My First Figure Competiton: Thanks Beverly
NO! NO! NO! That was my response every time my trainer brought up the idea of doing a figure competition. When I’d think of standing on stage wearing a teeny, tiny, sparkly little bit of nothingness, in front of hundreds of people, I was terrified.
Then, for some reason that I can’t even fathom, he asked again. And I said yes. We started really serious pre contest preparation a little more than three months out from the Alamo Showdown Classic. I figured that three months was enough time that I should be ready to compete if I did everything right. I’d been training regularly for seven years, kept my body fat in the 17 to 20 percent range, and felt pretty good with the way I looked in my training clothes. My diet was already pretty good, I ate 4-5 small meals per day, kept my carbohydrates and fat in a low to moderate range and always ate protein with each meal. I was feeling pretty good about competing... UNTIL my trainer said,
We need to take before photos in a bikini to have a focal point of what we need to work on for your competition.
Wow, was I surprised, I could not believe that was me in the photograph. I was astonished and very upset at how bad I looked. I thought I’d made a terrible mistake in committing to a competition. I told my trainer,
There is no way I can be stage ready in 13 weeks.
Josh, my trainer, reassured me that if I would trust his strength training program and let him hook me up with Beverly Interantional for supplements and a contest diet program that there was no way that I would not place in the top five. After much reassurance and several conversations, I was back in the game!Josh said that my training would highlight the the muscle groups that are most important in figure competition. Here’s the list we came up with:
- V-taper from front and back
- Nicely rounded shoulders
- Lean biceps and tight triceps
- Tight waist, & hips and butt
- Sculpted abdominal area
- Full quadriceps with slight separation but no striations
- Tight rounded hamstrings
- Full calves
- Dark, rich color
Next we assessed my strengths and weaknesses
My strengths were abs, biceps, shoulders, and back. I have always tried to maintain a fair degree of muscularity and prided myself in being able to lift pretty heavy, even though I have a small frame. My weaknesses were triceps, calves, quads, and of course every woman’s problem area, my hips and butt. I had some development in these areas, but they were where I held my fat.
This was the program Josh and I believed would be the best course for my competition.
- We began with my problem areas first:
- Monday: Glutes, Hamstrings, Calves & Abs
- Tuesday: (V-taper) Chest, Shoulders, Triceps
- Wednesday: (V-taper) Back, Bicep & Abs
- Thursday: Glutes, Quads & Calves
- Friday: Shoulders, Bicep, Triceps & Abs
I focused on my glutes and hamstrings first in my workout and worked glutes twice per week. I had gone to other fitness shows and noticed other competitors that were soft in this area and I did not want any part of my butt to move or jiggle when I walked across the stage. Monday thru Thursday I lifted very heavy for 10 repetitions, resting 90 seconds per set and performed the basics, not getting too fancy with my program yet. On Friday, I wanted to give my shoulders and arms some additional work, but not to failure. I reduced the weight to 70% of my max and increased my reps to 15 on Friday.
- Here is a detailed Monday training program:
- Hyperextensions: (Warm-up exercise 3 sets of 25-30 reps working in the midrange to push blood into my butt and hamstrings with 30 second rest intervals between sets.)
- Prone Leg Curl: 4 sets of 10 reps working up to 50 lbs
- Stiff Legged Deadlift: 3 sets of 10 reps, 135 lbs
- Dumbbell Lunges: 3 sets of 10 reps, 25-30lb dumbbells
- Standing Calf Raise: 4 sets of 20 reps, 140-200 lbs
- Hanging Leg Raise: 3 sets of 15
- Ball Crunches: 3 sets of 25-50 reps
My workouts were grueling but they were fun
Luckily, I had two great training partners that helped me push through the tough workouts, thanks Holly and Josh. They were also dieting with me, which helped each and everyday!
Gym at 4:30am for Cardio
I performed my cardio on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning before I began my work day. I went to the gym at 4:30am and ran on the treadmill. I followed the cardio program in Beverly’s precontest workshop manual and their supplement outline to avoid muscle loss. I always took 1 scoop of Glutamine Select and 5 Muscle Mass BCAAs before each session. My main focus was to burn more calories in the same amount of time with each cardio session than the day before. I began with four 30 minute cardio sessions per week. I worked up gradually, as it is illustrated in the workshop manual, to six days per week for 60 minutes at two weeks from the show. Once I finished my cardio I’d eat my first meal of the day and then begin training my clients.
