Deconstructing Jen - Part I: A Jen Heath Interview

Deconstructing Jen – Part I: A Jen Heath Interview
by: Marc McDougal

A 28 year old girl from Idaho Falls by the name of Jen Heath is starting to make some serious noise in the fitness industry. And not because she wears stripper heels on hardwood floors. Well, not only that. For starters, she’s a mother of four with her pro bodybuilding card, a sought after personal trainer, and a highly successful fitness model. She writes for multiple online magazines including and, and has a fan club rivaling that of Oprah, Brad Pitt, and Jesus combined. Recently she has even started co-hosting The Fitcast online radio program. So you’re asking, how does she do all of this every day, and not forget that she left her 4 kids locked in a hot car with the windows rolled up? We’re going to find that out, and much more…and we’re going to include some pics that might even turn George Michael straight.

Marc: Let’s get the basics out of the way first for those people who haven’t yet discovered the subtle joys of stalking you. You train clients online, and in person…how many people would you say you work with in an average week? Jen: I have 10 local clients that I work with one on one. However, I only see them once per month. I can afford to be extremely selective in choosing my clients. If they have never trained with weights before, I will only take them if they are super ambitious and eager to do it. Being timid or needing hand holding is definitely not allowed for my local clients. I have to be able to design them nutrition and training programs, teach them if they need it, and send them on their way to execute their plans. I interact with these clients each week via email, where I adjust their plans based on feedback and ensure they are progressing at an appropriate rate. As far as online client go, this is the bulk of my business as I have roughly 50-60 at all times. They range in age from 19-55. Currently I have 15 girls that are actively pursuing year round goals in relation to physique competitions such as figure, fitness or bodybuilding. Some are single, some are married, and some are married with kids. The other clients I have are everyday people who just want healthier, leaner, more muscular physiques. These folks have children, jobs, and normal lives with volumes of other responsibilities outside of their physical goals. I’ll add that I love them all. My clients are very special and important to me! Marc: So do you work with mostly women, men, or an even split? Jen: Most of my clients are women; however I do train couples as well. I have yet to accept individual male clients, and although it might sound old fashioned…it just works out better for me. I just do it because that’s what I feel most comfortable with.Marc:Understandable. Same reason I refuse to take on playboy models as clients. So tell us, how long have you been in the personal training game now? Jen: I’ve been in the field for about five years, licensed training for the last 2 years, and just really starting to expand my online business over the last year or so. Its going really well, and I’m really happy with what I’m doing. Marc: How long have you been working out yourself? Jen: In high school, I was into soccer and track, and just doing tons of cardio. I didn’t get into weight training until I was 18 and found the infamous “Body for Life” program. I would get up at 5am every morning to hit the gym, then teach multiple aerobics classes at night. Staying active was always a priority for me, but I didn’t really become interested in making major physique changes until about two years ago, after the birth of my twins. At that point, I started experimenting with some various bodybuilding programs I would find online, and really became addicted to the effect it was having on my body. Shortly after that, I started training for competitions and really learning about the science of training and nutrition.

Marc: All right, enough of the get to know you fluff…lets get right to the heart of this thing. What, (if any) changes do you make to clients plans based on body types? And what classifications do you use to determine these specifics? Jen: Well, on one hand there’s the issue of basic symmetry, so I will certainly adjust training and nutrition programs to either emphasize or de-emphasize certain areas of the body. As far as adjustments based on phenotype variations, that changes depending on goals. If a person with an ectomorphic body type comes to me and tells me they want to run marathons, but also want to gain more muscle, the chances are likely that they are going to have a very high volume of training, coupled with a lot of calories. There would be a lot of running and a lot of heavy weights. I get this sort of client a lot. I have three of them now. They are almost always too skinny, and working to gain muscle but unwilling to give up the long runs. So they are allowed that higher volume of training along with a remedy for their biggest problem, which is simply not eating enough for their level of activity. Thousands of calories are burned running long distances, and those are almost never compensated for simply due to fear of eating that much. But instilled intelligently, all those extra calories can go to building lots of muscle! If I get a client with ectomorphic tendencies that is a distance runner, I simply get them lifting weights. That in and of itself is enough with good nutrition is enough to stimulate muscle growth. An even spread of protein and carbs, weight lifting and a lower level of cardio cause major changes in this population. That brings me to a more likely adjustment that I might make on a program based on body type. The ectomorphic individual tends to need to eat more and more carbs in order to keep muscle glycogen full. I have found universally that people with ectomorphic tendencies can tolerate more carbs with higher levels of activities without gaining much fat. I set out guidelines for good timing of foods for these types of client. With these things in place, all of my “runners” are gaining muscle and maintaining the already lower levels of body fat that they came to me with. Marc: And what about those bastards with mesomorphic tendencies? Jen: Though nothing is set in stone, I find that mesomorphic clients tend to do best on a daily carb cycling scheme for their nutrition plans. These are correlated with moderate to heavy range sets of weight lifting and whatever cardio they like. A lot of my clients results are based on psychological satisfaction, and for this body type, I find that cardio selection doesn’t have as much of an impact on direct results so long as nutrition is in line for their goals.

