Going for My Second NABBA Nationals

4 biggest pieces of advice

Your cardio training should be just as focused, goal-driven and intense as your weight training.

By: Debora Wendte
Figure Tall 1st USA Nationals
Magazine 15 #3

I’ve always found reading the No Nonsense Magazine, not only remarkably informative, but highly inspirational.

I really enjoy reading all of the articles about the men and women who actively compete. I hope to encourage and motivate others in the same manner. So, here goes..

Here are the four (4) biggest pieces of advice

I can give to a fellow competitor

  • Don’t Mess Around
  • Excuses Are Not Restrictions (Plan!)
  • Self-doubt Will Destroy Your Dreams
  • Be Patient and Humble
Debora posing in contenst line up

1. Don’t mess around

If you consider biceps curls, triceps kickbacks, leg extensions and crunches a workout, then plan on failing miserably on your quest. A successful competitor must perform the "big lifts". The mere sight of those barbells and dumbbells should ignite burning desire in your soul! I would suggest to a fellow competitor that this sport is less about comparing your body to that of other competitors, and more about your ability to achieve an incredible level of physical, mental, (and dare I say) spiritual focus.

Here are a few of the top exercises which should take priority above all others in your training:

  • The Dead Lift (Romanian, Sumo, Close Stance, Single Leg, etc.)
  • The Squat (Front Loaded, Back Loaded, Single Leg, Plyo, etc.)
  • The Lunge (Walking, Static, Split, etc.)
  • The Bench Press or DB Chest Press (Flat, Incline)
  • Push-ups (all variations)
  • Dips
  • The Shoulder Press (BB or DB)
  • Pull-ups and Chin-ups
  • I would not object to seeing some Turkish get-ups (my personal favorite!), Hang-Cleans, Snatches or Push-Presses either!

Don’t go just to "workout" at the gym. For gosh sakes, take the pink legwarmers off and go train. You are an athlete. Train like an athlete. Consider free weights the meat and potatoes of your training. Machines are spinach, and you can’t grow on spinach alone. Prioritize the "big lifts" and then finish with some lower skill level exercises or machines. You have not earned the right to do push-downs until you have successfully completed your dips, push-ups and bench presses! Don’t mess around; get in there and do the required work.

2. Excuses are not restrictions (Plan!)

As most people in my age-group, I have a demanding job with very long hours. I work 7 days a week (yep), and I start work most days between 5:30 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. (and often not ending until 8:00 p.m.) That means I am up by 4 a.m. My point is this: You may be busy, but if you want to succeed, never make excuses to neglect training and good nutrition. Your family, your job, and your life are not restrictions. Take a moment and think of all the successful athletes who have families, demanding jobs and even medical conditions. They did it; so can you.

Nutrition and Meals

Good nutrition does not happen by accident. You must plan ahead. No excuses.

You cannot train hard and make progress without top-notch nutrition (and the older you are, the more important this becomes). Simply put: You cannot out-train a crappy diet.

This is where Beverly comes in. There are no fads, gimmicks or quick fixes. Beverly emphasizes life-long high quality nutrition. The Beverly website and No Nonsense Magazine provide so much information on body transforming nutrition; so just click and read. They even published the Pre-Contest Workshop Manual & Study Guide. It’s foolproof. Just follow the guidelines and succeed. Beverly International is there to help. You know their number; so call!

Here’s an example of my pre-contest diet (For my whole food protein sources, I rely strictly on fish, and eggs during the last 3 months before a show):

  • Protein pancakes w/ UMP (Vanilla), sprouted spelt pancake mix (Shiloh Farms) and ground flax seeds, ½ grapefruit and/or raw vegetables, (shot of wheat grass)
  • Apple w/ 1 tbsp organic raw almond butter (or 6-8 raw almonds)
  • Talapia, tuna, orange roughy, or vegetarian option, mixed raw vegetables, mixed raw berries
  • UMP Shake (Cookies & Cream) w/ water or unsweetened hemp or almond milk (shot of wheat grass)
  • Talapia, tuna, orange roughy, or vegetarian option, mixed raw vegetables, 6-8 raw walnuts
  • UMP Shake w/ water
  • Egg white or tofu-scramble and more raw vegetables (2x/week, this meal is replaced by a carb-load meal; this time, I’ll try Karina Rhode’s carb-load cookies, pg 8 last No Nonsense #15-2)

Deborah Wendte Content History
Eastern Seaboard – NABBA, Figure, 2nd
USA Junior Nationals – NABBA, Figure, 4th
USA Nationals – NABBA, Figure Tall, 2n
USA Nationals – NABBA, Figure Tall, 1st
North American Championships – NABBA, Figure Short, 1st
North American Championships – NABBA, Figure Overall Winner
North American Championships – NABBA, Figure Masters, 1st
USA Nationals – NABBA, Figure Tall, 2nd
USA Nationals – NABBA, Figure Tall, 2nd

Special thanks to my husband here for all of his help with food preparation! You rock, Brian!

It’s an excellent idea to keep a log in order to help you stick to your game plan.

During the off-season, I make sure to eat a larger variety of fruits, vegetables, grains and seeds. I also incorporate chicken and more vegetarian foods as sources of protein.

3. Self-doubt will destroy your dreams

Visualize yourself two (2) years from now. See yourself training hard, eating right and taking your Beverly International supplements.

What do you see?

Now promise me you will never forget what you saw. Visualize the future and never doubt that consistent, hard work will get you there. Stay focused, disciplined and driven. Remember: You are on a mission. It does not matter where on the mountain you start your quest (the bottom, the middle or close to the top); it doesn’t even matter if you have failed before. You must believe in your ability to succeed. Every day is a new opportunity for you to climb a little higher on that mountain. Do not let self-doubt destroy your dreams.

