My Passion to “Look,” “Feel” and “Be” STRONG

At a Glance: Melissa Rayburn

Age: 38

Occupation: Physical Therapist Assistant and Exercise Physiologist

Education: Associates in Physical Therapy; Bachelors in Exercise Science

Family:2 daughters: Mya, 8; Reese, 5

Current Residence: Englewood, Ohio

Years Training: Working out since 8 years old; Training in Figure: 3+ years

Height: 5 foot 2 and ¾” (Don’t forget the ¾”!!)

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

Favorite BB Meal:UMP Protein Waffle with Walden Farms Syrup

Favorite Supplements: UMP tastes amazing & I can make all kinds of dessert for my girls with it!! I’d recommend UMP to Everyone! Muscularity and Density have helped me gain muscle! Muscle Synergy makes me feel like a lil’ beast in the gym!

Music: Combination of sports motivation speeches & ALL kinds of music!

Most Inspiring Book: Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins

Hobbies or Interests outside bodybuilding: Cooking (I love trying new healthy recipes!), rock climbing, motorcycle riding, crafting with my daughters, cake decorating, and reading anything educational (I’m a nerd-I always want to learn more!!! )

Favorite Quote:“There is more in us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps, for the rest of our lives, we will be unwilling to settle for less.” – Kurt Kahn. “This is a lifestyle. Train like there is no finish line.” – Dana Linn Bailey

I can still remember my first “workout”. I was 8. I knew noth-ing about fitness but I knew that I was the smallest girl in my class and I decided that I wanted to be “as strong as the boys”. So, on my family farm I went out to the barn and pulled hay bales out into the yard and set up an obstacle course. I used whatever I could find... buckets, pitchforks etc. And then I ran that obstacle course over and over. Something clicked at that moment. I was hooked. I loved it! I continued making up workouts and thought if I was jumping, pulling, running, or pushing on something that I would have to be getting stronger!!

This passion to be strong and active turned into sports and horseback riding in high school, running marathons in college, and finally into a career. I became an Exercise Physiologist and a Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant.

I still lifted occasionally but it wasn't until after I had my first daughter that I turned to the weights more seriously. I can still remember the first time I noticed my bicep muscle. I was like a "yes!" That just fed my desire even more to get stronger and "bigger." My idea of the perfect physique was to feel AND look strong! I started making up my own lifting programs and setting goals. Then eventually I heard about "Figure" and started competing.

I am now starting my 4th year of competing and I have learned a lot. I have learned what my body is capable of and how to use food and workouts to change my physique. I REALLY struggled to put on muscle though. I started using Beverly International supplements and my physique and muscle mass improved greatly. Now, I am absolutely hooked. UMP, Muscularity, Muscle Synergy, Lean Out, Density, and 7-Keto MuscLean are in my daily meal plan and I'm always telling people about these products! My coach, Dave Uhlman also helped me to increase my calorie intake over the last couple years which helped me put on size.

My first figure show was the Kentucky State in August 2011. I placed 1st in my class and 2nd in the overall. I went on to compete in the Northern Kentucky in March 2012 and placed 3rd in a very large class and 6th in Masters. I competed last year in the Michigan Nicole Wilkins show July 13, 2013. I placed 1st in my class and won Reserve Grand Champion in the overall! I told everyone backstage about Beverly!! I also did Dave Lieberman’s Natural Northern USA on Oct 5th and placed 2nd in the open. This spring I did the Kentucky Derby and won my class in the masters division.

Diet & Supplement Plan

Wake at 3:30 a.m: Water and 6 Density, Glu-tamine Select and 2 caps 7-Keto MuscLean; 50 min cardio plus abs and some high intensity intervals

Meal 1: 1 scoop of UMP made into a pudding with 2 rice cakes; 2 scoops Muscle Synergy


Meal 2: Protein waffle made w/ 1 scoop UMP, 4 egg whites, & ¼ cup oats; Lean Out

Meal 3: 4oz chicken, 4oz sweet potato, ½ cup red peppers; Lean Out

Meal 4: 6oz Orange Roughy, 8 asparagus, ½ avocado, ½ cup berries; Lean Out

Meal 5: 4oz chicken with 1 cup veggies

Meal 6: 4oz chicken, 2 cups spinach, 1 cup veggies for salad, 2 tbsp salsa; Lean out

Food Prep: Being a single mom with a full time job makes food prep a "must be organized" essential. I am always on top of having my refrigerator stocked and I cook a ton of everything on Sundays and Wednesdays and measure it all out! My girls eat 3 meals and 2 healthy snacks a day and all of this is packed as well. So food prep is a family affair.


