From Track Star to Powerlifter

At a Glance:Sydney Hunter

Age: 23

Occupation or Education: Certified Personal Trainer with a Bachelor’s of Science from UC Riverside in Sociology with a concentration in the Social Determinants of Health. Owner of Body by Syd Personal Training.

Family: I have a brother who is 18 months younger than me and two loving parents who support my dreams and aspirations.

Current Residence: Glendale, CA

Years training (total): 13 years

Height: 5’5”

Weight: 138, Contest - 132 (Powerlifting 60 kg class)

Favorite Fitness Meal: My go to meal is salmon, asparagus and potatoes.

Favorite Supplements: UMP Graham Cracker tastes great and gives me the protein boost I need to build strength without feeling bloated. UMP gives me that extra lift I need to power through some crazy tough workouts.

During my bulking/building phase, Mass Maker Ultra is an integral part of my diet as it has carbs that feed and promote muscle growth in the weight room and keeps me on track while I’m in a calorie surplus.

When it comes to focus and endurance, Ultra 40 does the trick. I also feel as though my recovery time is shorter and I have minimal soreness. As a powerlifter, some days of training can be hard and the wear and tear on my muscles can be intense. The best part is how fast you see improvement in muscle growth, I usually see changes within 8 days.

What would you recommend to someone who has never used Beverly supplements before? I have tried many products and UMP is a far superior product. You can both feel and taste the purity in the products. I always recommend UMP to my clients and receive rave reviews and great feedback. The primary comments I hear are that UMP does not have that “chalky” taste so common with protein powders and that they don’t get that bloated feeling.

Music: My favorite songs are Diva by Beyoncé, Love It When You Cry by Steve Aoki and A Milli by Lil Wayne.

Most Inspiring Book: Mind Gym by Gary Mack - it delves deeply into how to be a successful athlete and that it starts in the mind. I believe the mind is a powerful tool and it can be our biggest supporter or our biggest enemy. I tell all of my clients that if you control your thoughts, the possibilities are endless.

Hobbies or interests outside powerlifting: Hiking, eating at new restaurants with friends and shopping.

Words to live by: “No matter what, have fun & keep your head held high.”


Growing up, I played every sport from basketball and soccer to softball and even did equestrian horseback riding. But my heart and my talent were always with track and field. I started running track when I was 10 years old. My specialty events were the 400 meters, 200m and 400m relay. As I progressed in the sport earning numerous awards, the possibility of being a college athlete came into focus and became a reality. I was known in high school as “Sydney the Track Star” so when it came time to get recruited, my heart was set on no less than a Division 1 college scholarship. As a young 18-year-old, I wasn’t thinking much about majors or career--I just knew that I wanted to run track.

I accepted a scholarship to the University of California Riverside to run track. But, before the season even began, I suffered an injury. Soon it seemed that injuries became a routine for me including concussions, back spasms, sprained ankles and a sprained wrist. I was always in the sports rehab room healing an injury. The crazy part is that the majority of the injuries happened in my “happy place” - the weight room. I did not let it deter me; I used it as fuel to get more balanced. I changed my focus to not just moving weight but also connecting with my muscles (mind muscle connection).

After my second year of college it was time to find a summer job. I knew I wanted to work at a gym so I googled “Gyms in Riverside”, closed my eyes, scrolled and picked one and it was A Taylored Body and this was where my love for personal training started. This gym’s atmosphere was something special--everyone was so loving and positive. I gained so much experience training clients from age 7 to 85 and everything in  between. After working there for only a few months, I knew I had found my career - I loved being a trainer, using fitness and health to transform lives.

After 3 years of running collegiately, I knew I had a tough decision to make. My passion to help others reach their fitness goals came to the forefront and I made a decision to stop running and leave track behind. I feared that in leaving track I would lose my identity (remember I was “Sydney the Track Star”). But the assurances I received from my track coach, my teammates and my parents helped me in my decision making. They believed in me, the person, and saw my greater potential.

