After Many Challenges, My Best Contest Prep Season

By: Robin Marion
Magazine 22 #1

14 March 2018

I am a retired soldier and mother of 5 (blended family). I’ve always enjoyed being active, when I could, but I’ve struggled throughout my life with various medical conditions. Serious bouts of fatigue made it nearly impossible to follow through on many planned activities. While I was never overweight, being underweight was just as bad. It seems like I was always being picked on as a kid, not only because of my skin color (too dark) or my weight (too skinny), but also because I was born with a cleft lip. All the way into adulthood I suffered from low self-confidence and periods of depression. However, I always found a way to do the things that I truly wanted to do. When I finally accepted myself as I was, I was able to learn to love myself.

One of my first adult challenges was that I had to actually gain weight in order to enlist in the military. That’s how skinny I was. Once enlisted, I was stationed in Korea and that’s where I was introduced to bodybuilding in 1989. I had done various other competitive events growing up, but bodybuilding was by far the hardest to train for. And training wasn’t the hardest part, by this time I was able to work out for hours. But, following a strict nutrition plan was a completely new experience for me. At first, I thought I could get away without sticking strictly to my nutrition plan. I tried all kinds of ways to get around it, workout harder, more cardio, but the results weren’t there. And on top of it all, I was stressed out knowing that I was cheating myself. Once I resolved to follow the plan to the letter my preps were less stressful and my show placings much higher.

This year was by far the best prep season I’ve had. It was also the hardest. Here are my best contest prep nutrition, supplement, and training plans to date.

Robin Marion after many challenges
Robin Marion, photo credit: Loved Designed Imaging
My Pre-Contest Nutrition Plan
Meal 1: 1 serving oatmeal, 6 egg whites or 1 scoop UMP (I alternate eating egg whites one day and on the next I love mixing UMP into my oatmeal)
Meal 2: 5 oz. chicken breast, 2 cups veggies
Meal 3: 4-6 oz. flounder, ½ cup brown rice
Meal 4: 4-6oz. flounder, 4 oz. sweet potato
Meal 5: 5 oz. chicken breast, 1-2 cups veggies
Meal 6: 5 oz. ground turkey, 1-2 cups veggies
Pre & Post Workout: UMP shake or “sweet treat”Sweet Treat (early in the prep season): UMP Protein pudding or UMP frozen treat. I mix UMP with water to a pudding consistency, then I add fresh fruit and freeze it. My favorite is Chocolate UMP with strawberries mixed in.

Supplmement Schedule

  • Lean Out & 7-Keto MuscLean: I take 1 capsule each with all 6 meals. I have stubborn areas where bodyfat is an issue, so I have to get aggressive with them with Lean Out and 7-Keto early on.
  • UMP: pre and post workout
  • Density: 2 tablets with meals 1, 3, & 6. When I take Density I can see my muscles becoming more dense and hard. One thing I really like about Beverly supplements is that they help me harden my physique while still allowing me to look feminine. I switch to Muscularity 2-3 weeks before a show.
  • Muscle Synergy, Up-Lift, and Fast-Up: my “go to” workout supplements. I take Fast-Up prior to cardio and Muscle Synergy and Up-Lift prior to lifting. Love the results. No crashes and great pumps. Fast-Up is a great energy booster especially on days when I am very low on energy.
Robin Marion dumbbell workout


I train 6 days per week (3 heavy, 3 light). On heavy days, I do 4 sets of 6-10 reps per exercise. On light days, I keep the sets at 4, but raise the reps to 12-15.

Day 1 (Legs, Calves – Heavy)
Walking Lunges to warm up 4x12
Quads: Squats 4x6-10, Leg Press 4x6-10, Smith Squat or Machine Leg Press 4x6-10
Hamstrings: Lying Leg Curl 4x6-10, 1-Leg Hamstring Curl 4x6-10
Calves: Seated Calf Raise 4x6-10, Standing Calf Raise 4x6-10
Day 2 (Shoulders, Back – Heavy)
Back: Deadlift 4x6-10, T Bar Row 4x6-10, BB Row 4x6-10 (alternate over and underhand grip)
Shoulders: Dumbbell Press 4x6-10, Side Lateral 4x6-10, Bent-over DB Flyes 4x6-10, BB Front Raise 4x6-10
Day 3 (Chest, Arms – Heavy)
Chest; DB Incline Press 4x6-10, DB Flat Press 4x6-10, Smith Machine Incline Press 4x6-10
Biceps: Standing BB Curl 4x6-10, Seated DB Hammer Curl 4x6-10, Preacher or Concentration Curl 4x6-10
Triceps: Rope Pressdown 4x6-10, Tricep Dips 4x6-10
Abs every other day:
Crunches, Planks and other isometric hold core exercises. Slow and deliberate in the moves.
Days 4-6:
Repeat the exercises above but increase the rep range to 12-15. Focus on muscle contraction and form. Make the “mind-muscle connection”. This workout is my building phase. On heavy days my rest is generally 1-2 minutes between sets. On higher rep days, I limit rest to 30-45 seconds.


My cardio can be as much as 75 minutes or as short as 25 minutes based on how my physique is responding. I love track sprints. When I add sprints into my program I can see my physique improving almost overnight. I also use the treadmill on flats and inclines for HIIT intervals, recumbent bike, arc trainer and elliptical. One indispensable cardio component is my Netflix. When the cardio sessions are long, I always make sure my Netflix is ready to go to keep my mind off the cardio and it seems to make the sessions go by faster.

Presentation Tips

  1. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE posing. This is so important and can make or break your placing on the stage.
  2. If you are nervous about being in front of people, practice in front of people.
  3. Add some personal flare to your posing to make the posing yours. There are specific things you have to do in comparisons but that does not mean you cannot set yourself apart from the others with a slight tilt here or twist there. The model (or individual) presentation is yours to own so own it.
  4. Pick suit colors, hair and makeup that compliment you. You want the judges to focus on you and your physique. Not be distracted by a bad choice of makeup, suit, or hair.
  5. Lastly, SMILE!!

In Closing

Physique competition requires discipline, consistency and true grit. Get the mental part on board and the rest will follow. It’s also important to have a good support system – family, friends, coach, etc. This year I competed in the Maryland State Championships (1st place Figure D, 1st place Armed Forces), the East Coast Classic Championships (2nd place GrandMasters), and the NPC Masters Nationals (4th place Figure F over 45). I can’t wait until next season!

› Stacey Grubbs Skinny to Master’s Bikini Champion – How I did it.
› Claudia Minadeo-Fox Getting Healthy Figure Traning, my mom telling me I was too thin.