Marc: Some wise words there. Keeping the clients psychological status optimal is an often overlooked aspect of long term success. Although this is in direct contradiction to my “middle finger method” of motivation… Anything particular you address with the most efficient of metabolisms… a.k.a., the endomorphs? Jen: As far as endomorphs go, I have several in my client base. The primary goal is almost always overall fat loss. Generally speaking, moderate to higher volume weight training sessions and a varied amount of cardio depending on specific aesthetic goals. As for nutrition, I find that a lower carb fare typically works best, as these body types tend to be the most carb intolerant. I typically incorporate periodic re-feeds which will include a macronutrient adjustment in favor of carbs, but not necessarily a large increase in calories. Having said all of that, people may appear to be one body type and manifest results you wouldn’t expect. Due to that, people have to recognize that body type manipulations are just another tool, and can’t always be relied upon.
Marc: Speaking of tools…let’s talk supplements. What do you currently take, and does this change throughout different training phases? Jen: I’ll be the first to admit, I love supplements. Getting as much as possible from your diet is of course the best plan, but I like to dot my i’s and cross my t’s with some effective supplements. I’d rather be safe than sorry.Currently I’m taking Creatine, BCAA’s, Beta Alanine, ZMA, Calcium, Carbolin 19, Hot Rox, Avant Labs SyntheSize (thanks Marc!), Vitamin C (2g/day or so), Vitamin E (high gamma), Borage Oil, Fish Oil, and occasionally I add flax seeds to my protein shakes. I’ve also got some of Avant’s SuperCarb sitting here that I really need to start incorporating. To be honest with you, my supplement schedule doesn’t change much from on and off season. I’ll leave out the thermogenics when I don’t have a contest coming up. Marc: Sounds like a sexy supplement cabinet. What do you think of antioxidants taken around the workout? Research tends to be conflicting, some people say take them before, some say after, some say not around the workout at all due to potential protein synthesis disruption. Any insight/opinions? Jen: This may not be exactly the answer you’re looking for, but I think that 24 hour antioxidant intake is more important to be concerned with than timing. Hard training individuals should certainly increase their intake of things like C, E, beta-carotene, selenium, and lipoic acid (which also has the added benefit of improving glucose tolerance, as we know). I try to preach the consumption of nutrient dense foods first and foremost; one can ingest a fair amount of antioxidants from ensuring daily intake of things like dark berries, broccoli, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, almonds, walnuts, spinach, winter squash, mushrooms, turnip and collard greens, etc. Assuming the diet is full of those quality foods, adding in some extra antioxidants is still a good idea, but it doesn’t need to be overdone. So, basically, stressing about the timing may end up being counterproductive!

Marc: Continuing along those lines, how do you feel about nutrient timing and macronutrient manipulation vs. energy balance? The Lyle McDonald fan-boy militia tend to harp on calorie balance being the only important factor, whereas the Berardi school of thought considers type and timing of nutrients to have a significant overall impact on body composition. And as you answer, remember that no matter what you say, you’re automatically making a bunch of enemies. Jen: Wow. That could be a very long answer. I guess I’ll take this question from a goal oriented perspective. For most of my clients at least, the long term goal is always to add muscle and burn fat. I am a huge fan of designing programs that include manipulation of training and nutrient intake throughout the week. Some days will be a higher energy balance days, and on those days, I believe timing and macronutrient manipulation is imperative. High energy intake days typically would include weight training coupled with interval cardio, whereas days where I utilize rest or low energy work such as light cardio, the energy intake may be lower, and timing in this instance comes less into play. Meeting certain minimum requirements such as protein intake, fat intake and eating vegetables in the diet would be standard, but as far as the rest of the calories and macros were concerned, it doesn’t much make a difference as long as there is an energy deficit. I have found that a lot of people feel it is crucial to time everything while in strict caloric deficits (John Berardi methodolgy). Timing is good, but it is much more crucial to time things when closer to maintenance or in caloric excess, and trying to put on some lean body mass while not increasing body fat stores. I like JB’methods, however, in my experience, specific nutrient timing is much more crucial when in caloric excess. Marc: Ok, we’re just starting to dig into the good stuff here…but we have to save the rest for Part II. Next time we’ll discuss Jen’s philosophies on bulking/cutting vs. year round re-comp, weight training for fat loss, intermittent fasting, non-OTC lipolytics, Biosignature Modulation, and much more. And of course…lots more super hot pics of Jen! To get more of Jen Heath while you’re waiting for Part II, you can check out her websites: and

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