Posts Tagged ‘training’

Sometimes I need a swift kick in the ass to get back into this blog so what better way than a glutes workout?

Nothing can replace heavy squats, hip thrusts, deadlifts and the like but sometimes switching it up can bring amazing results.

Decided to stay at home for today’s workout so here is what I did:

-Superset – 5 rounds of:

  • Seated Band Hip Abduction x 20
  • BW Hip Thrust with Band around thighs x 20

-10 sets of 10 KB Deadlift (90#) with 30 seconds rest between sets

-Tri-Set – 4 rounds of:

  • Single Leg Romanian Deadlift with Heavy Thick Band x 15 each
  • Goblet Squat (35# KB) x 15
  • Barbell Good Mornings (35#) x 15

-Tri-Set with Medium Band around ankles- 3 rounds of:

  • Lateral Steps x 20
  • Monster Walks Fwd/Bwd x 10
  • Standing Hip Extension x 15 each

-Finisher:  50 reps Donkey Kicks each side with medium Band

-Cardio:  Tabata KB Swings with 35# KB (20 seconds on/10 seconds rest x 8 rounds)

Give it a try and let my know what you think in the comments below!





Cliché?  Sure…True?  Definitely yes!  Anything worth doing well will require proper planning.  A vacation, a project at work or school, and of course proper nutrition and training.

I am currently less than 2 weeks out from my next competition and while I’ve been planning all along, this is the time when I need to step it up a notch and make sure that I have everything set.  Hair, tan, suit, bag packed, and everything else in between.  But, what happens when the show is over?  Well, I plan for that too.


Dieting and training for a show for many weeks or months can be very difficult.  But for most people, having a set meal plan and training schedule keeps them accountable and on track.  But if there’s no upcoming show or photo shoot, I don’t need to worry about a meal plan, right?  Sure!  Go ahead!  Eat whatever you want, rebound, gain 30 pounds in 3 weeks and look like a completely different person than those amazing photos from show day.  Nah, just kidding.  You definitely don’t need the same strict boundaries like when preparing for a show, BUT, you still need to monitor the quality and quantity of food you eat.  Competitions aren’t won and lost during contest prep, they’re won in the “off-season”.  The weeks directly after a show are when the body is primed and ready to make some amazing muscle gains (or fat gains if you don’t plan properly).  The months of training and eating at a “proper surplus” BEFORE you start your next contest prep is when you can gain lean mass, work on any lagging body parts, and even out asymmetries.

So, what’s my plan?  Well, I’m human so of course after the show, I will have my treats (pizza anyone? :-D).  I will also take a few days off from training to give my body and mind a rest.  After that time, I will go right back to a healthy eating plan (notice I said healthy eating plan and not DIET!).  I will “reverse-diet” as it has been called.  This will include SLOWLY increasing my calories over the weeks and SLOWLY decreasing the amount of cardio I will do.  If I eat at a major surplus and halt all cardio, that is a recipe for rapid weight gain.  Don’t get me wrong, I will include some treat meals (usually one and occasionally two per week – after all, the holidays are fast approaching).  I will also make sure that I continue to take my daily supplements.  Thank you Top Secret Nutrition! 🙂  When I’m not leaning out for a contest, my daily staples include ActiveXtreme Multivitamin, Fish Oil/CLA, 100% Whey, and Advanced Joint Support.  For training, Cardio Igniter, Pump Igniter, and BCAA Hyperblend Energy are always in my gym bag!

Just remember, health and fitness should be your lifestyle; not an on/off button that you push when you’re in contest mode or “off-season” (I don’t really like that phrase anyway).  Find the right balance for you!  For me, no foods are off-limits; I will enjoy the holidays, have a piece of cake on my birthday, but make sure that I fit these treats into my daily PLAN.

