined me weight training to help his football we quickly outgrew the gym and transferred to a hardcore gym, Bodyshapers in Kettering, 30 miles away, travelling 6 days a week, which took our training to another level.

How did this develop into competing?

After six months training at Bodyshapers, my son competed and won the UK national finals aged just 18 and went on to be runner-up at the worlds. This inspired me to compete and I did my first show in 2015. My second show was the UKBFF Cumbria Classic five months later, which I also won. I then went on to the UKBFF British finals and placed fourth in my first year of competing, which gave me the belief that I could go all the way. I took 2016 out to gain some mass then in October last year I won the UKBFF East of England Championships, weighing a good 10 kg heavier than 2015. I then went on to the UKBFF British finals where I was runner-up by just one point. Needless to say I have unfinished business!

Why do you compete with the UKBFF?

History, legacy, athlete consideration... the UKBFF has the greatest history and heritage of any UK bodybuilding federation and is the largest and most respected federation. It genuinely looks after its athletes, sending many abroad to compete Internationally. I have always been looked after at competitions, whether it be at registration, backstage, at judging or post-show. During my relatively short competitive career I have made many friends in the UKBFF, whether it be fellow competitors or officials. The UKBFF has strong morals, rules and guidelines that they stand by, unlike some other federations. It is the premier federation in the UK.

How has your training changed as you've got older?

I came into bodybuilding relatively late so I am pretty fresh with no major injuries. I like to think I train smart. I schedule my training to include the necessary rest periods so I train upper body and lower body on alternate days and have two planned rest days a week. I also plan a heavy strength week (5 sets of 5 reps) followed by a hypertrophy week (3-4 sets of 8-12 reps) to give my central nervous system a break. The most important thing is the style of training: I am a big advocate of time-under-tension training. I like to make the weight feel heavy rather than just shifting the weight. This is effective and prevents injuries.

Is it more difficult to get in shape when you're over 50?

I find the more I compete the more my condition improves. I stay in pretty good shape all year round so I don't have too much to lose. I don’t believe your metabolic rate slows down as you get older: condition is down to diet and hard work. I have always been a relatively lean guy, which has its drawbacks for building muscle but advantages when dieting.

What do you enjoy most about being on stage?

Showing off my hard work and condition. I don’t see myself as a mass monster; I like to show balance and proportion. I also love the camaraderie and friendships you make in the over 50s category.

What's your split?

Day 1 Chest and triceps

Day 2 Hamstrings, abductors, adductors and calves

Day 3 Back and biceps

Day 4 Rest

Day 5 Shoulders

Day 6 Quadriceps

Day 7 Rest

If you could only do one exercise per body part, what would it be?

Chest Flyes – as I’m shoulder-dominant, I find they target the chest better than a press.

Back Lat pulldown in front of chest – helps for width.

Biceps Preacher curl - this really isolates the muscle.

Triceps V-bar pushdown

Shoulders – Dumbbell side laterals – I always start with this to get the medial delts firing.

Legs – V squat - deep ass to grass!

Training partner – good or bad?

Always good to have a partner for those off days that we all have. I currently train alone as my workouts are tightly scheduled but sometimes train with my son, Sam, when our splits coincide.

How many exercises, sets and reps do you do?

As many as it takes! I follow the Arnold principle and start counting when it hurts, then do 10 more. But as a rule of thumb I do four exercises per muscle group (for shoulders and back I do 5), 3 to 4 sets and 10-12 reps with the exception of quads where I do 15 reps.

Favourite form of cardio

Recumbent cycle.

Most effective way to diet

Leave plenty of time. I like to be in shape 4-6 weeks out so I can get harder and harder and retain muscle mass rather than crash diet. I diet on foods I like and are easy to digest. Last year I ate large quantities of white fish (smoked haddock) for six months. Getting in shape early allows me to have cheat meals and even cheat days, which keeps me sane and gives my body a well earned break.

Advice to newcomers

Consistency, consistency, consistency. Correct form over ego lifting.

Mix it up, keep it interesting. Leave no stone unturned. No regrets.