Hard Heavy with Intensity

By: Rebecca Bruce
Magazine 13 #2

I grew up with two older brothers, both of whom had done competitive bodybuilding in college (one brother was "Mr. Indiana University", the other was "Mr. Purdue" and remained a serious competitor for years on both the East and West Coast). As a teenager, I liked joking with my Dad about how I planned on competing too. He would frown at me and tell me that only women who wanted to look like men did bodybuilding. I think I must have half believed him because I became a cardio queen. I can remember when I was fifteen getting up at 5 a.m. and doing an hour of aerobics before school.

I like to train hard heavy with intensity

A lot of people think like my dad. Women shouldn’t lift heavy. Women shouldn’t train hard. Women who do will end up looking like men. If a woman wants to change her physique, she should just run more on the treadmill or spend hours on the elliptical or in aerobics class. While I love my Dad dearly and agree with him about many things in life, this is an area where I have to respectfully disagree with him! My years of lots and lots of cardio did absolutely NOTHING to change my physique. A lot of cardio just made me a smaller version of myself without any appreciable muscle.

Rebecca Bruce bicep pose trophy

Only with heavy weight training did I start to see visible changes to my physique.

Yes, women who train hard and heavy (and naturally) do get more muscular, but they don’t turn into men. Heavy training didn’t make me look more like a man; it actually made me shapelier, and more feminine.

I started serious training in December of 2002 after a nine year lay off from any serious physical activity. My oldest brother encouraged me to not just train, but to "go for it". I decided to train for a bodybuilding show. I picked an NPC show six months away in Indiana. My weight training sessions became heavy workouts, training to failure. My weight starting out in January of 2003 was 126 and my bodyfat was at least 26%. I trained for this show blind, without knowledge or understanding of what I was doing. The only supplements I used were various brands of protein powder. My brother Tom helped me by email, but I could only absorb so much this way, and while it kept me from making a complete fool of myself, I nonetheless found my first show to be rather humiliating. I weighed in around 105 and my bodyfat was in the15’18% range. I was mortified when the promoter teased me about being too light to register on the scale. That day was an awkward day of realizing that, while I had trained hard and made a lot of progress, I was not truly ready to compete at this level. Not surprisingly, I had a gnawing desire to compete again... and do it the right way. In other words, I began to formulate a new goal: to train and diet so that I could compete competitively. The overall women’s open bodybuilding champion of that show encouraged me to compete again – she also told me that Beverly International products were the best on the market and recommended that I consider using them next time I trained. She looked phenomenal and her words were not lost on me.

The next three years were very busy and rewarding. I continued to work my adoption law practice, but not as many hours a week since during this period we added three more children to our family, all by adoption. By the end of 2006 we had four adopted children from 10 months to 14 years of age. We also had two other foster children in our care for several months during that period. Still, I continued to train because the kids could come with me to the gym and they enjoyed being there.

Spring of 2007 came with renewed vision. It was time to compete again. My husband, who is not just my husband but who is also my best friend AND my law partner, too, gave me his blessing. He knew I had it in me to compete again and to do so with a different focus this time – he knew I wanted to conquer my own feelings of inadequacy about how I presented in 2003. So in February of 2007 I began training for a competition in June. My goal was to compete competitively this time, add and retain muscle and compete with the lowest possible bodyfat. I was receiving the newsletters from Beverly International (and saving them). I pulled out my Beverly materials and reread them. Then I ordered Mass Aminos, Ultra 40 Liver Tabs, 7 Keto MuscLean, Ultra Size Protein and Ultimate Muscle Protein, and began using them in conjunction with my training. Beverly sent me their guide "The Beverly Method ’ How to Gain Muscle and Lose Bodyfat with the Best of the Best" and I began to improve my diet.