Though I was carrying a full-time load, I was determined to complete college in four years, I wanted to spend every spare moment training clients, it brought me so much joy. My focus has transitioned from track to personal training & powerlifting.

In addition to training clients, I began focusing more on me and my progress in the weight room. After a year without track, my love for lifting weights grew but I never thought about competing, I just liked to challenge myself to lift heavy. In February of 2019, my coach reached out to me about competing in powerlifting and I made the leap and said YES! After my first workout at Iron Addicts I was hooked. Although my physical strength was adapting slowly to my new program, my mental strength was rapidly growing. After my first competition, I knew it would not be my last. Stepping on the platform is electrifying, it seems as if the room goes quiet and it's just you and the bar. Like running track, powerlifting is a sport where you can always improve and I love that.

Diet & Nutrition Tips

Meal Planning Tips: Think about what you’re going to make for the week before you go to the grocery store so you are not overwhelmed. Also pick your meal prep day. Mine is Sunday so every week I set aside about 2 hours to prep and make everything. Big tip is to prep your snacks, separate your snack items into bags whether it be almonds, strawberries or whatever it may be to ensure you stay on track.

Let’s start with two of my favorite UMP recipes. S’mores Protein Waffles are great during my Muscle & Strength Building season and my Protein Frappuccino works in both my muscle & strength and weight cutting phases.

S’mores Protein Waffles: yields 2 waffles
• 1/2 cup Birch Benders original pancake mix
• 1/2 scoop UMP Graham Cracker
• 1/2 scoop UMP Rocky Road
• dash of cinnamon
• 1 tsp olive oil
• 1 cup of water

Stir all ingredients together in bowl Turn waffle iron on med-high Pour 1/2 batter in waffle maker Leave in waffle maker for 3-5 minutes

Protein Frappuccino
• 8oz cold brew
• 6oz unsweetened almond milk
• 1 scoop graham cracker UMP
• add tons of ice

Blend for a homemade low-calorie Frappuccino

My Daily Meal Plan

Muscle & Strength Building

6am: 1 scoop UMP, 1 Scoop Muscle Provider, 6oz black coffee, 6oz almond milk, 1.5 cup of hash browns, 2 pieces turkey bacon, 1 English muffin, 4 Ultra 40

9am Snack: 1 orange, 1 cheese stick, 3 Ultra 40

11am Snack: 23 almonds, 1 apple

2pm Lunch / Pre Workout: 1 Scoop UMP, 8oz water, 6oz chicken breast, 3oz zucchini, 4oz brown rice, 4 Ultra 40

4pm Post Workout: 1 scoop UMP, 1 granola bar, 10 strawberries, 13 almonds

7pm Dinner: 4 oz salmon, 7-10 asparagus spears, 3oz potatoes, 3 Ultra 40

9:30pm Before bed meal: 1 scoop UMP, 1 tbsp almond butter, 3/4 cup frozen fruit, 1/2 cup granola, dash of cinnamon, 2 tbsp of blueberries, 1 tsp of agave

Cutting Diet to Make Weight

After weeks of slowly cutting my calories, I stay at 1300-1400 calories per day for the two weeks leading up to weigh-ins.

6am: 6oz black coffee, 1 scoop UMP, 1 English muffin, 1 cup hash browns, 4 Ultra 40

10am Snack: 13 almonds, 1 grapefruit, 1 cheese stick

2pm Lunch: 4oz salmon, 1 cup of green beans, 4 Ultra 40

4pm Snack: 1 scoop UMP mixed with 8oz of water, 1 apple, 13 almonds

7pm Dinner: 4oz chicken breast, 7 asparagus spears, 4 Ultra 40

9pm Before bed snack: 1 scoop UMP, 7 strawberries, 2 Ultra 40


During my cutting phase which lasts about 2 weeks before a competition:

I do Incline Treadmill 15% for 35 minutes or Stairmaster 4 days a week during prep. I also teach spin classes 2 days a week (1 hour each class). My only cardio during my bulking/building phase are the two spin classes I teach each week.

