Progress and workout splits

So I am just over 7 weeks out from my 2nd fitness competition and I weight like 8 pounds more than I did at this point last year :/ So I’m freaking out a little. But looking at the pictures, I look about as lean as I did last year. I’m not sure how confident I am that I actually put on 8 pounds of muscle in a year, but if that’s the case… rock on!

Here are some comparisons from when I was 6 weeks out last year, vs. 8 weeks out this year. I am a little leaner in the 2012 picture, but definitely in a similar spot. So as lot as I give it my all I should be ok, right… RIGHT?! haha

One of the things I’ve changed in my ever evolving plan is the structure of my cardio… I added fasted cardio about 2 weeks ago, and it hasn’t made the scale move, but I feel like it is impacting my leanness, so I’m going to stick with my 40 mins 2 times per week at the moment. I’ll probably increase that up to 60 mins 2-3 times per week by the end and keep my 3 HIIT sessions a week for 15-20 mins a piece. Overall that’s still a LOT less cardio that many competitors do and shouldn’t negatively impact my metabolism.

My calories are hovering anywhere between 1500 – 1800 per day with one cheat meal per week and I have not been systematically carb cycling yet. I plan on doing that starting next week. As I get closer to the stage I will keep my calories between 1500 – 1600 and just cycle carbs not calories.

But the change I’m most excited about (and the one that has nothing to do with weight loss) is that I’m moving to a 5 day split instead of my current 4. Can you guess what is getting its own  day?

SHOULDERS!!!!

Well, shoulders and abs, but shoulders are the thing that I’m excited about if you couldn’t already tell. I’ll probably throw in some biceps there as well since my back workouts seem to be pretty long these days.

And today is my first shoulder workout 🙂 This is what I have planned:


I also plan on doing some HIITs on the stationary bike. I may need some coffee today 🙂 wish me luck for my self imposed torture!

Weekend Workouts

This weekend I did 2 great workouts with what I would call a posse. On Saturday my boyfriend and best friend joined me for a killer leg workout, then on Sunday my best friends boyfriend joined in too for a rocking chest and shoulders sesh. Since this weekend had uncommonly nice and mild weather for this time of year, my boyfriend and I walked back and forth to the gym at a pretty quick clip instead of doing cardio. It’s about 2 kms each way so it’s not cheating! I am well and truly sore today, but it was awesome! Want the deets? Ya you do…

Legs for 3

Warm up (or walk 2 km to the gym)

Exercise Sets Reps Weight
Kettlebell swings 3 20/20/20 16 kg (moderate)
Barbell back squats 3 10/8/8 135/155/155 (moderate)
Bosu ball squats* 3 10/10/10 10 lb bar (light)
Deadlifts 3 10/8/6 155/155/185 (heavy)
Seated hamstring curls (superset) 3 12/12/10+pulse 105 lbs
Leg extensions (superset) 3 12/12/10+pulse 105 lbs
Back extensions 3 15/12/12 10 lb plate held far in front of body
You can kind of see the scrunched up face I'm making... this was HARD

You can kind of see the scrunched up face I’m making… this was HARD

* I did one-one legged squats on the bosu ball and used the bar for a couter-balance, but this is a very challenging move for balance. My friend and boyfriend did the more stable two-legged bosu ball squat (which is still very challenging for stability) and used a 25 – 45 lb weight plate held at chest height. Either one will be a great workout and will earn you some curious glances from onlookers.

Stretch for at least 10 minutes and cool down

Push for 4

Warm up (or walk 2 km to the gym)

1 set of tabata sprints (just because)

Exercise Sets Reps Weight
Spiderman push ups* 3 12/12/12 bodyweight
Bench press 2 10/8 95/115
Military press 3 12/12/12 25 lbs
Lateral delt raises 3 12/12/12 10 lbs
Front delt raises 3 12/12/12 10 lbs
Tricep bench dips** 3 12/12/12 45 lbs (on thighs)

* These are push ups where on the down motion you bring one leg out to the side and bring your knee to your elbow. See more description here.

** I did these with my arms on one bench and my feet on another with a weigh plate on my legs for added resitance. To make these easier, remove the weight plate, put you feet on the ground or bring you feet closer to your body.

Stretch for at least 10 minutes and cool down

Having 4 people go through a workout can be tough, so we basically worked in pairs for everything except the bench press (which is why we only did 2 sets). Most of the time 2 people would be doing the exercise while the other 2 spotted and then switch. Thankfully, it wasn’t a busy day at the gym so we managed this without too much trouble. Working in a group could definitely have it’s down sides

Bulking workouts

Here are 2 of the workouts I have done with the intention of bulking. I’m putting the weights I use here for reference only. The intention is to show you what “heavy” is for me. My goal is always to get to a point in 3 sets where I cannot complete more than 6 reps with proper form. When I can do 8 or even 10 clean reps on the last set, I increase my load and that’s how you should judge what weights to use too. PLEASE DO NOT JUST USE THE WEIGHTS I HAVE LISTED!

Leg Day

Warm up – 5 minutes on the treadmill working from 3.0 mph up to 7.0 mph plus some dynamic movements like body weight full squats and leg swings to loosen my hips.

