It’s Never too Late, to Feel Great
No Nonsense Magazine Vol 22, #3
By: IFBB Professional, Linda Stephens
At a Glance: Linda Stephens
Occupation or Education: Masters Degree in Clinical Nutrition, NASM Certified Personal Trainer, IFBB Pro Athlete, Writer, Nutrition Coach and a Full-time Mom
Family: 16 year old son and a 13 year old daughter
Current Residence: Darien, CT
Years training: 10 years
Weight: 155lbs (Off-Season), 140lbs (Contest)
Favorite Fitness Meal: Grilled grass-fed steak, spinach and sweet potato (off-season make that sweet potatofries). My favorite post workout meal is my shaker cup filled with strawberry UMP, cinnamon, powdered peanut butter (off-season only) and water. Shake and bottoms up!!!
Favorite supplements: Strawberry UMP Pre/Post workout, mixing Graham Cracker UMP in with my eggs, and I LOVE chocolate UMP pudding at night before bed. Lean Out / 7-Keto stack to burn fat and aid in getting lean during prep, ZMA 2000 to help with recovery and rest at night, Density to make sure I get a full complement of amino acids. I use Glutamine Select BCAA’s to aid in intra-workout performance.
What would you recommend to someone who has never used Beverly supplements before? I always put my clients on UMP right off the bat. It’s easy to digest and refuel post workout. Tastes amazing mixed with just water. It’s also a great way to fuel up in between meals when hunger strikes. It can also be made into an amazing pudding when that sweet tooth rears its ugly head. Chocolate UMP protein pudding before bed is AMAZING.
Music: I love doing cardio to 80’s and 90’s music.
Most Inspiring Book: Women and Self Esteem. It’s so important to fill yourself up. So often we look for others to validate ourselves. IT MUST come from within or every relationship you have will suffer.
Hobby or interests outside bodybuilding: I’m a HUGE basketball & Boston Celtics fan. I enjoy a good basketball game especially when it’s my daughter’s team playing.
Words to live by: Be a VICTOR not a VICTIM – Joel Osteen
My parents raised me to be active. I played basketball and figured skated as a kid and in my teens and early twenties I taught aerobic classes. It wasn’t until my mid 20’s that I ventured into the weight room. From the first time I picked up a pair of dumbbells I was hooked. Building beautiful, feminine muscle became my new focus. It’s pretty simple, cardio and weight training are the keys to developing a shapely healthy body while reversing the effects of aging.
I lifted weights throughout both my pregnancies and couldn’t wait to get back to the gym. My body bounced back within days after giving birth. In 2010, I decided to compete in an NPC show and took my workouts to the next level. I had no idea what class I’d compete in, but I knew that taking the stage was my next goal. I’ve been competing ever since, doing 3-5 a shows a year. I spent 4 years as an amateur NPC figure competitor until turning IFBB Pro in 2014. It’s been fun and challenging but so worth it. I’ve built so many solid relationships competing and some of my best friends are the women I’ve competed against.
Before I became a nutritionist/personal trainer, I worked on Wall Street on the institutional equity trading desk. I covered major institutions’ listed equity transactions. I loved that life. It was fast-paced and exciting to have your finger on the pulse of U.S. economy. Once I became a mom, I knew that life wouldn’t work for me anymore. I wanted to be there for my kids and be the best mom possible. Working 12-hour days would not allow me to do that. I retired from the investment world, but my gym time never lapsed. One day a friend said, “You should get certified as a trainer and make money at what you love to do.” Before I knew it I was sitting for my CPT with the National Academy of Sports Medicine. I didn’t stop there, as I wanted to have something in my arsenal that would put me a cut above the rest. My passion about living and eating healthy sparked my interest in nutrition. I researched local colleges and universities that offered programs and degrees in nutrition. I sought real knowledge backed by credentials and embarked on my graduate degree in nutrition at the age of 43. I was both nervous and excited. There were classes required that I hadn’t had since high school such as biology and chemistry. It was very challenging for me with two small kids plus being in contest prep several times during my 3 years in grad school. I thought about quitting many times because it was so hard and challenging. I shed many tears throughout those years as I pushed myself to achieve that degree. I’m happy to say I graduated magna cum laude with a master’s degree in clinical nutrition at the age of 46. It was also the same year that I turned IFBB Pro in Figure. Blood, sweat and tears, but I did it.
