Women’s Physique

and My Return to Competition

By: Shelli Jones
Magazine 18 #4

Once upon a time I was a bodybuilder, smaller built, but nonetheless successful at least on the local level. I competed in three shows over the course of 5 years and was fortunate enough to win the overall titles in all of them; my titles include 1997 AAU Ms. Kentucky, 1999 NPC Ms. Bluegrass and 2002 NPC Ms. Kentucky. After my win at the 2002 NPC Kentucky Bodybuilding Championships, I realized I could not successfully compete beyond the state level given my stature. Also, at the time, I was planning to enroll in the Chemical Engineering program at the Univer-sity of Cincinnati (UC) and realized that my education needed to be a top priority, so I placed bodybuilding on the shelf and jetted off into a new life.

2002 NPC Kentucky Women’s Overall Champion

2013 NPC Kentucky Women’s Physique Overall Champion

Shelli Jones muscular pose

In 2003, I became a chemical engineering student at UC and supported myself through independent personal training. I attended school full time, and in 2009, I graduated with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering. During my 6-year adventure earning my degree, I bought a house, totally remodeled it and raised my daughter. Yes, my life was full but I still managed to hit the weight room 5 days a week as I have always done (for 18.5 years now).

I have also struggled with some genetic "gifts" since 1997, namely spondololysthesis which has caused spinal stenosis and two groups of pinched nerves; the vertebras involved include L4, L5 and S1. The solution to eliminate pain is typically spinal fusion. However, my passion for mobility has inspired me to manage mine in different ways. I get regular deep tissue massages by a professional as well as per-form self-massage, stretch often, use a foam roller and perform static release on my back any time I can feel tension coming on or my back about to go out. This has worked beautifully; I’m almost pain free and rarely have missed a workout. I owe very special thanks to my massage therapist of 16 years, Stacey Sorrell. I have no limitations in training or work and my orthopedic surgeon is quite impressed. Where there is a will, there is a way as long as you never give up and always strive to improve.

After I graduated, I began my career as a Chemical Engineer working both in the public and private sectors while keeping a handful of personal training clients (I couldn’t seem to let go of my passion of helping others live the greatest lifestyle there is!). And because I tend to like a very full plate, I opened a fitness training studio in September 2012 while working full time.

My studio, Evolution Fitness evolfit.com and Lifestyle Man-agement, LLC, is located in Cincinnati, OH (Oakley). We have a staff of experts and offer functional fitness classes, one-on-one training, competition preparation, functional movement screenings, and kettlebell training. Look us up on facebook.com/evolfit1 if you are interested in competing, working on your physique and / or fitness level or are looking to learn new skills. I would love to hear from you, and we would love to help you, email me at [email protected]!

Due to business start-up and working a full time job, I barely trained in 2012; I lackadaisically mean-dered into the gym and trained whenever I had some time but very half-heartedly. So, you could say I took the year off. But once I got the business off the ground, I felt incredibly driven and excited about training again! In January 2013 at the heaviest I have ever been (155 pounds with reasonably high bodyfat and about 5 pounds less muscle than what I’m accustomed to having), I began training with a fury! I was getting the urge to compete, but given my size, I feared that I couldn’t be competitive at the National level. This was discouraging for sure. Then, someone told me the NPC had started a new division called Women’s Physique in an effort to revert back to the look of the 80’s female bodybuilders. Now, that really excited me, so I went to the Northern KY Bodybuilding Championships to see what this was all about. I was greeted by Sandy Riedinger at the ticket counter when I arrived. I told her I was interested in Women’s Physique; she right away introduced me as an "Old Timer" to Gene and Tina Goode and told me about their show, the NPC Kentucky State Bodybuilding Championships in Frankfort, KY coming up in August. I decided to get back in the game and do Gene’s show! So, the very next day at 20 weeks out from the show, I began my nutritional and training regimens. After attending the NPC Kentucky Derby in April as a homework exercise to scope out the scene in Women’s Physique, I felt I had a legitimate chance to be competitive again! As I sit here writing, I am so excited that in 3 weeks from to-day, I will make my debut in Physique Division where I will probably hit the stage at around 130 pounds. (Editor’s note: Shelli won the overall women’s physique division at the 2013 NPC Kentucky Open).

