A Breif Overview of Competitive Bodybuilding

There is a very small percentage of crazy fitness enthusiast that understand the world of competitive bodybuilding.  This blog post is dedicated to all of you “normal” people that are slightly curious and intrigued by this sport that is spreading like wildfire amongst gym rats.

The focus and goal of competitive bodybuilding is building a balanced physique and changing your body composition (less fat, more muscle) through strength training and strict nutrition.  (Yes ladies, you will have to lift weights)  How you want your physique to look depends on what category you are going to compete in.

For men, the main categories are Bodybuilding and Physique.

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Men’s Bodybuilding Example

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Men’s Physique Example

I don’t have much experience with men’s bodybuilding so my overview will stop there.  If you are at all interested in competing you should find a reputable coach in your area that and work with them.  Be very careful of online coaches that only post pictures of themselves.  In my experience, having a coach you can see in person and talk with is much, much better.  I would also ask to see or meet some of their past clients.  Has your coach competed themselves?  I am not sure that anyone can truly understand what you are going through unless they have done it themselves.  (Back stage jitters, naked spray tan, dehydration, oily bodies, pumping up, addiction to peanut butter,etc.)

Now on to my favorite topic, women.  For women there are 4 categories; bodybuilding, physique, figure and bikini.  Figure and bikini are by far the most popular categories.  It is very difficult for women to get bulky naturally so I don’t have any experience with the physique and bodybuilding categories.  Those women are beasts and I applause them. However, because I don’t know much about their prep and the kind of supplements they need to take to build that kind of muscle, I will leave it at that.

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Women’s Physique Example

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Women’s Bodybuilding Example

Women’s Figure is a blend of  bodybuilding and fitness.  Women are judged on symmetry, presentation and other aesthetic qualities such as skin tone, suite color, fit, etc.  The “X” factor is the desired physique with well formed shoulders and back, small waist and round and full glutes and quads. Visible muscle separation is desired but visible striations is not, that would bring them into the bodybuilding category. Women in this category typically get into the 8-12% body fat range on competition day.  At this range your hormones are out of whack and you will stop menstruating.  Your family and friends will not enjoy being around you.  (TRUST ME, I KNOW)

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Women’s Figure Example

The final and most popular category is Women’s Bikini.  This is where a lot of amateurs begin and where a lot of us stay.  Women are judged on their lean and firm physiques and scored on proportion, symmetry, balance, shape and skin tone.  Shoulders, abs and glutes are very important muscle groups.  Bikini competitors are fit and lean but not ripped and shredded.  They are typically win the 10-15% body fat range which is still way, way below average.  Bikini competitors do a front and back pose for the judges.

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Women’s Bikini Example

So now that we covered all the different categories lets talk about how someone gets into competing and what types of shows they would do.  First, you kind of have to enjoy weight lifting and eating healthy.  If you hate spending time in the gym and eating meat and vegetables then you should just take this off your list.  Women do not get their shapely and toned physiques from long cardio sessions and low calorie/low protein meals.  We lift weights and we eat a lot of protein.  Protein is the building block for muscle and to have the bodybuilder’s physique, you need muscle.

I first decided to compete becasue the trainer I was working out with for a few years had competed himself and coached a few of my friends for shows.  I watched them transform their body in a few months and was absolutely amazed and inspired.  I thought about it for a couple years but finally committed to a show after watching a close friend of mine prepare for a competition.  I stopped making excuses and signed up.  The first thing I did was meet with a reputable trainer and discuss my goals.  He put me on a 16 week program that included weight training 6 days per week, eating ~1600 calories each day comprised of 40% protein, 40% carbs and 20% fat and weekly check-ins.  Based on my photos and changes in weight, he adjusted my macros (protein, carbs, fat).   My progress photos were submitted weekly to him. Cardio was used sparingly until the very end when I had to shed the final few pounds of fat.  I trained legs twice per week at a minimum, upper body was focused on shoulders and back and my core was hit a few time a week.

My first show was a local amateur show put on by the National Physique Committee (NPC).  Shows are held locally at the state level.  If a show is designated as a “National Qualifier” then you can qualify to compete at a national level if you place in the top 3 of Open division.

Besides the strict diet and workout regimen, I practiced posing regularly with my coach and on my own.  Stage presence and posing are extremely important.  You can have the best body on stage but if you don’t present it well you will not place at all.  Another thing most people don’t know about is the spray tan.  This isn’t optional if you want to place well or even look like you belong.  Think of it as foundation for your skin. It evens out your skin tone, covers up blemishes and stretch marks and helps bring out the definition in you muscles.  Everyone does it and yes, you look ridiculous off of stage; however, if you didn’t get the spray tan you would not show off your shredded body and would look extremely white compared to everyone else.

