Women’s Physique: My Journey from Competitive Boxer to Women’s Physique Competitor

At a Glance: Rebecca Powell

Age: 39 (will be 40 on July 3rd)

Occupation: Branch Manager for Mueller Roofing Distributors, I am 5th generation in our family-owned business.

Family: Curt (husband), sons Christian (age 22 and also a body builder), Tristan (19) and Trenton (19) (twins)

Current Residence: Liberty Township, Ohio

Years training: 3 years

Height: 5' 2"

Weight: 130 (Off-Season), 122 (Contest)

Favorite UMP recipe (off-season treat): Peanut Butter Protein Bites - 1/3 cup natural peanut butter, 1/4 cup honey, 1 scoop chocolate UMP, 3 tbsp ground flaxseed, 3 tbsp mini dark chocolate chips. Mix all ingredients together. Form dough into quarter size bites. Store in the refrigerator.

Favorite BI Supplement: Muscle Mass - This is an excellent BCAA! I used it throughout my prep to aid in muscle preservation and muscle recovery. Taking Muscle Mass during training is the secret to sustaining my intense training schedule.

Supplement Recommendation: Make it simple! Start small... more isn't always better. Follow the BI plan that best aligns with your goals.

Music: Anything from the 80s and 90s to current: Van Halen, White Snake, Prince, Journey, Eminem, Alter Bridge, Metallica and Anthrax

Most Inspiring Book: The Servant by James C. Hunter

Hobbies: Boating with my family, reading, and traveling

Words to live by: "You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win and expect to win." ~ Zig Ziglar

I have always been an avid fitness enthusiast. I was raised in a very active household and physical activity has always been a part of my life. In the ‘80’s it was aerobics and later, Tae Bo. But, deep down I always wanted to be like one of the “fit” girls on the magazine covers. Although I tried to stay active as I raised a family, I really couldn’t dedicate any significant time to fitness until my sons grew older. In 2012 I began taking cardio boxing classes at a local gym and fell in love with it. After a year of boxing for fun and fitness, I decided to take it to the next level and began training to box competitively. My first tournament was at the 2014 Arnold Classic. I came in second. What an amazing experience! Following that tournament I continued to train and looked forward to my next fight.

 

Then, in the fall of 2014, my oldest son, Christian competed in a bodybuilding competition. It was the Natural Ohio, hosted by Dave Lieberman. My husband and I made the trip to cheer him on. We really enjoyed the show and were proud and thrilled when Christian placed first in several classes. Another highlight of the show was the Women’s Physique competition. I was completely taken aback and in awe of those women. I loved their combination of femininity and muscle without the glitz and glam of those in the Figure or Bikini divisions. Right then and there I knew that I wanted to compete in Women’s Physique. I nudged my husband and said, “I can do that…I know I can do that!”

And so my “physique” journey began. Being an “all in or all out” girl, I knew I needed help if I was going to successfully make the switch from boxer to physique competitor. Training and diet changes would be a necessity. Instead of emphasizing quickness and conditioning alone, I needed to eat and train for muscle growth and development while minimizing bodyfat. Luckily, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with some amazing coaches. Coach Rob Quimby, former bodybuilding champion and owner of Fitness Lifestyle Personal Training, along with Coach Tina Triguero, IFBB Pro and owner of Tfit Training, gave me all of the tools that I needed to succeed.

20% Bodyfat to 7.7% Nutrition and Supplement Plan

Starting with a body fat percentage of about 20%, I had my work cut out for me. I began my overall nutrition and training prep about 20 weeks out from my contest. At 12 weeks out, I really tightened things up. Here is the nutrition and supplement program that I used to drop my bodyfat to 7.7% while maintaining all my muscle.
 

Meal 1:  2 eggs + 6 egg whites, 1 cup broccoli, ½ cup oatmeal, ½ grapefruit

Meal 2: Strawberry UMP shake

Meal 3: 6oz chicken, 1 cup asparagus, 4oz sweet potato

Meal 4: Strawberry UMP shake

Meal 5: 6oz tilapia, 1 cup broccoli

I am a busy girl so I like to keep things simple. I do all of my meal planning and prep for the week on Sunday afternoons. It takes about 3 hours but saves me loads of time during the week and it keeps me on track. I cook 10 skinless chicken breasts at a time in the crock pot with salt and pepper, Flavor God seasoning, and 2 low sodium chicken bouillon cubes. I bake tilapia with lemon juice and a little pepper. I pre-cut all of my veggies, separate them into servings and I place them all into disposable steamer bags for easy storage and cooking. Meals #2 and #4 are UMP Strawberry shakes. I prepare them the night before by adding 2 scoops to a shaker bottle with about 10oz water. I then put it in the freezer overnight. I take the frozen shake with me to work and by the time I’m ready to drink it, it’s a slushy! I LOVE it.

Supplements

(PRIMARY GOAL: GAIN/MAINTAIN MUSCLE MASS WHILE LOSING FAT)

 

During my meal planning sessions, I also prepare my supplements in daily dosages and store them in a pill organizer to expedite things during the week. Beverly products were instrumental to my success. When boxing I had used various supplements, but my contest prep trainer said that Beverly was the best and helped me design a supplement plan to gain lean muscle mass while losing fat. I noticed a huge difference in my ability to gain muscle and lose fat. Here’s the program I used to lose more than 12% of my bodyfat in 20 weeks while securing all of my muscle.


UMP: (Chocolate and Strawberry) Strawberry is my favorite... a treat that tastes like cake batter!

Ultra 40: (3 with each meal)

Mass Aminos: (3 with each meal)...switched to Muscle Mass around 8 weeks out (3 with each meal and 10-15 total taken before, during and after training)

Lean Out: (2 upon rising and 2 with each meal)

7-Keto MuscLean: (3 upon rising and 3 mid-afternoon)

Joint Care: (3 capsules twice daily) I swear by this supplement...I have bad tennis elbow and as long as I keep this on board I am in good shape.

EFA Gold: (3 softgels twice daily)

Glutamine Select (2 scoops while training and 1-2 scoops throughout the day to curb hunger)


Kudos to Beverly and excellent customer service! The online ordering page is fantastic and repeat user friendly. My order is always spot-on and arrives at my doorstep within a day or two at the most!

 

Weight Training

I work a sedentary job from 7:30-4:30 daily, and then go right to the gym where I meet my husband. We train together for 1.5 – 2 hours, six days a week. We work with one of my coaches, Rob Quimby, on two of those days.

Rob and I focused on leaning out my legs while also improving shoulder and chest mass. Although I have a decent amount of muscle in my legs, I tend to carry some excess "baggage" there too. I trained them twice a week in completely different ways to lean them out and expose those detailed lines. My favorite leg exercises are squats alternating with 150# sled pushes. Here are the basic parameters for my training:

• Trained each body part twice weekly

• Focused on weight for reps (12-15 reps per set/4-5 sets each exercise/Increased weight with each set/Enough weight that the final few reps of the final set are very challenging and near failure)

• Use a lot of supersets

Training

THURSDAY: CHEST/BACK - REPEAT TUESDAY WORKOUT, SATURDAY: SHOULDERS/BICEPS/TRICEPS - REPEAT WEDNESDAY WORKOUT

 

MONDAY: LEGS (MY FAVORITE)
Deep heavy Barbell Squats superset with 30-yard 150# Sled Pushes
Leg Extensions and Sissy Squats superset with 20-yard steep Hill Runs
Heavy barbell Walking Lunges superset with 40-yard Sprints
Weighted Jump Squats
TUESDAY: CHEST
Dips superset with Incline Dumbbell Press
Flat Dumbbell Press superset with Chest Flyes
Barbell Bench Press
Incline Barbell Bench Press
Dumbbell Pullovers superset with Push-ups
TUESDAY: BACK
Heavy Deadlifts superset with Seated Cable Rows
Chin-ups superset with One Arm Dumbbell Rows
Wide Grip Pulldowns superset with Bent-over Barbell Rows
Inverted Chin-ups using the TRX suspension trainer
WEDNESDAY: SHOULDERS
Seated Arnold Press superset with Behind the Head Pulldowns
Standing Dumbbell Press superset with Side Lateral Raises
Barbell Press in front of head and behind
Bent Over Rear Delt Raises superset with Barbell Upright Rows
Shrugs superset with Cable Face Pulls
WEDNESDAY: BICEPS / TRICEPS
Close Grip Pullover & Press superset with weighted Bench Dips
Skull Crushers superset with Tricep Pushdowns
Overhead Tricep Extensions using the rope/cable
Barbell Curls superset with Reverse Curls
Standing Dumbbell Curls superset with Hammer Curls
Preacher Curls or Concentration Curls over a bench
FRIDAY: LEGS (HEAVY)
Heavy Squats
Leg Press superset with Leg Curls
Romanian Deadlifts superset with Swing Squat Machine
Donkey Calf Raises superset with weighted Reverse Hyperextensions

Cardio

20-30 minutes of fasted HIIT cardio first thing in the morning on the treadmill, 6-7 days per week- incline jog/sprint.

Evening cardio following weight training: 20-30 minutes on the stationary bike 5-6 evenings per week.

The Results

I competed in my first show in March of 2015, the NPC Natural Ohio. I was thrilled to garner second place in the Women’s Physique Open “A” Class and win the overall in the Master’s Women’s Physique division. Four weeks later, I competed in the NPC Kentucky Derby and placed third in both the Women’s Physique Open Class “A” and Master’s Women’s Physique Class. It was a great start to what I know will be a challenging but rewarding experience in Women’s Physique. A big thank you to my awesome coaches, my amazingly supportive husband and family for helping me battle through this huge accomplishment.

Don’t Call It A Comeback!

It is traditional for winning athletes to retire; step away from the gridiron, court, field or ring; focus on other things. Then, given time, they find their mind questioning things: Do they have what it takes for another win? Are their best years behind them? Most of all, have they accomplished everything that they are capable of in the sport?

 
For natural bodybuilders like Frank LaGarde, the situation can be different. Taking almost a decade away from the posing platform, did not remove him from the gym. Bodybuilding is a sport in which 99% of the athletic performance takes place before the day of competition. LaGarde's nine-year break was not a retirement.

“In addition to getting married and moving, doing too many shows in a three-year period burned me out,” LaGarde says. “I also knew I needed time to put on some muscle since I was squeezing into the middleweight class (at six-feet tall).”

Natural bodybuilding requires time, even for those possessing good genetics. Frank LaGarde definitely has some genetic  advantages, including broad shoulders and a small waist. His V-taper exaggerates itself when he diets for a contest. “It's a gift and a curse. It helps you in bodybuilding but it is hard to buy clothes that fit you.” This is NOT a terrible burden.

Frank began lifting for basic recreational exercise after high school but he got serious in 1999, which led to him competing in 2000. “I went to a contest that one of my wife's college friends competed in and said, 'I can do that'”. Since Frank placed well in his early contests (and went on to win in the most of the ones he entered) he became hooked on competing. Here is a listing of his three hectic early years in the sport:

2004 NPC Natural Ohio
(Middleweight: 1st place)

2004 NPC Upper Ohio Valley
(Middleweight: 1st place)

2004 NABBA Canton Open
(Middleweight: 1st place)

2005 NPC Natural Ohio
(Middleweight: 1st place)

2005 NPC Upper Ohio Valley
(Middleweight: 1st place / Overall Champion)

2005 NABBA Canton Open
(Middleweight: 1st place / Overall Champion)

2005 NPC Mike Francois Classic
(Middleweight: 1st place)

2006 Team Universe (National Contest)
(Middleweight: 5th place)

2006 NPC Motor City Classic
(Middleweight: 1st place)

2006 NPC Ohio State Championships
(Middleweight: 1st place)

 

Prior to taking a break from competition, Frank had difficulty dieting down to the 176-pound limit of his weight class. Few things are as frustrating as whittling away hard-earned muscle mass just to weigh-in for a class victory.