4. Be patient and humble

Success takes time. There are no miraculous overnight transformations. I have been active and athletic my whole life, and my advice to you is this:

Take your time to learn to perform the "big lifts" properly. Be patient and don’t rush anything.

Attend several shows, learn how they are conducted and what to expect. Pick a show and set a goal, but give yourself enough time to train. Find someone who has successfully competed before and ask for advice. Better yet, hire a qualified trainer. Beverly International’s site, FAQ, and publications are all a huge help here.

Be patient; progress takes time. Stay focused. Don’t expect miracles in 2 weeks time. I challenge you to train correctly and intensely, eat only high quality, nutrient-dense foods including Beverly supplements for 1 year. Then you may expect miracles!

Ask for advice, be humble and be willing to listen to criticism. Your ego has no place on this journey.

No matter how good you think you are at something, there is someone close by who is just a little bit better. Work accordingly.

Training Cardio

Take every aspect of your training seriously. Your cardio training should be just as focused, goal-driven and intense as your weight training.

I almost always perform HIIT sessions (Heart rate 80-92% in varying interval lengths): sprints, plyo’s and/or cycling/Spinningâ drills. Don’t neglect your cardio-respiratory conditioning. Your heart, lungs and lymphatic system are all key to your health.

My favorite cycling drill:

(Note: I perform on a Spinning bike, but you can apply the same concept to your favorite cardio equipment.)

Keep rpm’s at 80-85 during all drills

After completing a 5-minute warm-up, start with two eight-minute climbs keeping your heart rate 80-85% for the full 8-minutes (each climb is followed by a 2-minute recovery during which the heart rate drops to 70-75%)

Next perform a 4-minute climb with an anaerobic push at the end (90-second recovery), 3-minute climb with an anaerobic push at end (1-minute recovery), 2-minute climb with an anaerobic push at end (30-second recovery), and finally 1-minute push all the way home.

The only time I perform steady-state cardio training is for recovery. The closer I am to getting up on stage, the more cardio I incorporate into my training program. (HIIT is very intense; so some steady-state cardio will be required as the contest date approaches.) How much cardio you do, will depend on many variables: e.g., your gender, your age, your genetics, etc.


The first thing I am going to tell you is: This is hard work... really hard work. The training is extremely intense and therefore requires a full commitment as far as recovery protocols and nutrition are concerned. If lifting is not your passion, and you are not driven and disciplined with your diet, then this sport may not be for you. Beverly provides an athlete with all of the nutritional tools to prevent exhaustion and injuries, and aid in recovery and repair after training. I cannot emphasize enough how important proper nutrition and supplementation is to your success

Do not neglect the recovery aspect of training (again, the older you are, the more important this advice becomes):

Proper nutrition (whole foods and supplements)

adequate hydration

Lots of rest

Stretching, foam rolling, massage (the older you are, the more time you’ll need to spend here)

Let me repeat: stick with the "big lifts" squats, dead lifts, lunges, push-ups, bench press, chin-ups, pull-ups, etc.

My pre-contest training is challenging:

MondayLegs + 37 minutes HIIT Cycling
TuesdaySports Drills (including timed jump rope, track drills, sled pulls, and plyometrics drills) + 30 minutes HIIT Cycling
WednesdayChest and Biceps + 60 minutes HIIT Cycling
ThursdayHIIT Cycling and Steady State Cardio (3 separate sessions)
FridayBack, Triceps, Hamstrings, and Glutes (separated into 2 sessions) + 45 minutes HIIT Cycling
SaturdayOff or Cardio (light to moderate intensity and NOT cycling)
SundayShoulders and Arms + 45 minutes HIIT Cardio

Core work (strength and stability) is done almost every day. I also perform a lot of "basic athletic training" (NASM): compound movements, single leg/balance work, corrective exercises, complexes, EDT drills, kettlebell exercises, etc. My Favorite Leg Workout!

Debora York Barbell Pose

What’s the difference between an athlete and your average lifter?


Seriously, if you want to make progress fast, work on those legs. You’ll build muscle faster throughout your entire body, your metabolism will increase, plus you will really love the challenge.
  • Warm-up, plus stretch hip flexors and activate glutes (3-4 minutes)
  • 4-6 sets of hex bar dead lifts (starting at 95 pounds and working up to about 200 pounds)
  • 4-6 sets of barbell alternating reverse lunges (starting with 45 lbs and working up to about 115 lbs)
  • 4-6 sets of front squats (65lbs) super-setted with stiff leg (close stance) dead lifts (115 lbs)
  • Giant sets of single-leg leg press, leg extensions, leg curls and calf raises
  • Stretch and recovery

Favorite Metabolic Leg Workout

Great for bikini, figure, fitness and male athletic competitors:
All exercises are performed while holding a medicine ball (6-14 lbs):
  • 20 speed squats
  • 20 plyo squats
  • 20 alternating reverse lunges (10 on each leg)
  • 20 lunge jumps (10 on each leg)
  • Repeat this circuit 3 times while decreasing your recovery time between each exercise (e.g., round one = 30 seconds recovery between each exercise; round two = 15 seconds recovery between exercises; round three = no recovery between exercises).

You are about to embark on a long, difficult, yet very rewarding, journey. You wouldn’t climb a mountain without proper tools, guidance and a detailed map. You will need help getting to the top, and Beverly will be your guide. So, get in there, do the necessary work, stay focused and positive, and enjoy climbing to the top! This is a journey you will never forget.