I reached a new milestone in my life on my last birthday (age 50) in March, 2018. But, I'm not done yet. I'm working toward a new goal - to the hit the IFBB stage in my first Women's Physique competition. I’m a firm believer that it’s “never too late to feel great”. I hear many clients tell me that they can’t do it because of age. Well, I’m here to prove that age IS JUST A NUMBER. I’m here to lead by example. I’m here to inspire women of all ages but especially my demographic that you can do whatever you want at any given time. Never ever put limits on yourself.
Before earning my degree in nutrition, I had worked with 3 different coaches for my contest prep. I learned what not to do and I also learned what worked for my body. After attaining my degree, I understood carb cycling, keto diets and other ways to lean out and be healthy. I grasped the science behind it and what our bodies do with the foods that we consume. The tilapia and asparagus diet was one of the worst that I’ve ever done. After reading about certain fish and how they affect our bodies I knew what not to eat and how to make better choices. I teach my clients that eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring or flavorless. I give them the meals I’ve created on my own. It’s not always a culinary experience but it is tasteful and healthy.
Here’s a look at how I eat both off and in season. My in season meal plan is much tighter with portions and timing but for the most part I just eat more of my prep diet when I’m not in contest mode. I’m also doing about an hour of cardio a day during contest prep. I will also include cheat meals once or twice a week during offseason. I think there may even be a bit more guacamole too.
The key to any successful meal plan is preparation. You must cook in bulk and package up your food. It won’t work if you wait until you’re hungry to start cooking or decide what you even want. There are also excellent food prep companies that will ship the food to you for ease. It’s not that expensive but it will ensure that you’re eating within the macros for your body goals.
Ultimate Muscle Protein (UMP): I recommend this product to all my training and nutrition clients. I tell them if they don’t like it I’ll buy it back. I’ve yet to have anyone take me up on that offer. It’s taste is the best, mixes the best and never causes any bloating or gas. No one is more lactose intolerant than me and I’ve never had a GI issue with UMP. I put it in my eggs, oatmeal & make blended shakes with it. It keeps me fueled pre and post workout or when I don’t have time to eat I’ll drink a shake. It’s easy and tastes amazing.
Density: I use Density to ensure that I’m getting the full complement of amino acids daily. I take 2 tablets three times throughout the day. I have all my vegetarian clients incorporate it into their daily regimen to cover their daily dose of amino acids. Definitely helps with building muscle and aids in recovery time.
ZMA 2000: Not only does ZMA increase your ability to have a more restful night’s sleep it also naturally helps raise testosterone levels. Important for building muscle and having productive workouts. Zinc is an antioxidant, which aids in cell regeneration while resting and keeps the immune system strong. All my clients male and female utilize this little gem.
7-Keto MuscLean: This favorite of mine gives you a nice little spring in your step without giving you the jitters. It does have caffeine in it so it instantly gives you a boost to your energy and mood. I like to take 2 before fasted morning cardio and another 2 before my early afternoon workout to ensure I have maximum energy for my lifts.
Joint Care: It helps prevent joint issues by improving lubrication, elasticity and recovery. With the right balance of Glucosamine, Chondroitin and MSM it will also help relieve pain and inflammation in your joints. MSM is key in aiding proper absorption. Everyone can benefit from this product.
Meal 1: 1/2 cup of egg whites plus one whole egg mixed with graham cracker UMP, 1-2 slices of Ezekiel toast with 1 tbsp. of natural almond butter, 1/2 cup of berries
Meal 2 (usually preworkout): 1.5 scoops of strawberry UMP mixed with a 1/3 cup oats, 1 tbsp. powdered peanut butter, cinnamon shaken with water, 1 toasted whole grain waffle
Meal 3 (usually post workout): 3/4 cup of 1% cottage cheese no salt added, 1/2 medium apple, toasted cinnamon raisin Ezekiel English muffin with coconut oil drizzled on it. (No cottage cheese during contest prep. I use 3oz of chicken for my protein here)
Meal 4: 1.5 scoops of Chocolate UMP with 8oz of water, instant coffee, pb2 and ice in the blender for a thick milkshake, 1/2 medium apple.
Meal 5: 4oz grass fed beef or wild caught salmon, green veggie, and either brown rice or sweet potato.