Resurgence

During his nine-year break from competitive bodybuilding, Frank's focus outside of the gym had been on marriage and career. In the gym, he slowly added muscle onto his new light-heavyweight build. He now plans to bring up his calves and traps before looking for the next areas required for ongoing construction.

Frank works from 8:30 until 5:00pm as a Sales Rep for AT&T-Midwest in the Small Business Sales department. His co-workers respect his bodybuilding goals and the job fits in well with his needs.

After work, he returns home, gets something to eat or drinks a shake, and makes it to the gym around 7:15. After work, Frank trains at Pep Wahl's Body Builders Inc in Akron, Ohio. Body Builders Inc is one of the country's best (and most under-rated) gyms. Need to chalk your hands? No worry about having to clean up after yourself. Chalk boxes are positioned throughout the gym. Body Builders' has an uncommon “men only” rule. What might seem like an outdated rule insisted upon by the landlord 35 years ago, does have its benefit for those that train there. Lack of the fairer sex removes the need for gym clothes that match. You don't see men in custom-designed athletic footwear, $60 gym hoodies, or matching lifting belt-and-shoe combos. Heck, even a hairstyle flattened by the pillow is not uncommon here. The vomit buckets get used and hard work is typical, with powerlifters, bodybuilders and non-competition gym meatheads all training hard and driven by their own purpose...whatever it might be.

Frank trains solo and likes to hit each body part twice a week. His training takes between 90 minutes to two hours, so he is home by around 9:00. This gives him just an hour to relax with his wife, Jennifer, before wrapping up his day.

Frank's approach in the gym doesn't change much pre- or post-contest. As the contest approaches, he does go a bit lighter, slightly reduces the rest periods, and does high rep burnout sets (with maybe 15-20 reps). For example, his chest training may involve a heavy pressing movement followed by higher reps pec deck or flyes.

Why does Frank not make big changes to his training as a contest approaches? “I don't let my body composition get out of control.” Like other smart and dedicated lifters, his off-season condition does not become sloppy with some type of “bulking” strategy. “At the recent NPC Natural Northern USA, I came down from around 212-213 and competed around 180.” This contest (promoted by Dave Liberman) is one of the largest regional drug-free contests in the country so Frank's overall wins in both the Open Class and Masters Class show that he properly filled out his now light-heavy frame. This made his return to the stage a success:

2015 NABBA Rubber City Classic
(Light-Heavyweight: 1st place)

2015 NPC Ohio State Championships
(Light-Heavyweight: 1st place)

2015 NPC Ohio State Championships Master's Class
(1st place)

2015 NPC Natural Northern USA
(Overall winner and Light-Heavyweight class 1st place)

2015 NPC Natural Northern USA Master's Class
(Overall winner and Light-Heavyweight class 1st place)

Maximum Potential

So why did Frank LaGarde make the decision to contact Beverly International? “My initial goal was to maximize my potential in order to get the very best results when competing,” Frank says. He started reading the No Nonsense Newsletter around 2000, but didn't try the products until 2003.

“When I first started bodybuilding, I was not using Beverly. But I decided to give Beverly a try. I noticed that the people winning at the shows were being featured in the No Nonsense Newsletters as loyal Beverly supplement users. That was proof enough for me!”

“I've been using BI supplements for so long, I do not have anything to compare it to. I guess that's pretty good.”

“I first met Steven Wade at the Beverly booth at the Arnold Classic, I believe it was 2002. We talked about the different products, mostly the protein powders.” When Frank decided to begin using Beverly he sent an email detailing his goals, and Steven was the Beverly Advisor Team member who replied. The two men crafted a contest diet that he has been using to this day. “Why change, if it's working?”

Frank's use of Beverly supplements is very diverse. His favorite products include Ultimate Muscle Protein (UMP), Provosyn, and Quadracarn.

In his off-season, Frank takes one scoop of UMP and one scoop of Provosyn, two to three times daily. He also adds in four Ultra 40 tablets and four Mass Aminos twice daily, first thing in the morning and in the evening post-workout. For overall vitamin/mineral support, he has a Super Pak in the morning. To fuel his training, he has two scoops of Glutamine Select post-workout or three scoops sipped during training. He wraps his intake up with Quadracarn, three tablets, three times a day.

Like many successful bodybuilders, Frank's supplement intake makes minor increases as the competition approaches. This is to protect against muscle loss when calorie intake and metabolism are more strictly controlled. He increases his intake of Ultra 40 and Mass Aminos to four of each with every meal (five times a day). He increases this to a sixth dose of the two products as the diet continues. Beverly’s Creatine Select is added in to keep his muscles full of creatine when glycogen may be a bit low. The contest prep period also includes two Lean Out and four Muscularity with each meal. GH Factor is also included with six capsules in the morning and another six before bed. As a final support, Frank includes three 7-Keto MuscLean capsules in the morning, followed by a second similar dose in the afternoon.

“I didn't want to waste time with a lot of guess work and experimentation. Beverly has definitely helped me with that. They’ve helped me meet my goals...from the very beginning up until current day. Their input has always been on the money. Even after I took nine years from competing, Steven was still there to help me get back into contest shape."

Frank's praise of Beverly International goes beyond his own contest victories and reflects his early views of the newsletter (which has now transformed into the No Nonsense magazine). He likes BI “mainly because they use "real world" people such as myself, not just professional bodybuilders and fitness models, but regular people who have to be at work every day. I think that goes a lot further, when discussing real world results."

In life, real world results are the barometer of success. This involves goals taken beyond wishful dreams to becoming accomplished objectives. Frank LaGarde's impressive extensive list of contest victories demonstrate real world results. And now his profile in a Beverly article may serve to inspire more future champions to accomplish their own real world results!

Meal Plan

Meal 1: 1 whole egg, 6 egg whites, 1 can tuna , 1 scoop Muscle Provider , ½ grapefruit

Meal 2: 1 can tuna mixed with 4 boiled egg whites

Meal 3: 8oz grilled chicken breast, 2 ½ cups green beans

Meal 4: 2 scoops Muscle Provider, 1 tomato or ½ grapefruit

Meal 5 (pre-workout): 1 can of tuna or 10 egg whites

Meal 6: 7oz turkey breast or 8oz white fish, 2 cups of steamed vegetables (usually broccoli)

On Mondays and Thursdays, I ate the following in place of my normal 6th meal: 
1 ½ cups of oatmeal (measured before cooking) or 1.5 cups cooked brown rice, 10oz sweet potato, 1 banana, 1 cup vegetables, and 1 tablespoon butter

Training

As mentioned before, Frank's training program doesn't change drastically between his pre-contest and off-season sessions. He attacks most body parts twice a week to encourage optimal growth. His typical workout each week breaks down as the following:

WEDNESDAY: REST, FRIDAY: REST, SUNDAY: REST
 

MONDAY: ABS, HAMSTRINGS, CHEST, BICEPSAmount
Ab Crunches or Declined Sit Ups4x25
Leg Curls5x10
Straight-Leg Deadlifts5x10
Chest Press Machine5x10
Pec Deck Flyes5x10 (sometimes superset with Dips 5 x10)
Standing Bicep Curls5x10
Dumbbell Hammer Curls5x10
TUESDAY:
ABS, BACK, SHOULDERS, TRICEPS

Amount
Weighted or Machine Crunches3x25
Lat Pull Down5x10
Seated Rows(sometimes superset
with Shrugs 5x10)
Machine Shoulder Press5x10
Lateral Raises or Upright Rows5x10
Triceps Pressdowns5x10
Overhead Triceps Rope Extensions5x10
THURSDAY:
ABS, CALVES, HAMSTRINGS, CHEST, BICEPS

Amount
Hanging Ab Crunches4x25
Seated Calf Raises5x10
Leg Press5x10
Standing Ham Curls5x10
Incline Chest Press5x10
Wide Chest Press5x10
Preacher Curls5x10
Rope Curls5x10
SATURDAY:
BACK, QUADS, SHOULDERS, TRICEPS

Amount
Romanian Deadlifts5x10
Front Squats5x10
Reverse Grip Lat Pulldowns5x10
T-Bar Rows5x10
Machine Shoulder Press5x10
Rear Delt Flyes5x10
Single Arm Triceps Pressdowns5x10
Overhead Triceps Extensions5x10

Bodybuilding as a Lifestyle

At a Glance: Khoshal Azami

Age: 38

Occupation: Owner, Body by Khoshal Personal Training; co-owner Lifestyle Fitness, Wilmette, IL

Family: Sophia, wife. We have a 3.5 year old daughter.

Years training (total): 16 years

Height: 5’8”

Weight: 210 (Off Season); 176 (Contest)

Favorite Bodybuilding Meal: Protein Pancakes made with sweet potato and two scoops of Muscle Provider.

Favorite Supplements: My favorite supplement is Muscle Provider Vanilla because I love the taste! I incorporated it in my morning pancakes, snacks, and shakes! I love the flexibility it has—I can mix it into anything! I also love Creatine Select. It not only gives me energy but most importantly, makes my pre-workout shakes delicious!

What would you recommend to someone who has never used Beverly supplements before? For somebody who has never used any Beverly supplements, I would definitely recommend Muscle Provider because it can be mixed into anything! It is honestly the best tasting protein that I have ever come across.

In your CD player: Nothing! I love my Sirius XM radio!

Most Inspiring Book: The Kite Runner

Hobby or interests outside bodybuilding: Going to the movies!

Words to live by: “All things are difficult before they are easy. It’s not about falling, it’s about getting back up. Success is not a skill, it is a persistent attitude.” - Marc

I always wanted to look “BIG” and fit. Growing up as a teenager in the 90’s, I was under the impression that lifting was all there was to “getting big”. Then, when I began training for my first competition I quickly learned that there was a lot more to it than just pumping iron. I had no idea that training went hand-in–hand with the right diet, the right supplements, and the right amount of cardio. Looking back, I did everything wrong. I dieted wrong, I trained wrong, I dehydrated trying to get the “dry look”, any mistake you could make, I made it. But, in the long run it was a valuable lesson. You progress in bodybuilding, as in life, by learning from your mistakes. After that first contest I knew I had a lot to learn and I applied myself to learning it. I continued to refine my training and cardio. And I even studied for and passed my personal training certification. Last year I also become a Certified Nutrition consultant.

 

The training aspect came easier for me than the nutritional one. My workouts were spot on but the results just weren’t there. I tried everything from calorie counting to intermittent fasting without any progress or results. The more I studied and the more nutritional techniques I experimented with, the more confused I became. Real results finally came when I started receiving the No Nonsense magazine! There were finally people I could relate to in this mag, not Mr Olympia or Mr Universe, but regular people who had attained the results that I was working so hard to achieve. Reading and analyzing their nutrition and supplement programs showed me how to fix my problem. I needed to speed up my metabolism. The solution was simple - eat small meals, many times throughout the day, and supplement with Lean Out and 7-Keto MuscLean. I dropped the fat that wouldn’t leave in almost no time at all! I added muscle building shakes, puddings, and brownies infused with delicious Muscle Provider at least twice each day. This made sticking to my muscle building, fat-busting nutrition plan so much easier. It didn’t feel like I was dieting at all! The Muscle Provider protein pudding and brownies killed all my cravings for sweets.

Now that I finally have a handle on all of the aspects of looking big and fit – training, cardio, nutrition, and supplements, I’d like to share it with you. I hope it will help you as earlier No Nonsense magazine articles helped me.

