Physique comp prep, 8 weeks to go: all change!

May 3, 2011

My first bodybuilding comp is 8 weeks on Sunday. EIGHT weeks. That’s, like, two months. Or less. Time flies eh?

I’m trucking along, training hard, lifting heavy and eating well, trying my best to maintain all the muscle I’ve gained whilst cutting body fat so I hit the stage in the best condition possible.

Yesterday, my trainer Kat sent me my new training plans and we had a Skype call to discuss my nutrition goals for the next few weeks. So I thought it was time to update those of you who are interested!

For the past few months I’ve been training in an 8-day cycle, with five lifting sessions every eight days (legs twice, back/triceps once, chest/biceps once, shoulders/back once).

With (just) eight weeks to go, my calories are starting to come down, and it’s no longer realistic to think I’ll be gaining any muscle. The aim is to retain what I’ve worked so hard to gain, and to get rid of body fat so I can show aforementioned muscles to the judges! So my training now is focusing on more cardio and interval training, and a slightly different approach to weights.

Here’s my new 8-day cycle for now – as with anything, we’ll see how it goes. Nothing’s set in stone, we give it a try for a week or two to see how I respond physically, emotionally, hormonally and all the rest of it.

1 (am) interval training (this could be a kettlebell complex, hill runs, a track running session, bike turbo session etc)
(pm) weights – legs & some postural work. This day is a “high” day for calories and carbs – cos I need it!

2 (am) weights – pull – back and biceps
(pm) cardio session (this could be a bike ride or even a long walk with the dog). This day is a more medium/lower calorie and carb day, with carbs (other than those from veg – which I eat with abandon) put mostly before and after training.

3 (am) interval training
(pm) weights – push – chest, shoulders, triceps & yoga/stretching. This is a medium/higher cal/carb day as intervals and weights demand it!

4 ideally some cardio (as low impact as I like) and the all-important posing practice. If I need it, this day can be a complete rest day (although I really should practise posing as often as possible – got to get that pesky left shoulder blade doing what I want it to during my lat-spread!)

and repeat for days 5, 6, 7, 8. 🙂

Yesterday was a day 4, I walked the dog briefly (but briskly!) in the morning and was then persuaded by my husband to come out on my lovely road bike. It was very windy, and I was wiped out afterwards!

Today is a day 1 so, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to swing some kettlebells in front of a somewhat bemused dog….

I’m a bad blogger, no progress pics, but I’ll take some soon….

So that’s it for my very brief update, but I’m happy to answer any questions about my training, preparation, planning or nutrition. Please just ask away!

Physique comp prep, 8 weeks to go: all change! is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

“She wore an…itsy bitsy, teeny weeny…

April 17, 2011

…bling-encrusted pink bikini….”

Yesterday I met up with Kat and Annie again for some more posing practice. It all went well, Annie was pleased with my progress (which was a huge confidence boost for me, since I’m never too sure if I’m doing the right thing when I pose at home by myself). We discussed how I’ve come on since she last saw me, and came to the conclusion that I may compete in Physique rather than Figure, which is absolutely fine by me. And she very kindly lent me some of her contest bikinis to try on. No sense in buying one if I can hire or borrow!





I get to wear two if I want (not at the same time; that would be really weird). Plain one for the pre-judging and then sparkly bling for the night show.

I thought I’d be petrified about the idea of putting on a tiny posing suit (not only are they small but they do up in a totally different way to a normal beach bikini, and you feel a lot more exposed) but, you know what, I’m not nervous about it. I don’t know why not. That may well change when I…oh, you know…have to get up on stage in front of a load of strangers wearing the suit. Who knows! But for now, it’s all rather fun actually! I never thought I’d be a “velvet and rhinestones” kind of a gal. Seems I was wrong. 😉


Sorry Richard and Jo, it looks like our “Ladies Wot Lunch” special trip to Soho to buy my shoes is off…I’m going shoeless as a Physique competitor, and that suits me just fine. 🙂

“She wore an…itsy bitsy, teeny weeny… is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

What’s supp with that?

April 10, 2011

As most of you know, I come from a triathlon/multisport background (this bodybuilding thing is all very new to me!) I also write for triathlon magazines (with my journalism hat on). Given that triathlon is a “kit-heavy” sport, with no end of gadgets and gizmos to coo over and spend out on, you might think I was immune to overspending on sports stuff, after all these years.


Not really.

We have a situation here…

I’m 11 weeks out (?!*@!) from my first figure/bodybuilding show and my supplement cupboard has become —> a supplement hamper has become —> a supplement….area. Perhaps it’s because there’s not a great deal else to buy for bodybuilding, other than food (and I do enjoy that!) and – eventually – what I’ll wear on stage (I haven’t got that far yet). But I’ve gone a bit spendy on the ol’ supps. Would you like a tour?

