How did you get started with bodybuilding?
My bodybuilding career was fueled by a gym approach from my now coach CJ Jackson. I was an overweight kid: obese actually, at 33% body fat. When I went to college, however, I started working out. My freshmen year roommate, Emily, is the one who got me in the gym. She was very lean, as she was a track and cross-country runner in high school. I started by going to the Rec/IM on EMUs campus and just simply began running on the treadmill. Pretty soon I could run 2 miles while holding the rails, then I was at 2 miles without holding the rails. Not too long after that, I was jogging 4 miles, and eventually 6 with ease. In my first year of college, I lost 27lbs just by mostly doing cardio (and some weights) and modifying my diet a bit.
The following year, CJ approached me in the gym and mentioned that he had noticed how much I’d changed in the last year and he asked me if I were interested in competing. He said that my body was perfect for the figure division and that I had the potential to excel. I really had no idea what he was talking about or really even what bodybuilding as a sport was, but I was intrigued. About 6 months later, we began working together to prep for my first show.
Where does your motivation come from?
My motivation initially came from wanting to prove to myself that I could do something without quitting. As competitive as I was growing up, I always quit when the going got tough. I didn’t want to be that quitter anymore. Now, my motivation comes from my desire to be better, to do better, and to continue to push myself past my limits that I didn’t know were achievable. My motivation comes from wanting to be a better me and wanting to improve my physical and mental health through pushing myself to surpass my own perceived limits.
How has bodybuilding/fitness impacted your life?
Fitness has changed the way I live my life entirely. Not only have I developed healthier eating habits and learned how to keep my body in shape, but it’s changed my perception of the world and how I want to impact it. I went to EMU and got my B.S. degree in Speech-language Pathology. I began my M.S. in the same field but realized that it wasn’t my passion. I ended up switching my master’s focus to Exercise Physiology with the intent of athletic/personal training, but I’ve wound up going the clinical route instead. In either case, exercise and fitness have led me to realize what I want to do with my life and in my career.
What’s your most memorable photo shoot or the funniest thing that’s happened during a prep?
Unfortunately, I have yet to have the opportunity to do a photoshoot. At my last show (NPC Universe) I had a photographer lined up but he cancelled at the last minute. I will most definitely be doing a photoshoot the next time around.
I don’t know that I recall a “funny” thing about prep, but I can say that the most memorable prep I had was preparing with my boyfriend, JD Smith. We went through a bulking phase together and we went through a cutting phase together (which was very trying on our relationship at times) to ultimately do the same show together, where we both placed 2nd in our classes. That summer was rough because my cutting phase made me emotional and his made him antisocial. It was a true testament to what we could do together and how much we could tolerate one another, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. Having the opportunity to go through a tough prep with the person you love is exciting, and I’m so glad that we did together.
What workout routine has worked best for you?
My body typically goes with the flow in terms of working out. It likes cardio, it likes weights, it likes plyometrics…anything that CJ throws at me (in terms of working out) works for my body. Where my “downfall” lies is in my diet. Unfortunately, my body does not like carbs. It seems like with even one grain of carbohydrate I’m bloated (in-season and off-season). So, we often have to take the low-carb diet approach. For my last prep, I was working with a slow cut for 20 weeks. I stuck to the diet strictly for about 10 weeks but saw next to zero progress. So, for a couple of weeks, we did a carb cycle…also fail. Finally, we decided to go no carbs. Now, when I say no carbs that’s not entirely true. I still had my veggies and I still had my peanut butter. Both of which contain carbohydrates, but I wasn’t ingesting the typical carb sources of competitors (rice, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, etc.). And the strangest thing happened: not only did I drop weight like crazy, but I was ridiculously energized. I had no problem with ketosis or lethargy or forgetfulness. I was just a little sad that I didn’t get carbs, but it worked for me. We are all different and we have to find our “kryptonite”.