Training

 

MONDAY: CHEST DAYAmount
Barbell Bench Press4x10, 8, 6, 4
Barbell Incline Bench Press4x10, 8, 6, 4
Dumbbell Flyes3x10, 8, 6
Parallel Bar Dips3x15, 10, 8
Pullovers3x15
TUESDAY: BACK DAYAmount
Chin-Ups4x10 minimum
Close-Grip Chins4x10 minimum
T-Bar Rows4x15, 12, 8, 6
Bent-Over Barbell Rows4x8-12
Deadlifts4x20, 15, 10, 6
Lat Pulldown4x25, 20, 15, 10
Dumbbell Pull-Overs4x20, 15, 10, 6
WEDNESDAY: LEG & ABS DAYAmount
Squat1x20 warmup, then 4x10, 8, 6, 4
Front Squats4x10, 8, 8, 6
Hack Squats3x10
Leg Curls4x20, 10, 8, 6
Standing Leg Curls4x10
Straight-Leg Deadlifts3x10
WEDNESDAY: CALVESAmount
Donkey Calf Raises4x10
Standing Calf Raises4x15, 10, 8, 8
WEDNESDAY: ABDOMINALSAmount
Crunches3x25
Bent-Over Twists100 reps each side
Machine Crunches3x25
Crunches50 reps
THURSDAY: SHOULDERSAmount
Behind-Neck Barbell Press1x15 warmup, then 4x10, 8, 8, 6
Lateral Raises4x8
Bent-Over Dumbbell Laterals4x8
Dumbbell Shrugs3x10
Barbell Shrugs4x20
Upright Row4x20
FRIDAY: ARMSAmount
Standing Barbell Curls5x15, 10, 8, 6, 4
Incline Dumbbell Curls4x8
Concentration Curls3x8
One-Arm Triceps Extensions3x10
EZ Bar Curls4x10-20
FRIDAY: FOREARMSAmount
Barbell Wrist Curls4x10
Reverse Wrist Curls3x10

Nutrition

Preparation for a competition takes weeks, months or even years! I have to stay on a strict diet for at least 16 weeks, which used to be difficult because my mom is such an amazing cook. Coming from a large family and such a rich culture, dieting was hard in my household. Being persistent and proactive is what helped me cope and over the past couple years I have implemented my bodybuilding diet into my daily life, making it part of my lifestyle. I taught my family the importance of healthy eating. My mother even started implementing healthy substitutions into her cooking. Eating healthy, in my household, is now a part of our life. One tip I can give you is to always try to eat with someone, because eating in front of the TV or
the computer can lead to mindless over-eating.

Here's My 16-Week Pre-contest Diet Plan

 

Meal 1: 6oz 96% lean beef or 10 egg whites, 1 cup quinoa

Meal 2: 6oz grilled chicken, 8oz sweet potato

Meal 3: 6oz 96% lean beef, 1 cup brown rice, 6 asparagus spears, ½ cup spinach

Meal 4: 6oz white fish, 8oz sweet potato, 6 asparagus spears, 1 cup broccoli

Meal 5: 6oz white fish, 1 cup brown rice, small green salad, 6 asparagus spears

Meal 6: 6 egg whites, 4 asparagus spears (I often make a pudding or brownies with Muscle Provider chocolate and occasionally have a UMP shake in place of meal 6)

Supplement Schedule

 

Lean Out: (6 capsules per day) I consider Lean Out a must-have to keep my bodyfat in check.

7-Keto MuscLean: (3 capsules, twice a day) stimulates my metabolism to burn fat more quickly.

FitTabs: (2 tablets, twice daily) I can feel the difference in my energy and well-being when I take FitTabs.

Glutamine Select: (1-2 scoops before and/or after workouts) for muscle recovery.

Creatine Select: (1 scoop prior to workouts) builds size and strength.

Density: (5 tablets, twice a day) supplies the essential amino acids necessary to build muscle.

Muscle Synergy: (1 scoop in water during my workout) for pumps, strength, and muscle development.

Multiple Enzyme Complex: (1 or more tablets daily as needed) to help in digestion and assimilation of nutrients.

Cardio

My favorite type of cardio is the stair master. I usually have to be at work by 5am, so I wake up an hour early to do cardio. It’s such a great feeling and perfect for weight-loss because I do it on an empty stomach. My aim is always 45 minutes but going an extra 15 is never a problem, if I have time.

In Closing

Preparing for a competition is only a hobby but it is the #1 factor in helping me get in shape fast. Knowing a contest is approaching motivates me to become much more disciplined in my training and especially in my nutrition plan. And I love the outcome, especially if it’s a late spring or early summer show – just in time for my summer beach body. Since my first competition in 2009, I have done five more competitions. On November 22nd, 2014 I won the overall at the NPC Natural Muscle Classic in Rockford, IL. So whether you want to look “BIG” and fit like me, or just want to live a healthier lifestyle, I hope that this article inspires you the way past No Nonsense articles have motivated me.

Cydney Gillon – Second Generation Fitness Leader

At a Glance: Cydney Gillon

Age: 23

Occupation: IFBB Pro Figure Competitor, Personal Trainer and Posing Coach

Education: University of Pennsylvania (Bachelor of Arts)

Current Residence: Douglasville, GA

Years Training: 8

Height: 5'3 3/4”

Weight: ~142 pounds in the off-season; contest weight varies

Favorite Fitness Meal: Protein Pancakes!

Favorite Supplements: UMP and Density - I used both primarily while I was in track season to make sure I was able to recover and make sure I did not burn off muscle since my cardio level was so high. Density allowed me to maintain my lean muscle tissue.

For someone who has never used Beverly before: I would say prepare to have your physique change; the better your supplementation, the better your physique. I always recommend starting with the Ultimate Muscle Protein (chocolate) because it is my favorite protein.

Hobbies: Yoga!

Words to live by: "If you want to succeed as much as you want to breathe... then, and only then, will you be successful."

Cydney Gillon's life changed when she was six years old. Not by a choice of her own, but by one both of her parents made. Her parents (Skip and Tangelea) went beyond the decision to change their lives to be healthier. Both of them transformed themselves and stepped on the bodybuilding stage. Eating healthy became the way of living in her house. But this wasn't a choice that six year old Cydney agreed with.

 

“I started planning to get my junk food elsewhere, at school or at friend's houses,” says Cydney. “I had little restraint on what I would eat. So much so, I developed high cholesterol by the age of twelve. My cholesterol was so high that I would get sodium migraines and my doctor suggested I started taking medication.” Cydney's mother, who was already established as a daily user of Beverly products, decided against that. Besides her high cholesterol, Cydney consumed so much sugar that she developed very bad cavities. She knew it was time to change her lifestyle.

Cydney's childhood involved visits to the gym, an appreciation for discipline and hard effort, access to Beverly International products, and now an understanding that what you eat brings about ramifications. Much like her parents, her change was not a gradual one. She wanted to compete!

Cydney wanted to do fitness but did not have the gymnastic-based tumbling skills so decided to do figure. “The sparkle and the heels are what drew me to figure,” says Cydney. She wanted to compete at 13, but was discouraged by promoters. Since they had no teen classes she was directed towards novice, but insisted on the open class. One of the promoters told Cydney that she could do a show when she was 14, making sure she had some time to reconsider. Unlike most children, she had her mind set.

“When I was fourteen, I did my first show,” says Cydney.” “And that was all she wrote from there!” Eight years later, Cydney has competed in more than a dozen shows and earned her IFBB pro card. In addition to the support of her parents, she also inherited great genetics, including a narrow hip structure and broad shoulders. “Just add muscle to it and it gives me a V-taper.”

Through her scholastic career, Cydney also excelled at sports, particularly track. Her powerful legs made her a natural sprinter, which led to her becoming a varsity track athlete at the University of Pennsylvania. She graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor's degree in psychology.

Shortly after turning twenty, Cydney won the 2012 NPC Nationals. She has also placed in the top ten of all eight pro shows that she has competed in. This includes the Figure Olympia, where she placed ninth and eighth (2014 and 2015) and a ninth-place finish at the Arnold Classic-Figure International. Most impressively, she is the two-time Chicago Pro IFBB Wings of Strength Pro Figure champion.

She earns her living as a personal trainer, posing coach, and choreographer. Although young, her accomplishments allow her to motivate clients and pass on the knowledge for them to succeed.

Training

Training is one of Cydney’s favorite ways to spend her time. She enjoys the struggle for improvement and overcoming the challenge of the weights. Pushing herself is what relaxes her. “The main thing I have learned in my years of training,” says Cydney, “is to pay attention to your body and know what works for you.”

Cydney lifts at least three times a week. She splits her body into three parts: 1) chest and back, 2) shoulders, and 3) hamstrings and quadriceps. She does not train her arms at all.

In the off-season, she spends about two hours in the gym in a typical session. As a contest approaches, she speeds things up and tries to finish within an hour. Her training varies, but here is one of her favorite intense workouts as follows:

 

1: Overhead Squat
3 sets of 5

2: Power Cleans (weight varies depending on your max)
2 sets of 5
3 sets of 3

3: Barbell Squats
5 sets of 5

4: Barbell Step Ups
3 sets of 6

 

For cardio, Cydney likes to add sprinting to her routine. When she does this, she incorporates the workouts that coaches gave her in college. As an elite track athlete, she is able to recruit serious power when she runs. This type of explosive sprinting is difficult (but burns fat quickly). This forces her to cut her workout that day in half, to avoid overtraining.

Arms By Gillon

Although Cydney’s arms are developed to the point where she no longer needs to do specific arm training, she recommends this workout for anyone who is starting to train for Figure or who needs to tone and/or tighten her arms.

 

BICEPSAmount
E-Z bar Bicep Curls3x15 (Rest 1 min)
Hammer Curls3x15 (Rest 1 min)
Concentration Curls3x15 (Rest 2 min)
TRICEPSAmount
Tricep Pushdowns3x15 (Rest 1 min)
Tricep Dumbbell Kickbacks3x15 (Rest 1 min)
Reverse Tricep Cable Extensions3x15 (Rest 2 min)
Standard push-ups2x10
Diamond Push-ups2x10 (All final sets 30 seconds rest)
Cool down and static stretch

If you are not able to do body weight pushups, push yourself to not drop to your knees. You want to give each rep a try, so do one and if you do not complete the rep, reset mentally and try again until you get to 10.

If you have absolutely no upper body strength in the beginning, complete a straight arm plank, with legs slightly separated. Hold your abs tightly, and relax into the plank with no arch in your back, for a count of 20 slow counts.

Eventually you can work your way up to a full push-up.

Nutrition

 

Cydney changes her diet depending on her condition and goals. Some of the basic principles of her current eating protocol include:

• She generally likes to eat six meals a day.

• To keep her metabolism up, she eats every two-and-a-half to three hours a day.

• Hydration is important. She drinks at least a gallon of water a day.

• Her diet is super high protein, moderate carbs, low fat, with lots of veggies for roughage.


For Cydney, a typical day's eating would be like the following:

Meal 1: ½ cup oatmeal, 6 egg whites, ½ grapefruit

Meal 2: Protein Pudding! (Ultimate Muscle Protein), 1 tbsp almond butter

Meal 3: 5 oz. lean protein , 2 cups veggies, 3 oz. sweet potato

Meal 4: UMP protein pudding or shake

Meal 5: 4-5 oz. lean protein , 2 cups veggies

Meal 6: 4 oz. lean protein or UMP shake


“This year I worked on keeping more of a balance,” says Cydney. Even after a contest diet, her childhood junk food binges cannot be a part of a pro figure competitor's life. This is not acceptable if she wants to advance in the rankings. “I put together a plan in advance on what I was going to eat after the show, so I wasn't going to go crazy. I also chose a date in which I was going to get back on a stricter plan so that things didn't get out of control.” That is a realistic and wise strategy.

Supplements

 

Due to her parents' influence, Cydney grew up with Beverly products. “Beverly is the only supplement line I have taken since day one. It has been a staple for my entire career. I will never go without it the rest of my life. It is going to be here to stay.”

Here are some of her favorite products:

Ultimate Muscle Protein: Cydney regularly consumes Beverly protein. “I used to be a protein shake lover, but I read in one of the Beverly magazines people talking about the pudding. So I had to try it out in pudding form, and I haven't had a shake since. I'm addicted to them! You have got to try mixing a scoop of chocolate with a scoop of strawberry!”

Density: Cydney uses Density three times a day to keep her body charged with high quality amino acids. “I take Density to make sure I maintain my muscle during hard workouts.”