I can’t say enough about Beverly supplements!

UMP is my favorite for many reasons. First and foremost is the taste is AMAZING! Another great thing is that I can make “treats” for my girls with UMP. We make brownies, cheesecake, muffins, waffles, and protein bars. I even made a peanut butter UMP pie when entertaining people once. It is low in carbs and calories and high in protein. There is no reason NOT to have UMP daily!

Muscularity: I have gone back and forth between Beverly’s Density and Muscularity and I love both. Right now I am using both because I am trying to build, and build quickly! Muscularity has a higher concentration of leucine and Density contains all 8 of the essential amino acids. Studies show that taking leucine with protein and carbs before and after workouts result in the greatest improvement in protein synthesis. That’s why I always take Muscularity before and after training. I take 6 Density each morning and occasionally use it before bed as well to help me build muscle all night long.

Muscle Synergy: This product is fairly new to me. Confession… I was scared to try it! But I’m glad I did! The IMMEDIATE gains I made in the gym were astounding! My strength has improved greatly! The first workout I used it on I went up on all my weights that day. Plus, it gives you this amazing ‘pump’ that makes you feel like a beast.

7-Keto MuscLean: I don’t use a lot of preworkouts or fat burners but this one is so natural that I don’t feel anything but energy…. NOT jittery. It keeps my metabolism running, helps give me that extra push for morning cardio, and it also helps mid-afternoon when I’m dragging or wanting to snack.

Lean Out: I use this after 3-4 meals a day to help transport fat into the mitochondria to be burned for energy and it also helps to keep my insulin/sugar levels in check.


5 days/week; 50 minutes per session right now, since I’m 2 weeks out from a show.

3:30 a.m.??? No, I’m not crazy! I get up then because I have these two wonderful little girls who are my whole world. I made a gym in my basement and I get up early so I can get it all done before they wake up. That way I have each and every night with them after work. And it’s worth it! This is how I balance my passion for competing and still enjoy my 2 most favorite joys in the world.

I believe cardio should be fun so I always try to mix it up! I alternate between plyos, sprints, homemade Crossfit workouts and the elliptical. On Sundays my girls and I go to the track when it’s nice and I mix it up between sprints, running the stadium steps, and flipping tires. Most mornings I do cardio in my basement. I usually make up a “Crossfit” type workout using the equipment I have and I do it for time.

Example: 4 or 5 rounds of the following:

  • 20 Kettelbell swings
  • 10 Pullups
  • 20 Burpees
  • 20 Bench Hops
  • 12 Ab Wheel

I also love doing sprints on the treadmill with the treadmill off and the incline fully up. I manually push the treadmill for 20-30 seconds for 8 to 10 rounds.


I lift 6 days a week when prepping for a show.

Workout Schedule:

  • Sun and Thursday : Legs
  • Monday: Shoulders
  • Tuesday : Back
  • Wed: Chest and Arms
  • Friday: Alternate Back and Shoulders

Cardio is 5 days a week and I’m only doing HIIT right now.


I am a high volume leg lifter. I do legs twice a week. One day it’s 5 basic exercises heavy: BB squat, straight leg deadlift, leg exten-sion, leg curl, and calf raises. I perform 4-5 sets per exercise and work up to as heavy as I can go for that day. The other day is what I call my shaping day where I focus more on supersets and glute work. Here is a sample “shaping” day:

  1. DB Lunges: 4x15 each leg; superset with Step-ups: 4x20 each leg
  2. Barbell Squats slightly below parallel with a 2 count hold at bottom: 4x10
  3. Leg Press (wide): 4x10; superset Standing Calf Raises: 4x20
  4. Leg Extension: 20, 15, 12, 10 (with 10 count hold on last rep); superset with Wall Sits: 4x1 minute
  5. Leg Curl: 3x12 (I alternate between using one leg and both legs); superset Reverse Lunges: 4x15
  6. One Leg Straight Leg Deadlift with a DB: 4x12; superset with DB Sumo Squats: 4x12


I always start with Dumbbell Presses. This is mostly because I am somewhat of a meathead and love to try to improve the weight I lift, so I like to be fresh.