After your show most competitors take what is called an off-season.  It is recommended that you take at least 6 months between shows to allow your metabolism to re-adapt back to normal food intake levels.  During prep you continually drop your calories to get take your body below a natural level of body fat and if you think you can just jump right back into eating like you did before you will be in for rude awakening.  It is not uncommon for competitors to gain 10-20 lbs of fat in only a couple weeks after the show if they do not reverse diet properly.  During a planned off season competitors focus on slowly increasing their calories, reducing the amount of cardio and building up their strength.  When you are prepping for a show you are in a calorie deficit so you don’t build much muscle.  The focus is on maintaining muscle while losing fat.  The off season is where the gains happen in the gym.  I recently maxed out my squat at 190lbs and my deadlift at 220lbs.  I could not have built up to this during competition prep and owe my success to an increase in carbs and protein along with great training partners at MVP Sportsclubs.  #ilovecarbs

So far I have competed in four shows total, three of which were National Qualifiers.  I placed in the top 5 in Open in all of them and took 1st in the Master’s Division (35 and older) in two of them.  I am a 2X Nationally Qualified Bikini competitor and currently enjoying my off season.  If someone asked me today if I would compete again I honestly don’t know that I could answer that. Competitive bodybuilding is a very selfish sport and your whole focus in on yourself.  My meals were planned out each day, my workouts were written out, my cardio, etc.  I could not go off my plan and that made family life a bit difficult.  I currently have been really enjoying helping my clients with their fitness goals and love having more flexibility with my workouts and nutrition. My goal for this month is a 200 lb back squat and I can’t wait to crush it.

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2016 Iron Man NPC Competition

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Front Pose

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Front post comparison during pre-judging

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2016 Central States NPC Competition

One Week Out! 

It’s go time!  I am officially one week from my first of two fall shows. This one is special to me because this time last year I competed for the very first time. I was scared, uncomfortable and so very overwhelmed. I placed well but was a nervous freak on stage who lacked confidence. I came back and competed again in the spring and brought home a 1st place in the Master’s Division (35 and up).  I took 3rd overall and decided I wasn’t satisfied with that.  I recharged, refocused and set my goals higher.

In 7 days I will step out on the same stage that scared the shit out of me 1 year prior with confidence and poise. I will beat her and that girl is myself. 


Less Than 3 Weeks Out and Things are Finally Coming Together 

So I have only 17 days until the first of my two fall competitions (but who’s counting).  I was feeling a little frustrated with the lack of weight loss and getting discouraged but today I finally saw the results I was looking for. My weight is still only down about 6 lbs from where I started but my body is much leaner. Today I put my competition suit on and practiced my posing. Posing is something I will practice daily from now until my show and is more important than people would think.  The judges are looking for the whole package and poor stage presentation will prevent you from placing in top 5. Although I practiced a lot last year my nerves took over my first show and my stage presence lacked confidence. I rocked my second show and felt like a whole new woman on that stage. This one is going to be even better. My new coach tweaked my front pose a little and I’m ready to present my best package yet.
Although things are coming together physically, don’t  be fooled by the title of this post. I still lose my shit a few times a day and don’t handle any stress well. My tank is running on empty and my % body fat is dropping below a healthy level for me. Basically my hormones are a little wacky and I’m acting f*cking nuts.  My kids just stay out of my way after 7pm when my energy drops and mood swings kick in. I finding it easier now that they are back in school and I can get my work done during the day. I’m typing this blog while sitting at my middle son’s football scrimmage.

My diet is the same as my last blog with lots of lean protein and greens. I’ve been satisfying my sweet tooth with decaf coffee and stevia after almost every meal. Cucumbers have been my saving grace. I eat a whole one seasoned with Mrs. Dash and garlic powder twice daily. This keeps me full and prevents over eating at meals. They also help a ton with regularity.

This is a typical meal on my lower carb days.  If I do add carbs it is tyipcally sweet potato or a plain rice cake.

Although there is less than a 10 lb difference in the scale I am pleased with the changes I can see

Here are my strippers shoes that are required for show day. Now you can see why I practice daily.

To stay full I eat most of my food over a huge bed of spinach.

Just another day in the kitchen prepping my greens and egg whites

 

Less than 4 Weeks and I’m Struggling

Okay, there are only 22 days (but who’s counting) until my competition and I am kind of losing my shit (well, only 3-6 times per day).  My weight is not flipping moving!  I HATE the scale and wish it would just go to hell.  I like the changes I am seeing in my body but the scale is f*cking with my head.  I am supposed to be losing 1.5-3lbs per week.  This stopped happening about 4 weeks ago.  My coach keeps cutting my carbs and I am cycling them.  THIS SUCKS!  I love, love, love carbs and lose my shit when I am not eating them. On top of cutting carbs even lower, we are cutting out most of the variety in my diet.  I like to think of myself as a bit of a creative wizard in the kitchen when it comes to making healthy ass food that tastes like unhealthy food (protein cookies, muffins, cauliflower not so fried rice, etc.). Well, no more of that either.  Same food meal after meal, over and over.  So basically, if you see me just go the other way.