(Disclaimer: some of these are free samples picked up at the IFBB Grand Prix, some are freebies (thank you Sci-MX, myprotein) and many are BOGOFs. I do shop around, honest! Even so, it’s a bit embarrassing….)

1) Protein powders

Perhaps the most cliched bodybuilding food, but far from just hype. Training like I am, and trying to build/retain the amount of muscle I am, I need a lot of protein – far more than most people. And it’s hard to get it all in through real foods. (I do eat real foods! In fact the amount of real foods I eat is the reason the fridge door currently won’t quite shut properly…and there’s a cool bag full of veg in the kitchen).

So, protein powders are a handy way (whey? hahahahaaaa. erm…) to get extra protein in. Plus, they taste yum! They’ve come a long way from the days when they were chalky and tasteless. I add them to oatmeal, make smoothies/shakes with them, bake with them and make fake icecream with them (so so good).

Why so many? Last week, this would have been a sorry photo – I was down to just two tubs (the horror!) But then I saw a BOGOF on chocolate orange flavour, and then a sports-supplement client of mine offered me a contradeal. So what you’re seeing here is an unusually large amount of different protein powders, I promise! There are so many tasty flavours out there that I wanted to try lots!

I can’t be bothered to list everything in the pics but if you spot a label you’re interested in knowing more about, please leave a comment and I will elaborate.

One of these by the way is casein, rather than whey. Casein protein is absorbed much more slowly than whey, so it’s great to have before bed. Which is exactly what I do: make a pudding out of it. Yum! (again) You can also get vegan and vegetarian sources of protein powders (hemp, pea, etc).

2) BCAAs

Branch chain amino acids. I’m sure my biochemist husband would be able to explain our need for BCAAs far better than I can, but he’s currently doing a MTB race with this chap, so you’ll have to make do with me.

Proteins, as we know, are made up of amino acids. BCAAs are naturally occurring in the body and represent over 30% of our muscle mass. We really need them to support muscle growth, never more so than when we’re training really hard and dieting down at the same time – as I have slowly started to do. So I take BCAAs to prevent losing my hard-earned muscles, to speed up recovery between training sessions and to stop me feeling knackered.

What you see here is BCAAs in capsule form from Sci-Mx and also powder form, for mixing into a drink, from Scivation (Xtend). One of my bloggy pals told me Xtend had forever ruined plain water for her…and I fear I am going down the same sorry route. However, after my contest prep is over I’ll just have to live with it, for the sake of my wallet! For now, though….*sip* 🙂

3) Pre-workout booster thingies

Stuff you mix into water to take before/during training to give you a bit of a boost. I’ve reviewed the Sci-MX one you see there already – here. There are lots of preworkout supplements out there, most with caffeine, guarana, taurine etc as stimulants, and then with amino acids to help recovery and buffer lactic acid, etc.

I’ve tried a few (I got lots of samples at the IFBB Grand Prix) and some are most definitely stronger than others – whether that’s a good or a bad thing is up to you! I do get on with the Sci-MX one, hence why I’ve stuck with it. I don’t use these products before every training session, partly because I don’t want to get into the habit, partly because the more I use them the more I’ll get used to them and partly because I don’t always want the effect. (Also partly so they’ll last longer!) However, on days when I’m really dragging, or I have a very tough session to do, they are great.

4) L-glutamine

L-glut is an amino acid found in some of the foods we eat but, because the body needs it so much – particularly when training hard and trying to recover quickly – I supplement my diet with it. Amongst its jobs are preventing muscle breakdown (catabolism) and helping immune function. It’s just a powder (this one’s flavourless) which I take with water or mix into a shake or whatever really.

5) Creatine

Perhaps the most researched supplement out there, creatine is another substance which is naturally-occurring in the body but which needs topping up when you’re training really hard with weights. Our bodies make and use creatine to supply energy to our muscles and, ultimately, to top up muscle’s most valued energy source (ATP). It can boost the rate at which you grow lean mass and can help you lift more weight and train harder. Definitely one to take during bodybuilding training.

6) 3/6/9 oil

Fat doesn’t make you fat (but you knew that….promise?) On the contrary. Which is why I pour a good 20ml of Udo’s Choice oil over my food every single day. Everyone needs the correct amount of essential fatty acids (hence the name ‘essential’…) and I want to make sure I’m getting the right amount, even as start cutting my diet back approaching my show. I’d rather cut carbohydrates by a little than lose out on fats – they’re more important to the body (IMO). EFAs have also been reported to help recovery between training sessions and I’m down with that. (I also use coconut oil – for cooking, since you can’t heat Udo’s oil.)