Here’s the nutrition program I followed to achieve single’digit bodyfat levels while retaining muscle size:

I followed the following diet and supplement regimen, eating every three hours for the last four weeks leading up to my contest:
Wake up – take 6 GH Factor
First meal – 5 egg whites with fresh salsa OR 4’6 ounces extra lean ground turkey with onions and green peppers
(Super Pak, 5 Ultra 40 Liver Tabs, 3 Muscularity, 2 Density, 2 Lean Out, 3 EFA and 1 Energy Reserve)
Second meal ’ Protein shake: 2 Scoops of Ultimate Muscle Protein
Supplements: 5 Ultra Liver Tabs, 3 Muscularity, 2 Density, 2 Lean Out and 1 Energy Reserve
OR no shake, just 4 Density and 2 Energy Reserve Note: During the week, I often consumed 4 Density and 2 Energy Reserve in place of Meal 2 or Meal 4.

This worked particularly well when I was at my office or otherwise engaged and didn't want to take the time to eat a meal.

The Density together with Energy Reserve as a meal curbed my appetite and worked to replenish my amino acid stores so that my lean muscle mass could be maintained while my bodyfat was utilized for fuel. I also found that 2 Density with every meal went a long way in allowing me to diet so strictly while keeping my mental focus.

Third meal ’ 3’6 oz. chicken (usually with fajita seasonings), ¾ cup brown rice (except on weekends, when I took out the brown rice and added in vegetables instead)
Supplements: (5 Ultra Liver Tabs, 3 Muscularity, 2 Lean Out, 2 Density and 1 Energy Reserve)

Fourth meal ’ same as meal 2, I used Muscle Provider if I had a shake since this meal was usually preworkout

Supplements before/during/after workout:
Before – 8 Muscle Synergy, 2 Energy Reserve, 4 Density, 1 scoop Creatine Select
During – 5’10 Muscle Mass (BCAAs) and 3 scoops of Glutamine Select
After – 8 Muscle Synergy, 4 Density

Fifth meal – Tilapia (cajun seasoned) with broccoli or cauliflower or asparagus
(5 Ultra Liver Tabs, 3 Muscularity, 2 Lean Out, 2 Density and 1 Energy Reserve)

Sixth meall – 2’3 Scoops of Ultimate Muscle Protein Cookies and Crème blended with cold water and ice ’’ I know that 3 scoops seems like a lot but I found that having 3 scoops helped me to go to sleep without that deprived / hungry / keyed up feeling and it definitely didn&rst hurt my diet as my bodyfat consistently dropped throughout.

(5 Ultra Liver Tabs, 3 Muscularity, 2 Lean Out, 2 Density and 1 Energy Reserve)

Before bed: 6 GH Factor & 2 Bev ZMA

I was floored by my immediate progress. I started noticing strength gains, energy bursts, and improved muscle tone. I had been working out hard and heavy for over four years with minimal progress, and then SUDDENLY I was making noticeable visible progress in leaps and bounds! The ONLY things different in my training and diet were Beverly supplements and a few tweaks to my diet based on the Beverly model. I became a Beverly "believer" and fast. I have to confess that over the next several months while I trained for my contest, I tried almost all of Beverly’s products. And with success. Each product seemed to give me a little more of an edge, physically and mentally. There wasn’t one product that I couldn’t wholeheartedly recommend to a friend wanting to compete or to just get in better shape.

My advice: use the number of Beverly products that you can afford, even if it’s only two or three. If you are a hard gainer, Muscle Synergy is the best product for adding muscle size and strength. (Note, when I started using Muscle Synergy, I had to ease myself into it. I began with only 1’2 tablets at a time; after a few weeks of this, I was able to start using the product at its recommended dosage for my size.) If you need to stick to the essentials or just want to try a few Beverly products to see if you like them (and you will!), I would put Mass Aminos, Ultra 40 Liver Tabs, and Glutamine Select on that list, as well as any one or more of Beverly’s proteins, Muscle Provider (great fuel before a workout), Ultra Size (makes great brownie treats and more) and Ultimate Muscle Protein (my favorite to mix in my blender with cold water and a little ice).

