Competing and Loving It

NPC Derby Festival Figure

By: Dawn Reichley
1st Place Over 35 and Open Figure division
Magazine 16 #3

I have been active in sports from gymnastics, dance, soccer, water skiing and cheerleading for just about my entire life. Three things that best describe me are: I am high energy, goal oriented and a bit of a ham. Perfect for the figure stage.

I competed as a cheerleader at the collegiate level in both team and partner stunt categories. After I graduated college I began weight training to stay active and keep excess weight off. I read Oxygen and Muscle and Fitness Hers magazines. The amazing physiques inspired me and I read the articles from front to back with envy. I never dreamed I could one day be on stage like them.

I weighed 92 pounds and was pretty much skin and bones; I struggled with eating disorders and body image issues. I really didn’t know how to achieve a physique that was lean, healthy and strong. Genetically, my physique is bottom heavy with a narrow waist and smaller upper body. I described myself as pear shaped with pipe cleaners for arms.

When I began weight training, my initial focus was symmetry I didn’t like that pear shape so I knew I needed to build up my upper body and tighten my glutes and legs. Hoping to supplement my efforts in the weight room, I bought some store brand protein shakes. But this did not really seem to help. I was not making progress toward my goal. The problem was I was clueless about proper nutrition and supplements.

Dawn Reichley dumbbell workout

In boredom was really setting in. Besides, I still wasn’t seeing notable gains. I had three choices:

  1. I could keep beating my head against the wall and keep doing what I was doing.
  2. I could let my frustration build until I just quit altogether.
  3. Instead I decided to hire a trainer and pick out a show to do. This would give me a time limited goal to shoot for; force me to work harder and push beyond my limits; plus give me a better education on diet and supplements.

The first thing my trainer taught me was that proper nutrition accounts for about 80% of making quality gains. He also taught me the importance of using good, quality supplements to support my efforts. He introduced me to Beverly International and I have never looked back since. I competed in two local shows in 2006 and placed 2nd in one show and 1st in the other show. I was completely bitten by the competition bug and wanted to continue onward to some bigger shows. However, my husband and I wanted to have another child too, and I wasn’t getting any younger so we decided now was the time.

Unfortunately this was a year long struggle with several miscarriages along the way, but in 2008 my second son was born. Once Parker was a little bit older I decided to get back into competing and at the end of 2010 I began training and dieting in preparation for the 2011 NPC Northern Kentucky. This time I joined Julie Lohre’s Team FitBody program. It was really exciting to have a group of women all dieting, training hard, discussing suit selection and practicing posing. We all just "got it"; we understood each other and the camaraderie was amazing. Then, two months later at the NPC Derby Festival in both the Over 35 and Open Figure divisions.

Kentucky Muscle NPC Fitness, Figure, Bikini & Bodybuilding Championship.

Supplement schedule

  • First thing in the morning I took 6 GH Factor, 15 Muscle Mass, 10 Muscle Synergy, and 2 scoops Beverly Glutamine Select.
  • I had 4 Mass Aminos, 4 Ultra 40’s, 5 Density, and 4 Muscularity with each meal. Off-season I stick with Mass and Ultra 40 and add Density and Muscularity pre contest.
  • Before my afternoon workout, I had 14 Muscle Synergy, 2 scoops of Beverly Glutamine Select, and 15 Muscle Mass.
  • After my morning cardio and evening workout I took 2 Beverly Advanced Antioxidants. Boy, these really helped with soreness and recovery time.
  • Before bed I had 8 GH Factor, and 10 Muscle Mass.

Nutrition and supplements

My contest diet begins about 12 weeks out from show time. I start with 5-6 meals per day and 1 cheat meal per week. I adjust the diet every 3-4 weeks based on body assessments. At 4 weeks out there are no more cheat meals. Dietary adjustments consist of either an increase in the protein portions or a decrease in the carb portions.
My base diet looks something like:
1 whole egg and 3 egg whites, 3 oz. ground turkey, ½ cup oatmeal
Protein pancakes ( for recipes)
Mid-Morning Snack
2 scoops Ultimate Muscle Protein (UMP) or 5 oz. tuna & small piece of fruit
5 oz. grilled chicken, 2 cups salad with balsamic vinegar and ¼ cup brown rice
3 oz. tuna, 10-15 almonds
6 oz. orange roughy, 2 cups steamed broccoli, ½ cup brown rice Bedtime Snack
1 scoop Muscle Provider or UMP

The supplements I used during my training were a multi vitamin, Ultra 40, Muscle Provider, UMP, Muscularity, Lean Out, EFA Gold, and Glutamine Select as follows.

  • 2 Ultra 40, 2 Muscularity, and 2 Lean Out with each of 5 meals.
  • 3 EFA Gold with breakfast and 3 with dinner.
  • 1 scoop Glutamine Select with training.
I also drink 1-2 gallons of water per day. This is a must when dieting and training for a show and I carry a gallon jug with me everywhere so I can monitor my water intake throughout the day. If I want something different during the day I may also drink unsweetened iced tea.
Dawn in blue bikini pre contest photo shoot

Training Workout Schedule

Workout Schedule:
Monday:Legs and Arms
Tuesday: Shoulders and Abs
Wednesday: Back and Abs
Thursday: Legs and Glutes (weights and plyos)
Friday: Shoulders / Chest and Abs
Saturday: Circuit Training
Sunday: Rest

Cardio program intervals

My cardio program for contest prep begins with 4 sessions per week for about 20-25 minutes utilizing intervals. I increase cardio as the contest gets closer to 6 days per week for 40-60 minutes. I like to do 4 days of HIIT training and 2 days of longer, steady state sessions. My cardio choices are always glute focused so I will use either the treadmill on an incline, the elliptical at the highest level or the step mill. On the step mill I kick back squeezing my glutes on every other step. I also try to get outside whenever possible. I love a long run outdoors; it helps clear my mind. I like to choose a trail that has some hills to keep the intensity high and my glutes engaged. I have a tendency to get bored with cardio so I recommend variety, it keeps your training interesting and it keeps your muscles guessing. One way I combat boredom is to switch machines during a 40 minute session (20 minutes step mill and 20 minutes treadmill).

Dawn holding magazine she is the cover photo

Presentation contest prep

Presentation is so important in contest prep and something you should never take for granted. I feel like all the hours in the gym and all the dieting comes together in that one moment on stage so you want to look and present your best when it’s your moment to shine. About 8-10 weeks from the show I start making my suit selection, I look for a color that looks good with my hair, eyes and skin tone and one that makes me feel confident. I start posing about 6-8 weeks out for about 15 minutes each day working on holding my mandatory poses and choosing which poses best showcase my physique for my individual presentation. Four weeks out I schedule my spray tan appointment, make up appointment and begin making my jewelry selection. I usually do my own hair. I try to keep it close to my everyday natural look because I don’t want it to look unnatural or over the top. Finally I bring my smile and for me this comes natural once I hit the stage. I love to be on stage in front of a crowd of cheering, supportive people, applauding the hard work and commitment I have made. It is such a feeling of pride and accomplishment and best of all it’s fun and rewarding.

I would say to anyone thinking about competing to go for it. There is nothing but positive gains that can come from it whether you place or not. I think there is a lot to be said for anyone that is brave enough to step on stage. I leave every show with a sense of confidence and achievement; a larger group of friends and support system; new ideas on how to continue to improve; and a healthier outlook and image of myself.

› Kyla Johnson
How I Went From Worst To First
16th to 1st place in 1 year NPC Northern KY

› Michelle Brown My first year in Figure
Comprehensive look at my nutrition, and training