Starting with your weakest body-part change your routine every 8-12 weeks to shock your muscles.
Four years ago I didn’t even know who or what a figure competitor was. But it didn’t take long for me to find out. I went to see a competition and I was hooked on the spot. I couldn’t wait until Monday when I could get back in the gym. I went up to my trainer, Omar, and the first words out of my mouth were, I want to get on stage.
Until that Monday, I was primarily a runner with almost NO muscle tone. Previous to running I had lost 45 lbs on my own. The weight room was all new to me; Omar had his work cut out for him. But, when I put my mind to something there is no looking back. I had a lot to learn but I went at it all out. My determination and perseverance along with Omar’s knowledge has resulted in a great journey. I am now stronger both physically, and mentally. And I can say that I not only know what a figure competition is, but I have actually won the masters, open, and overall at the OCB Circle City Championship.
In the rest of this article I’m going to share with you what I’ve learned and I hope that it will help you – whether your goal is figure competition or just getting into your best shape.
My Typical Day
I’m going to start by describing my typical day so that you can see how I arrange my day to take care of my family, career, and get my training and nutrition in too. My typical day begins with me getting my husband and two boys off to school (family first). Then I head down stairs for a 20-30 minute cardio session on my elliptical. I shower, dress, and then start preparing my meals for the day. With my meals in tow, I head off to my work as a hairstylist for a few hours. Two o’clock is gym time. If time allows I do additional cardio after I lift, or I do it later after work. After training, I go back to the salon to make more people look and feel great.
When I get home from work I do my daily MOM chores. Making lunches, and packing back packs for tomorrow and discussing their day. Once I have everyone in bed I might cook some extra quantities of my lean meat so it is ready for the next few days.
Diet lower carb, low fat approach
My trainer discovered that, like many women, I’m carb sensitive. For my first shows we tried a lower carb, low fat approach. It worked fine for losing excess fat but I felt that I also lost some muscle. My energy was not all that good either. We made a slight change for the last show I did by adding more fat to my diet. This really did the trick! I lost fat as before but retained muscle and had much better energy and stamina. It took my body a couple of weeks to adjust, but once it did I felt great all the way up to the day of the contest.
Meal 6: 4-oz. grilled chicken + ½ c steamed green beans + 1 oz. avocado
My food prep was easier for me once I got everybody to bed. Cooking a few days’ worth of meat ahead of time makes it easier to prepare meals quickly the next day. My grill and crock pot are my best friends in the kitchen. I like to cook chicken in the crock pot overnight, and shred it into containers the next morning. When it’s time to put together the days meals I just line up my storage containers, get out my food scale, and measure away.
Lean meat, healthy fat, and green veggies. "BAM" I’m ready for my day
Cardio former runner
As a former runner I really appreciate the variety of cardio equipment that is now available. My favorites are my elliptical at home and the step mill and bike at the gym. At about midpoint in my contest preparation I do 20-30 minutes in the morning and a second 20-30 minute session in the evening. For my last prep, my upper body was leaning out ahead of my lower body so my trainer switched it up a little. He had me do 45-60 minutes of low intensity cardio in the morning and 30-45 minutes more at night. This worked to bring my body-fat percent below 10%.
I was able to lift heavy and establish new PR’s throughout my entire diet this season. I think that the addition of the healthy fats and the added supplements noted in the diet and supplement sections above helped make the difference.
Heavy Lift workout
Monday: Shoulders heavy Tuesday: Quads / Calves
Wednesday: Chest / Tri’s
Thursday: Back / Bi’s
Friday: Hamstrings / Calves
Saturday: Shoulders light
Sunday: Abs / cardio / posing
My Favorite Body-part
My favorite body part to work is back. I feel like it is my money shot on stage.
Being able to pose it correctly is also very important.
Wide grip pull ups (3 sets): 1x15; 1x12-15; and 1x as many as I can
Front pull downs (4 sets): 70lbs x 15; 85lbs x 12; 100lbs x 13; 110lbs x 10
1-arm Dumbell Rows (4 sets): 40lbs x 12; 45lbs x 12; 50lbs x 10; 65lbs x 6
Seated Rows (3 sets): 70lbs x 12; 85lbs x 12; 105lbs x 10
Rack Deadlifts (partials): 95lbs x 15; 115lbs x 12; 135lbs x 10-12
*60-90 seconds rest between sets
*stretch and flex between sets
*5 minutes on row machine to cool down
Figure competitor training
The next step of our threefold approach is the training. Here again, consistency is crucial. Set your goal for how many days you are going to train each week and achieve it, no matter what. This may mean training in the early am, after the kids go to bed, or on Sunday when you usually take off. Achieving small goals on your way to the big one is instrumental for, not only keeping your morale high, but your overall success. This workout should lay a good foundation towards any goal. Feel free to vary the days to fit your schedule. I suggest starting the week with your weakest body-part. You should try to change your routine every 8-12 weeks to constantly shock your muscles.
This particular workout will be split into 3 phases, each lasting four weeks. You are going to change your exercises after 2 weeks, but then will come back to the starting exercises in the next phase. In all phases you will be using a Pyramid rep scheme. Pyramid rep schemes are used to increase the overall volume of your training. In Pyramid sets you will begin with a lighter weight, but perform a higher rep count. After your first set is complete you will increase weight and lower the number of reps for the following set. In the next set you will again increase your weight and lower the reps even further. You are essentially building a pyramid with the number of reps you are using, starting with more at the base and decreasing toward the top. One of the biggest advantages to this type of training is that it trains your body to get used to a wide variety of weights and rep ranges. If you are always training with heavy weights and low reps, your body will adapt to this and you will find yourself not as strong if you have to perform any type of activities that require muscular endurance or a higher rep range.
Presentation Posing Practice
I started practicing my posing 3 months out. My trainer, Omar would go through the mandatory poses with me every Sunday. Each time we practiced I would try to hold each pose a little longer. We actually timed this and recorded it for reference the following week. It can feel like your holding a pose for eternity when you are on stage. Practicing ahead of time will show. If you don’t have any one to help you, have someone take pictures of you so you can critique yourself. You have worked hard for your physique; this is how you get to show the results of your hard work. Don’t let your posing hold you back from what you deserve.
Shoes Suit Tanning
Shoes I ordered my shoes online; usually if you have someone make your suit they also offer shoes for sale, places such as (Snaz75). I got them 3 months out so I could walk around in them, practice my posing and become comfortable in them; you want to feel graceful. If you take a blow dryer to the plastic straps, it makes them more flexible and when put your foot in them they mold to your feet and become "your" shoes.
Suit Three months out is also a good time to order your suit. You can find some great people online who specialize in making suits for figure. Here’s how it works: you pick out the fabric and style, and then send your measurements to them. If it is your first show I recommend not over spending on stone work or other costly embellishments. I find that with each show I like something a little different. I have sent my same suit back to the person to add additional stones for my next show. Once I decided this is my passion, and went to larger shows I spent more on my suits.
Tanning I like to start tanning in a booth at four weeks out to get a base tan. If the show you are doing provides a tanning service I highly recommend it. The day of the show you have plenty of other things to be nervous about and having someone else take care of your tan is a relief. If you choose not to have someone else do it, you will need to start putting coats of stage tan on several days out. You want to be dark enough. It is also a great idea to ex-foliate every day, starting one week out.