Nutrition Plan

The basic meal plan I’m using to prepare for the 2013 KY State show is based on my 2002 competition diet provided by Beverly International:
Meal #1
3 oz. lean meat, 3 egg whites / 1.5 yolks; ½ grapefruit
Meal #2
2 scoops UMP protein, 16 oz. water
Meal #3
4 oz. chicken; 2-3 cups salad with various lettuces, tomatoes and onions; 1 tablespoon olive oil / 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Meal #4
repeat Meal 2
Meal #5
6 oz. lean meat; 1.5 cups green veggies (really a gob of kale chips mostly); 1 tbsp olive or flax oil
Meal #6
repeat Meal 2
›› Every Sunday night and Thursday night, I replaced Meal 6 with the following carb load meal: 1 medium sweet potato, 1 small banana, 1.25 cups cooked brown rice, 1.25 tablespoon butter
(For more carb load recipe ideas, check out our recipe section at bevnut.com/recipes/carbload/)

The following lists some modifications I made in the diet during my 20-week prep:
Weeks 17-20:
My carb load meals (2x weekly) consisted of anything I wanted at a restaurant (Mellow Mushroom pizza, Chipotle steak burrito, etc.)
Weeks 12-20:
I used Ranch dressing instead of oil and vinegar for Meal 3.
Weeks 9-20:
For Meals 2, 4 and 6, I used Unsweetened Almond or Coconut milk in place of water.
Weeks 4-20:
My lean meat was almost always red meat – I just crave it and love it! I supplemented meal one with 2 slices of Jillian’s Bakery Bread. Meal 3 was usually a Chipotle bowl with steak, mild salsa and guacamole. Sometimes I had this for Meal 5 as well. I utilized Splenda Brown Sugar Blend on my carb load meals.. a lot of it. Immediately after working out, I ate 1 serving of Simple Truth Exotic Veggie Chips or a Lara bar to hold me over for my next meal (ate next meal within an hour after workout). I used turkey bacon as my “lean” meat for Meal.
1. Sometimes, I ate a whole grapefruit for Meal 1.
Food Prep Tips:
I prepare meats for the week on Sunday and sometimes Wednesday, let them cool and then place them in baggies and eat them cold if I have to (I’m always on the run). I usually buy bagged salad and portion salads the same day I eat them since this takes little time. I place my UMP servings in baggies also. I always have a cooler and blender bottle on the counter that go with me any time I leave the house. And I always have extra UMP with me. If the unexpected happens – I don’t want it to affect my diet. I probably spend less time cooking than the average person. However, when I do have time in the evening, I enjoy preparing my meal from scratch.

Cardio Schedule

Normally I don’t do much cardio except for occasional trail running ranging from 2 to 4.5 miles a run; I also like anaerobic threshold activities such as sprinting and high intensity functional training with ropes, boxes, kettlebells, body-weight plyos, etc.

Shelli workout one arm row
» Larger view, One arm row extended


My training varies somewhat every time I hit the gym. The one thing I keep consistent is hitting every body part once per week and then recapping upper body and lower body. Everyone is different but via many years of training and gauging results, I have learned this works best for me. A sample of my splits and corresponding workouts looks like this (note that this is a sampling as sometimes I may do slow negatives, sometimes heavy work, sometimes volume work, sometimes static work, etc.)

Contest Preparation Supplement Schedule

  • Ultimate Muscle Protein 3 times a day, yes ma’am 2 Fit Tabs in the morning with breakfast, 1 in the evening with Meal 5 1 scoop of Glutamine Select immediately after training.
  • Weeks: 10-20: 1.5 scoops Creatine Select before training

Monday: Chest / Triceps


  • Barbell Bench Press (80% max) super-setted with Dumbbell
  • Fly (heavy) 5 sets 5 reps each
  • Decline Bench Press super-setted with Dumbbell Pullover
  • Press 3 sets 15 reps each
  • Incline Dumbbell Press super-setted with Pushups 3 sets 15 reps each


  • Dumbbell Skull Crushers super-setted with Close Grip Pushups 3x15 each
  • Dumbbell Kickbacks super-setted with Bench Dips 3x12-15 reps each

»  on breaks between supersets, I perform abdominal exercises such as Sidebends, V-Ups, Alternating Crunches, Decline Sit-ups, Ball to Wall Sit-ups, etc. as well as Calves and Anterior Tibialis work

Tuesday: Back / Biceps


  • Wide Grip Pull-ups trisetted with Seated Row and Dumbbell Shrugs 3x12
  • Wide Grip Pulldowns super-setted with Reverse Shrugs 3 x 15
  • Incline Dumbbell Rows super-setted with Close Grip Pulldowns 3 x 15
  • One Arm Rows super-setted with Upright Rows 3 x 15


  • Dumbbell Curls super-setted with Preacher Curls 3 x 15
  • Barbell 21’s super-setted with Dumbbell Hammer Curls 3 x 15

›› on breaks between supersets, I perform Lower Back work such as Reverse Hypers, Plank, Supermans, Hypers, etc.