Super Pak: She covers all her bases with a quality multi-vitamin and mineral combo. “After breakfast, Super Pak keeps my immune system on track. Without it, I don't feel as energized.”

Fast-Up: Cydney takes this to sharpen her focus, boost her energy and get the most from her training (without jitters). She recommends, “Take it pre-workout if you need a little more energy.”

Conclusion

As Cydney approaches a new competition season, her goal is to compete at the Arnold Classic and qualify again for the Olympia. Her long-term goal is to win both contests (and not just once).

"Having made it to the Arnold and the Olympia were big stepping stones for me," says Cydney. "The best of the best are there. It is an honor to be among them."

She has a unique situation as a top pro competitor. Although she is always the youngest in the show, she often has more experience than most in the lineup. Her future is bright as Cydney’s body continues to mature and she gets more experience in IFBB competition.

Success requires more than just training, nutrition, and supplements. A proper mental state is also important. To succeed, Cydney feels that you need to be secure in yourself and remain steadfast. “You can't let anyone's opinion let you falter from your goals. You need to press on. Life doesn't stop for your shows so you need to be resilient and bounce back from whatever is going on.” Success requires both strength and passion. Cydney Gillon has shown that she has both in quantity!

Becoming the Best Version of Me… is more Important than any Contest Placing

At a Glance: Savina Nikolova

Age: 21

Occupation: Student, University of Kentucky Graduate School (Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Biology with a Focus on Exercise Physiology and Human Nutrition), future Physician’s Assistant.

Family: Mother, Father, and one older sister.

Current Residence: Lexington, KY

Years training (total): 4 years total. October 2014 started training for my first competition with my coaches, Gene and Tina Goode.

Height: 5’2”

Weight: 125 lbs (off-season), 118 lbs (competition)

Favorite Fitness Meal: 4 pan-cooked egg whites mixed with 1/3 cup oats (I use Simple Truth instant Oatmeal) and 2 packets of Truvia, 1/2 grapefruit, and one large cup of Stash Moroccan Mint green tea sweetened with Truvia.

Favorite supplements: My favorite supplements are Lean Out and 7-Keto MuscLean. I started taking both supplements 10-12 weeks out from a competition to help me burn fat more efficiently. My all-time favorite supplement is Fit Tabs. I take them year-round for immune system support and they work better than any over-the-counter vitamin I have tried!

What would you recommend to someone who has never used Beverly supplements before? Before you even consider taking a supplement, determine what your goal is and do your research to familiarize yourself with the supplements... Are you overweight? Underweight? Based on where you are and your goal(s), decide which supplements will get you from where you are to where we want to be. I did this with the help of my coaches, but if you don't have a coach or someone to help you select the right supplement(s), Beverly International has an expert team standing by the phones to help walk you through your selection process. I started with UMP. Later, they added Lean out, then 7-Keto MuscLean, and so on. Slowly, but surely, we developed a supplement regimen that was just right for my body and my goals.

Music: My music selection goes from one extreme to another. One minute I’m blaring rap and the next I am screaming my lungs out to some old school Shania Twain.

Most Inspiring Book: A Penny’s Worth of Character by Jesse Stuart, because you’re never too old to learn the value honesty from children’s literature.

Hobby or interests outside bodybuilding: I have a passion for motorcycles. I started riding dirt bikes when I was twelve and I bought my first street bike, a Yamaha YZF-R6, a few years ago. I also really enjoy traveling. I hope to see as much of the world as I possibly can in my lifetime.

Words to live by: “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline.”

A year ago, I would have laughed at the thought of joining the bodybuilding world and getting on stage, especially as a bikini competitor. Before I met my coaches, I struggled a lot on my diet and exercise regimen. I hated my body and my eating habits reflected this. I went through periods from eating poorly, to not eating at all, to binge eating. I stressed all the time about food. I was doing multiple workouts a day and ridiculous amounts of cardio just trying to burn as many calories as I possibly could. I wasn’t making any progress and my health had begun to suffer, not to mention my mental outlook. That is when a friend recommended I get a coach and things began to turn around for me.

 

After training with my coaches, Gene and Tina Goode, for a few months they encouraged me to compete. I decided to go for it, but I continued to struggle mentally. I’d look at other women and I wished I looked like them. No matter how many exhausting workouts I put myself through, or how much I dieted, I still didn’t look like the women I idolized. It wasn’t until a few weeks out from my first show that I realized the woman I wanted to look like was myself, at my best, and I am a work in progress. I am my own motivation and my only competition.

My first show was the Kentucky Derby Festival, in which I placed 6th in Bikini Open B, 9th in Bikini Novice B, and 3rd in Bikini Collegiate B. My second show was the KY Open State Championship, where I placed 3rd in Bikini Open B, 3rd in Bikini Novice B, and was Collegiate Bikini Overall Champion.

Sure, everyone on stage wants to win, but what I’ve learned is that beating my previous best self is more gratifying than any placing. Don’t get me wrong, bringing home hardware is awesome, but looking back and noticing all the progress you’ve made is what keeps me going. That brings me to my first piece of advice – take lots of photos throughout your journey to track your progress.

My second piece of advice is to make sure you understand that preparing for a competition and dedicating yourself to a fitness lifestyle are very different. Competing requires a whole other level of dedication and mental toughness.

Twelve months ago, the women who once I idolized to become, now is the woman I look at in the mirror. Through sacrifice, self-discipline and dedication, I now have two shows under my belt and my third competition prep is in full swing. My goal is to compete at Nationals and my dream is to one day be an IFBB Pro Bikini Competitor.

The following diet and exercise tips are how I approached my first two competition preps and how I’ve started on my third. My diet changes the closer I get to the day of the competition. The way my diet changes depends on my physique and how close I am to being stage-ready.

Diet

Meal 1 (8:00 AM): 4 egg whites; 1/3 c plain instant oatmeal, 1/2 grapefruit

Meal 2 (11:00 AM): 1 large UMP Rocky Road protein pancake; 1 tsp plain almond butter

In a bowl, mix 1 scoop of UMP Rocky Road, 3oz water, and 2 tbsp liquid egg whites. Spray a small pan with non-stick spray and pour protein batter in pan. The batter should be thick, but still able to spread across a small pan with the help of a spatula. Cook on one side until the top starts to bubble, then, flip. Cook the other side for 1-2 minutes, lightly pressing the top with a flat spatula. Check to make sure both sides are cooked as desired and serve. Goes great with a large cup of black coffee sweetened with Truvia!

Meal 3 (2:00 PM): 5oz chicken breast, turkey breast, tilapia, or tuna; 2 c spinach or salad of choice; 2 tbsp Newman’s Own Lite Balsamic Dressing

Meal 4 (5:00 PM): 1 scoop UMP Cookies & Crème protein pudding

In a small bowl, add 1 scoop of UMP Cookies & Crème and a little water. Mix. Add a little more water and mix again. Do this until the pudding is the desired consistency.

Meal 5 (8:00 PM): 5oz chicken breast, turkey breast, tilapia, or tuna; 2 c low-carb vegetables (broccoli, asparagus, or green peppers)

Meal 6 (11:00 PM): 4 egg whites with 1 c omelet vegetables, such as red pepper, mushrooms, or spinach (my three personal favorites)

Carb Loading (Monday & Thursday): This meal should be consumed within the hour right before bedtime. On Monday and Thursday evenings, carb loading replaces meal 6. If you start to feel extremely full during this meal do not force yourself to finish it all at once. Never make yourself sick trying to finish any of your meals in one sitting.

Water Intake: 1 gallon of water throughout the day. Water intake is important to stay hydrated and, as crazy as it sounds, avoids bloating. Competitors, I advise you to drink more than a gallon the closer you get to peak-week and throughout the final week itself. It will help you water deplete the day of the show.

 

Meal Prep Tips

As far as seasoning goes, I use Mrs. Dash seasonings on my meats and vegetables because they have no sodium. For my salads, I sometimes just use plain vinegar rather than dressing (I promise it’s not as bad as it sounds!). I cook all of my meats in a pan on medium to high heat and I steam all of my vegetables, except for the asparagus, which I generally bake for 15 minutes at about 350 degrees F. I suggest keeping a few cans of canned chicken and/or tuna as a back-up plan for days where you are short on time or just don’t feel like cooking. It will keep you from skipping a meal or eating something you normally wouldn’t on those hectic days.

I believe in flexible dieting, which is why the majority of the meals provide options. The times listed are based on a typical school/work day for me. Do I eat at exactly those times every single day? No. I do, however, always eat breakfast 30 minutes within waking, eat about every 3 hours, and eat my last meal as close to bedtime as possible. The point of a meal plan is to provide your body with essential nutrients throughout course of the day.

Supplement Schedule

Ultimate Muscle Protein: Meal replacement for meals 2 and 4. (See diet for details.)

FitTabs: 2 tablets with meals 1 and 5. (Daily total: 4 tablets for immune system support. Serves as a multivitamin and iron supplement.)

7-Keto MuscLean: 3 capsules with meals 1 and 3. (Daily total: 6 capsules to reduce body fat and optimize lean muscle mass.)

Lean Out: 2 capsules with meals 1, 3, and 5. (Daily total: 6 capsules to reduce body fat.)

Muscularity: 2 capsules with meals 1, 3, and 5. (Daily total: 6 capsules BCAAs to assist in building lean muscle mass with co-factors for diet support.)

Fast-Up: 3 capsules prior to exercise. (Only as needed on those long exhausting days when I just do not feel like working out. I take on my way to the gym to boost my mood, energy and my focus.)

 

Cardio Schedule

HIIT TRAINING BEFORE WEIGHT TRAINING

Each weight training session begins with HIIT training. HIIT is not my favorite cardio type of cardio, but it definitely yields the best results. I think it is the most effective way to burn fat and preserve muscle. I stick to three forms of HIIT.

Treadmill: Warm-up by walking at a 2-3% incline for 2-5 minutes. Then, step to the sides and set the speed at a sprint. For me, that is about 8.4 mph. Hold onto the side panels and place yourself on the belt. Sprint for 20 seconds and then, holding onto the side panels, step to the sides. Rest for 10 seconds. Repeat. Do this for 10 minutes making your warm-up and sprint total 12-15 minutes.

Bike or Elliptical: Warm up by pedaling slowly for 2 minutes, gradually increasing the resistance to a relatively difficult setting. On a scale of 1-10, for me, that is about a 7. Once warmed up, sprint for 20 seconds and rest (pedal slowly) for 10 seconds. Repeat for a total of 10 minutes. Again, your warm-up and sprint total should be 12-15 minutes.

Stair Stepper: Warm up for about 2 minutes. I use the interval program and set it on intervals of 20 seconds at a high-speed climb and 20 seconds at a low-speed climb. Again, do 10 minutes of intervals, total of a 12 minute cardio session.

 
ADDITIONAL CARDIO AFTER WEIGHT TRAINING

Each weight training session is followed by 20-30 minutes of cardio Monday – Friday. No cardio is performed on Saturday or Sunday. My favorite machines for this additional cardio workout are the stair stepper or the elliptical. On the stair stepper I set it on intervals of 20 seconds highspeed climb and 20 second low-speed climb. This is the same as my stair stepper HIIT workout, but the duration of the exercise is longer. On the elliptical I also do intervals. The intervals are 4 minutes at low to moderate resistance and 4 minutes at high resistance. I generally split each resistance interval and pedal forward for the first two minutes and backward for the last two minutes. Sometimes, when I am in a time crunch, I will perform my cardio at another time of the day rather than after my weight session. On those days I generally perform cardio at my apartment, where I will jump rope, go for a jog, or do another round of HIIT on the treadmill.