-superset wide stance squats & leg extensions (top 2/3 movement only) 20r x 3s
-dumbbell walking lunges 12r each leg x 4s
-hack squats 12r x 4s
-leg press feet high and wide 20r x 7s (45sec rest)
-leg press calves 12r x 5s
-tri set side, rear, front laterals 10r x 3s
-dumbbell shoulder press palms facing each other 10r x 3s
-smith or hammer shoulder press 10r x 3s
-cable side laterals 10r x 7s (alt arms is rest)
-rope crunches 20r x 5s
-pull ups 12r x 3s
-seated rows 10r x 3s
-tri set behind the neck pulldowns, wide grip front pulldowns, rev grip pulldowns 10r x 3s
-dumbbell rows 10r x 7s (alt arms is rest)
-ez bar curls 10r x 3s
-hammer curls 10r x 3s
-dumbbell concentration curls 10r x 7s (alt arms is rest)
-incline flyes 12r x 3s
-smith or hammer incline bench 10r x 3s
-incline flyes 10r x 3s
-push ups 20r x 7s (45sec rest)
-superset tricep pushdowns and rev grip pushdowns 10r x 4s
-dumbbell kickbacks 10r x 7s (alt arms is rest)
-hanging leg lifts 20r x 5s
-dumbbell RDLs 12r x 3s
-butt blaster or glute kickbacks 10r x 3s
-leg press 100 nonstop reps
-superset lying leg curls & hip thrusts 12r x 4s
-superset abductor and adductor 12r x 3s
-one leg curls 10r x 7s (alt leg is rest)
-superset seated & standing calves 20r x 5s
- Recovery/Light Cardio
-superset dumbbell alt curls and rope pushdowns 12r x 7s (45sec rest)
-superset seated side laterals and ex bar upright rows 12r x 7s (45sec rest)
-100 nonstop bicycle crunches
-100 nonstop leg lifts
-100 nonstop turtle crunches
-100 nonstop dumbbell side laterals
If you had to pick only 3 exercises what would they be and why?
My absolute favorite, must-have exercises are (a) leg press, (b) hammer strength low row, (c) RDLs.
- I pretty much love leg day in its entirety but I look forward to doing leg press especially. When I get a workout with leg press involved (it doesn’t matter if it’s 4×12, 7×10, 5×20, etc.) I’m stoked. The leg press is good for the entire length of the leg, which is why I like it so much. It allows you to cover a large area in a small period of time. Plus, I look like a badass loading the sled with 9 plates per side (haha).
- Back day is my second favorite day next to legs, and I like all back workouts except for lat pulldown. Don’t get me wrong, I still do it, but I don’t necessarily enjoy it. Anyway, I like low rows with the hammer strength plate loaded machine. Typically, CJ will put low rows in the workout with the utilization of dumbbells, but I don’t like to do them that way because it tweaks my back. So, I began modifying this exercise while using the hammer strength machine since it provides stability to the abdomen, back, legs, and arms. It’s just more comfortable in my opinion. Low rows are a must-have for me because they are a fantastic latissmus dorsi exercise. I like to feel my lats soreness, and I like it even more when I see how much they’ve grown, and I believe my back has gotten so wide because of this exercise, in particular, this exercise being the last one in the workout as a burnout usually with 7×12.
- Again, leg day. RDLs (Romanian deadlifts) are amazing for hamstring growth. I like RDLs more so than any other hamstring dominant exercise because they isolate the 3 hamstring muscles to contract simultaneously without activating too many other muscles. Of course, your lower back plays a small role as does your abdomen but those are not the focus of the lift. I do RDLs just for the heck of it sometimes because not only are they great for hamstring growth, but I think they’re just flat out fun.
What is your secret to your incredible glute development?
My glutes have been a struggle in this bodybuilding journey. Growing up, I had a booty, but as soon as I lost weight, so too did my butt. If you look back at my first show, you can definitely see what I’m talking about. Basically, I focused on glute development. That almost sounds a little too simple right? Well, it is. Just like all muscle groups, you have to have a mind-muscle connection with the muscle you are trying to work to get optimal development. With training my glutes, I did the typical exercises: squats, lunges, leg press, abduction, and glute kickback, but I made sure to think about what I was doing. I knew I needed to make my glutes grow and I knew that wouldn’t happen by accident so I literally visualized what I was doing in my mind as I was doing it. I focused on squeezing my glutes during all of these exercises to emphasize that muscle group and it worked. I still have some work to do but I’m confident that with this technique, I’ll get my glutes to where I want them to be.
What is your diet like?
My diet right now is relaxed. I always have an off-season diet but I’m a bit rebellious in my off-season. I have insane cravings sometimes. I love sweets and I love carbs so I eat a lot of both of those things in the off-season. In-season, as I stated early, my diet consists of very little carbohydrates, mostly protein, and fats. Most of my fuel come from chicken, lean beef, green veggies, eggs, and protein powder…with some variation in between.
What is your supplementation like?
“Challenges are what make life interesting. Overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” -Joshua J. Marine
Competition 101 : So you want to compete? by Carmen Grange