Diet: Figure Competition NutritionThe figure contest diet illustrated in the workshop manual was great and exceeded my every expectation. The correct portion sizes, the proper blend and choices of protein, carbohydrates and fat were detailed perfectly. I started with the Figure "Lose Fat" Diet Plan A (on pg 11 of the Figure section), then switched to Phase 2 Figure Competition Nutrition Program A (pg 14) after four weeks. Finally I followed the Phase 3 Advanced Rotation plan (pg 18) for the final six weeks leading up to the show.
See the sidebar for an illustration of my final diet and supplement phase just as I followed it. The initial programs as well as this one are also illustrated in Beverly’s Precontest Workshop Manual.
For the most part, I actually enjoyed the diet because I had help at home with planning, cooking, and portioning my meals. It aslo helped that my training partners were following a strict eating regimen as well.
Food preparation became a weekend family affair. My family and I cooked and separated my meals into containers as a team. I cooked fish, my husband Chad smoked enough chickens to last a week and my daughter Taylor, helped me boil and peel the eggs. This whole experience really helped bring us closer at dinner time. We didn’t go out to eat, so we spent more time at the dinner table, a relaxing and rewarding experience in itself.
I followed my diet to a T, and only rewarded my self with two stray meals throughout the entire 13-week, pre-contest diet. I had one slice of cheese pizza one day when Josh noticed I was a bit on edge or what he called B*??? (I called it a bout of "food envy / rage") and one Mexican meal after a trip to Vegas. I dieted throughout the summer and on our family trips, I took all my supplements and food along and tried to focus on the trip rather than the food I was missing. I had a great time and great people around me the whole time to help support my ultimate goal.
Four weeks out from the Alamo Showdown Classic
At this point of my training, I added an additional 2 repetitions per set to each of my exercises. Instead of 10 reps, I did 12, etc. I also began to use supersets and compound sets in my workout. I reduced my rest intervals from 90 seconds to 60 seconds and would cut them still further as the weeks drew closer to my competition. alamoshowdownclassic.com/
I felt great! Every workout I got stronger and stronger. I credit this in large part to Beverly’s Glutamine Select. As my diet and training became harder and harder I took more and more Glutamine Select.
Mistakes and lesson learnedI was very fortunate to have the Beverly Workshop Manual and Josh to guide me through my figure competition. I didn’t make any mistakes... except for one. Three weeks out from the show, I decided to begin some outside track drills to make my cardio more interesting and help put the final touches on my glute and hamstrings. I decided to go to a local high school track and jog for 20 minutes, then perform sprint drills for 20 minutes and run bleachers for 20 minutes. At that time my cardio had been done inside on a treadmill performing HIIT drills. It felt great getting back on the track, it had been fourteen years since I had run sprints and it brought back fun memories, UNTIL I started feeling severe lower back tightness. I stopped sprinting and began stretching because I thought my body was getting tired. I got back up and felt okay, later that night I could barely stand up. The next day I could not lift, I could not walk, every step was excruciating. I set up a chiropractic appointment and found I had strained my lower back and pelvic region. This necessitated an entire week off from cardio and lifting.
I learned a valuable lesson, when you’re training for any competition and you’re just a few weeks from the deadline, don’t start adding new exercises or activities. Stick with what has been working. An injury from unrehearsed exercises or activities can completely derail all your hard work and goal!
Posing and Final Presentation Details
Josh had started my posing practice with two 30 minute sessions per week – always in those 5 inch heels. By the last week before the show we practiced for one hour each day. Learning how to pose and turn correctly was critical to my succcess. At the show, all my time practicing was justified. I was told that my posing set me apart from the other competitors, especially in the side poses and transitions. And yes, we worked on those transitions every session, I didn’t just turn, we added some circular motions with my hands to make my transitions smooth and aesthetic.
Another benefit of all that practice is that I didn’t shake or became tired while holding my poses on stage for what seemed like forever. I was able to focus on smiling and trying to enjoy my moment on stage. The only snag I ran into on stage was dry mouth! That’s something you don’t think about while practicing. Thankfully, I faked that everything was fine and the judges couldn’t detect my discomfort.
One week prior to the show, I had my first full make-up, partial color, and suit posing practice session. This dress rehearsal was a huge ego boost. I could really see how much my body had changed and believe me, I looked a lot better with makeup, color, hair, and jewelry. Finally, I believed that I had a chance to win. In my opinion, a full dress rehearsal a week or so out, should be a must for all competitors.
My trainer, Josh, had one last surprise for me the day before we left for San Antonio. He arranged another dress rehearsal/posing practice session. This time, he had invited thirty people to observe my last posing practice routine. I would be in full competition wardrobe, and perform all the parts of the competition including walks and all my turns. This way, the members of our club could see what we had been working so hard to achieve. Josh said let’s treat this as your first competition. When I got to the show I’d already be use to performing in front of people.