Weight Training Schedule

SATURDAY: REST

MONDAY: ARMSAmount
Superset: Close-Grip Press & Barbell Curls(3x12 each)
Superset: Tricep Pushdown & Lying Cable Curls (3x12 each)
Superset: Skull Crushers & Preacher Curls (3x12 each)
TUESDAY: BACKAmount
Chin-Ups 3x12
Dead Lift3x12
Superset: One Arm Dumbbell Row &
Cable Row
(3x12 each)
Tri-set: Close-grip Pulldown, Machine
Row & Straight Arm Pulldown
(3x12 each)
WEDNESDAY: LEGSAmount
Squats 4x12-15
Leg Press2x50
Superset: Leg Extension & Leg Curl (3x12 each)
Superset: Stiff Leg Dead Lift (3x12)
Superset: Calf Raise(3x20)
THURSDAY: SHOULDERS & TRAPSAmount
Shoulder Press3x12
Tri-Set: Side Raises, Front Raises &
Bent-Over Raises
(3x12 each)
Super Set: High-Pulls & Reverse Pec Deck(3x12 each)
FRIDAY: CHESTAmount
Superset: Bench Press & Dumbbell Flyes (3x12 each)
Superset: Incline Press & Decline Press(3x12 each)
Superset: Raised Feet Push-ups & Pec Deck (3x12 each)
SUNDAY: ABS
60 second Plank
50 Crunches
50 Reverse Crunches
60 second Plank
50 Mountain Climbers
25 Hanging Leg-raises
60 second Plank

Presentation Tips

Presentation will either make or break you on stage. Unfortunately, the judges don’t see how hard we work or how much time we dedicate to diet and exercise. What they see is just the few minutes you are on stage. Posing is everything. Your poses and your routine should complement your physique. No two competitors have the same presentation because no two competitors have the same physique. My coaches and I worked on my routine one day each week. If you are a bikini or figure competitor I suggest buying your competition shoes early and practicing in them. Practice your routine as if you are on stage every single time - from your smile to the way you flip your hair. It’s all about feeling comfortable and natural. The way you practice is the way you will execute your routine come competition day.

As far as beauty tips go, mine are quite simple – go with what you know. Your spray tan will cover the majority of your flaws. I get my face sprayed each time and I never wash it. You should wash your face if you plan to use an all-over face make-up. I leave the spray on to develop overnight and I use that as my all-over face color. I highlight my cheekbones with some bronzer and glam up my eyes with some eye shadow and liner. Then, layer on the mascara for dramatic effect. Lastly, I use a lip rosy lip color to add a little sass and make my teeth look a little brighter. I keep my jewelry flashy, yet subtle, and I do my own my hair in some simple style I am comfortable with. Basically, overall, I just stick to what I know and am used to.

My final piece of advice is that which I consider most important – stay true to yourself. You should pursue your fitness journey for no one other than yourself. Committing to competing is tough, but it is also inspiring. Some people will appreciate your hard work and dedication and others will not. Not everyone will understand what you do or why you do it and I’ve learned to be okay with that. What matters most is that you make yourself proud. Overall, just be honest, stay humble, and never settle.

Here’s How I Trained for 2 Half-Marathons and a Professional Bodybuilding Show …at the Same Time!

I am always up for a challenge. My wife runs marathons and I’m a natural pro bodybuilder. That made it hard for us to train together in the past. But, now that our daughters are no longer babies, I decided to train alongside her for a couple of half marathons, and then immediately transition into contest prep for a bodybuilding show. Now I know this goes against "traditional" bodybuilding wisdom. You’re supposed to add size during the off-season, not train for half-marathons. It was definitely going to be a challenge. My goals were to have a respectable time in the half marathons, yet come in full and conditioned a few weeks later for a professional bodybuilding contest. All four aspects of my traditional training would need an overhaul.

Training

The first step was to develop the perfect workout strategy to maintain muscle while gaining endurance. For my bodybuilding workout, I followed a normal 5-day split.

Monday – Chest

Tuesday – Legs

Thursday – Back

Friday –Arms

Sunday – Shoulders

Since I wanted to make sure to stay injury-free, I concentrated on using perfect form and slightly higher reps than normal. Still, I trained as heavy as possible within these parameters.

 

High Rep/Endurance Volume Workout  (4 sets each exercise unless otherwise noted)
• Week 1: 15-18 Reps
• Week 2: 12-15 Reps
• Week 3: 10-12 Reps
• Week 4: repeat week 1, etc.
 

CHESTAmount
Pushups(2 sets wide, 2 sets shoulder width)
Smith Machine Bench Press (on floor)
Flat Dumbbell Flyes
Pec Dips (elbows out, leaning toward
the floor)
Cybex Incline Press
Incline Dumbbell Press (palms facing in)3 sets
BACK
2-Arm Bent-over Dumbbell Rows (lower DB all way to ground)
Smith Machine Deadlifts
Standing 2 Handle Rows in Cable Crossover (cable at chest height)
D-Handle Pulldowns
Reverse Grip Pulldowns
1-Arm, 1-Handle Pulldowns (sit sideways on pulldown machine)
Seated Cable Rows (reverse grip)
ARMS - TricepsAmount
Overhead Rope Tricep Extension
Dumbbell Kickbacks
Dips (Elbows tucked, keep upright positioning)
Superset: 1-Arm Dumbbell Extension and 1-Arm Concentration Curl 3 sets
LEGS
Barbell Squats (wide stance)
Seated Machine Leg Press (narrow stance)
Barbell Stiff Leg Deadlift
Smith Machine Front Squat (narrow stance)
Bench Step-Ups
1 Mile on Elliptical at highest resistance and highest incline (forward motion only)
ARMS - BicepsAmount
Barbell Curls (2 sets regular grip, 2 sets wide)
EZ-Bar Cable Curls
Standing Dumbbell Curls (for the first half of each set, curl
inward and touch dumbbells together; for the second half,
keep elbows tucked and DBs out wide)
SHOULDERS
Dumbbell Lateral Raises (arms straight, bring weight directly off the side of the hips)
Front Raises on High Incline Bench
Dumbbell Upright Row
Seated Short Range Shoulder Press (keep elbows bent throughout movement, touch DBs just above your head)
Bent-over Lateral Raise

 

Cardio and Running Program

The next step was to incorporate fat burning/muscle sparing cardio along with endurance training. I believe cross training is the key to being injury free and protecting the joints. Even though running 13.1 miles in a decent time was the end goal, I felt that I needed to incorporate different angles, inclines and types of cardio to keep the muscles fresh and avoid repetitive joint injuries. Let me show you how I did it:

Phase One: 4 days/week of HIIT on the elliptical or treadmill for 15 minutes. On the treadmill, I alternated one minute of fast jogging at various inclines, with one minute of walking. I varied the resistance on the elliptical while going fast in the forward motion for a minute and then slow in the reverse direction for a minute.

Phase Two: 3 days/week of HIIT on the elliptical or treadmill for 20 minutes. And 1 day/week a distance run on Saturday in place of one of the HIIT sessions. I started with a 3-mile run on Saturday and gradually increased the distance.

Phase Three: 2 days/week of HIIT on the elliptical for 20-30 minutes. And 2 days/ week of running. In the weeks leading up to the race, I substituted a 2nd day of running for one of the HIIT sessions. On Wednesdays, I would run 3 miles for time, trying to decrease my time a little each week. On Saturdays, I continued my longer run, successively adding mileage as the weeks grew closer to the race. I did two days of HIIT intervals on the elliptical, 1 minute fast in the forward rotation and 1 minute slow in the reverse rotation for 20-30 minutes.

Nutrition

The next piece of the puzzle was diet. I knew I was going to need more carbohydrates than usual to fuel my long runs, but would need to manipulate some variables for continued fat loss. I began with my usual diet of 250g of protein, 400g of carbs and 50g of fat. When I started the long runs on Saturdays, I bumped my carbs to 475g two days prior and 450 the day before the run for added glycogen. This was important since I was still working out hard in the gym. At 11 weeks out from the bodybuilding contest I ran my first half marathon. My average macro count at that point was 260g of protein, 370g carbs and around 35g fat.

 

My average meal plan at this point looked like this:
 

Meal 1: Egg whites, honey, and steel cut oats, grits or cream of wheat

Meal 2: Chicken and sweet potatoes or red potatoes

Meal 3: (Pre-workout): Muscle Provider and an apple or orange

Meal 4: (Post-workout): Muscle Provider and rice cakes

Meal 5: Egg whites, grits or cream of wheat

Meal 6: 93% lean ground turkey and vegetables

Meal 7: UMP and peanut butter

To get my numbers to where they needed to be, I varied the portion sizes and added or subtracted grams of fats, carbs and proteins. To bump my carbs before the races I added in Ezekiel bread or muffins.

Two days before the race I bumped my carbs up to 500g and the day before I consumed 450g. Given that my upcoming bodybuilding competition was the end goal, I paid close attention to how my body looked after these carb up meals during my morning posing practice sessions. I noticed that I looked best two days after the carb up meal. This helped me develop my final peak week as the contest approached.

Supplements

The final piece of the puzzle was my supplement program. In addition to the Beverly proteins, which are always a part of my diet, I relied on three “specialty” supplements.

1. Muscle Synergy was “number 1” on my list to maintain muscle mass. I took 8 tablets upon arising, 8 prior to workouts, and 8 more tablets after workouts. I also took a scoop of Muscle Synergy powder at night. I would heat it up in a coffee mug and sip it like tea. This was especially helpful as a nice nighttime treat. As the show approached I would also heat it up and sip on it during posing practice.

2. The next supplement I added was Joint Care to help me remain injury and pain free while pounding my legs in the gym and on the pavement. I took three capsules upon arising and then again 3 capsules before bed.

3. Quadracarn was my third key supplement. I rely heavily on Quadracarn year round for improved pumps, vascularity, fat loss, definition, and recovery. I took 3 tablets, 3 times per day.

My meal and supplement plan at 4 weeks out looked like this:

Upon awakening: (8 Muscle Synergy tablets, 30 minutes prior to meal 1)

Meal 1: 8 egg whites, 3oz cooked grits, 3 Quadracarn

Meal 2: 6oz chicken breast, 12oz sweet potato, 5oz baby carrots

Meal 3: 1 scoop Muscle Provider, 1 small apple (8 tablets Muscle Synergy and 3 tablets Quadracarn prior to workout)

Meal 4: 1 scoop Muscle Provider, 5 rice cakes (8 tablets Muscle Synergy between meals 4 and 5)

Meal 5: 7 egg whites, 1 whole egg, 7oz sweet potato, 3 Quadracarn

Meal 6: 5 egg whites, 7oz onion, (1 scoop Muscle Synergy Powder sipped as tea between meals 6 and 7)

Meal 7: 1.5 scoops UMP, 24grams natural peanut butter

 

Final Preparations

The first race went very well and I established a personal best for the half marathon. My next race, the Cincinnati Flying Pig Half Marathon, would be just 4 weeks out from the bodybuilding show. I would have to start tightening things up even as I was preparing for another half marathon. My training and nutrition schedules now looked like this:

Monday: 30 minutes of posing and stretching in the morning; Chest and 25 minutes of HIIT on the elliptical in the evening

Tuesday: Legs – no cardio or running on leg day!

Wednesday: 30 minutes of posing and stretching in the morning; 3 mile timed run in the afternoon

Thursday: 20 minutes posing in the morning; Back and abs in the evening

Friday: 20 minutes of posing in the morning; Arms and 30 minutes of HIIT on the elliptical in the evening

Saturday: Long run

Sunday: Shoulders, 20 minutes of posing, and 20 minutes of HIIT all in the morning

 

At this point my carbs were down to about 300g/day. For the race, I bumped them to 400g two days before and 350g the day before. Although being somewhat depleted, my time was even better than it had been in my first race 7 weeks prior and I set a new PR!

Now it was time to switch to straight bodybuilding mode for the final four weeks. I didn’t want to change a lot. I continued to run, but cut the distance for my long run on Saturday to 5 miles at maximum. I no longer added extra carbs before the run and basically just kept things steady.

I used this basic format all the way to the show, with some minor adjustments in my ratios depending on my look. I always am instinctive with my diets, so I would tweak things as necessary depending on how I was looking. Given that I had been observing from this whole time how my body responded to the carb up meals for the runs, I knew how much to bump my carbs to peak for the show.

