Skinny Fat to Sculpted Physique

By: Crystal Buchanan, INBF/WNBF Professional
Magazine 21 #1

25 August 2016

Growing up in small town West Virginia, fitness was not an important facet of my life. Although I enjoyed track and volleyball, church and school took precedent. This changed when the youngest of my three children was diagnosed with a seizure disorder and mild autism. To help combat the stress of my life’s constant uncertainty and changes, ‘I joined a small gym’.

The combination of weights and cardio gave me the stress relief I was looking for, and as an added benefit my body was beginning its transformation from “skinny fat” to “fit”. In 2008 I hired my first trainer, Joe Newland, at the local Rec Center. My progress accelerated under his expert guidance. Joe introduced me to my first Beverly International supplements. Adding Lean Out, Density, Glutamine Select and UMP to my nutrition program took my training and development to the next level.

Over the next few years I worked full time as a retail store manager and struggled through a painful divorce while raising my three children. The gym became a stress-free sanctuary for me. A couple of competitors there encouraged me to give competition a try. I competed in my first show in 2010. My first win as a Fit Body competitor was in 2012, and I eventually earned my INBF/WNBF pro card in the Fit Body division. My life was falling back into place. I met and married Todd, who is a main part of my support system. I am now focused and my next goal was to compete in the NPC Women’s Physique division. Although I had achieved a “lean” physique, I now had to add more lean mass. Todd and I devised a two-year plan to add needed size.

Crystal transformed lean shapely muscle fitnes pre-contest photo shoot
Crystal’s pre-contest fitness photo shoot. Photo by: Jon Johnson

The challenge I faced was that it had become harder and harder to build muscle in the off season, and then holding on to it when dieting down for a show. Luckily, a simple recommendation from the Beverly Advisor Team solved my problem. I added Mass Aminos, Ultra 40, and Quadracarn, not only during the building phase, but also while cutting. Within two weeks I felt and saw a difference. My energy levels improved. I recovered from my workouts much quicker. And I attained a level of muscle fullness and hardness that I had never had before.

I felt confident as I stepped on stage for my first NPC Women’s Physique contest. I placed 2nd and was very happy with the progress I had made. My next competition was in the fall of 2015. I took 1st place in Class B in the Women’s Physique Open division at the West Virginia State/Mid Atlantic Grand Prix and 1st in the masters division.

Now, I’d like to share my nutrition, supplement, and training programs with you. Whether you wish to compete, or just add some lean, shapely muscle to your physique, I’’m sure you’ll get great results like I did.

Women’s Physique Nutrition Plans
Meal 1
1 whole egg, 1 cup egg whites, ¾ cup steel cut oats cooked with ½ cup berries
Meal 2
5 oz. salmon, ½ cup brown rice, ¼ avocado
Meal 3
5 oz. lean ground turkey or chicken breast, 5 oz. sweet potato, 1 cup green beans
Meal 4
2 scoop UMP shake, 1 oz. almonds or cashews
Meal 5
5 oz. ground bison or flank steak, 1 cup cooked spinach, ½ cup peppers and onions cooked
Meal 6
2 whole eggs, 1 cup egg whites, 1 cup veggies
Post workout
1 scoop of whey (Muscle Provider)
Contest Prep
I drink a minimum of 1.5 gallons of water daily. Upon awakening I have a cup of green tea and go right into a 20-minute cardio session.
Meal 1:
1 cup egg whites, 1 cup spinach, ½ grapefruit
Meal 2:
1-1/2 scoop UMP shake, 1 oz. almonds
Meal 3:
5 oz. chicken breast, 2 cup salad mix, 1 tablespoon oil/vinegar dressing with one packet of stevia
Meal 4:
5oz. 99% lean turkey, 1 cup green veggies, ½ cup peppers and onion
Meal 5:
1-1/2 scoops of UMP made into a pudding with 1 tbsp Just Great Stuff chocolate powdered peanut butter! YUM!
Meal 6:
5 oz. fish, 1 cup spinach or asparagus
Wednesday’s and Saturday’s I eat the following for meal 6:
I call it my fitness "Happy Meal :)
6 oz. flank steak or bison, 8 oz. sweet potato, 8 large asparagus spears, 1 tbsp coconut oil
Supplement Schedule
UMP: 1-2 times daily, my favorites are Cookies & Créme and Strawberry
Ultra 40: 2 tablets with each meal, total of 12 per day
Lean Out: 2 capsules with each meal, total of 12 per day
Quadracarn: 3 tablets with Meal #1 and #4. This is my new favorite supplement!
Why wasn’t I taking this all along?
EFA Gold & Joint Care: 3 capsules each with Meal #1 and #5
Mass Aminos: 5 tablets pre and post training
Crystal Buchanan side chest pose
Posing routine Women’s Physique West Virginia State/Mid Atlantic Grand Prix