Wow, the response I had from our members was incredible! Some were actually speechless. I even saw some mouths open in awe when they saw me in my two piece suit. I posed just as if I were on stage. I walked with my head up high and smiling big. I transitioned into my turns gracefully without any trips or fumbles, and I kept all the right muscles tight, at the right times. This was a big ego boost and let me know I was truly ready for my first competition.
By the time I took the stage for real I was prepared and confident. All the diet and training, posing practices, choosing the right suits and getting them early so I could pose with my one and two piece, picking the right color and researching every aspect of a figure competition lead me to my first figure win. YEAH!
The Final Result 1st place
That Saturday night at 9:30pm, I became the 2007 Short Division 1st place winner in the INBF Alamo Classic Figure competition and the Overall Figure Champion earning me a WNBF Pro Card in my first contest. This was one of the most rewarding experiences of my entire life. The support of the crowd, my friends, and especially my family made the whole sixteen weeks of time, training and even an injury, worthwhile. I’m ready to do it all over again.
Thanks Beverly and let’s get ready for win number two! ˜Lu Oswalt,
WNBF PRO & Beverly International’s best new friend.
Final 6 Week Diet
- meals I followed:
- Meal #1: 4 oz. turkey breast; 3 egg whites, 1 yolk; ½ grapefruit
- Meal #2: Protein shake or pudding: 2 scoops Ultimate Muscle Protein
- Meal #3: 6 ounces chicken (weighed prior to cooking) or can of tuna; 2 cups salad (lettuce, tomato, carrot, cucumber, green peppers, etc.); 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar and 1 tbsp olive oil for a dressing (or use 3 tbsp Newman’s Own oil and vinegar)
- Meal #4: Protein shake: 2 scoops Muscle Provider
- Meal #5 Carb up meal: 1-cup oatmeal (before cooking); 6 oz. sweet potato (after cooking); 4 oz. banana; 1 cup vegetables; 1 tbsp butter or almond butter
- Tuesday and Friday: (Low carbs / Low Calories)
- Special Supplements: Three times daily on an empty stomach: 2 7-Keto Musclean, 2 Energy Reserve, and 4 GH Factor.
- Meal #1: 4 oz. turkey breast, 3 egg whites, ½ grapefruit
- Meal #2: 5 ounces chicken (weighed prior to cooking); 2 cups salad (lettuce, tomato, carrot, cucumber, green peppers, etc.) with 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar and 1 tbsp olive oil for a dressing (or use 3 tbsp Newman’s Own oil and vinegar)
- Meal #3: Protein shake or pudding: 2 scoops Ultimate Muscle Protein or Muscle Provider Or 3.25 oz. can tuna, 2 egg whites, and 1 small carrot or tomato
- Meal #4: 5 oz. lean meat (chicken breast, turkey breast) or 6 oz. cod fish 2 cups vegetables (spinach or asparagus is best here)
- Wednesday – Saturday – Sunday (Moderate carbs / Moderate Calories) Special Supplements: 3 7-Keto Musclean twice daily Meal #1 3 egg whites and 3 oz. chicken or turkey breast ½ cup oatmeal before cooking
- Meal #2: Protein shake or pudding: 2 Scoops Ultra Size or Ultimate Muscle Protein Or 3.25 oz. can tuna, 3 egg whites, and 1 small carrot or tomato
- Meal #3: 5 oz. chicken (before cooking); 4 oz. sweet potato or ½ cup cooked brown rice; 1 cup vegetables (broccoli, etc.)
- Meal #4 (Same as meal #2)
- Meal #5: 5 oz. 93% lean beef, chicken, turkey, fish; 1-2 cups vegetables
- Luanna (Lu) Oswalt at a Glance
- Age: 33
- Occupation: Personal Trainer at JRG Fitness, Oak Forest Sports Club, Longview Texas
- Family: Married to Chad, one child, Taylor, she is 13.
- Current Residence: Longview, Texas
- Years Training: 6, for competition: 1
- Height: 5′3″
- Off Season Weight: 128
- Contest Weight: 120
- Favorite Cheat Food: Cookies, pizza, peanut butter cups, mexican food & margaritas
- Favorite Bodybuilding meal: Carbload meal of: oatmeal with sweet potato baby food, banana, splenda, and lite whipped cream topping. The baby food made portion control easy and convenient. It was a trainer suggestion.
- In your CD player: HANNAH MONTANA compliments of my daughter Taylor (haha)
- Hobby or interest outside bodybuilding: Wakeboarding, lounging at the lake, and crossword puzzles.