Since bodybuilding is normally a 24/7 sport, it was definitely a mental and physical challenge this year to train for a race while preparing for a professional bodybuilding show at the same time. I have to admit though, it was fun! I came into the show at my heaviest weight to date and placed second in the IFPA Pro Galaxy Elite amongst very tough competition.

My 9 Year Journey to an IFBB FIGURE PRO CARD

At a Glance: Karina Rhode, IFBB Professional

Age: 46

Occupation or Education: Owner/Operator of BodyWorx by Karina - massage/bodywork therapist

Family: Husband-Tony, Fur baby (sheltie)-Zephyr

Current Residence: Noblesville, IN

Years training (total): 9

Height: 5’5”

Weight: 130 (Off Season), 125 (Contest)

Favorite Fitness Meal: If I’m in a savory mood, beef cubes with roasted asparagus & roasted onions. If I’m in a mood for something sweet, Chocolate Muscle Provider Sweet Potato Cake (see Sweet Potato Cake recipe below)

Favorite supplements: By far my favorite supplements are the Muscle Provider & UMP protein powders. They not only satisfy my need for sweets but they incorporate into numerous recipes so you don’t feel like you’re missing out! The added bonus is you’re supporting your gains and recovery while you’re treating yourself to something delicious!

What would you recommend to someone who has never used Beverly supplements before? Start with the protein powders. They’re the best tasting protein you’ll ever encounter and you’ll see the results you want for your investment in the product. The proof is in the pudding (or cake, or ice cream, or pancakes, or whatever you want to make with them)!

Music: I listen to classical and new age music all day so when I hit the gym or I’m in my car, it’s heavy metal for this girl!

Most Inspiring Book: “The Power of Right Believing” and “Unmerited Favor” both by Joseph Prince

Hobby or interests outside bodybuilding: Gardening and cooking

Words to live by: “Life is the proper binge.” ~ Julia Child

“You’ve just won a trip to the most amazing place you ever wanted to go! Oh, and your plane leaves….NOW!”

Cue me with “deer in the headlights” expression as my brain tries to process, “Wait! I have nothing packed and none of my laundry is done!”

That’s how it felt winning my IFBB Pro Card at this season’s Masters Nationals and then launching right into prepping for my first show as a Pro at the Pittsburgh Pro Masters. Well let’s just say that if I have nothing else packed, the first thing on my list is going to be my Beverly International supplements! I started this journey back in 2007 and many things have changed over the years. The one that hasn’t changed is that Beverly International has been with me ever since I began and I’m not going anywhere without them!

I’ve always been very active and never had any real weight issues until I got married. The reality of getting a desk job coupled with matching eating habits with a husband who is blessed with a lightning fast metabolism scored me a weight gain I’d never experienced before. It happened slowly and I didn’t really notice it since I gained it symmetrically pretty much everywhere. So as a result, I didn’t think much about it until one day I nearly fell on one of my clients while doing a Thai massage. I was horrified. It was at that moment I realized how weak my core had become and how unaccustomed my body was to all the additional weight. My peripheral awareness for balance with these two factors in play had become seriously compromised! The next day I hired a trainer and haven’t looked back.

I had no intentions to become a bodybuilder. When I started, I simply wanted to get back to a weight where I was comfortable in my body again. Along with the weight gain, I was also noticing premenopausal type symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings. I was only in my early to mid 30’s so I knew this was wrong. My first trainer worked with me on balance and beginning strength maneuvers and prescribed cardio. I started tracking calories and serving sizes and getting a better handle on what to eat for myself rather than blindly matching portion sizes with my husband.

It didn’t take long to master the basics and soon I was on to trainer #2 who coached me in developing strength through heavier lifting and kettlebell training. I was fascinated by the connection between muscle function, development, and metabolic activity. I got hooked on Oxygen magazine and admired the physiques of the gals on the pages. They looked strong and healthy. When I realized that these ladies were Figure competitors, I had to know for myself how it felt to train like that. Enter trainer #3, an old school classic women’s bodybuilder. I told her I just wanted the experience of training “LIKE” a bodybuilder but had no interest in competing. Well that was enough to open the door for her. Before long, she was hounding me to compete. She said I had the symmetry and the drive and encouraged me to consider it.

I still remember the phone call I made to her one day while standing at the gas station filling up the car. “Are you just blowing sunshine up my skirt about me being right for competition or are you really serious?” After she stopped laughing over the choice of words I had just used, she swore she meant every word so I gave in and we picked my first show.

I quickly realized I was going to need help. Preparing for a contest wasn’t your everyday style of eating and training. I was going to need help in metabolism and recovery (especially at 37 years old). I had a good trainer but I needed a nutrition plan. Suddenly I was facing uncharted territory: an ocean filled with protein powders, BCAA’S, pre-workouts, and fat burners. I knew enough about the human body to know that most of this at the local sport supplement store was pretty much flotsam and jetsam. I needed a company that actually cared about the people who used their product. Enter Beverly International.

I had been introduced to UMP by trainer #1. To this day, it’s still one of my favorites! Between the taste and the fact I actually could see changes as a direct result of having it as part of my diet, I contacted Beverly International directly. I was able to speak to a real human being who actually sounded passionate about the product from more than a commission standpoint. We spoke at length about what my goals were and by the time I was done, I had my first stack of supplements geared towards my specific training program!

Two years after this conversation, I won my IFPA card. If I wasn’t hooked before, I certainly was now! I did one show as an IFPA Pro and pretty much got my booty handed to me. Up until now, I’d been writing my own diets and had gone as far as I knew how to go. It was time to get serious and hire a diet coach. In addition, since I’d scaled the mountain of that particular competing club, I figured, while I was at it and changing stuff up, I might as well go for what I considered to be Mount Everest (a.k.a. NPC/IFBB). Now I was on to trainer (& diet coach) #4. I was a little concerned when I first hired him because I had a comfort zone with Beverly International. I knew it worked for me and I was a little apprehensive the diet would come back with a bunch of supplement garbage on it. To my surprise and relief, when I opened my diet document, there were a host of Beverly International supplements (including my beloved UMP)! Well, that made me feel really good about hiring my coach! Obviously this man knew quality when he saw it!

Four years after signing on with him (also my last and still my present coach), I finally claimed my IFBB Pro Card! Like I said, a lot of things changed over the years but one thing has stayed the same. Four coaches and two pro cards later, the core of my supplement program has always been Beverly International. Consistent and faithful. And we’re just getting started!


Chocolate Muscle Provider Sweet Potato Cake

130g raw sweet potatoes
35g Beverly International Chocolate Muscle Provider
½ tsp baking powder
2 pkts Stevia in the Raw
5g Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4-1/2c brewed coffee

Spray foil with cooking spray. Seal sweet potatoes & one ice cube in foil packet & bake at 400 degrees for 55 minutes (yes, they'll burn a little but that's ok - you want them to caramelize). Leave sweet potatoes sealed in foil pack until they cool (keeping the moisture in the packet will help release the caramelized potatoes from the foil).

Mix together baked sweet potatoes, Muscle Provider, baking powder, stevia, cocoa powder, & vanilla until blended well & no chunks of sweet potato remain. Add in enough coffee to make a pourable batter. Pour mixture into a baking dish sprayed with cooking oil. Put dish in a cold oven & set temperature for 375. Bake for approximately 25 minutes.

Eat the whole thing! It's one serving for your meal! If you want to share or save some for later, just split the macros below. You  can make this with as little as 125g of sweet potatoes or as much as 175g. More or less than that and it tastes a little starchy or the consistency is a little lacking.

OFF-SEASON YOU CAN ADD A LITTLE MORE FUN (see photo above): 

Add 15g Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips to the batter before baking and top with fat free whipped cream

I’ve made 4 batches at the same time when traveling and just cooked them all in a 9x16 pan. Then did my best to cut them into 4 EQUAL serving days (refrigerate unused portions). You’ll be testing your willpower with this approach, however, trying not to mooch some from the next day because they’re that good!!!


Diet

I stick to the basic meats and starches. For variety, I swap out my veggies. I use onions, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, and celery all for good crunch and satisfaction. Another trick for changing up my menu is the vast variety of spice mixes I have on hand. Broccoli, rice, and chicken can go Mexican, Cajun, or Asian quickly with just the shake of a spice! I also love quantity, which is why I limit carbs during the day so that I can have popcorn at night. I love eating it one piece at a time and I split a bowl of it almost every night with my husband. It gives us both the feeling of something normal when we can share a treat in my contest prep! And as for sweets, thanks to Beverly International’s protein powders, I’m never at a deficit!

All values are pre-cooked with the exception of the rice.

 

Nutrition
 

Meal 1: 70g Steel cut oats with a mini pack of Sunmaid raisins, stevia, cinnamon, & pinch of Penzeys Spices sweet ginger bits, 150g raw egg whites & 18g raw egg yolk scrambled (1 whole egg + 4 whites)

Meal 2: Muscle Provider shake or Chocolate Muscle Provider Sweet Potato Cake

Meal 3: 150g chicken breast and 50g brown rice over cabbage salad (served warm with salsa and Cajun spices)

Meal 4: 150g chicken breast

Meal 5: 130g beef cubes with oven roasted onions and asparagus, 2.5 ounces air-popped popcorn sprayed with olive oil

Meal 6: UMP shake or UMP soft serve ice cream

Fortunately for me, I like to arrive early for a lot of things including Peak Week. As a result, I don’t do a traditional Peak Week because I’m already stage ready. I  just stick to my weekly prep.

 

Supplements Schedule
 

Morning Cardio: 6 GH Factor + 3 Lean Out

Meal 1: Super Pak + 3 Joint Care

Morning Lifting Session: 2 scoops Muscle Synergy Powder + 1 scoop Creatine Select

Meal 2: Muscle Provider as a shake or cake

Meal 4: 2 Lean Out

Evening pick me up drink: 1 scoop Glutamine Select + 1 scoop Muscle Synergy made into a slushy (Hey! You can never have too much recovery support!)

Meal 6: UMP shake or UMP ice cream + 2 Lean Out

Bedtime: 6 GH Factor


UMP Soft Serve Ice Cream

35g vanilla UMP
9g sugar free Jell-O instant pudding
powder (butterscotch is my favorite)
2 pkts Stevia in the Raw
½ c crushed ice
½ -1 c water
½ c frozen cauliflower

You’ll need a beast of a blender to pull this off. I have a VitaMix so if you haven’t invested in one yet, you might want to consider it.

Put all ingredients in the blender. Start blending speed on medium-high and use plunger to keep pushing ingredients towards the blades. Use more water if you need but this mix should be VERY thick and will take a little time to work into the blades. Keep mixing until smooth and a steady vortex forms. You will also notice the mix doubles in size (let’s hear it for increased volume – HOORAY!).

Using spatula, scoop out ice cream. Eat right away or freeze for up to 2 hours for a firmer set.

No blender? Skip the ice and cauliflower and add just enough water to get the mix to a pudding-like consistency. Blend all ingredients using a whisk and freeze for 2 hours.

 


 

Cardio

During off-season, I try to build and spare muscle as much as possible so my cardio is relatively short consisting of four 20-minute sessions per week. 2 HIIT & 2 LISS.

In prep, I’ll do as many as 6 sessions per week alternating HIIT & LISS. 3 HIIT sessions at 15 minutes (including 5 minutes each warm up and cool down for a grand total of 25 minutes) and 3 LISS sessions for 40 minutes (where I’ll feed my spiritual, self inspirational literature while reading on my recumbent bike!)

Training

As a Figure competitor with short collarbones, my biggest challenge has been to create a great v-taper. Doing my best to widen my chest, back, and shoulders while tightening and narrowing my midsection has been a quest akin to hunting for the Holy Grail!

For me, every upper body workout begins with 30 wide grip 1-1/2 pull-ups. Begin with hands set wide and overhand grip on the bar. Start in full extension and pull up above the bar. Lower your body so your head is just below the bar and then pull back up. This is one rep. Return to full extension and repeat the sequence as many times as you can (no kipping!). Rest when you need to but get in 30 total.

