How I Won the Tampa Pro & A Ms Olympia Invite
During Covid-19 Pandemic
No Nonsense Magazine Vol 24, #1
By: LaDawn McDay
Photo by BodyGraphics Photography
At a Glance: LaDawn McDay
Occupation: 23 years as an educator (currently HS special education), Manager of 1 Fit Joker Tanning
Family: “Mama Ruby”, Jay Pratt, Lexi (dog), Tyke (cat)
Current Residence: Detroit, MI
Years training (total): 20 years, Competing (16 years)
Weight: 165 (off-season), 150 (contest)
Favorite Bodybuilding Meal: A special meal consists of grilled salmon with Brussel sprouts, walnuts and grilled apples over quinoa, or Beverly International UMP Chocolate Pancakes (see sidebar for recipe
Super Pak: Provides all the macronutrients/vitamins I need
UMP: My favorite meal replacement
ZMA 2000: Helps improve my rest and sleep
Glutamine Select: This is great for my recovery
Muscularity: When dieting, it’s the best BCAA formula for preserving muscle
What would you recommend to someone getting started on Beverly supplements? I would recommend starting with a good source of protein such as Ultimate Muscle Protein or Muscle Provider, I would also include Super Pak or FitTabs as a great vitamin/mineral source, Glutamine Select to relieve muscle soreness and speed recovery time and Lean Out as a fat burner.
Music: I have been listening to Ozzy Osbourne, 90’s Classic Rock and the Blues
Most Inspiring Book: Left to Tell by Immaculee llibagiza and The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren
Hobby or interests outside bodybuilding: Spending time with my wife and puppies
Words to live by: “If you really want to do something you’ll find a way, if you don’t you’ll find an excuse”- Jim Rohn
The Road to the Olympia Qualification
In the competitive world of bodybuilding, 2020 began like the 15 previous years of my contest prep history. My vision and goals were discussed. A plan was executed
to showcase my growth and improvement from the previous season. With a contest prep diet in hand, Beverly supplement list, cardio and training schedule too, I was well on my way to producing my best package ever. Oh the excitement I felt while selecting the perfect show, making travel arrangements and focusing on my competition goals.
I was about 6 weeks out from my first competition of 2020 and for the first time in years, I felt that I was ready to display my best look on stage. Like everyone, I was in total disbelief when the news spread about a virus with the name Covid-19. This virus made an impact on our lives in a matter of days as I watched the life that I was so comfortable with stop abruptly. The fear, doubt and disbelief that plagued most of us during the quarantine was almost too much to bear. All aspects of life including age, occupation, race, religion, gender and your community felt the effects of this pandemic. My community was hit hard by Covid-19 with friends, family and students fighting the virus head on. The governor immediately passed executive orders to shut down all businesses including the gym and all K-12 school buildings. So began the quarantine life.
What am I going to do now?
Here I am prepping for a show and my livelihood has now been taken away and for how long? The two most important places that are an integral part of me and define who I am have been taken away. How can I prep for a show if I can’t train? What am I going to do if I can’t interact with my students and families who depend on me for guidance and support? What will happen to my students? What about my mother who is in and out of the hospital and considered high risk? My mind became consumed with negative thoughts. I became complacent and made excuses as to why attempting to compete during the pandemic was a waste of time. I mean who could possibly think about a diet at a time like this?
I Have to Make a Decision!
After several weeks of being in quarantine things began to shift in a more positive direction. I began to teach remotely while reconnecting with students, staff and family. I was feeling like I could fight through this. My coach, Jay Pratt, made it clear that we had work to do. I had competitive goals that still needed to be met. My goal was still the same, bring the best version of me. He pointed out that I should take advantage of the time in quarantine and make the best of it. He gave me the tools and support that I needed to persevere. He created a quarantine plan that incorporated a more rigid schedule for prepping and eating meals as well as a cardio and training schedule that could be implemented around my remote teaching. This gave me purpose and order among all of the chaos. From there I had to check in 2-3 times
a week with pictures and a log to ensure that I was utilizing all of the tools he gave me. This also allowed him to make any adjustments to meals or cardio sessions. As the show date approached, I was feeling great and back on track. We added grueling posing sessions after each workout to improve my conditioning.
The Tampa Pro
The IFBB Tampa Pro is one of the most competitive shows outside of the Arnold Classic and the Olympia. I have competed in this show five times with placings as high as third and as low as 16th but this time would be different. I really wanted it and I was done making excuses. The Tampa Pro was also an Olympia qualifier this year. This would be the first time in six years that the Olympia would again host a Women’s Bodybuilding division. Most would think that my past placings would discourage me from trying a 6th time to be in the winner’s circle. I don’t give up so easily. Going to the Olympia would be a dream come true. I was determined and focused plus I had something to prove to myself. If I can train, stay healthy in a community that was hit hard by Covid, I can accomplish anything.
