Off Season Training

by Jennifer Fleck


Let’s be honest with ourselves, there really shouldn’t be an off season. It should truly be called and on season improvement time! I personally will be going for some pretty big shows this fall season. Why would I want to start all over again?? Instead, let us use this time the right way! Take a week tops off from your last show and hit it hard again! If you are only beginning on your figure fitness journey, there is time to build what you really want out of your show prep. Sign up for at least one show if not 2 or 3 within a certain time frame. This will insure two things. One, if you are not really where you want to be for the first scheduled show, back out and work even harder for the next one. You won’t be doing yourself any favors if you hit that stage without your utmost amount of confidence. Second, don’t let yourself fall off that wagon as soon as that first show is done. Read your judges commentary and learn from it! I strive for 2 weeks in between shows. It is enough time for the body to recover from the trauma of a stage day, but just enough time to make some small changes.

Off season should be a bit easier on the mind, but no easier on the body. It is not time to let you or fall off the wagon. It is your time to prove you can meet your goal. Or rather, for those veterans out there, it gives you time to beat your personal best. No matter what anyone ever tells you, your body will always be changing. Age is really on your side as a woman in the figure competition world. The older you become, the leaner you can be over time. Ironically, younger women don’t always do so well in this division because they biologically will keep more bodyfat on them. Fact! Hence, the popularity of bikini and the reason it has a younger average age. So, before you go thinking it is too late or you are too old, think again. Remember, it is the off season, not the quitting season!

To get the most out of this time period, however long that may be, make yourself a plan! Preferably at least 4 weeks of consistent training and eating. Heavier weight sessions that are further spaced apart to ensure proper healing and gains! Fewer cardio session for the same purpose, unless you have quite a bit of bodyfat to lose, otherwise cardio can self-destruct your progress. Most women don’t realize that until they are severely over training. If your diet is keeping you lean, rely on your weights, your iron, to keep you tighter and give you further strength! Remember, it’s the off season, not the lazy season!

Keep training, and NEVER GIVE UP!!

Attitude and Energy

by Jennifer Fleck


We all know how it goes, you step up your game, change your diet, hit the workouts hard, and “Poof!”. Where motivation once was is fatigue, where dedication still lies is also insecurity, and where your energy sources spurn from, lies stress. In order for this lifestyle to work for a modern women, it must become like anything else in our day to day existence: HABIT. Form a habit, one at a time, gain a lifetime’s worth of health and perspective. However, there will be times during the initial process where you want to fail, give up, give in. Please don’t.

From a scientific perspective, you wonderful women out there need to be aware that it takes more than just a week to form a habit. I am not just talking about your workouts either. How you sleep, when you eat, what you eat, how you judge yourself in the mirror. It all takes time!! We are not clocks that can simply be reset, we are more like a home that needs remodeling, it is a process. Remember, there may be several goals you need to meet before stepping on stage, but do your very best to look at your progression from a positive standpoint. Make it through the day without indulging in a craving, find a way to make that day’s workout more enjoyable, (don’t think about your stress and work), and lastly, try your best not to look at what still needs improvement. Look at what has already improved!! One thing at a time. Rome was not built in a day, and neither are your muscles.
Another subject several athletes do not speak of much is clothing. I tell you, that can be so stressful during this process! Your waist begins to shrink, but you build muscle in other areas,. Therefor, you get dressed for work or what have you in the morning and nothing fits the way you would like it too! Don’t we all wish we could live a breathe our spandex workout gear?? Please do not despair,. Again,. this is part of something so much bigger than how your jeans fit on a particular day! Trust me, I have been there several times myself. We are so programmed to think big=fat! NOT TRUE!! Every morning, feel how things fit! Don’t purely base you day on how you look in your head! The mind can be such a terrible thing at times! In other words, my waist will tidy itself up, but then my quads won’t fit into my pants. Frustrating, yes, failure, absolutely not! It’s progress ladies, it is all about the right energy and attitude!

When you start to feel yourself dreading the workout mainly out of boredom or fatigue, it is time for a change! Your diet and sleep are your top concerns, workouts are actually last. You will never have wonderful abs without a great diet nor will you have great arms if they never get the chance to recover. Funny how things are always connected. The exercise is really only a third of your goal here! So, when your work stresses you out or you have no desire to pump those weights, change your routine. The more you surprise the muscle tissue,. the faster it responds!! The next time you take a full recovery day, try for a different or more difficult workout the very day after your rest. You will find you have so much more to give to your sets! Treat your recovery with the same energy you are using to get up and do your workouts! In all actuality, this time is much more important! No rest, no results!

Lastly, I am very guilty of this one myself, keep you stress levels to a minimum. At the very least, your rest and gym time should be yours and yours alone. Don’t let your boss, children, significant other into your head! Remember how I told you this was the most selfish thing you would ever do? It really is, but you will be more selfless towards those you care about if you get to be selfish first! This is your precious time, zone out, breathe, and realize you have the strength, the drive, and the attitude to get up on that stage! You really do.

Does Carb Loading Help Figure Competitors?

carb loadingI’ve been asked this question a lot of times and every time my answer is – NO! Carb loading and dehydration is a big NO NO. But what DOES work is Carb Cycling.