As for the waist, I’ve stopped using weighted abdominal exercises. Instead, I’ve implemented two kinds of abdominal work that have made big changes for me in less than 10 weeks!

ABDOMINAL VACUUM

“Shhhh… she’s had a hard workout. She’s probably sleeping.” Ha! Nope. I am doing my abdominal exercises! The beginning of this prep season I found an article about how the old school bodybuilders such as Frank Zane and Arnold Schwarzenegger trained to get tiny waists. The technique is referred to as “vacuum training” and may be done lying down, standing up, sitting, or even on all fours. The muscle trained here is the transverse abdominus. It’s the body’s deepest of the abdominal muscles and its function is to hold in and support the abdominal contents. By pulling the belly button in towards the spine as hard as you can and holding it there for a duration of time, you’re training the transverse abdominus to become tighter and better conditioned. The result is a smaller waistline and it’s easier to hold your tummy in while you’re on stage.

Sequence:
• 25 basic crunches concentrating on keeping belly button pulled in tight towards the spine
• 1-minute vacuum hold
• Repeat sequence 3x’s without rest

Great thing about vacuum training is you can do it anytime and anywhere without folks knowing you’re doing it! I like to do it in the car on my drive home from work. I try to hold the vacuum for as long as I can or between certain major intersections just to make the drive home more entertaining.

SEATED TWIST

Another exercise I’ve found beneficial is the seated twist. This helps on two fronts: 1) it tightens the oblique muscles, and 2) it helps you get a better range of motion when you twist in your posing on stage which, in turn, contributes to the illusion of a smaller waist.

Sit on an exercise ball that allows your knees and hips to be at 90-degree angles. You may do this with a broomstick or dowel rod across your shoulders or just holding your arms out. Keeping both feet on the floor and hips level, twist using only the oblique muscles. Twist as far as you can and look behind you. Your body will follow your eyes so the further you attempt to look behind you as you twist, the more range you will gradually achieve. Hold and squeeze at maximum range and then rotate to the opposite side and repeat. I do 100 of these (50 per side). I also employ vacuum holding while I do so for the added benefit!

Presentation

SMOKE AND MIRRORS:
How you pose and your suit can make or break you in a second! Here are two of my secrets:

1. Stand up straight and hold your chest high. Imagine that there’s a string attached to your sternum pulling your chest up. This results in stretching out (and up) the abdominal area, which in turn lends to the illusion of a narrower waist.

2. Make sure that your suit bottom is pulled up high on the sides. Many competitors allow the sides of their suit bottoms to be below their belly button. This makes the legs look short and the waist look thicker. Wearing them parallel in line with the belly button adds to the illusion of an accentuated v-taper, longer legs, and smaller waist! And be sure to glue those suckers so they stay where you put them!

In Closing

I got into competing to see what my body could do and man, have I learned a lot! After every contest, I love going over the elements of the journey. I learn something new about myself every time and I’ve grown not just as a competitor but also as a person. Win, place, or show, I encourage you to enjoy the ride. Take the time to look at where you’ve been and what you’ve accomplished regardless if you have hardware in your hands for the effort. My ultimate goal every time has been to learn something about myself that helped me to grow stronger in life. If you can do that, you’ve won!

 

“Beverly International has been with me from the beginning and I’m not going anywhere without them.”

One Saturday Morning

No School Like the Old School

I’ve always liked the saying, “There’s no school like the old school”. It’s long been the foundation of my training philosophy and mindset. As I was preparing to write this article, I was reflecting on my training leading up to the Arnold Classic and Mr. Olympia. My goal was to put those thoughts onto paper, but it wasn’t going to be an easy task given the amount of time that had passed, 25 years to be exact.

Then, one Saturday morning, something unexpected happened. I was going through some old storage crates with my wife, and to my surprise I ran across my old training records that had been tucked away for decades! I had everything written down - what I trained that day, every ounce of food I ate, doctor’s appointments, travel schedules, guest posings, photo shoots, phone calls to return… everything. I then came across photos from my beginning days in local competitions all the way through to the Arnold and Olympia stage. Wow, you talk about memories flooding back, not to mention the reminder of what it took to go from a local show to the pinnacle of the sport.

I kept digging and digging and eventually came across a very special folder that was simply labeled “Arnold”. Inside was my detailed records leading up to the 1995 Arnold Classic, the year I won. I started analyzing everything and realized I had recorded all the workouts I used from the offseason all the way through the show. I particularly was intrigued by the back training and the plan I had implemented to improve this bodypart leading into that year’s Arnold Classic. I remember knowing I needed to make drastic gains in order to compete against the likes of Flex Wheeler, Andreas Munzer, Lee Labrada and many others. I had to be honest with myself and address my weaknesses and so I did just that.

It isn’t pleasant for anyone to admit their weaknesses, but that is exactly what you must do if you truly want to improve your physique. This applies to all competitors at every level of bodybuilding. Whether you are competing at the pro level, beginner level or somewhere in between, turning your weaknesses into strengths is the key to achieving success. If you keep putting all your efforts into your 21-inch arms, what good will that do you if your quads are that same 21 inches! We’ve all seen “that guy” in the gym - phenomenal arms, but no legs. But what body part is he training every day, you got it… ARMS!

Like “that guy”, I too had to analyze my physique. I quickly realized that my back wasn’t where it needed to be, and I had to bring it up if I ever wanted to reach my goals. My dream wasn’t to just get better, I wanted to be the best I could be on stage. In order to do this, I had to devise a plan of attack that would allow me the best opportunity to achieve the aggressive goals I had set for myself. I was never the type who would say much about what my aspirations were. Instead, I would just do the homework needed and keep pushing and quietly do whatever it took to improve. I knew what needed to be done and the only thing left to do was work!

Back training is hard! Let’s face it, training your back can be painful…single-arm 200-lb dumbbell rows, 400-lb reverse grip rows, 800-lb rack pulls, etc. I personally loved it and training my back was probably my favorite, however that doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt. The brutal training is what led to results, which in turn created the motivation to push harder and get even better.
  

  
 

Now it’s time to get to it! Below I have outlined my 9-week mass-building back training that helped me win the 1995 Arnold Classic:

9 Week Back Program

A FEW THINGS TO NOTE:

  1. I trained my back (and all bodyparts) one time per week.
  2. Any weights listed are for demonstration purposes only, and you will need to adjust accordingly.
  3. Rest approximately 2 minutes between rack pulls and deadlifts for weeks 1-6.
  4. Rest approximately 1 minute between deficit deadlifts for weeks 7-9.
  5. Rest approximately 45-90 seconds between auxiliary exercises.
  6. Warm up properly before beginning.

WEEKS 1-3

MAIN EXERCISE

Rack Pulls (mid shin level)

Instructions: Perform 2 sets of 10 reps followed by 2 sets of 5 reps. You will then keep adding weight and performing a single rep until you fail (or barely get the rep). I want you to feel you are going as heavy as you can that day.

135 lb x 10 reps
225 lb x 10 reps
315 lb x 5 reps
405 lb x 5 reps
495 lb x 1 rep
585 lb x 1 rep
675 lb x 1 rep

AUXILIARY EXERCISES

Shrugs
4 sets x 10 reps

Pull downs
4 sets x 10 reps

Dumbbell rows
4 sets x 10 reps

Reverse grip barbell rows
4 sets x 10 reps

Reverse hypers
4 sets x 15 reps

  
WEEKS 4-6  
  

MAIN EXERCISE

Deadlifts (off the floor)

Instructions: Same rep pattern as rack pulls

135 lb x 10 reps
225 lb x 10 reps
315 lb x 5 reps
405 lb x 5 reps
495 lb x 1 rep
585 lb x 1 rep

AUXILIARY EXERCISES

(Same as weeks 1-3)

  
WEEKS 7-9  
  

MAIN EXERCISE

Deficit deadlifts:

Instructions: Either lift off a sturdy 5-6” box or lift off floor using 25-lb plates instead of 45-lb plates. Notice the changed rep scheme for these 3 weeks. Reminder: Rest only 1 minute between these deadlifts, not 2 minutes as in prior weeks.

135 lb x 10 reps
225 lb x 10 reps
315 lb x 5 reps
405 lb x 5 reps
405 lb x 5 reps
405 lb x 5 reps
405 lb x 5 reps
405 lb x 5 reps

AUXILIARY EXERCISES

(Same as prior weeks)

AUXILIARY EXERCISES

Deficit deadlifts:

(Same as prior weeks

Supplements

Must haves:

In order to train this intensely and still recover in time to hit your other bodyparts with the same ferocity, these supplements are a must:

  1. Glutamine Select: This product contains the BCAAs and Glutamine at the levels necessary to aid in muscle recovery.
  2. UMP: A great way to get in the extra protein and calories you need when training intensely. Mix it with fruit and ice and blend into a high protein smoothie! But, honestly this high quality protein powder tastes phenomenal right out of the jug!
  3. FitTabs: FitTabs are vitally important to make sure all your bases are covered nutrient wise.

Other supplements to consider

If you are on a calorie restricted diet, here are a few additional supplements that will aid in your recovery, metabolism and fat burning. These scientifically designed and researched supplements are specifically manufactured for those in contest prep and/or are on calorie restricted nutrition plans.

  • 7-Keto MuscLean
  • Muscularity
  • Quadracarn
  • Lean Out

In Closing

There is nothing glamorous about this back-training workout. Given our high-tech environment, I realize everyone has access to a plethora of training information on the internet (some good, some not so good). However, in the end, it still comes down to ‘old school’ basics.

I can’t guarantee I will be around in another 25 years to open that storage container back up, but I can confidently say that this back workout will stand the test of time. I challenge you to give it a try.

Contact Info: mikefrancois.com

Instagram: michaelfrancois33

My Introduction to the Bodybuilding Stage At Age 56!

Photo by BodyGraphics Photography

At a Glance: Brigitte Corneille

Age: 56

Education: BA in Romance Languages with International Business

Current Residence: Johns Creek, GA

Years training (total): Less than a year

Height: 5’7”

Weight: Off Season: 112 lbs., Contest: 150 lbs.

Favorite Bodybuilding Meal or Fitness Meal: Seared black peppered tuna with spinach salad

Favorite Supplements: Lean Out, Multiple Enzyme Complex and Energy Reserve are my favorites. Why? They’re perfect for me at my age to combat fat and stomach bloating. I don’t know what I would do without them.

What would you recommend to someone who has never used Beverly supplements before? There is no going wrong with the Super Pak. It is formulated for athletes, packed with vitamin C and B complex provides hours of energy, supports a healthy immune system, and let’s not forget the chelated minerals, digestive enzyme and antioxidants.

Music: All kinds really. Yes, opera, country, rock, techno, house, etc. It depends on my mood and what I’m doing.

Most Inspiring Book: I must mention two books I read in high school that have impacted my life: Albert Camus, La Chute (The Fall) and Andre Gide, L’Immoraliste (The Immoralist). I also must recommend Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman, and to every woman, The Spiritual Rules of Engagement by Yehuda Berg.

Hobby or interests outside bodybuilding: Love to read and as a Sagittarius, traveling. I love people and culture.

Words to live by: “Live and let live” “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and a very meaningful quote to me by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: “If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility”

Contact:  Instagram: @Brigittecphysique

Coming from France, I grew up eating fresh, wholesome homemade cooking. No need to worry about shelf life and preservatives were rarely, if ever, used. I didn’t even know what cereal was. The French even made their mayonnaise (although now, things are changing). Water (and yes, wine) was what we drank, and soda was a treat on special occasions. So living a balanced and healthy lifestyle was always a part of me.

 
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been active. Besides running around like all kids do, I played soccer, practiced judo, and throughout the years when I came to America, took up running, which became addictive. I started having problems with my back and knees, so I turned to cycling. I’ve also trained in barre, yoga, and then a friend invited me to a kickboxing class. It was there where I first learned about bodybuilding. When I was shown photos of the bikini competitors, I thought “Oh yes, I want to look like that.” I was then introduced to a coach who taught me not only how to properly lift weights, which I knew nothing about, but also helped me with my nutrition and introduced me to Beverly International.

