|“Thank you again for everything you did for me! I learned so much about my body and about myself during the prep and am so happy you were willing to work with me! You really have an amazing understanding of female competition preparation and it is fantastic that you have given competitors access to you online. Thank you for everything you do! I told everyone at the contest about you!”|
Karen Sessions – Figure Coach – Hey Colleen. Congratulations on your recent figure contest placement. What show did you compete in and how did you place?
I just competed in an INBF Pro-Qualifier and took second in my class!
That’s AWESOME! What a great running start. What was your competition experience like?
I absolutely loved it! Admittedly, the last week of prep is BY FAR the hardest part (you can kick my butt any day in the gym, but the focus needed for that last week is EXTREMELY difficult)
Oh yes, peak week is an INTENSE process. You HAVE to get it right to be ready on stage. So, have you always been athletic? Did you play sports growing up?
I danced, did track and in college got into weightlifting.
With that athletic background you could also crossover into Fitness Competitions if you ever wanted to. What got you involved in figure competitions?
I started out with Women’s Tri-Fitness (obstacle course, fitness skills, and Grace and Physique round) and LOVED the training that went into it and the prep for the Grace and Physique round.
I see you like to stay busy. So how long have you been into fitness and working out?
I have been really focused on improving my physique with weights for the last 12-13 years.
With you being active all your life you set your metabolism and have good control over it. What is your competition weight and off-season weight, and how tall are you?
This competition I weighed in at 118 pounds, and off season I am closer to 123. I am 5’6″ tall.
Awesome. Only a 5 pound difference. How long did it take you to prep for your figure competition?
I used a 12 week prep to slowly lean out without over-stressing my body. I probably could have done it in a shorter amount of time, but doing it gradually made it much smoother and didn’t put as much strain on me physically, which allowed me to keep up with my workouts because I really didn’t want to lose any muscle during my prep.
I agree. You could have been “ready” in 6-8 weeks. Taking extra weeks allows you to extra time to wean out the unapproved foods and gives a little slack for those cheats. It also allows you time to learn how your body loses body fat and how to tweak. What motivates you to keep in shape?
I love the idea of my physique being a moldable, ever-changing (and hopefully improving) work of art. It is amazing what small tweaks to your training and nutriton can do for your physique.
I agree. During peak week, with the right program, you can literally see your body transform after each meal. Now THAT’S control! How do you stick to your goals?
During the off-season I am always trying to grow- I am naturally very lean and I know I need to put the work in to get the results!
Yeah, a lot of people say “there is no off-season” but what most don’t understand is that off-season is the time when you build the muscle, and prep is the time you shed the fat. What is your nutrition like off-season?
I eat clean; lots of salmon, chicken, About Time whey protein and eggs for protein. My carbohydrate sources are pretty limited because I have a gluten sensitivity and I can’t do dairy either! So by default, my nutrition stays pretty clean no matter what.
See? That’s a GREAT off-season diet. Off-season you just eat more of the same clean food as you would in prep mode. What is your figure competition diet like?
During prep, I learned that I can have carbohydrates, they just need to be from fruit and vegetables, as any type of rice/yams seem to flatten me out. I did about 50% protein, 30% carb and 20% fat in the weeks leading up to the show.
That’s awesome that you are willing to experiment to find out what works for you and what doesn’t. Learning your body will help propel you in this sport. Ok, so what is a basic cheat meal for you?
Salt and carbs! Currently I am really enjoying air popped popcorn and chocolate covered espresso beans!
Yeah, air popped popcorn does seem to be a favorite for athletes. I have Sue Price’s (IFBB Pro Female Bodybuilder) 1993 and Jan Tana prep journals, and she ate a lot of air popped popcorn. LOL Are there any sacrifices? If so, how do you overcome them?