Tips for cardio:

Things like walking on the treadmill can get boring so pick a cardio show-- It is a show that you only watch while doing your cardio so it makes it special. Or take a class like spin where you can get a great workout and sweat like crazy without too much stress on your joints.

Training schedule

I lift 4-5 times a week at the beginning of a training cycle, then as it gets closer to competition, the sessions are 3-4 times a week and one of those days would just be accessory work. Providing full recovery to stay healthy without strength withering. (I’ve included my workout below.) The program is based on progressive overload to ensure maximal strength improvement. I follow the Candito Strength 6-week progression along with extra strength training provided by my Coach James Harris.

Sample Training Program

(Based on Candito 6-Week Strength Program,

The program is based on my 1RM’s at the beginning of the program – Bench Press 165lbs, Squat 285lbs, Deadlift 410lbs. I have listed the approximate percentage used for each lift so that you can adapt the program to your personal strength levels.

Week 1

Muscular Conditioning

Squat 4x6 (80% of 1RM)
Deadlift 2x6 (80% of 1RM)
(Optional Leg Extension and Leg Curl 3-4x8-12)

Bench Press 4x10,10,8,6 (50%, 67.5%, 75%, 77.5% 1RM)
Row 4x10,10,8,6
DB Overhead Press 4x12,12,10,8
Lat Pulldown 4x12,12,10,8
(Optional Barbell or DB Curls 3-4x8-12)

Same workout as Tuesday

Squat 4x8 (70% of 1RM)
Deadlift 2x8 (70% of 1RM)

Bench Press 1xMR (80% of 1RM)

Week 2


Squat 1xMR up to 10 (80% of 1RM)
Squats 5x3 – 60 second rest between sets (5lbs more than 1st set)
Snatch Grip Deadlift 3x8
(Optional Leg Extension and Leg Curl 3-4x8-12)

Bench Press 3x10,8,6-8 (72.5%, 77.5%, 80% of 1RM)
Row 3x10,8,8
DB Overhead Press 3x10,8,6
Lat Pulldown 3x10,8,6
(Optional Barbell or DB Curls 3-4x8-12)

Squat 1xMR10 (80% of 1RM)
Back Off Squats 8-10 sets of 3 reps – 60 seconds rest between sets (10lbs less than 1st set)
Deficit Deadlift (standing on a small block or plates) 3x8

Same as Tuesday’s workout

Bench Press 1xMR (80% of 1RM)

Week 3

Linear Strength Progression

Squat 3x4-6 (85% of 1RM)
Deadlift 2x3-6 (87.5% of 1RM)
(Optional Leg Extension and Leg Curl 3-4x8-12)

Bench Press 3x4-6 (85% of 1RM)
Row 3x6
DB Overhead Press 3x6
Lat Pulldown 3x6
(Optional Barbell or DB Curls 3-4x8-12)

Squat 1x4-6 (87.5% of 1 RM)
Snatch Grip Deadlift 1x8
(Optional Leg Extension and Leg Curl 3-4x8-12)

Bench Press 3x4-6 (87.5% of 1RM)
Row 3x6
DB Overhead Press 3x6
Lat Pulldown 3x6
(Optional Barbell or DB Curls 3-4x8-12)

Here are a couple of other important points about the workout.
1. 1RM is the maximum amount of weight that you can lift with excellent form for 1 repetition at the beginning of the 6-week program.
2. 1xMR up to 10 means that you do as many reps as possible in good form with the prescribed weight. If you can do more than 10 reps, stop at 10.
3. The percentages listed are used only for the three power lifts (Bench Press, Squat, Deadlift).
4. On the other exercises your 1st set should be relatively light, add some weight on the 2nd set, and add weight again on the 3rd (and 4th) sets. Use weights that allow you to get all the reps listed in perfect form without straining.