Being a natural ectomorph (tall, lean, long limbs with a facility to burn body fat and a hard time to put on muscle mass), I always thought I was too skinny. I tried to put on weight, but when I did gain, it went to all the wrong places and I ended up truly “skinny fat” (see my before photo). So, when bodybuilding came into my life, I jumped at the chance to get into shape and set a goal of stepping foot on stage in a bikini. (A challenging thought, but one that would ensure I must stay the course.) The first challenge was to ‘deconstruct’ my body by removing all the fat.

I’m an early riser who wakes up at 3:30 a.m. every morning to meditate and pray. At 5 a.m., I’m at the gym for fasted cardio. I go home, eat and go back to the gym for my weightlifting workout. I love it! No need to push me or remind me. Although at the beginning, I was weak in doing lunges (weak is an understatement as I couldn’t even do one) nor do a bodyweight squat properly, I enjoy pushing myself to be the best I can be. But hard work pays off and in 15 weeks, my body changed. It was far from what it ought or could be, but I didn’t hesitate to step on stage as it was my goal and I would gain experience. I was not scared like many predicted and didn’t get a rush either as I was told. I did what I focused on and came out a winner for reaching my goal. The icing on the cake was my placings of 3rd and 4th at my first SNBF show and three weeks later, I placed 5th in another. I am in love with the sport and am in it to stay.

I am still very new to this sport and know it will take time to get the body I need to step on to an NPC stage, but that is my future goal. I am now preparing for another SNBF show later in the year. I am not stepping on stage to take home a prize, although that would be nice, but to show my body improvements.

I am truly blessed, and at the age of 56, I want to show the world, which is so used to instant gratification, that all is attainable with discipline, perseverance and the right attitude. No, you do not need steroids to build muscle after a certain age. I am proof. So, what are you waiting for? Join me and take that leap of faith.

Nutrition

I keep my nutrition simple by using just one or two kinds of carbs, protein and fats. I’ve learned what types of food that my body responds positively to, and stick with them. For example, I’ve always loved sweet potatoes and respond well to them. Brown rice works okay during the off season, but when it comes close to competition, I remove it because it causes bloating. My proteins of choice are fish and protein shakes. During this off-season, I’m adding Mass Maker Ultra and UMP to gain quality muscle (especially important for an ectomorph like me). But when it comes close to competition, I keep things simple by limiting my protein to fish only. Yes, it means I have fish for breakfast, but it’s only temporary, right? For fat, I eat avocado and use olive oil. Water is also crucial. I am now able to drink one gallon, but the ideal would be more: a work in progress.

Growing up with a mom that wanted me to help her in the kitchen, I learned to use spices, which helps the taste buds especially when you eat fish five times a day.
I prepare each meal differently.

To give you an idea, here are the 5 pre-contest meals I currently eat:

Meal 1: 4oz Tilapia baked in the oven using Mrs. Dash with baked sweet potato.

Meal 2: 4oz baked cod in lemon, ginger and basil with baked sweet potato.

Meal 3: 4oz fresh seared tuna. I combine in a bowl, salt, coriander, paprika and cayenne pepper then sprinkle the mixture on the tuna that I subsequently press all sides on a plate of black pepper. I eat it with a spinach salad made with tomatoes, red onions and black pepper dressed with ¹⁄₂ tbsp olive oil and rice vinegar.

Meal 4: Corvina (4oz) is a great fish for ceviche. I marinate the raw fish for a whole day or two (the longer you marinate the fish, the firmer the meat) in fresh pressed lime juice, with red onions that I salt and then wash to remove the bitterness, jalapeno peppers and black pepper. When ready to serve, I top it with tomatoes, cucumber and cilantro with spinach salad (see meal 3) on the side.

Meal 5: Salmon baked with garlic and herbes de Provence spice.

Supplements

 

I take 2 Lean Out, 2 Multiple Enzyme Complex and 1 Energy Reserve with all five meals. At meal 1, I also take Super Pak, a daily multivitamin pack for athletes to help with performance, energy and immune system support and EFA Gold for my daily intake of healthy fats.
I cannot say enough about stacking Beverly International products like Lean Out, Multiple Enzyme Complex and Energy Reserve as the hardest part for me to lose was/is around my stomach. Lean Out helps convert carbs and fat into energy instead of storing them as fat. Multiple Enzyme Complex takes care of your bloating by helping with digestion, and Energy Reserve is your fat burning power as it contains L-Carnitine. I had just 15 weeks to complete my transformation and couldn’t have done it without them.

 

Training

My coach is great at changing my workouts every week to hit different angles because “angles are everything” (his words), for variation so that my muscles are constantly challenged. My exercises consist of variations of Push, Pull, Leg training splits using different intensity techniques. I typically do 3 or 4 sets of 10, 12 or 15 reps or until failure.


Monday:
Legs

Tuesday: Off (no weighs or cardio)

Wednesday: Abs/ Back/ Rear Delts

Thursday: Chest/ Delts/ Triceps

Friday: Legs

Saturday: Abs/ Back/ Biceps

Sunday: Chest/ Delts/ Triceps

 

Here are a couple of examples of my current workouts:

My usual Ab workout is 3 tri sets of Crunches (15 reps), Reverse Crunches (15 reps), and Planks (1 min).

An illustrative Back workout might be 3 sets of 1-Arm Rows (12 reps) supersetted with Cable Straight Arm Pulldowns (15 reps); and 3-4 tri sets of Single Arm Kettlebell Pullovers (12 reps), Reverse Cable Flyes (20 reps), and Band Pull Apart (20 reps).

 

Cardio

 

 

During the off season I do 20 minutes of cardio six days a week using the stair climber, elliptical, treadmill and bicycle. At the beginning of contest prep I increase cardio to 30 minutes for the first 4 weeks, and increase it again to one hour the next 4 weeks. Then as my conditioning gets better and better, I reverse the process, going back to 30 minutes and then 20 minutes the last weeks before the contest. This is to prevent me from becoming too skinny and drawn.

 
Although we’re experiencing the coronavirus Covid-19 crisis, I am blessed to have a gym that I can work out in. As of now, my competition has not been canceled, but only time will tell. Canceled or not, I will stay the course and continue to train and eat right. So, until next time, y’all stay safe and healthy.

From Start to Finish: Conquering the Course and the Stage

I have always exercised in one form or another.

When I was younger, raising kids, and building a practice, I was limited to quick trips to the gym or a workout in the basement. Once my children were grown and my practice was more established, I had more time to devote to my fitness and became really involved in endurance sports. My first 5K led to a half marathon, which led to a full marathon and before I knew it, I had completed over 60 full marathons, including one in every state. I finished a hundred mile run from Key Largo to Key West.

I became interested in triathlons and worked my way up to a full Ironman. Training at that point consisted of 100-mile bike rides in the morning, 2-mile swims in the Detroit River in the evening, and running as often as I could. I snuck in some cross-training with weights a couple times a week, but for the most part my exercise was aerobic in nature.

That all changed when my wife, Sandy, convinced me to attend a bodybuilding show with her. She had undergone a recent transformation, losing over 40 lbs with weight training and macro-focused dieting. Her gym was sponsoring the show and I reluctantly agreed to go. I was inspired by the dedication and commitment of the athletes that competed. I told my wife “next spring we are going to be on that stage”.


As a runner, my philosophy regarding nutrition was that I could eat and drink whatever I wanted, and I would just run it off. My weight was good, but I didn’t always look or feel the greatest, and as I got older my blood work was not so great. My cholesterol was climbing, and my blood sugar was bouncing around. I knew some disciplined eating would be good for me. I hired a coach, who gave me some starting macros. Because I was still running and cycling while I was training for my first show, my macros were pretty generous. I ran four marathons while I was training for my first show, so I was really putting my coach to the test. But with a solid nutrition plan and supplementation with Beverly products I was able to drop from 162 lbs to 147 lbs and still maintain lean muscle mass. The 2019 ANBF 3D Fit show went well for me. At the age of 55, I took first in four of the six divisions I competed in, and earned a pro card from the ANBF in Classic Physique and in Master’s Physique.

I had been using UMP for years and recommending it to my patients and training clients. However, when I started competitive bodybuilding, I researched the rest of the Beverly products line by reading prior issues of “No Nonsense” and I even made a few phone calls to the Beverly Advisor Team with questions. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them for advice, they are very helpful and knowledgeable with sports nutrition.

Supplements

When training for a contest I use an array of Beverly Supplements.

Strength and Growth Factors

I take Mass Aminos, Ultra 40, and Quadracarn
pre and post workout, as well as with each meal.

Pre-workout and Recovery

Up-Lift, Glutamine Select, and Muscle Provider

Fat Loss

Lean Out, 7-Keto MuscLean, and Energy Reserve

General health and Vitality

Multiple Enzyme Complex, EFA Gold, FitTabs
or Super Pak, and ZMA 2000

I take Multiple Enzyme Complex with every meal because it helps make nutrients more bio-available and helps minimize digestive disturbances associated with a high-protein diet. I also try to consume 1-2 gallons of water per day.

Favorite Recipe

Chocolate Mousse with Berries

1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
¹⁄₂ cup low fat cottage cheese
¹⁄₂ scoop chocolate UMP
¹⁄₂ cup strawberries
¹⁄₄ cup raspberries

Combine yogurt and cottage cheese and mix UMP in slowly to prevent clumping. Top with berries.

Macros: Protein 46.9, Carbs 25.5, Fat 3.2

Training Schedule

I lift at home in the mornings 6 days a week with a three-day split:

Chest/Triceps
Back/Biceps
Shoulders

I sneak to the gym at lunch a couple days a week to do legs and abs. Being a runner, I have skinny legs, so I’m trying to spend some extra time working lower body.

I do 15-20 total sets for large bodyparts and about 12 sets for biceps and triceps.

Favorite exercises include DB Bench Presses (incline, flat, and decline), Pushups, Pullups, Shoulder Presses
(DBs, Arnold Presses), and Kettlebell Presses.

For legs I pre exhaust with Leg Extensions, then do Squats, Deadlifts, Leg Presses, and Leg Curls.

I run 3-5 miles a couple of days per week after weight training and do a long run or a race on Sunday.

Recovery Advice

Training 6-7 days a week at any age requires focused recovery:

Chiropractic care: Get regular adjustments, it’s huge!

Supplementation: Give your body what it needs to rebuild- adequate protein with UMP or Muscle Provider. Amino acids from Mass Aminos and Glutamine Select. Nighttime recovery with ZMA 2000.

Sleep: Your body needs adequate rest to grow.

Soft tissue techniques like massage therapy, Graston technique, and even Epsom Salt baths. If pro athletes are using this stuff, you probably should too!

Biggest Challenges

I love weight training and natural bodybuilding, but I’m not ready to give up endurance sports. When my calories start dropping during show prep, it can be difficult to have enough carbohydrates to fuel a long run. Timing is critical, so I try to consume most of my carbs pre- and immediately post workout so that they are a source of fuel and glycogen replenishment. If you are going to consume any high-glycemic carbs it is important to do it during this window. At any other time try to consume low glycemic carbs so your insulin is not spiking later in the day. I also try to take most of my supplements around this window. I feel like my body is like a sponge during and after exercise and much more likely to absorb macro and micronutrients.

Timing of workouts can also be a challenge. I need to put enough training days between a hard leg day in the gym and my long runs or speed days. Heavy leg days need to be avoided for about 5 days before a race.

Future Goals

Now that I completed my 50-states goal, I am going to try to run a full marathon on every continent, so races in South America, Africa and Antarctica are on the horizon. In between I want to focus on adding some muscle to my legs and shoulders (not an easy task for a runner in his fifties!) so I can better compete in the classic physique bodybuilding category as a pro.