Why the hell am I doing this you are asking by now? Well, because I want to push myself to limits I have never gone.  I want to be leaner, stronger and better than that girl that hit the stage back in April.  I found the below quote that says change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end.  It hit home for me and put things into perspective. I am officially stuck in the middle and a mess.  I need to refocus my energy and thoughts to the end and why I am doing this.  I have a lot more to gain than I have to lose.

Change

Pumpkin Protein Pancakes – Bikini Competitor Approved!

As my competition approaches I have to start cutting out a lot of foods from my diet which includes dairy, Greek yogurt and bananas (just to name a few). Most of my protein pancake recipes call for smashed banana or plain Greek Yogurt.  I had the choice to give up my favorite breakfast for 10 weeks or get creative in the kitchen; I chose to get creative.  I substituted pure pumpkin for the smashed banana and added some pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon to give them a new twist.  These are amazing and meet my morning macro needs.  Top them with some Walden Farms chocolate syrup and you are all set for your day!

What you need:

  • 1 Cup Kodiak Cakes Pancake Mix
  • 2 scoops vanilla whey protein
  • 1-2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 6-8 packets of Stevia
  • 1 cup all natural canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup liquid egg whites or 5 egg whites
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups water

Directions:

  1. Mix all dry ingredients well
  2. Add wet ingredients and mix well (batter may be too thick so add additional water until you get to the desired consistency)
  3. Pour on pre-heated griddle (~1/4 cup per pancake)

Nutrition Facts per Pancake (makes 16 pancakes):

53 Calories, 6.4g Carbs, 6.6 g Protein and .5 g Fat

I eat 4 pancakes at a time to equal: 213 Calories, 26 g Carbs, 27 g Protein and 4 g Fat

Chocolate Blueberry Mug Cake

Some days I just want to have my cake and eat it to.  Today was that day.  I woke up and decided I wanted to eat cake for breakfast.  Why not, it is FRIDAY!  I am 15 weeks out from my 3rd NPC Bikini competition and starting to dial in my nutrition.  Basically, I can’t eat real cake anymore so I improvised.  I did some research online and found a few protein mug cake recipes.  I have saved many of them on Pinterest, but to be honest, I never really made one.  I thought it was too good to be true.  A healthy cake that takes only a few minutes to make? Yeah, that probably can’t taste very good.   Well, I was wrong, way wrong (just don’t tell my husband I admitted to being wrong).

So here is what you need to enjoy some cake on this beautiful June morning!

Ingredients:

  • 1 scoop chocolate Shakeology
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • dash of salt
  • 2 packets of stevia
  • 1 egg
  • 2-3 tbsp of unsweetened almond or cashew milk
  • 1/4 cup blueberries (optional)


Instructions:

  1. Mix shakeology, baking powder, salt and stevia in coffee mug.
  2. Add egg and mix well (it now tastes like thick brownie batter).
  3. Add milk and mix well.
  4. Dump blueberries into mixer and press to bottom.
  5. Microwave for 90 seconds

Hot and fresh out of microwave


ENJOY!

Nutrition Facts:

1 whole cake is only 255 Calories, 7g fat, 22g carbs, and 23g protein!

3 Ingredient Protein Pancakes

Proteins are an essential part of our diet and are the building blocks of our body.  I like to start my day off right with a breakfast high in protein.  I am not a huge fan of meat and eggs in the morning, and have a little bit of a sweat tooth, so I make a lot of protein pancakes and protein muffins.  Whenever I have an overly ripe banana sitting around and not much time I like to whip up these simple three ingredient protein pancakes.  Top them with a little bit of coconut butter to get some healthy fat in your diet and you are all set to crush your day!

What you need:

  • 1 Scoop Whey Protein Powder (Flavor of your choice)
  • 3 egg whites (can use liquid egg whites)
  • 75 grams of ripe banana
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3 Ingredient Pancakes: Banana, Egg Whites and Protein Powder

 

Directions:

  1. Smash the banana until smooth
  2. Mix in egg whites and whisk
  3. Add protein powder and mix
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Mix all ingredients until smooth

 

Pour batter on preheated griddle to make 3-6 thin protein pancakes and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts:

251 Calories, 41g Protein, 19g Carbs, 0g Fat

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