I have been an avid runner my whole life. I ran track and cross country in high school making it to the state championships in both sports. I was better at the shorter distances and in college specialized in the sprints. At Ohio Northern University, I competed in the 55-meter dash, 4x200 relay, 4x400 relay, and open 400 during the indoor season. Outdoors I ran the open 100 and 200, along with the 4x100 relay, 4x200 relay, and 4x400 relay. Running was my life!
After each of my three pregnancies, I would train for a race to try to run myself back into pre-pregnancy shape. I started with 5k and 10k races after my first pregnancy, ran my first half marathon after my second child, and a full marathon after my third child. You would think that training and completing a full marathon would get the extra weight off quickly. But, this time my weight did not come down like it had in the past. I had depended on running to stay in shape my entire life, but now it was no longer as effective as it had once been.
My Figure Journey Begins
About two and a half years ago I joined a gym, started lifting weights and began to clean up my diet. My body was changing, and I loved it! Then someone brought up the topic of Figure competitions. I saw a challenge and decided to go for it. My journey to the Figure stage had begun. I did a standard full body workout, three days a week and continued running for cardio because that was what I was comfortable with. If you haven’t been training with weights or wish to begin again after a long layoff, the Full Body Workouts is a great place to start.
Full body workouts
In the sample workouts below you will train your whole body three times weekly.
Week one do Workout A on Monday, Workout B on Wednesday, and repeat Workout A on Friday.
The next week start with Workout B on Monday, perform Workout A on Wednesday, and Workout B on Friday.
Bench Press (8-12 reps)
DB Flyes (8-12 reps)
DB Pullover (8-12 reps)
EZ Bar Curl (8-12 reps)
DB Tricep Extension (8-12 reps)
Barbell Row (8-12 reps)
Bent Over Lateral (8-12 reps)
Side Lateral (8-12 reps)
Front Lateral (8-12 reps)
Squat (10-20 reps)
Calf Raise (10-20 reps)
Leg Raise (10-20 reps)
DB Bench Press (8-12 reps)
DB Curl (8-12 reps)
EZ Curl Tricep Extension (8-12 reps)
Shoulder Press (8-12 reps)
Upright Row (8-12 reps)
1-Arm DB Row (8-12 reps)
DB Shrug (8-12 reps)
DB Squat (10-20 reps)
Straight Leg Deadlift (10-20 reps)
1-Legged Calf Raise (10-20 reps)
Situp (or Crunch) (10-20 reps)
Leg Raise (10-20 reps)
*Perform just one set of each exercise the first two weeks. Perform 2 sets for the next four weeks. Weeks 7-10, perform three sets per exercise. Increase the reps gradually and add weight whenever you complete the top number of reps for all sets of an exercise in good form.
I felt both excitement and fear as my first Figure show approached in the spring of 2014. I ended that day placing 3rd in Novice Figure and 4th in the short class of the Open division. I was hooked! But I knew I both needed and wanted to improve. I competed twice more with the same relative placings. The judges told me I needed to add muscle and come in leaner. I did not know how to do this on my own so I did some research and found Julie Lohre (julielohre.com). We talked over the phone, I told her my goal was to earn my Master’s Figure pro card, and we got right to work! Since working with Julie my physique has completely transformed.
Contest Prep Nutrition
One of the first lessons I learned from Julie is that working out is 20% of what you do and your diet is the other 80%. You have to stick to your diet to be successful or much of your hard work in the gym is being wasted.
Below is what a typical contest prep nutrition plan looks like for me.
Meal 1: 1 whole egg, 4 egg whites, ½ cup omelet veggies (mushroom, green pepper, and onion), ½ cup oatmeal
Meal 2: UMP shake (1 scoop) and ½ grapefruit
Meal 3: 4 oz. chicken breast, ½ cup avocado, large salad with veggies and 1 tbsp Newman’s oil and vinegar dressing
Meal 4: UMP shake (1 scoop) and 1 cup strawberries
Meal 5 8 oz. white fish, 6 oz. sweet potato, 1 cup asparagus
Meal 6: (post workout, if hungry) 1-2 scoop UMP shake
Ultimate Muscle Protein (UMP): I couldn’t go without it! EVER! I have been able to get my family, friends, and co-workers to switch their protein to UMP and they feel as I do.The taste is incredible and you have so many yummy options you can create with it.
Fit Tabs: Used daily for my multi-vitamin.