Wednesday: Legs / Shoulders


  • Deadlifts (5 reps 70% max) super-setted with DB Reverse Lunges (heavy 5 reps per leg) for 20 min nonstop alternating between the two exercises for as many sets as possible
  • Kettlebell Goblet Squats (15 reps) super-setted with Kettlebell Swings (15 reps) for 15 min nonstop alternating between the two exercises for as many sets as possible
  • Leg Press dropsets – 4 sets of 6 reps per plate for 6-8 plates
  • Dumbbell Hamstring Curls super-setted with Kickbacks – 4 sets of 15 reps each exercise


  • Front Raises super-setted with Side Raises 3 sets 15 reps each
  • Dumbbell Rear Delt Rows 3 sets 15 reps I never "just rest" during my workout; if I need down time to recuperate for the next set, I fill it with abdominal, lower back and / or work on my calves and anterior tibialis. My agenda is to always train in a balanced fashion with equal work front to back.

Thursday: Off

Friday: Upper Body Recap

(about 3 sets of each exercise)

Chest / Back:

  • I superset DB Bench Press with Chins, and Cable Flyes with 1-Arm Rows Shoulders / Traps:
  • Laterals (front, side, and rear), Arnold Presses, and DB Shrugs

Biceps / Triceps:

  • Spider Curls super-setted with Tricep Pressdowns 3 x 15, and Lying Cable Curls super-setted with Rope Pressdowns 3 x 15

I throw in ab / low back work during periods where rest may be needed

Saturday: Lower Body Recap

  • Goblet Squats super-setted with KB Tactical Lunges 4 x 20
  • Straight Leg Deadlifts super-setted with Smith Squats 3 x 15
  • Step Ups super-setted with Air Squats and Reverse Hop Lunges 3 x 20

›› I throw in exercises for calves and anterior tibialis during periods where rest may be needed

Sunday: Off

Special Thanks

I would like to give major credit to Teresa Hunt-Kilgore for help with my posing. I’m not a good dancer and not the best poser, so Teresa deserves tremendous kudos for getting me where I am today. I can’t pay her enough coffees to express how grateful I am for her time and expert assistance!

Also, special thanks to Jeff Schuerman for holding me accountable, Marie Gibbon, Joanne Bowsky Neus, Brad Bailey, and Rachel Payne for giving me honest critiques. They’ve pushed me to do the little things I need to do in order to bring it together!

Shelli Jones at a Glance
Age: 40
Occupation: Chemical Engineer / Fitness Studio Owner
Current Residence: Wilder, KY
Years Training: 18.5
Height: 5′6″, Off Season 150, Contest 130
Favorite Bodybuilding or Fitness Meal: 2 favorites: Breakfast (3 oz. lean meat, 3 egg whites / 1 yolk, ½ grapefruit) and Carb-Up Meal (1 small banana, 1 cup cooked brown rice and 1 medium sweet potato with 1 tablespoon butter)
Favorite Supplements: Ultimate Muscle Protein because it tastes better by far than any other protein powder and for its versatility. I use UMP to make muffins, pancakes, pudding, pseudo-desserts, put it in oatmeal, drink it in water, and have it on the run (It Is Efficient And Sufficient plus tastes awesome by itself with water in a blender bottle). I also like Fit Tabs due to the surge in energy it supplies to anyone living a healthy lifestyle. I like Glutamine Select during contest prep because glutamine is essential to the bodybuilder and this one tastes delicious (especially when dieting – it is like a treat).
What would you recommend to someone who has never used Beverly supplements before? Try them! You will never find a better tasting line; and you will reap the quality rewards that I have (winning shows, looking your best, feeling your best, convenience) without sacrificing flavor!
In my iPod: About every genre there is: Hip Hop, Pop, Hard Rock, Classic Rock, Alternative, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s.
Most Inspiring Book: The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
Hobbies/Interests: Trail running, ultimate frisbee, crossword puzzles, going to Natural Bridge for long weekends to explore, vacationing to anywhere with a beach, remodeling my house or remodeling just about anything, gardening, making everything I see a better version of its old self :) I love to beautify and enrich anything and everyone I can, we exist here for a purpose, not for self alone but to touch someone, to touch things and make them better, and enjoy and respect nature, our gift :) I recycle BIG TIME, give back to the planet we are borrowing!
Words to live by: Life is perspective and has always been to me… no excuses, no crutches… it is absolutely what you make it and that all begins with how you see it! Love it and live a happy life… it is only a perspective away!