When I first started training and using Beverly products in 2007, I weighed 130 lbs and was in pretty good shape for general purposes. But as I used them it was obvious I was getting more muscular. I was up to 135 lbs, a 5’lb gain in muscle when I started my serious, precontest diet. At the contest I weighed 118. I had followed Beverly’s meal suggestions fairly closely, though admittedly eating a little more than the recommended amounts. I did progressively decrease calories during the last six weeks to fairly low levels for me. I also didn’t start my cardio progression earlier enough and I tried to make up for it by increasing to too much cardio. Looking back, I think I ended up burning off some hard earned muscle. On some days I was doing two 60 minute sessions per day, and this was too much for me. I have since learned it’s better to diet early (and strictly), and keep the cardio – for me – to no more than two 30 minute sessions per day.

Even though I could have done better, it was obvious that I had added muscle and leaned down, and I looked ready! Friday afternoon before the contest, I kissed my family goodbye and drove a grand total of 8 miles to hole up in a hotel and mentally prepare myself. Even though the contest was right around the corner from my home, I knew I needed this mental prep time. I took along my Beverly materials, including their precontest workbook that contained a TON of information about precontest preparations and the like. I finished putting on my "tan" and mentally focused on posing and my individual routine. I also read and reread Beverly’s materials. I found this helped me tremendously. I reviewed what I had done, how I had progressed, and found myself encouraged that I had met my goal of being ready to compete competitively. I read what to expect the day of competition and knew I had mentally prepared. I also took a video of the show I was competing in from the prior year. I watched it and practiced posing along with it to get myself ready for the show. I found this extremely helpful in getting mentally prepared and eliminating "surprises" on contest date.

Central Indiana and Indiana State

2 Class Wins and an Overall Realization

I showed up on June 30th, 2007, for the GNC Central Indiana Bodybuilding and Figure Competition ready to compete. I was surprised and somewhat disappointed to find that I was the only one in my weight class. I weighed in at 118 and was therefore in the women’s light weight class. The middleweight class had two women and the heavyweight also had two women. I got to know one of the heavyweight competitors throughout the day. She turned out to be the overall winner and a genuine class act. She had competed in 7 shows as compared to my 1, and she let me follow her lead throughout the day (thank you, Laura!). I was happy when she turned out to be the overall winner. It turns out she is also an avid fan of Beverly products. She gave me a great recipe for a Pumpkin Soufflé (1/2 cup pumpkin, 1’2 scoops of Ultra Size or Muscle Provider, egg white, pumpkin pie spice – mix together and put in microwave for about 4 minutes – yummy! I like to put sugar free maple syrup on it after I cook it.) Though she was the clear overall winner, I was satisfied to be told by many that I was competitive in the overall round. The highlight of my day was when the same NPC promoter who had teased me publicly at my show in 2003 about being too light to register on the scale, looked at me square in the eye before I went out to do my routine at the evening show and said "You look GOOD."

I did more cardio than I should have again, but hey, it’s a learning process, at least for me it has been. I weighed in around 112 (lost some fat AND muscle). Still, when the Indiana State Championships rolled around, I was tighter and more mentally ready than before. I looked better than I’d ever looked. (And Dad, I didn’t look at all like a man! Haha.)

Again, I was the only one in my weight class. I was bummed when I discovered this in the morning. The overall winner at this show turned out to be another fan of Beverly products, but I was not in her league size’wise or conditioning’wise. While I was initially dismayed to come to this show to find that I was not going to stand side by side with my competition, by the evening I came to realize that I WAS standing with my competition. I was standing with myself. I was my own competition. I met ALL of my goals. I added muscle, lost bodyfat, and gained confidence. As I stood on stage that evening, my smiles on stage were genuine, sincere smiles of confidence and evidence of true enjoyment, perhaps for the first time ever as a competitor in a bodybuilding contest.