Week 4

Acclimation to Heavy Weights

Squat 3x3 (90% of 1RM, 90%+5lbs, 90%+10lbs)
Deficit Deadlift 2x6
(Optional Leg Extension and Leg Curl 3-4x8-12)

Bench Press 3x3 (90% of 1RM less 10lbs, 90% less 5lbs, 90% of 1RM)
Row 4x10,10,8,6
DB Overhead Press 4x12,12,10,8
Lat Pulldown 4x12,12,10,8
(Optional Barbell or DB Curls 3-4x8-12)

Squat 1x3 (92.5% of 1RM), 1x1-2 (95% of 1 RM)
Deadlift 1x3 (92.5% of 1RM), 1x1-2 (95% of 1 RM)
(Optional Leg Extension and Leg Curl 3-4x8-12)

Bench Press 1x3 (87.5% of 1RM), 1x2-4 (90% of 1RM), 1x1-2 (95% of 1RM)
Row 4x10,10,8,6
DB Overhead Press 4x12,12,10,8
Lat Pulldown 4x12,12,10,8

Week 5

Intense Strength Training

Squat 1x1-4 (97.5% of 1RM)
Deadlift 3x4,4,2 (67.5%, 70%, 72.5% of 1RM)
(Optional Leg Extension and Leg Curl 3-4x8-12)

Bench Press 1x1-4 (97.5% of 1RM)
Row 3x8,6,6
DB Overhead Press 3x8,6,6
Lat Pulldown 3x8,6,6
(Optional Barbell or DB Curls 3-4x8-12)

Deadlift 1x1-4 (97.5% of 1RM)

Week 6

Determining a new 1RM

Determine a new 1 repetition max (1RM) for each of the three powerlifts, or you can project your new 1 RM in this manner. Take what you lifted in week 5, and multiply by 1.03 if you completed 2 reps, 1.06 if 3 reps, and 1.09 if you completed 4 reps.

Power Meet Prep

The preparation for powerlifting is detail oriented, a game of numbers and technique. When it comes to competing make sure you are doing it for YOU. Because you will train harder and be more committed if you are fully wanting to do it and more importantly that you are enjoying doing it. Sometimes when it gets heavy, willpower is the only thing to get those white lights and a clean lift from the judges. I’ve learned that with the correct mindset, support group, and training system ANYTHING is possible.

A Short Q&A with Sydney

How did you get started lifting?

I started lifting when I was 13 years old, as part of a strength and conditioning program. Lifting helped me to get quicker and more powerful on the track--the weight room was something that I both enjoyed and excelled in. I always enjoyed science and found it intriguing how the body responds and develops as lifting was introduced and intertwined into the routine.

Did you have any problems starting out that other readers might relate too?

I enjoyed lifting but my friends at school would sometimes make fun of me because I was “so muscular”. At times I felt uncomfortable wearing tank tops, but I knew I couldn’t let what others say affect me because at the end of the day I was stronger than most of them- I turned my strength into unrelenting confidence.

Did you try anything that didn’t work? 

I found that just going through the motions and mindlessly doing workouts leads to injury, lack of awareness and minimal results especially out on the track.

Tell what you did to solve the problem.

It sounds crazy but getting injured so much made me anxious to know more. I was so frustrated because every time I got injured meant I had to sit out and take time to recover, which was the last thing I wanted to do. It took taking a step back and making the change to just “slow down” basically just focus on the movements and think “what is this supposed to be working on, where should I be feeling this” instead of just doing what is prescribed.

Relate your results.

This resulted in me being a better athlete and now a better trainer because I better understand the body. As a trainer it has helped me better relate and explain movements to my clients more effectively with cues on how to engage the movement. As a powerlifting athlete I now know how important it is to listen to my body--in such an intense sport sometimes taking a rest day is equally as important, if not more, than the lift days.

How can our readers contact you?

Instagram & Twitter: @sydbarbz

Posted in 2020 Collection, Fit Figure / Bikini.