As I sit here writing this, I am just under 5 weeks out from my next competition, so I thought I’d share with you how things are progressing with me.  From this point on, it becomes even more of a mental and physical game.  Workouts tend to be a bit longer, calories have dropped, and the diet is continuously changing depending on progress.  So far, I’ve managed pretty well through this prep:  I have certainly had points of hunger, but nothing I couldn’t handle; I’ve been able to push through my workouts and have remained pretty strong despite the lowered fuel; and my motivation has been relatively high throughout.

So, what does my diet, training, and supplementation look like right now?  I have always done all of my own prep work when it comes to diet and training and I tend to adjust things as needed.  I have discovered a few things about myself over the last few years of competing including that I “don’t do low carb very well” and there is such a thing as “too much cardio”.  So, in terms of my diet, I will have at MINIMUM, one carb meal per day (usually my beloved oatmeal in the morning will stay until the end).  Most days, though, I will have at least 2 carb meals with an additional small serving of carbs post-workout (here I leave a little wiggle-room for the occasional treat including pretzels, low-fat ice-cream, and even a little bit of candy if needed).  Not only does it help me in terms of recovery, but it is a big help in the sanity department when you’re restricting yourself.  I have also learned that restricting foods to “good” and “bad” can lead to a poor relationship with food.  So instead of good vs. bad foods, I look at it as “the most appropriate time to incorporate this food”.  I also tend to do more carb “re-feeds” at this point vs. cheat meals (these can get pretty dangerous towards the end if you know what I mean ;-))

My training has changed a bit at this point as well.  I am still trying to lift fairly heavy on most of my exercises, but I have incorporated more supersets to not only speed up my workouts, but increase the overall calorie burn.  I will also adjust my workouts on the fly (if I’m feeling energetic and strong, I will try to lift to my max; if not, I listen to my body, lower the weight and just do additional sets/reps – remember, it’s not always the amount of weight you lift, but how you lift it, time under tension, and avoiding injury!).  For cardio, I do HIIT 3 days per week (20 minutes) and fill in the other days with steady-state (usually 30 minutes but not more than 45).  Pose, pose, pose!  This is a huge part at this point as practice makes perfect (especially in those heels!) and it does wonders for you looking and feeling comfortable on stage.  If done correctly, posing can be counted toward your cardio!

Top Secret Nutrition ( continues to be an amazing sponsor and supporter!  I’m still using the 100% Whey post-workout and just incorporated the new Pump Igniter Pre-Workout.  This has been a great addition to my stack as it has gotten me through some grueling workouts!  Cardio Igniter is a must-have for my HIIT and longer-duration cardio workouts.  I have just added in the XAT-7 fat-burner for that extra edge and I continue to use the BCAA Hyperblend Energy (either during my workouts or I just sip it throughout the day if I need a pick-me-up before it’s time to eat again).  Everyday essentials include the ActiveXtreme Multi, Advanced Joint Support, Fish Oil & CLA, and Concentrated Red Palm Oil.  I tend to keep my supplementation fairly stable until close to the end so this list won’t change too much until about a week or so out.

That’s about it!  At least until it’s GO TIME!

It’s amazing what we can accomplish just by putting some serious thought into something.  This applies to just about anything, but in this blog I am going to relate it to fitness.  Recently, I just got back from a family vacation and I am now full-swing into my contest prep for my fall show.  During my vacation, I trained a couple of times and stuck to my normal eating plan for the most part, but I did give myself a little bit of a break (both physical and mental).  Anyone who has been on a diet, prepared for a fitness/physique contest, or just trained for a race or other sport knows how much is required to fully prepare for these events.  There is a meal plan to stick to, a training schedule, food prep, and many other variables that must be considered.  One of the most overlooked components (in my opinion) is getting the mind prepared.  If that element is not in order, the rest is going to be a huge struggle.  How do I know this?  Well, I’ve prepared for several competitions now and some preps have been easy and some have been tough.  A lot of it had to do with my mindset.  There was one contest that I trained for “just to do it” and I struggled A LOT!  You see, since my mental focus was not 100%, it made everything else a lot more difficult;  I still trained hard but had trouble sticking to my diet on a few occasions.