  1. Dumbbell Presses: 12, 12, 10, 10, 8, 8, 4; I work up to pressing 50's/55's
  2. Lateral Raises: I alternate between standing and lying Side Laterals on an incline bench: 4x10-12
  3. Upright Rows with an EZ curl bar: 5 sets of 6-8; I like to go heavy on these to help build my upper traps and medial delts!
  4. Shoulder Abduction Machine: 4x10/10/10 ( 10 reps, hold 10 seconds, 10 more reps without stopping); superset Rear Delt Cable Flyes: 4x12
  5. Front Raises: 45#/35#/25#. Grab a 45#plate, lift it in front of you for as many reps as possible, put it down and grab the 35# for AMRAP, and then go to 25# AMRAP for 3 full rounds! FIRE!!!


  1. Pullups: 4 x 10 (I do as many as I can on my own and then I jump up and do negatives for the rest of the set). Pullups are hard. At first I was very intimidated by them. Because of that I now do them at least once a week! When I started I could only do 2. Now I can do 9 or 10 in a row without stopping!
  2. Barbell Rows: 4 sets: 12, 10, 10, 8
  3. Close Grip Pulldown: 12, 12, 10 and then I do a lighter set of 10 reps, hold 10 seconds and then immediately do 10 more. I love the “hold”, it really squeezes the muscle!
  4. One Arm Rows: 12, 10, 10, 8; superset with Straight arm Pulldowns: 4x15
  5. Seated Wide grip Row: 3x10 with 10 second hold on last rep


I love to bench! I’m currently benching between 135 and 145 and I’m pushing to move up! If I don’t have a spotter I use the smith machine and I don’t go below 6 reps! Safety first!

  1. Bench: 12, 10, 10, 8, 6, 4
  2. High, Mid, and Low Cable Flyes: 2x12 each position; superset with 8-10 Clapping Push-ups each set
  3. Incline DB Press: 15, 12, 10, 10, 8
  4. Incline DB Flyes: 4x12


  1. Weighted Dips: (I always start with these!): 0#x12, 25#x10, 35#x10, 45#x10, 55#x5-7 reps
  2. Seated DB Bicep Curls w/30's: 4x10-12 reps
  3. Triceps Pressdowns: 15, 12, 10, 10; superset Rope Cable Hammer Curls: 4x15
  4. Skull Crushers: 3x10-12; superset 1 Arm High Cable Curls: 4x10-12
  5. 1 arm Preacher Curls with focus on negatives: 3x8; superset Triceps Pushups: AM-RAP

Anyone who knows me knows that when I walk in the gym I have my workout journal and a list of strength goals. I never just go through a workout. I always aim to improve my numbers or the weight I can lift. I make goals for 4 weeks at a time. Hitting PR’s and seeing my strength improve is just as important to me as placing in a show! When I began taking Muscle Synergy, I saw these PR’s come much more easily! I felt stronger in the gym. Now I use it EVERY workout! I always encourage the women I work with and those that work out with me to make a goal in the gym at every workout! It is empowering to see people realize they have potential to lift more!


Poise, Grace, Confidence….these are the words that I think of when I think of presentation. They are the key elements that I feel are important on stage. I try to walk and move with grace. I try to make every movement smooth. I constantly practice my poses and walking. My daughters think it’s normal to go around hitting your back pose and my 5 year old even has her own. Posing is just like training your physique. You gotta work at it to make it stronger!

Being on stage is such a “high” for me. I don’t ever have to worry about not smiling because I am so happy to be up there! As hard as we all work to be up there on that stage, I think we should ALL be grinning from ear to ear! Standing on stage is saying that we made it. We dieted. We drank water! Water! Water! We ran. Lifted. Pushed. Pulled. All of that love for our sport should shine from us on contest day!

Mental Prep

One of the most important parts of contest for me has nothing to do with my diet or workouts. I believe that to give 100% to my lifting, cardio, and dieting, I must be mentally strong. Getting up at 3:30 and expecting my body to push its hardest is sometimes a mental game! In addition, fit-ting it all in while working full time and trying to be the best mother I can, can sometimes seem stressful! To help with this I make sure I am always concentrating on practicing my mental strength. I frequently read or listen to books on sports psychology and self-help books which keep me motivated and teach me about my strength and weaknesses. It helps me to identify when I’m struggling and to overcome and stay on track! I would recommend this to all as it has helped me greatly!


Competing in Figure has allowed me to continue my passion for fitness. But it has done more. It has also helped me to become a stronger and more confident person. It has taught me what I am capable of. The pride I feel from completing a contest prep and stepping on stage gives me the strength to help get through many other obstacles in life. Competing has also allowed me to meet the most amazing people that I now call friends and has allowed me to become a better role model for my daughters.

Posted in 2015 Collection, Fit Figure / Bikini.