I did more cardio than I should have again, but hey, it’s a learning process, at least for me it has been. I weighed in around 112 (lost some fat AND muscle). Still, when the Indiana State Championships rolled around, I was tighter and more mentally ready than before. I looked better than I’d ever looked. (And Dad, I didn’t look at all like a man! Haha.)

My Favorite Muscle Building Training Program:

Choose 2’3 exercises for each bodypart and perform the sets and reps indicated for each week.

Week 1 – 2 sets to failure (failing within 8’11 reps – a "light" week)
Day 1 – Chest, Shoulders and Abs**
Day 2 – Back and Triceps
Day 3 – Legs, Biceps and Forearms
Day 4 – Chest, Shoulders and Abs
Day 5 – Back and Triceps
Days 6 & 7 – Rest or just do cardio***

Weeks 2 & 3 #8211; 3 sets to failure (failing within 4’7 reps – "heavy" weeks)
Day 1 – Legs, Biceps and Forearms
Day 2 – Chest, Shoulders and Abs
Day 3 – Back and Triceps
Day 4 – Legs, Biceps and Forearms
Day 5 – Chest, Shoulders and Abs
Days 6 & 7 – Rest or just do cardio

Day 1 – Back and Triceps
Day 2 – Legs, Biceps and Forearms
Day 3 – Chest Shoulders and Abs
Day 4 – Back and Triceps
Day 5 – Legs, Biceps and Forearms
Days 6 & 7 – Rest or just do cardio (optionally you could choose to have one rest day mid’week, and one at the end of the week)

Week 4 – 4 sets to failure (failing within 8’15 reps – a "light" week)
(same as week 1, but with 4 sets)

Weeks 5 & 6 – 5 sets to failure (failing within 4–7 reps – "heavy" weeks)
(same as weeks 2 & 3, but with 5 sets)

Start over at beginning of 6 week cycle

Precontest, I do cardio six days a week for anywhere from 30’60 minutes a day, progressing from 30 to 60 minutes daily the closer I get to contest day. When my daily cardio surpasses 45 minutes, I break my cardio up in to two 30 minutes sessions, once in the morning and once after each lifting session. I have found that breaking my cardio into two sessions helps me lose more fat and keep more muscle.

Rebecca bicep curl dumbbell

Again, I was the only one in my weight class. I was bummed when I discovered this in the morning. The overall winner at this show turned out to be another fan of Beverly products, but I was not in her league size’wise or conditioning’wise. While I was initially dismayed to come to this show to find that I was not going to stand side by side with my competition, by the evening I came to realize that I WAS standing with my competition. I was standing with myself. I was my own competition. I met ALL of my goals. I added muscle, lost bodyfat, and gained confidence. As I stood on stage that evening, my smiles on stage were genuine, sincere smiles of confidence and evidence of true enjoyment, perhaps for the first time ever as a competitor in a bodybuilding contest

The Northern Contest

I wanted the chance to do a big show, at least one where there would be others in my weight class. A trainer at the gym, Lindsay wanted to do an NPC show, as she had successfully competed at the Ball State show a couple of years earlier. We started out training together, but she got a job in Wisconsin and moved and wasn’t able to continue for many understandable reasons. I however had already mentally committed to the training and continued to train. I followed the same gaining workout as outlined in this article until about 6 weeks out, then I followed Beverly’s precontest workout. I got a lot of help from Beverly on diet and posing at their precontest workshops. I decided that I was going to follow their recommendations to a "T" even if it meant stricter dieting, etc. They started my diet earlier for me and it was very strict to me. However, it worked. In the first four weeks of dieting, my bodyfat dropped 5% and I gained muscle, too. To make a long story short, I attained the best conditioning I’ve ever achieved (I am not sure what my final bodyfat was right before the contest, but it was obviously the lowest I’ve ever been, one of my brothers helped me with posing one week out from the show and said it looked like it was in the "low digits" and the expediter at the Northern who helped me put on my oil said "man, you are shredded").