This contest is a completely different story.  I chose not to compete in the Spring this year because I didn’t feel that I was ready.  I did a few short cutting and maintenance/gaining cycles to work on some lagging bodyparts but now, I’m feeling more than ready!  The huge thing that I noticed is that my mental focus is 110%.  I have become aware of some great things this week because of this.  I realized I had much greater control over my hunger and fatigue.  I made it a point to analyze what was going on when I felt “hungry” even though I had just eaten.  When you’re dieting, it is so easy for food to become the focus of your day; even to the point of becoming obsessive about it.  What am I going to eat today?  When can I have my next meal?  Etc. Etc.  After analyzing why I thought I was hungry (and often coming up with a variety of reasons other than hunger) I realized I wasn’t hungry at all.  Even if I was truly hungry, distracting my thoughts away from hunger and food always works great to pass the time (and it can make for quite the productive day!)  My adherence to my meal plan this week was 100% and I can say that there wasn’t any particular time where I felt deprived, starving, etc.

Another area where the power of the mind is huge is during training.  Training is hard if you do it right.  It hurts and it can make you tired.  Maybe you don’t feel like going to the gym because you had a long day at work, the kids exhausted you, or you didn’t get a good night’s sleep.  There are many legitimate reasons to skip the gym (i.e. you need a rest day, you’re injured, or you’re sick), but these other “excuses” just won’t do!  Getting psyched up for the gym starts in the mind.  Think about what you want to accomplish during your next workout; do you want to add more weight/reps to an exercise, do you want to be able to sprint faster/longer?  Use these goals as a starting point.  Most of you know, once you actually get to the gym and start working out, you realize you’re really not that tired or unmotivated.

Don’t underestimate the power of your mind:  everything starts with a thought, is planned and put through a process, and eventually becomes your new reality…so, train your brain people! 🙂


Dealing With Injury

Posted: June 25, 2013 in Fitness
Tags: , ,

I have been a competitive athlete pretty much all my life.  Since my childhood, I’ve dabbled in just about everything:  gymnastics, ice skating, softball, field hockey, lacrosse, ice hockey, and now bodybuilding.  With sports and hard training, pain/injury is inevitable.  I’ve suffered my fair share during my athletic career but I never let an injury stop me.  Don’t get me wrong…it is imperative that you take care of injuries in the proper way, but that doesn’t mean that you need to stop training altogether.  I certainly understand that it can be frustrating not to be able to train in the manner that you are accustomed to, but don’t give up!  Don’t throw in the towel, ditch your nutrition, and sit on the couch wallowing in self-pity.  Take a day off, take 2, or even a week if you need it, but there are plenty of things that you can do to maintain your fitness while recovering (as long as you don’t have any restrictions from your doctor!)