You see, carb cycling is awesome. But it you are one week away from your figure show then you should not be doing carb loading and depletion. Carb loading is a surefire way to kiss that trophy goodbye.

If you want to lose body fat before your show then one really good way to accomplish that is by Carb Cycling. I found this out even before I became a figure coach. You see my clients (non figure competitors) used to go off their regular diet for 3 to 4 days and they would gain some weight back. BUT… as soon as they went back onto their diet they lost that weight AND…here’s the best part…they lost a few extra pounds on top of that! So I’m a firm believer in Carb Cycling. All my girls that I train do it.

For those of you who don’t know what it is, Carb Loading / Depletion is a method where you try to “fill” your muscles in before your show by forcing carb and water into your system days before the show. Usually this is done by first drinking minimal amount of water and then drinking heavily. But trust me when I tell you that there’s Scientific Research that shows that this doesn’t work. But a lot of figure competitors have gotten it in their head that this is a “must do” thing before a show for some odd reason that they don’t even know of. Don’t do it cos you THINK it’ll help. I’m telling you now, it doesn’t help.

dehydrationDehydration will just suck the water out of your muscles and let me tell you it’ll make you look FAT. If you were a male bodybuilder then your physic will be forgiving and you can get away with it. But NOT you, the female figure competitor. You MUST have full muscles on the day of your show. I’ve heard coaches and trainers tell competitors to dehydrate to get the water from “under the skin” lol. Fact: There is NO WATER under your skin, If you appear to be too “smooth” on the day of your competition then it’s not cos you have “water under the skin” but because you’ve got FAT under your skin! Read that sentence again! Go ahead. I’ll wait. OK now remember that! If you want to get LEAN then you have to stick to workouts and diet. There’s no magic bullet at the 11th hour the day before the show. If you’re not ready the week before the show – YOU ARE NOT READY! There’s no potion or pill that can help you at this later stage. So make sure you do it right from the start.

I’d love to hear your comments below:

The Breakdown for Figure Competition Beginners

by Jennifer Fleck


Now that you have made the decision to compete, it is time to define your training. I will say first and foremost, I am not talking about the weights in your calloused hands, I am speaking of your diet. Unless you are born with junkfood defying genetics, this journey is mostly about what you put in your belly. For those who already eat what they consider to be marginally healthy, this will still be a bit difficult at first. Protein, you will grow to have a love/hate relationship with it. It needs to be the start and the end to your day!Now, I personally do not supplement. That is your choice if you do. I have found over the last 2 years that my belly is not fond of the chemical makeup. I am natural all the way. Now, you can say that this may hold me back from certain opportunities, but I am fine with that. Based upon what I eat, I do not yo-yo throughout the year. Give or take 5lbs, that is where I stay all year long. It is both healthier for your body in general and a lot less stressful on the mind. The mind controls how much cortisol, a very nasty fat inducing chemical, is produced. Best to keep both the mind and body satisfied.

For starting your day, steel cut oats and egg whites. Yup. I realize it does not sound very appetizing. How good does a perfect stomach sound though? Pretty good, I bet. Spice them up with vanilla bean, nutmeg, or cinnamon. Once you form the habit,. you realize your body begins to crave the fuel. That’s right, fuel. Disconnect the mindset that food is feelings. Food won’t make your boyfriend behave, your kids listen to you, or your boss get any less demanding. Food will, however, drive the muscles to rest, shred, rebuild, and grow. Food will give you proper sleep, mood stability, and overall better stamina. Fuel up ladies. Your several meals during the course of your day should include 4-5oz servings of chicken or fish, sweet potatoes, quinoa, and brown rice. I must stress that they do not have to be plain. No dressings or the like, but you may spice them up to your heart’s content. Cook the quinoa in a bit of olive oil or turn those sweet potatoes into fires with some cracked black pepper and bake them in the oven. This does not have to be punishment for your taste buds. You do, however, have to change the way you think about food!

As for fluids, water and green tea. However you need to take it in, do it! Gallon jugs? Fine. Thermos full of tea for when you feel the afternoon munchies coming? Absolutely. “Whatever it takes!” is a mindset you need to have. Just make sure your “whatever” is good for you! You cannot crash diet for this goal. Not only will you not look good on stage, you will feel terrible as well. Put good into you,. greatness will come out!

Later on, I will get into meal timing for those who work long hours. That can be a battle in itself. In the meantime, send your thoughts my way! I am always happy to spread the wealth!

Do Birth Control Pills Make It Harder To Lose body Fat?

This is a question I’ve been asked many times and the answer isn’t cut and dry. Personally I’ve heard testimony that favor both camps but I want to hear from YOU, personally, so that everyone can benefit.

What is your experience with birth control while training for a figure competition, especially during the final phase of cutting. I’m talking about the body fat in the lower teens. What are your personal views? Do you think that birth control has made it harder to lose body fat? Do you think it’s due to the actual birth control product or perhaps water retention? Have you found any good products/brands that work well for you?

I’ve love to hear your thoughts. Please comment bellow.