So did I win my weight class? No. As Beverly had promised, I had competition. There were fourteen women in the show and 8 in the light weight class. I weighed in at 115 lightest in the class. I did make the top 5 and got a 5th place trophy. I initially was disappointed because I felt I could have placed a little higher, and I was very critical of my posing at the prejudging. Upon reflection, I quickly reassessed and decided that I should be very pleased. I *did* achieve the best conditioning of my life, looked "show ready," improved my posing ability, and attained experience at a bigger show that will only help me in the future. I also decided that my next goal will be to add size to my upper body. I am a very small’framed woman. My shoulders are narrow. Almost every single woman in my weight class at the Northern looked broad on stage. I did not. This is my next goal. To develop my upper body so that on stage I will have better symmetry.

Does my story stop here? Not quite. I did one more show after the Northern. I went to Evansville, Indiana on March 29th, a week later, and got another first place trophy just for showing up at the Southern Indiana Bodybuilding & Figure Championships, as I was the only woman in the lightweight class, again. However, this was my best show yet. I was not only ready conditioning’wise, posing’wise, and other’wise, but I went back in front of the Indiana judges who had seen me in 2007. After the show, several of them took the time to tell me how much improved I was and how impressed they were by my conditioning.

The Northern Contest

I wanted the chance to do a big show, at least one where there would be others in my weight class. A trainer at the gym, Lindsay wanted to do an NPC show, as she had successfully competed at the Ball State show a couple of years earlier. We started out training together, but she got a job in Wisconsin and moved and wasn’t able to continue for many understandable reasons. I however had already mentally committed to the training and continued to train. I followed the same gaining workout as outlined in this article until about 6 weeks out, then I followed Beverly’s precontest workout. I got a lot of help from Beverly on diet and posing at their precontest workshops. I decided that I was going to follow their recommendations to a "T" even if it meant stricter dieting, etc. They started my diet earlier for me and it was very strict to me. However, it worked. In the first four weeks of dieting, my bodyfat dropped 5% and I gained muscle, too. To make a long story short, I attained the best conditioning I’ve ever achieved (I am not sure what my final bodyfat was right before the contest, but it was obviously the lowest I’ve ever been... one of my brothers helped me with posing one week out from the show and said it looked like it was in the "low digits" and the expediter at the Northern who helped me put on my oil said "man, you are shredded").

So did I win my weight class? No. As Beverly had promised, I had competition. There were fourteen women in the show and 8 in the light weight class. I weighed in at 115 lightest in the class. I did make the top 5 and got a 5th place trophy. I initially was disappointed because I felt I could have placed a little higher, and I was very critical of my posing at the prejudging. Upon reflection, I quickly reassessed and decided that I should be very pleased. I *did* achieve the best conditioning of my life, looked "show ready," improved my posing ability, and attained experience at a bigger show that will only help me in the future. I also decided that my next goal will be to add size to my upper body. I am a very small’framed woman. My shoulders are narrow. Almost every single woman in my weight class at the Northern looked broad on stage. I did not. This is my next goal. To develop my upper body so that on stage I will have better symmetry.

Does my story stop here? Not quite. I did one more show after the Northern. I went to Evansville, Indiana on March 29th, a week later, and got another first place trophy just for showing up at the Southern Indiana Bodybuilding & Figure Championships, as I was the only woman in the lightweight class... again. However, this was my best show yet. I was not only ready conditioning’wise, posing’wise, and other’wise, but I went back in front of the Indiana judges who had seen me in 2007. After the show, several of them took the time to tell me how much improved I was and how impressed they were by my conditioning.

In closing

I want to encourage others to think BIG, even if you are small. No matter your goals, you can achieve them. It may not take you as long as it has for me, but it does take time and the willingness to keep going, no matter how hard or impossible it may seem. Set your goals high, be willing to train hard, ask for help, apply knowledge, and keep improving and tweaking along the way.


NNM 13 #2
 Brian Wiefering
My No Nonsense Preparation for a Photo Shoot
 Judy Weichman
The Plan I Followed to Compete in My First Figure Show