It is tough to explain to family/friends why you eat like you have to, train like you have to, and generally prioritize your desire to compete over a lot of other things in life. I don’t find that it is difficult to overcome the sacrifices, because at the end of the day, I know what I want to achieve and there is only one way to get there… It takes a lot of early mornings in the gym, a lot of nights prepping food, and a desire to make yourself a little bit better every day.
Perfect explanation. You know what you want and you do everything in your power to achieve it. That’s what it all boils down to. What do you find to be the hardest part about getting into contest shape and how do you overcome it?
The worst part for me was the last week going from drinking 2 gallons of water a day and slowly decreasing to only sips Friday night and the day of the competition.
Yeah, lowering that water intake the day before the show HAS to be the hardest part. You never know how much you value that water until the day of the show. LOL What is your training split like off-season?
I do 5 days of weights and 2 days of cardio, each session lasts only an hour with a solid 15 minutes of stretching afterward. The foam roller is one of the best inventions ever!
That’s a good balanced split. What is your training life when you are prepping for a contest?
Up before the sun, workout is done before most people have had their first cup of coffee, then off to work, and home to prep food to do it all again the next day!
Sounds like the schedule of a Marine! I use to roll out of bed and be at the gym within 10 minutes during my prep training. Do you track your personal best lifts and if so, what are they?
I am just now starting to track my best lifts and just did my 1 rep max for squats at 175 pounds and bench at 100 pounds. We’ll see how much I can increase that over the next year!
Those are great lifts. Be sure to get that 1RM again before you start to diet down. What do you do for cardio?
I am a big fan of interval rides on a spin bike, incline walking/sides shuffle/ backward run on the treadmill (set at 8-10%, 4.0 mph), and the stepmill. I tend to get bored easily, so doing 20 mins on each to make up an hour long session works well.
Oh, I’m a fan of the good ‘ole boring cardio on a treadmill or elliptical. I don’t mind it. Do you have any future competition plans?
I am planning to take time to grow an probably won’t compete again until late 2013 or 2014…
Ah, taking a year off to grow. Not many competitors do that anymore. It’s a good game plan since you build muscle during the off-season. Do you use supplements? If so, what are your favorite supplements?
I have recently found About Time whey protein that is gluten free, casein free and completely natural. It doesn’t bloat me and is a really convenient source of protein. I also take glutamine (5g) with each of my shakes. BCAAs are usually part of my pre-workout supplementation as well.
Ah, that’s great that you found a 100% natural protein. About time, huh? Ok, bad joke. 😀 Does your family support your fitness endeavors?
Absolutely. My husband is up even before me to train and at my most recent show, my sister, mom and in-laws were all in the audience!
WOW, you’re really lucky that your husband is so supportive. It’s also great that your family went to your show to support you. What hobbies do you have outside of fitness?
We are about to get a puppy, so I have a feeling that will take any and all of my free time!
LOL Sounds like you are excited. about the new addition. I have a ton of animals that adopted me. I seem to find all the strays. 😀 What advice would you give someone who wanted to get in such outstanding shape as you are in?
Set specific goals, establish a relationship with a trainer such as Karen that can help you make a plan, and then stick to it!
Aww… What a nice thing to say. Thanks. How has competing in figure changed your life?
It has shown me that I am able to do anything I want with enough hard work and the right support system.
Yes, a support system CERTAINLY helps! Do you have any long-term goals in the fitness industry ?
I just want to maintain fitness in my life for as long as possible. I know that every choice I make today has an impact on my future and I try to make the best choices I can to ensure I am able to keep training indefinitely.
Great insight. You are leaps and bounds ahead of the game in your head. If you could give one piece of advice to a first time figure competitor, what would it be?
Just listen to your coach, they know what they are talking about! Also, don’t think of a competition as a one-shot event… In figure you have the opportunity to learn something from each show and make you that much better the next time.
EXACTLY! Every competition is a learning experience. Thanks for your time, Colleen.
Do YOU Want to Enter a Competition, too or Just Have the Body of a Competitor? Stop sitting on the sideline…