Women’s Physique Training Plan

Crystal Buchanan extended tricep extended leg quad pose
Monday: Chest/Triceps
Incline DB Press 5 x 20/15/15/12/10 add weight each set
Cable Crossover 5 x 15-20
Hammer Chest Press 5 x 10-15 superset with Pushups to failure
Pec Dec 5 x 20/15/15/12/10
Cable Extensions with rope 5 x 20 superset with Reverse Pushdowns 5 x 20
Tuesday: Back/Biceps
Wide Grip Pulldowns 4 x 15
Reverse Close-grip Pulldowns 4 x 15
Rack Deadlifts 4 x 15/10/10/8
One Arm DB Rows 5 x 10
Hyperextensions 4 x 15 superset with Cable Rows 4 x 15
Barbell Curls 4 x 20
DB Curls 4 x 15
Reverse-grip Cable Curls 3 x 15
Wednesday: Legs
Seated Leg Curls 4 x 20/15/12/10
Lying Leg Curls 4 x 20/20/15/15
Glute Kickbacks 4 x 15 superset with Calf Raise 4 x 40/30/25/20
Leg Extension 3 x 30
Hack Squats 3 x 20 non lock keeping tension on quads
Leg Press (Ascending sets:
– the opposite of descending sets, instead of decreasing the weight within a set, I add weight after each 15 reps)
• Set (1) 15 x 3 plates/4 plates/5 plates
• Set (2) 15 x 4 plates/5 plates/6 plates
• Set (3) 15 x 5 plates/6 plates/7 plates
Walk 20 minutes post workout at 3.0 mph
Thursday: Shoulders
Hammer Shoulder Press 3 x 20/15/12
Rear Delt Machine 4 x 15 superset with Plate Raises 4 x 15
DB Shoulder Press 4 x 15/12/10/8
Side Lateral Raise 4 x 20
Friday: Back
Wide-grip Pullups 4 x 10
Single-arm Low Cable Rows 4 x 10
Smith Machine Bent-over Rows 4 x 15
Seated Close-grip Cable Rows 4 x 15
DB Stiff-leg Deadlifts 4 x 10
Saturday: Legs
Leg Curls 4 x 15
Leg Extensions 3 x 30/20/15/30 – drop the weight every 10 reps on the final set
Leg Press 4 x 40/30/20/15
Wide Stance DB Squats 4 x 20 add weight each set / focus on each rep/ target that bootay!
Walking Lunges 3 x 15 superset with Step-ups 3 x 15

Cardio schedule

Off-season cardio is 3-4 days a week for 20-45 minutes.12 weeks out from a competition cardio is bumped up to 6 days a week with a 20-minute morning session and 30-45 minutes in the early evening. Cardio sessions include Stairmaster, high incline on treadmill, HIIT and LISS training. My goal is to shed fat and hold on to as much muscle as possible. Truth is I love lifting, but cardio is a necessary evil to present a complete package on stage.


Off-season I hit key poses between sets when my muscles are full. Closer to the show I have a designated session just for posing! This helps me feel confident and look polished on stage. Always smile and have fun! Remember how hard you worked for that moment on stage and take that time to shine!

In Closing

I started my fitness journey as a “skinny fat” mother of three with zero weight training experience. When I walked into the gym for the first time in 2008; I was intimidated by the machines and wouldn’t even go near the free weights. Some of you reading this may be in the exact situation I was in – nervous, scared, and clueless. If you are uncertain where to begin, do what I did – reach out for help and ask for guidance. Soon you’ll be as confident in the gym as anyone. If you are more advanced and perhaps considering a competition, there are no better competition plans than those you’ll find in Beverly’s No Nonsense magazine. Page through some back issues or visit the “Article” Archives & Best Of Part One. Find someone who is similar to you and your goals and simply follow her plan. Or, I’d be honored if you follow the plans that I have laid out in this article. They’ve worked for me and very likely will work for you too.

Crystal Buchanan at a Glance
Age: 38
Occupation: Fitness/Supplement Advisor and Sales Stylist
Family: Husband-Todd, 3 beautiful children of my own and 2 amazing stepsons.
Current Residence: Gahanna, OH
Years training: 7 years
Height: 5′4-½″ Weight: 135 (Off-Season), 120 pounds (Contest)
Favorite fitness meal:
I LOVE TACOS--Baby romaine lettuce (shell) and ground turkey with jalapeño, avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro, lime and hot-sauce :)
Music: I’m a sucker for old school R&B and when I train I listen to Fit Radio. There are motivating genres on there that my husband got me hooked on
Most Inspiring book: The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren
Interest outside of bodybuilding: I love music, writing songs and singing. Music has been a huge part of my life. Another love of mine is watching old movies
Words to live by: “If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan but never the goal” –Unknown