Meal 6: (if needed) Chocolate or Graham Cracker UMP pudding an hour or so before bed. I add in decaf instant coffee and some PB2.
|Leg Extensions:||4x12 (medium/heavy weight)|
|Smith Machine Squats:||(close feet) 5x12 getting my glutes low|
|Walking DB Lunges:||12 on each leg for 3-4 sets holding 35lb DB’s|
|Hip Thrusts:||I alternate between barbell and Smith machine. I go as heavy as I can 6x12-15.
Add a resistance band above the knees.
|Other movements I love:||Hack Squat, Sissy Squats, Leg Press, Split Squats, and Front Squats|
|Tuesday: Back & Biceps |
(superset when I need to work faster)
|Lat Pull Downs:||4x12, I use a Maxagrip (www.maxagrip.com), I love the hand
positioning of it. I also use the wide grip bar and pull behind
the head for 2-3 sets.
|Seated Row:||4x12 also with the Maxagrip bar|
|Bentover Barbell Rows:||4x12|
|Assisted Pull Up Machine:||4x12 – alternate between wide and neutral grip|
|Back Extensions:||4x12 holding a 25lb plate|
|DB Bicep Curls:||4x12-15|
|EZ Bar Wide Grip Bicep Curls:||4x12-15|
|ROPE Bicep Curls using the low pulley:||4x12-15|
|Wednesday: Shoulders & Triceps||Amount|
|Seated Side Lateral Raises:||4x12, last set is a drop to failure|
|Smith Machine behind the head Press:||4x12, last set is a drop|
|Rear Delt Machine:||4x12, last two sets are drop sets|
|Seated Press Machine:||4x12 (one arm at a time)|
|Low Pulley Rope Front Raises||4x12|
|Triceps Rope Pull Downs:||4x12|
|Seated DB Overhead Triceps Press:||4x12|
|Thursday: Hamstrings & Glutes||Amount|
|RDL’s: Lift from the floor:||6x10-12|
|BB Hip Thrusts with a resistance band:||4x12|
|Lying Leg Curl:||4x12, last set is a drop set|
|Seated Leg Curl:||4x12|
|Rope Pull Throughs:||4x12|
|Friday: Chest, Biceps, Abs||Amount|
|Hammer Incline Chest Press: ||4x12|
|Incline DB Fly:||4x12|
|Pec Dec Machine:||4x12|
|DB Bicep Curls:||4x12|
|Hanging Knee Ups:||4x15-20|
|Incline Sit Ups:||(slow on the way down)|
|Smith Machine Hip Thrusts: ||5-6x15|
|Lat Pull Downs||4x12|
|Resistance Bands Squat Jumps:||4x12 jumps|
|Side Lateral Raises:||4x12|
I love fasted cardio. I rise at 5:30am and do about 20-30 minutes steady state in my off-season 5-6 times a week. I own an Elliptical so I literally roll out of bed and into my cardio. When I’m in-season I do much more cardio. But, I still do fasted early cardio for about 30-40 minutes. I warm up for 5 minutes and then I perform HIIT sprints. I sprint fast for one minute and recover for 2-3 minutes then repeat for the remainder. Usually at some point in the afternoon I’ll do round two of cardio usually steady state for another 15-20 minutes. Afternoon cardio is my least favorite of contest prep but it’s necessary to get that lean shredded look.
When I come off of a season I usually take a break from posing. But, I always practice certain poses during my rest intervals when training. It’s fun to pop a front pose after smashing some delts. I’ve been doing figure for the last 7 years but this season I’m crossing over to physique. So, I’ve been learning the poses with my coach, IFBB Pro Jamie Pinder. I also have to put a routine together. It’s a whole new ball game this season. I was resistant to change but I’ve finally got my head around it and I’m excited.
My fitness journey continues to be exciting and spiritual. I’ve met so many wonderful people along the way. Some live close and some live far. But, no matter the distance the support is always there. It’s spiritual because whether you compete or not there’s always something to learn about yourself as you pursue your goals. You should never stop evolving. The fitness community is one where people are constantly striving to be better versions of themselves. They will support you unconditionally and pick you up when you falter. My tag line for my business is: “It’s NEVER TOO LATE to feel GREAT”.
Helping others train and eat properly is my passion. It’s worth its weight in gold when a client thanks me for helping them change their body. Don’t put off your personal fitness journey any longer.
Feel free to contact me should you have any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
Or on Instagram: lindastephensifbbpro