  • Keep your nutrition in check.  This is going to be super important especially if your training level is lower.  Match your intake to your activity level.  If you have a minor injury and only have to avoid certain exercises, your nutrition may not have to change at all.  If you have something more serious, it is important to eat well so that you can heal, but don’t overeat if your activity is significantly less.
  • Rest.  “If something hurts, don’t do it!”  This seems simple and a bit silly, but there is a lot of truth to it.  Our bodies are amazing; they are very good at telling us when something is wrong.  Never push through bad pain because I guarantee that you’re only going to make things worse.  Rest the area, ice if needed, and don’t take loads of painkillers just to be able to train.  It’s better to take 2 weeks off than to be forced to take 6 months off.
  • Train accordingly.  This is something that is near and dear to me as we speak.  I have been dealing with an elbow issue that comes and goes.  Sometimes I can train as usual, sometimes a little lighter, and sometimes I need to avoid upper body completely.  Do what you can but don’t overdo it.
  • Train around the injury.  Shoulder hurts?  Do legs or abs.  Knee surgery?  Do upper body machines in the sitting position (avoid standing or other movements that will place stress on the knee).  Can’t do weights at all?  Hop on some cardio equipment or go for a walk.  There is almost always SOMETHING that you can do.
  • See your doc.  If your pain persists despite all your attempts at rest and home remedies, don’t be afraid to check in with your doctor.  It’s much better to take care of something in the early stages.
  • Check your form.  Make sure that your pain/injury is not a result of improper form or using too heavy a weight.  Form first, weight second.  Check your ego at the door when lifting.  It’s ok to try to continue to increase your weights as you get stronger, but make sure that you do it in a safe manner with a spotter if needed.  Have a trusted friend or personal trainer check your form if you think your injury was a result of lifting technique.
  • Vary your exercises.  Overuse can be a huge problem in sports and weightlifting.  Performing the same movements over and over again can place a significant amount of stress on muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons.  Remember to vary your exercises if you can to avoid placing too much strain on one area.  Bench press addict?  Try incline, decline, dumbbells, or a machine from time to time to hit the area a bit differently.
  • Warm-up properly and stretch.  We’re all strapped for time and I admit to being guilty of inadequate warm-ups and stretching, but it is very important to take that extra 5 minutes especially if you’ve had a prior injury in a particular area of it is an area of weakness for you.
  • Remember to get enough rest.  This is one of the most overlooked aspects of any sport or training.  REST!  Your mind may say differently, but your body needs it.  Muscles don’t grow in the gym, they grow at rest.  Make sure you take at least one day off per week to give your body a chance to recover and avoid training the same muscle groups 2 days in a row.

If pain or injury strikes, don’t give up!  Get mad, get frustrated, or whatever it is that helps you, and then get over it!  Take a short break and then find some way to work around it until you recover.

Deplete, carb-up, sodium load, creatine load, dehydrate, etc. etc. etc.  There are about as many plans for peak week as there are competitors for a show!  So how the heck do you make sense of all of this and know what to do the final week so that you look your best?

The single best piece of advice that I can give you for peak week is…drum roll please…DON’T DO ANYTHING DRASTIC!  You’ve been training hard, dieting harder, and giving it your all for weeks or months, right?  So, if you’re ready, you’re ready and if you’re not, well…no peak week “trick” is going to get you ready.

With that said, there are definitely some things that you want to do and there are some things you want to avoid.  I will list some of my personal suggestions (and they are just that…I know what works for me and it may or may not work for you).  I know it seems a bit crazy, but peak week for me isn’t very different from any other week with the exception of a few things below:

  • Training:  I will maintain a pretty intense training regimen for the first half of peak week with my last workout being the Wednesday before the show.  I will complete a heavy leg day about 1 week before (to give my legs enough time to recover).  I make sure that I hit each bodypart once during this week.
  • Diet:  Carbohydrates for me remain relatively moderate to higher in the beginning of the week while my training is intense, taper down usually Wednesday and Thursday, and then increase again a bit on Friday and Saturday.  The key for me is making small changes – I am better able to monitor how my body reacts and adjust accordingly.  Protein and fat remain about the same throughout the week.
  • Water:  I will maintain at least a gallon of water a day up until Thursday and Friday – then it drops to about a half a gallon.  I never completely drop water because it’s unhealthy and our bodies (including muscles) need water!  The day of the show I will just sip water as needed only to avoid the bloated look onstage.
  • Sodium:  Believe it or not, I keep sodium about the same only dropping it a little on Thursday and Friday.  The day of the show, I will have a meal before pre-judging that includes a moderate amount of sodium.
  • Supplements:  I usually maintain my regular supplementation schedule up until the show.  I will add in a product to help with excess water this final week though.  For my next contest, I will be using Top Secret Nutrition’s Water-Less.


If you’re working with a trainer, please follow his/her advice!  If you are prepping on your own, you may want to experiment (weeks before the contest!) with what techniques work best for you.  For me, making small changes during peak week has brought me the best results.