Glutamine Select: During my training, I sip for soreness and recovery. My body lets me know when I forget to drink it. The next day I am more sore and my recovery takes much longer.
Ultra 40: 2 tablets with 5 meals a day. Helps maintain and build the valuable muscle I am working so hard to achieve in the gym.
Lean Out: A MUST! Especially for women. This supplement has been a key factorin my nutrition program. It helped me to achieve the leanness I needed to improve my contest placings. Ladies! It is also greatfor the summer when you are putting onthose shorts or bikinis.
Muscularity: I take 2 with 3 meals a day.It helps give an extra sharpness to myphysique and maintain lean muscle.
7-Keto MuscLean:During contest prep, I add this as a thermogenic for energy to power me through my workouts since most of my workouts are in the evening after the kids have had dinner and are off to their sports.
Advanced Figure Workout Plan
Julie changes my training program every month (small weekly ‘tweaks’ to the reps and rest intervals are also included). I currently work out 5 days a week. Since delts, back, lean legs and glutes are focal points in Figure competition, I train those body parts twice weekly and hit the rest one time per week.
Currently, I’m using a pyramid style of training to increase strength. I add weight each set, while decreasing reps and ending with a final set of just 3 or 4 reps. I generally complete each workout in an hour or less which gives me time to keep up with my children’s busy schedule. So it’s minimal rests, head phones in and the world out! Get it done!
Here’s a sample of my current workout. This month my goal is to add muscle and strength while still staying lean.
Day 1: Glutes, Biceps
Barbell Squats 4 x 16, 8, 6, 3
Leg Curl 4x 10, 8, 6, 3
Step-ups 4 x 12
Lunge off bench 4 x 10, 8, 6, 3
Bicep Curls 4 x 16, 8, 6, 3
Lunge with Bicep Curl 4 x 10
Day 2: Delts, Back, Abs
Barbell Push Press 4 x 16, 8, 6, 3-4
Lateral Raises 4 x 10, 8, 6, 3
Bent-over Rear Delt Raise 4 x 10, 8, 6, 3
Bent-arm Pullovers 4 x 16, 8, 6,3
Cable Rows 4 x 16, 8, 6, 3-4
Abs: I do four exercises, 4x15 each
Day 3: Legs/Chest
Leg Press 4 x 16, 8, 6, 3
Walking Lunges 4 x 10, 8, 6, 3
Single-leg Slide Squat 4 x 12 (no added weight)
Incline Press 4 x 12 (same weight)
Cable Crossovers 4 x 12
Day 4: Back, Triceps, Delts
Pullups or Pulldowns 4 x 16, 8, 6, 3
Bent-over Barbell Row 4 x 10, 8, 6, 3
Bench Dips 4 x 16, 10, 8, 3
Skull Crushers 4 x 16, 8, 6, 3
Handstand Pushups 4 x 10, 8, 8, 3
DB press 4 x 10, 8, 6, 3
Arnold DB Press 4 x 10, 8, 6, 3
Day 5: Legs, Abs
Hack Squats 4 x 16, 12, 8, 3
Deadlifts 4 x 10, 8, 6, 3-4
Burpees 4 x 12 (no weight)
Bench Rebounds 4 x 12 (no weight)
Abs: 4 x 15 each of 4 exercises
Julie quickly got me out of my cardio comfort zone! She knew that just going out and runningfor a specified distance or time was no longer working for me. I really needed to raise the barif I was ever going to win that Pro Card. HIIT (high intensity interval training) became the order of the day.
Off season, I do 3 sessions of 20-30 minutes each. Precontest, my cardio gradually increases. I start by going up to 4 days at 30 minutes, then 5 days at 45 minutes, and finally 6 days at 60 minutes for the last couple of weeks. I often split those longer cardio days into 2 sessions. I have become very fond of the Stairmill and interval sprints. I also incorporate the Arc trainersome days to take it easier on my joints.
Cardio is presently three 20-minute HIIT workouts, but I am also incorporating some daily distance running. I am considering entering a half marathon Labor Day weekend!
Pro card achieved!
I have competed for both NPC and IFPA organizations and have had wonderful experiences in both. But, stepping on stage at the NOBA show in Newark, OH on April 23rd, I felt more confident than I had in any of my prior shows. I won the Masters Figure division and earned pro status in the IFPA organization. Friends and family ask me, “So now that you reached your goal are you done?” My response is, “I have only just begun!” With the help of my friends and family, the great supplements from Beverly, and Julie Lohre in my corner, it’s time for me to set a new goal and keep on going!