This is the hamstring machine I use... it looks intimidating, but it's actually awesome!

This is the hamstring machine I use… it looks intimidating, but it’s actually awesome!

Workout – all exercises are done 3 sets, 6-10 reps (which is an all out effort) because I hm trying to build mass in my lower body. This exercise really emphasized glutes and hamstrings because I need to bring up my posterior chain. My quads are already pretty large and defined, so I don’t focus on them as much. If you want to improve you quads, swap the hamstring curls for leg extensions and do a front squat instead of a back squat (bar on chest and shoulders instead of back).

Exercise Set 1 Set 2 Set 3
Stiff leg deadlifts 155 lbs/10 reps 165 lbs/8 reps 185 lbs/6 reps
Deadlifts * 185 lbs/8 reps 185 lbs/8 reps 205 lbs/6 reps (PR)
Normal stance (slightly wider than shoulder width) back squats ** 135 lbs/8 reps 135 lbs/6 reps 135 lbs/7 reps
Leg press – narrow stance (feet almost touching) 165 lbs/10 reps 180 lbs/10 reps 195 lbs/10 reps
Single leg hamstring curl machine 55 lbs/10 reps each leg 55 lbs/10 reps each leg 55 lbs/10 reps each leg + pulse until failure
Back extensions no weight/15 reps no weight/15 reps no weight/15 reps with twist at the top
Narrow stance

This is a narrow foot stance

* Please go here and look at the form, deadlifts are an extremely common cause of back injury. Start light and when you get the form down, increase the weight

** After deadlifts, squats are really hard so decrease you normal weight and remember to keep the form tight because our lower back will already be tired and more susceptible to injury

Stretch – make sure you hamstrings, glutes and quads are fully stretched out after this workout, because I guarantee you will feel it the next day… and the one after that!

Push Day (Chest, triceps, and shoulders)

Warm up – 5 mins on the elliptical, focus on using your arms to push the handles forwards to warm up the push muscles

Workout – because my triceps are already very well-developed thanks to genetics and my chest has a reasonable amount of size, push days are usually higher rep and lower weight for me. If you feel that you triceps and chest need more size, modify the rep range to 6-10 and keep the weight as heavy as possible. Always start with the muscle that you want to develop the most, so you hit it when you have the most strength to give. For me that is my shoulders.

Exercise Set 1 Set 2 Set 3
Lateral Deltoid Raises 12.5 lbs/12 reps 15 lbs/10 reps 15 lbs/10 reps
Shoulder width push ups body weight/15 reps body weight/15 reps body weight/15 reps
Parallel bar dips * body weight/10 reps body weight/8 reps body weight/8 reps
Arnold press (bicep curl into military press with dumbbells) 15 lbs/10 reps 15 lbs/10 reps 20 lbs/8 reps
Pec flye machine 80 lbs/10 reps 80 lbs/10 reps 80 lbs/10 reps
Front deltoid raises 12.5 lbs/12 reps 15 lbs/10 reps 15 lbs/8 reps
Roman Chair leg raises body weight/10 reps body weight/10 reps body weight/10 reps
Crunches on a swiss ball body weight/15 reps body weight/15 reps body weight/15 reps
Fudge

Awesome fudge that I made last weekend. I’ll share the recipe eventually. FYI this is not in any way healthified. I apologize.

* Go here for the form. This is an advanced move and can be modified into bench dips like this

Cardio – 30 minutes on elliptical machine at moderate intensity

Stretch – full body stretch with a focus on stretching chest, triceps, abs, neck and shoulders.

Oh and then go make fudge, because, you know, bulking and stuff!

If anyone gives these a go let me know how it went… and don’t hate me if you can’t walk after the leg workout!

Wonderful Weekends

So much happened this weekend which marked the 2 week point to my first ever competition, so I’m sorry for the radio silence, but this is going to be a lengthy post and you will probably see I didn’t have much time to write a blog.

The lovely Lisa from Figure911.com

Firstly, I would like to give a shout out to the beautiful Lisa of Figure911.com who I met at the KW Oktoberfest Natural Classic this weekend. She was competing in the Figure Medium category and Figure Masters. She placed second in both thought I thought she was definitely the best up there. It’s hard to know exactly what the judges are seeing and I was pretty far back. But if you pop over to her sight you can see the pictures of her on stage, she looks incredible.

We chatted while my boyfriend kindly took some photos and shared a mutual respect for each other’s awesome shoulders. I don’t know why, but having strong shoulders creates an unspoken bond that can’t be beat. I had started following her blog maybe 2 weeks before the show and am so happy I recognized her from her vlogs. Her site’s tagline is “A working woman’s guide to keeping fit”, obviously this called to me. If you are looking for some great tips and motivation, check out her site.

Finally getting to meet the amazing Tosca Reno

Secondly, also at the competition and the main reason I went to this show in particular was Tosca Reno (author of the Eat Clean Diet) who I am so inspired by. She has not competed in years, but the recent passing of her husband, Robert Kennedy, inspired her to compete again at 53 and boy did she look amazing. I got to chat with her for a quick moment before her coach pulled her away to eat (she literally grab her and pulled her away shouting “eating, now” which was kind of hilarious and awesome). She was really kind and wished me luck in my competition saying I looked very fit. I swear I’m not usually the type to get all excited about celebrities, but I was absolutely giddy about seeing her as you can probably tell by the goofy grin on my face.