Well, there you have it!  My secret is out…

Do the hard work in the weeks and months before the show! 😉

Our days are jam-packed with responsibilities. So, how are we supposed to fit in anything extra like preparing healthy meals or training?

For those of you that are curious, I’m going to take a page out of my life and show you how I personally fit it all in, including excerpts from my training and food journals.

Most days start fairly early for me. I’m up and running at 6 a.m. (occasionally before if I need to do my training in the morning). First and foremost…COFFEE! I have two daughters so while I’m taking in my morning dose of caffeine, I’m packing lunch for my oldest.

Next up, get everyone dressed and ready for the day. I try to make sure that clothes for my girls are picked out the night before to avoid any morning wardrobe drama…”you wear what you picked out last night and that’s final!”

My oldest is in school full-time so she’s the first to be dropped off, followed by my pre-schooler.

A moment to breathe for me and one of my favorite parts of the day: training time! I sip my pre-workout while I drive to the gym. I’ll spend approximately 45-60 minutes weight-training and then tack on an additional 20-30 minutes of cardio at the end. My post-workout meal follows right after I’m done training.

Once I’m finished at the gym, I’m on the run again! Time to pick up my youngest from pre-school (she only spends a few hours there a couple times a week), head home, take a quick shower and prepare our lunches. I usually try to pre-cook several days worth of meals so that meal prep during the day is fast and easy. I’ll grab my food from the fridge, then heat and eat! Having meals ready makes me less likely to make poor choices when I’m hungry and in a hurry!

Time to head out once again and get my groceries for the week. I take my youngest with me (which always makes any shopping trip twice as long!) and load up on fresh fruits, veggies, complex carbs, and lean meats. I’m usually suckered into getting one or two treats for my daughter but I try to steer-clear of the chocolate aisle!

Done shopping, groceries are put away (well, at least the refrigerated stuff!) and then it’s time to pick up my oldest from school.

Snacks, homework, finish putting the groceries away, dinner prep, dishes, baths for the kids, and then their bedtime! If I’m prepping for a show or trying to lean out (as I am now for the summer), I’ll do another short bout of cardio (20-30 minutes) right after I put them to bed.  Yet another shower, snack for me and then…whew, my bedtime! And then I’ll do it all again tomorrow! Sound exhausting? Most definitely! Worth the effort? You bet!

Here’s a typical day’s diet, training, and supplement schedule:


Meal 1: Coffee, Top Secret Nutrition Protein Shake made with Unsweetened Almond Milk; Oats topped with Raspberries and a dash of Sugar-Free Syrup.

Meal 2: (Post-workout treat!) 1 Cup Non-Fat Greek Yogurt with 1/2 Frozen Banana & 1/2 Cup Frozen Blueberries.  A nice cold treat after a hard workout!

Meal 3: 5 Ounces Grilled Chicken, 1-2 Cups Broccoli, and 1/2 Cup Brown Rice

Meal 4: 1 Cup 1% Cottage Cheese & a handful of Raw Almonds OR another TSN Shake if I’m on the run!

Meal 5: 5-6 Ounces Lean Meat (Chicken, Fish, Lean Beef) and a Large Spinach Salad topped with Cucumbers/Bell Peppers/Onions/Fat-Free Feta Cheese and Balsalmic Vinegar

Meal 6: (Just before bed): 1 1/2 Scoops 100% Casein Protein mixed into a pudding with 1 TBSP Natural Peanut Butter – frozen for 1 hour (kills the sweet tooth!)


Typical Back Day Workout (one of my favorites)!  Warm-up sets are fairly easy, working sets I try to lift as heavy as I can with good form almost failing on the last rep or two.

Bent-Over Barbell Rows: 2 warm-up sets of 10 reps; 4 working sets of 8-10 reps

Pull-ups: 4 sets to failure with varying grips

Seated Row: 1 warm-up set of 10-12 reps; 4 working sets of 8-12

Unilateral Cable Pull-Down: 4 sets of 12

Straight-Arm Pull-Down: 4 sets of 12-15

Cardio After: 20-30 minutes (preferrably HIIT)

Supplements (all of my supplements are from Top Secret Nutrition):

AM: 1 Grab & Go Packet of Diet Accelerator N-Pack (has everything I need!)