This was it, the moment that I had been waiting for. I was ready to take the stage. When I removed my mask and entered the stage, I was confident, poised and knew without a shadow of a doubt that the judges would be seeing a new and improved version of me. Later on that evening, I received the best news of my competitive history, and for the first time since turning pro, I finished in first place with a Ms. Olympia qualification in hand. This was the best feeling in the world.
If I could offer any advice when it comes to presentation is to begin posing at least 8 weeks before any competition. You may even want to hire a posing coach in your area. Stage presence is extremely important and you want to make sure that you are confident on stage and showcase poses that compliment your physique.
What I have learned during this journey is quite simple. “If you really want to do something you will find a way”. Patience, perseverance, dedication and a good support system helped me win the Tampa Pro amidst a pandemic. The work doesn’t stop now. I will take the tools that I used during this pandemic and apply it to my journey of the Ms. Olympia.
Pre-Contest (Starting 12-14 weeks out)
Meal plan remains the same give or take a few ounces of protein here or there.
Meal #1: 1 cup of egg whites, 1 whole egg, green veggies (spinach), ¹⁄₂ cup oatmeal
Meal #2: Muscle Provider 2 scoops with water
Meal #3: 4-5oz chicken breast, salmon or white fish, 1 cup green veggies, ¹⁄₄ cup rice
Meal #4: Same as meal 2
Meal #5: Same as meal 1 without the oatmeal
Meal #6: 3oz NY strip and 6-7 asparagus spears
(I use all the supplements listed leading up to show date)
Super Pak: each morning with Meal 1 after training
Lean Out: (2-3 capsules twice a day) each morning before fasted cardio and again in the afternoon with my 2nd session of cardio
Glutamine Select: (1 scoop, 1-2 times a day) each morning during my lifting session and again in the afternoon with my 2nd cardio session (as I am getting closer to my contest date)
Muscularity: (2-3 with every other meal) with Meals 1, 3 and 5
Advanced Antioxidant: (1-2 tablets) with Meal 1 or 2
Muscle Provider: (2 scoops in water twice a day) as a Meal replacement.
UMP Chocolate Pancakes
Ingredients: 2 Scoops Ultimate Muscle Protein chocolate, 3 egg whites, ¹⁄₄ cup oatmeal, add enough water to make a batter consistency.
Directions: Mix ingredients. Cook in a pan at low heat until little bubbles appear and pancakes start to brown. Flip and wait a minute or so, and bam! Perfect pancakes!
As I am writing this, gyms in my state are still closed. During quarantine I had access to some equipment and was able to train my upper body without having to make any adjustments. But I did have to make adjustments on leg days so I’m sharing both my pre-Covid leg training as well as that which I followed during quarantine. I typically train 2 body parts per day hitting each twice per week. The second go around may be higher repetitions and less weight than the first session. I also use resistance bands as much as possible, high repetitions with medium weight.
DAY 1: LEG TRAINING (Prior to Gym closing)
DB Walking Lunges 4x20
BB Squats 5-6x20
Leg Press Machine 4-5x30
Leg Extensions 4-5x30
Lying Leg Curl Machine 4-5x20
Standing Leg Curl 3x20
Glute Bridge with Plate 4-5x15
Hyperextensions or DB Deadlifts 3x1
DAY 2: SHOULDERS
Shoulder Press 4x20
Lateral Raise 5x20
Front Raise 5x20
Rear Raise 5x20
Upright Rows 4x20
DAY 3: BACK
Lat Pulldown (wide grip) 5x20
Pull Ups 5 sets to failure
Lat Pulldown (close grip) 5x20
Dumbbell Rows or T Bar Row 4x25
Dumbbell Pullovers 5x20
Deadlift or Hyperextensions 4x15
DAY 1: LEG TRAINING (During Quarantine)
Alternating Lunges 5x20-25
Jump Squats 5x25
Dumbbell Squats 5x25
Step Ups (with DB) 5x20
Glute Bridge (with DB) 5x25
DB Donkey Kick 5x15 on each side
Mountain Climbers 5x30
Jumping Jacks 5x25
DAY 2: Bicep/ Tricep
BB Curls 5x15
DB Curls 5x20
Hammer Curls 4x20
21 Curls 5 sets
Triceps Kickbacks 5x20
Triceps Pushdowns 5x20
Bench Triceps Dips 5 sets to failure
DAY 3: Chest
Dumbbell Flye 5x20
Dumbbell Bench Press 5x20
Incline Dumbbell Press 5x15
Incline Dumbbell Flye 5x15
I usually spread my cardio sessions throughout the day. 2-3, 30-minute sessions, 5-6 days per week focusing on intensity.
My first session of cardio is always fasted.
Session 1: (5-6 days per week)
Walk 2 minutes, run 1 minute for 30 minutes
Session 2: (4 days per week, skip on leg day)
Stairs/Bleachers, run up, walk down (30 mins)
Session 3: (5-6 days per week)
Cycle Bike, vary resistance for 30-45 minutes
Abdominal Exercises – 5-6 days
Leg Raises 3-4 sets of 30
Crunches 3-4 sets of 5
Scissors 3-4 sets of 30
Twists 3-4 sets of 30