 Tosca competed in the Bikini Tall and Bikini Grand Masters, winning first in the Grand Masters category. I did not see a more genuine smile on any other competitors face. You could just tell she was so thrilled to be there and doing her husband proud, proving that age is just a number.

Thirdly (maybe I’ll stop numbering these because this could be a long list) I made awesome Paleo Banana Pancakes courtesy of Mark Sisson’s recipe plus a bit of baking powder to make them fluffier and egg whites instead of whole eggs. The combo I used was:

Paleo Banana Pancakes (for 2 servings)

Me saying “no” to pictures in the morning

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • ½ c. Egg whites or 2 whole eggs
  • 2 tbsp natural peanut (or other nut) butter
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Spices to taste – vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg etc.
  • Butter or oil to grease pan

Directions:

  1. Mash bananas in a large-ish bowl with a fork or put it in a food processor if you have one
  2. Add the egg whites and peanut butter to the bananas and mix thoroughly, try to make the batter as smooth as possible. Microwaving the peanut butter for 15 seconds will make this easier.
  3. Add the baking powder and spices and mix to combine.
  4. Heat a large pan to medium heat and grease well with butter
  5. Add the batter to the pan (I made 2 batches of 4 pancakes) and cook for 2-3 minutes , or until you start to see bubbles on the top of the pancakes, then flip (carefully) and cook for another 2 minutes.
  6. Top with your favourite topping, I chose to grate 1 square of 85% lindt dark chocolate over mine, because chocolate, peanut butter and banana is an amazing combo.

Nutritional info (per serving): Cals – 250    Carbs – 35 g    Fats – 10 g    Protein – 13 g

These were made on a high carb day, but I still had a side of peameal bacon to add some lean protein to the mix. 

Fourthly, my boyfriend and I carved an awesome pumpkin with some friends of ours after a great workout. The workout consisted of a 30 minute interval run in which I hit a max speed of 9 mph for a whole minute AND I didn’t get a single stitch. This is a big deal for me because I really suck at running, but my 11 year old brother has been trying to get better at cross country running even though he too sucks at running. He used to come dead last, literally, and he finished in the middle of the pack this year. So if he can do it, so can I!  I ran a total of 3 miles in 30 minutes which isn’t half bad IMHO.

After the cardio we did a chest, shoulders and abs workout with some full body moves thrown in for good measure.

Chest, shoulders and abs workout

Abs

  • Cable chest flyes – 15 reps, 4 sets
  • Cross body cable pulls from low to high – 10 reps each side, 4 sets
  • Crossover pushups on the bosu ball (one hand on the bosu ball and then pushup and transfer your body over the ball) – 12 reps, 4 sets
  • Kettlebell swings – 15 reps, 4 sets
  • Lateral deltoid raises – 15 reps, 4 sets, last set drop set 12 high weight, 12 low weight
  • As many pushups as you can do in 1 minute, I did 54 but the last few were pretty ugly, so let’s say 50.
  • Bicycle sit-ups – 30 reps, 4 sets

Halloween

Then on to pumpkin carving! We did a dog howling at the moon and our friends made kind of a disco ball pumpkin by drilling a tonne of holes in theirs. We also toasted up the pumpkin seeds with some salt and butter and snacked on those while we worked. Yum. But I am definitely retaining water today from the salt (and the excess food which I’ll discuss below).

Fifthly, (told you I should have stopped numbering) we went to my parent’s house for dinner which is always both good and bad because my mom is an amazing cook. Her food is always healthy, but I always eat WAY too much of it. We picked up my grandma and headed over where the smell of roasting chicken and sweet potatoes was wafting from the house. I think I must have had about 8 oz. of chicken (with some of the skin plus homemade gravy) and maybe the same amount of sweet potatoes  plus some lovely cauliflower, broccoli and green beans. I also had 3.5 of these little butter cookies that my mom had bought from a local store. They were way too good. FYI 4 cookies ran a total of 150 cals so it wasn’t that ridiculous of a portion size in case you were thinking 3.5 cookies! OMG!

Obviously this was too much food and so close to the competition it was not ideal, but I am just going to push on and do lots of cardio today and be as good as possible until the day of the show.

So that was the awesome weekend I had. I am going into my last 2 weeks of contest prep and will be doing the following:

  • Cutting out dairy (other than whey protein) and grains entirely because these can be sources of inflammation and therefore hinder the look I want
  • Adding more cardio to between 1 and 2 hours per day until the Thursday before the show
  • Doing more full body workout sessions and while my last leg focuses day being this Thursday and just trying to tighten as much as possible
  • Limit my sodium intake in the last week before the competition
  • Drink lots of water!

Carb deplete and then load in the last 5 days leading up to the competition with clean carbs and not junk food.

So there you have it. What a wonderful weekend. I hope all of yours were wonderful too!