Pre-Workout: 1 Scoop each of Cardio Igniter and Creavar

Intra-Workout: 1 Scoop each of BCAA Hyperblend Energy and Creavar

PM: Hair, Skin, & Nails, Green Coffee Bean Extract, and Fish Oil & CLA

Before Bed: TSN Sleep

Throughout the Day:  TSN 100% Whey Shakes as described above

April is finally here and we are really getting into the swing of Spring!  The first signs of warm weather are an undeniable reminder that Summer is right around the corner.  New Year’s resolutions that may have dropped off are renewed and the “let’s get in shape for summer” mantras begin again.

I try to be pretty consistent with my diet and training throughout the year but I am also human!  I definitely allow some wiggle-room for get-togethers, holidays, and other unexpected events.  A big dinner out for mom’s birthday, all those Valentine’s chocolates and candies lying around, another dinner for my brother’s birthday, and of course the latest visit from the Easter bunny have all been temptations to fall off the wagon.  Of course I allowed myself to enjoy these opportunities with my family, but I didn’t let them get in the way of my goals.  I have now gotten a little taste of sunshine, a few of the layers of clothing are slowly coming off, and it’s full speed ahead for reaching my summer goals.

I would like to share a few things that help keep me on track with my fitness goals.  I call them my 4 P’s for SuccessPlan, Prepare, be Patient, and don’t strive for Perfection.

  • PLAN:  Here is a great place to start.  Whenever I’m asked for advice on how I stay on track, I always say you have to Plan!  Plan your meals, plan your workouts, and plan for a change of plans!   Schedule yourself a workout “appointment” and stick to it.  Realize that occasionally life gets in the way – a child gets sick, you’re stuck late at work, or whatever the potential “excuse” is for the day.  I say create a back-up plan!  There are times I’ll do my workout at 5 in the morning or 9 at night and it might not be the one I had originally scheduled, but I get it done!
  • PREPARE:  Keep your gym bag packed and ready to go at all times (either by the door or in your car) and pre-cook several meals and have them portioned out in your refrigerator.  This way you’ll have easy grab-and-go meals or something quick/healthy to eat when hunger strikes.  Keep a few healthy snacks with you when you are out so you never have to miss a meal or resort to unhealthy choices.  Sort out your supplements for the week and keep them in one of those pill boxes.  I have 2 containers; one for the morning and another for the afternoon.  All I have to do is grab the right day/time, open it up, and all of my favorite Top Secret Nutrition supplements are ready to go!  Keep a journal of your workouts:  write down all your workouts for the upcoming week so that you know exactly what you’re going to do when you hit the gym and there’s no wasted time or guesswork.
  • Be PATIENT:  Here is the tough one!  It’s easy to be gung-ho about a new plan.  The motivation is there and you’re ready to make a change.  But as the weeks go by, you may be feeling a little discouraged because you haven’t seen many changes.  Be patient, stick with your plan.  A great physique is not built in a day, a week, or even a month.  Too many people give up too soon and constantly have to “start over”.  Put a stop to that vicious cycle and just be patient!

images patience

  • Don’t strive for PERFECTION:  There is no such thing!  There is no perfect diet, perfect training, or perfect physique.  We all have strengths and weakness and we all certainly have good and bad days.  Make the best of what you have when you have it!  It doesn’t matter if your workout got cut short or you just couldn’t resist that cupcake; put that behind you, let go of the guilt, and continue on with your PLAN!  Don’t let one or two little “slip-ups” ruin all of your hard work.  Remember, this is a lifestyle not a diet or temporary fix.

There are always bumps in the road; just keep sticking to your plan, stay prepared, be patient with yourself, accept that you are not perfect and you will be sure to see PROGRESS!