7) Foodie bits

I love cooking (and eating!) and experimenting in the kitchen to see how I can make recipes (particularly baked goods) “bodybuilder friendly”. My coach Kat Millar has some of the recipes we’ve ‘refined’ together on her blog here. Anyway, it’s handy to be able to add flavour and sweetness without sugar. Hence the sugar-free syrups (great in baking, coffee, oats, smoothies) and flavour drops (there are various brands out there).

I’ve reviewed a few of these already – you can do a search by product name or by ‘review’ – but if there’s anything you’d like to know more about, just tell me in the comments.

And, with that, I’m going to go and make myself a really complicated protein shake with 7,345 ingredients in. 😉 Not really. I’m going to have an iced coffee and think about taking the dog for a walk once it’s a bit cooler.

Do you take supplements or sports nutrition? What, when, why, where and how? What’s your fave?

Aaaaand…can anyone’s supplements cupboard/box/space rival mine? 😉

What’s supp with that? is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Training update

March 31, 2011

Short and sweet post today. A few people have asked me about my training: what am I doing, is it changing as my first show gets closer? The date of my first show is still – *quick check the calendar* – 12 weeks away, so I’m still eating lots and therefore lifting heavy. I am however starting to add some cardio back into the mix. Partly because the weather’s improving, and getting outside to run with the dog or ride my lovely road bike is good for the mind, and partly because I now want to slowly chip away at my body fat as we creep towards showtime (rather than leaving it til nearer the time but having to do it more quickly).

I posted recently about testing the strength goals I’d set myself, and I reported back about a conditioning session I had (more where that came from, coming soon).

I am enjoying it all – no, scrap that, I’m loving it all. I love love love lifting heavy weights (just as well really!) and my long-time love of weight training is what attracted me to this year’s challenge. But, as an endurance athlete, I naturally have an affinity for cardio, too, and I do like running (particularly with my stripey, brown, hairy running partner), road biking and interval training (track running, hill sprints etc). I’m also enjoying coming up with intervals and HIIT sessions in the gym. They usually revolve around cruel and unusual methods involving a skipping rope, a high step and my weighted vest.

So without further ado (and without any pictures), here is my current training schedule. I expect it will change pretty soon.

1 – Session 1: Weights – Legs, session 2: postural work (usually at home)
2 – Session 1: Weights – Back, triceps and abs, session 2: intervals/HIIT
3 – Session 1: Cardio, session 2: yoga (erm, I don’t always get round to this it has to be said!)
4 – Session 1: Weights – Chest, biceps and calves, session 2: posing practice (at home!) (harder than it sounds!)
5 – Session 1: Weights – Legs, session 2: postural work (usually at home)
6 – Session 1: Cardio, session 2: yoga and/or posing practice
7 – Session 1: Weights – Shoulders, more back and abs, session 2: HIIT
8 – OFF or if I simply must do something, yoga or posing. Or a long walk with the dog. Am loving our walks recently: podcast or audio book on the iPod and off we go.

I also try and throw at least a few minutes of posing in at home most days. It’s really hard to get it right and learn it all so it becomes second nature. It’s not a matter of throwing a few shapes, or “posing” as in styling it out in front of the mirror. You have to really engage your brain/muscle connection and get your muscles to understand how you’re asking them to move – and then you have to hold the pose for a while (and it’s not always comfortable). I have particular problems, for instance, with my traps (trapezius muscle). After swimming so much and for so long, they are pretty strong and over-active. It’s like whenever I ask my body to do anything, my traps stick their hand up and say “ooh Miss, Miss! Me Miss, pick me! I know the answer Miss!” I have to try and teach them to stay down, be quiet and let some of the other muscles have their say, but it’s not easy because – for some reason – my brain doesn’t connect to them very well.

Today was day 7 in the cycle, so this morning after breakfast (or as we bodybuilders call it “meal one”) I was in the gym for 45 minutes or so of weights focusing on my shoulders, some back stuff and a little bit of core work. Then I’m just back from my second session of the day (blogging in my running kit). I took myself off to the local running track and did short intervals as fast as I could (which isn’t very fast, but it’s all relative). I wouldn’t always do a track session for intervals but Starbucks had a “free bag of coffee” offer on and track is on the way back.

Hey, whatever motivates you to get out the door 😉

Actually, I lied about no pictures. There was only one other person on the track today. He was small, fast and lean, a little powerhouse. …he was also wearing school uniform…because he was a 5-year-old boy. I’m not sure what he was doing but he was enjoying it, so I stayed to cheer him on over the line before I drove home.

I hope your training is going well.

Training update is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

%d bloggers like this: