Tag Archive | "fitness"

Body Transformation: Paula Knaley Is In The Shape Of Her Life!

Why I decided to transform

At one point in my life, I held onto some weight from three pregnancies, I cared for my terminally ill mom, did not sleep well, felt depressed, and was saddled with far too much stress.

Needless to say, this combination made me at my heaviest during this time. Going into the fourth decade of my life in November 2010 sparked something in me; it became the catalyst to make changes!

In February of 2011, I decided joining a gym was the best way to get started. I felt that the only thing I had control over was my own physical appearance and health. The latter was the most important thing I wanted to change! As part of signing up, I was given three free sessions with a personal trainer, which I initially wasn’t interested in.

Somehow those three sessions drove out the competitive drive and feral beast in me. I saw the value in personal training, and from that point onward, I knew I made some of the best life-altering decisions of my life.

Before

After

AGE 40 / HEIGHT 5’8″ / BODY FAT 36%

AGE 42 / HEIGHT 5’8″ / BODY FAT 19%

Post To Fitboard

How I accomplished my goals

During my entire transformation, I faced many adversities in both my training and personal life. My mother passed away in April of 2012. In June of that year, my 11 year old son underwent an extensive chest surgery, and a month later, my husband was diagnosed with his second occurrence of melanoma. It was a very tough time. In training, I couldn’t fathom making such huge changes to my life at first, but I did not give up. I turned to books, the internet (Bodybuilding.com), and trainers at the gym for help.

I inched along slowly, training one day a week with a trainer and not knowing what to do the other four days at the gym. I knew they offered classes and boot camps that were also taught by trainers, but I felt intimidated at first. I forced myself to go to my first class, a “Core and More” class. Not long after, I almost got up and walked out because I couldn’t do many of the things the trainer was instructing us to do.

For whatever reason—embarrassment, fear of failure, or just plain stubbornness—I managed to stick with it, week after week, and began to be able to do things I couldn’t do the week before. It helped that there was a woman named Mary who excelled in every class I took; she was a real inspiration to me: cut, lean and very athletic. Mary could do anything the trainers threw at her. Her encouragement, along with the results I was seeing, really motivated me to keep going.

“I am a better wife and mother because of how I feel mentally and physically.”

I have my trainer, Kurt Jones, to attribute greatly to my success. He was a tough, hard-nosed, no-nonsense trainer and gave me exactly what I needed. He did not hand out complements very often, but when he gave me one, I knew I had earned it and worked my ass off to get it! Without a doubt, Kurt Jones was a huge factor in my success, aside from my own willingness to work hard and be consistent and disciplined at the gym and at home.

I continued my workouts and nutrition through all of my stress, as they had now become my lifestyle, addiction, and quite honestly, my saving grace. Keeping a food log was also very critical to my success. Without the workouts with Kurt and encouragement from my friends at the gym, I do not know how I would have survived the stress, worry, and anxiety of this crushing stress. Despite how badly I get emotionally torn up, Kurt would never let me hang my head and instead told me to harness my rocky emotions into strength.

In addition to my personal trainer and Mary, the support of my husband and kids were so indispensable. They understood my selfish need to spend a lot of time at the gym—sometimes twice a day—and to cook a lot of new, “weird” things. Things like spaghetti squash, quinoa, kale, almond butter, coconut oil, and almond milk, to name a few of the “new” things I introduced into our household pantry and refrigerator.

What has changed most is my own self-perception. I am a better wife and mother because of how I feel mentally and physically. My investment in my health has benefitted my family. As a result, my kids know what a serving size is, how to read food labels, and what good carbs and protein sources are. I share my healthy recipes with others as well.

Apply Here To Be A Transformation Of The Week!

Apply Here To Be A Transformation
Of The Week!

Bodybuilding.com honors people across all transformation categories for their hard work and dedication. Learn how our featured transformers overcame obstacles and hit their goals!

Supplements that helped me through the journey

Diet plan that guided my transformation

Training regimen that kept me on track

What aspect challenged me the most

The hardest part of the journey for me was getting started with the nutrition changes. I had to educate myself on what “clean eating” was and how to support my efforts at the gym.

Of course, what I ate before and after workouts helped maximize my results. It helped me to adhere to good eating when I wrote in a food diary. The work outs were tough, no doubt, but I actually learned to love those as well as the clean eating lifestyle.

My future fitness plans

Since attaining my goals of losing 50 pounds and body fat percentage of 19 in 2012, I have basically been maintaining. Weight loss is no longer my goal, but I change my work out routines to continue to build strength, muscle, and keep my fitness level. To that end, I still work out five days per week.

“I learned that surrounding yourself with supportive, educated people who have similar goals is key.”

For my 43rd birthday in November 2013, I had the “after” pictures taken. As a gift to myself and documentation of my journey, I had a friend who is a photographer, Scott Petranek, come and shoot pictures during one of my workouts with Kurt. At age 43, I am currently in the best shape of my life and I love the way my body looks. I feel great and know I am doing everything I can to optimize my health.

People have suggested I compete, and although I appreciate the compliment, it’s just not something I am interested in. I officially consider myself a “gym rat” and plan to continue to train hard simply because I love it.

Suggestions for aspiring transformers

My favorite quote is, “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet!”—it’s so profound and true. What you put in your mouth supports what you do in the gym. An honest, detailed food log kept me accountable and was critical to my daily food planning.

I learned that surrounding yourself with supportive, educated people who have similar goals is key. Join a gym, hire a trainer, do your own research — any or all of these are integral to success.

“Anyone who is determined, willing to work hard, and dedicated can obtain these kinds of results.”

If you are going to go through the trouble of making a nutrition and work out plan, follow them! You don’t have to be a competitive body builder to get ripped and lean. When I first started this journey, I had never seen “an average woman” look like my friend Mary did, or be able to perform feats of strength and stability that she did.

Anyone who is determined, willing to work hard, and dedicated can obtain these kinds of results. It’s a great feeling knowing you earned the results because they aren’t going to happen any other way.

How Bodybuilding.com helped me reach my goals

I especially like tuning into BodyBuilding.com on Facebook for daily news feeds from the site. The articles on exercise ideas for specific lifts are some of my favorite. New ideas, new workouts, and the “why” behind certain principles all help me better understand this health aspect of my life.

Reading other people’s personal stories has been truly inspirational and worth reading. I loved that I learned so much throughout my journey, and I hope to continue to learn.

Paula’s Top 5 Gym Tracks

  1. “Lola Montez” by Volbeat
  2. “Lift Me Up” by Five Finger Death Punch
  3. “Yeah” by Usher
  4. “Supermassive Black Hole” by Muse
  5. “Sweat” by David Guetta (feat. Snoop Dogg)

Recommended For You

Body Transformation: Celena Carter Cut A Path To Victory!

Celena was stuck in neutral until she hired a coach who organized her fitness future. Now she competes against the NPC’s best at age 40. See how you can too!

Body Transformation: Paul Thorpe Defeated Sickness With Fitness!

Paul overcame heart attack and blood clot scares with a dedicated fitness plan. See how this 49-year-old bulked up and stays healthy and leveled on the bodybuilding stage!

Body Transformation: Thom Zwawa Fought Diabetes With Fitness!

Thom lost 105 pounds and lassoed type 2 diabetes with a relentless dose of training and nutrition. Get the powerful plans he used to inject life into his body!


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Body Transformation: Paula Knaley Is In The Shape Of Her Life!

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Arnold Schwarzenegger Blueprint Trainer Day 56

Previous | Main

Well done! You’ve pushed through two months of six-times-a-week training at the highest level. Look back at your training notebooks and progress photos, and take stock all that you’ve gained, learned, and built during this time.

You’ve done more than just lift like Arnold lifted. You’ve received a total education in bodybuilding from the greatest ambassador the sport has known. Take a moment to celebrate your graduation by watching his famous commencement speech at USC from 2009, where he discusses his “Six Rules for Success.”

Arnold’s Six Rules for Success
Watch – 25:51

Now what, you ask? The Blueprint was a plan that Arnold followed in various forms for years. You could turn right around and do it again—and again, and again—and see great results consistently. Or you could follow the wisdom of one Arnold’s most popular quotes and find new battles to fight.

“For me life is continuously being hungry,” he wrote in “The Education of a Bodybuilder.” “The meaning of life is not simply to exist, to survive, but to move ahead, to go up, to achieve, to conquer.”

Want to keep adding mass on top of what you’ve built? That’s understandable. Even Arnold has said he would have liked to add a few more inches here and there. Want to lean down and get crazy defined? Great! Bodybuilding.com has you covered with a training plan to match any goal.

Conquer Your Next Goal

Find Your Perfect Fitness Plan For Free!

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3 Rules For Effective Sandbag Training

Sandbag training is quickly becoming a favorite training style among pro athletes, fighters, first responders, soldiers, and everyone else who needs to be able to access strength in unpredictable settings and postures. If you want muscle control and athleticism that won’t quit, along with a midsection every bit as strong as it looks, this might be just what you’re looking for.

But unlike, say, barbells, sandbags have different rules when it comes to ideal loading, programming, and progression. Here are three principles you need to keep in mind to help you get the most out of sandbag training, plus we provide some movements and a workout to help you get to know the benefits of the bag!

1 Progressive overload is about
more than just load

In order to continually stimulate positive adaptations with training, we all know we need to apply the principle of progressive overload. Basically, this principle states that if you don’t provide a new training stimulus to your body, it will cease to adapt and remain idle with its progress.

What’s the most common method of enacting this principle? Throw more weight on the bar, of course! However, just because the word “load” is in the word “overload” doesn’t mean this is the only method to progress an exercise. I would add that it’s not the only variable you need to change if you’re looking to become a capable athlete or build a well-rounded physique. You can also change variables such as the implement used, the complexity of the exercise, or take the movement into a different plane of motion.

Planes of motion

Sagittal
Front-to-back motions
  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Bench Press
  • Sit-Ups
  • Curls
  • Running
  • Lunges
Frontal
Side-to-Side Movements
  • Overhead Presses
  • Lateral Raises
  • Lateral Squats
  • Jumping Jacks
Transverse
Rotational Movements
  • Dumbbell Flye
  • Russian Twists
  • Golf Swing

A sandbag with multiple handles, like the Ultimate Sandbag, achieves all of those changes, and it will teach you quickly that load isn’t everything. Depending on the exercise and loading position of the sandbag, you can easily amplify the difficulty of an exercise while using the same or perhaps far less weight.

Let’s take the lunge as an example. A reverse lunge is performed in the sagittal plane, but also requires frontal plane stability (think balance side-to-side). This exercise can be loaded in several ways to increase the difficulty. The simplest is to hold a weight in the front-loaded position. In this stance, you still have to maintain frontal plane stability, but you also have to brace to not lean forward.

A sandbag with multiple handles will teach you quickly that load isn’t everything.

Now, take an exercise unique to sandbag training: the weighted rotational lunge. The loads used in the front-loaded reverse lunge and the rotation lunge can both be equal, but the effects are drastically different. To take the rotation lunge up a notch, increase the speed of execution so the bag swings from one side to the other.

If you’re looking for core and hip strength that will transfer over to any physical challenge, you couldn’t do much better than this!

Jon-Erik Kawamoto
Watch The Video – 0:13


Jon-Erik Kawamoto
Watch The Video – 0:26


2 Perform the most complex exercise first

It’s common to perform squats, deadlifts, and the barbell bench press first in a workout. Why? Well, they’re multi-joint exercises and they typically use the most load. If you’re training with a sandbag, however, you focus on far more than just load, so which exercises should come first? The answer is the most complex exercise.

Say you’re an athlete who needs to improve your power production and hip and core stability. Sandbag training is a great way to address all three with movement patterns that are almost impossible with traditional implements like dumbbells and barbells.

I might prescribe something like a rotational sandbag-clean-to-crossover-lunge combination. Here, you have to create force with an internally rotated hip while cleaning the sandbag upward. Once the bag is received in the front-racked position, you would perform a crossover lunge. This lunge variation places a unique stretch on the outside hip and also challenges hip and core stability.

Jon-Erik Kawamoto
Watch The Video – 1:11

It looks challenging because it is! But you’d better believe it’s also effective, if you’re up to it. Good luck being up to it if you’re already sapped from a half-hour of other training! An exercise this demanding needs to be tackled first.

3 Progress movements by making them less stable

“So how do we take advantage of instability while keeping the base stable? Easy: change the loading pattern or the stability of the implement itself, as with sandbag training.”

During the 1990s and early 2000s, unstable surface training—think wobble boards and BOSU balls—took the leap from the physical therapist’s office to the gym. This type of training has been shown to be valuable post-rehab, but when it was applied to healthy individuals, it wasn’t nearly as effective—unless, of course, the end goal was to be the butt of countless jokes from weightlifters.

What went wrong? Behm et al summed up the limitations in an oft-cited 2010 study1 when they wrote, “Since the addition of unstable bases to resistance exercises can decrease force, power, velocity, and range of motion, they are not recommended as the primary training mode for athletic conditioning.” They recommended “ground-based” weighted exercises instead, while nevertheless acknowledging that “core and limb muscle activation are reported to be higher under unstable conditions than under stable conditions.”

So how do we take advantage of instability while keeping the base stable? Easy: change the loading pattern or the stability of the implement itself, as with sandbag training. An example of changing the loading pattern is changing from a bilateral loading pattern (e.g. front-loaded position), to unilateral loading pattern, like I recommended in my single-arm training article. With a sandbag, this could take the form of lunges with the sandbag resting on your shoulder.

Jon-Erik Kawamoto
Watch The Video – 0:17

The stability of the implement can also be adjusted to create a less-stable exercise. You could foolishly leave a few barbell plates rattling unsecured on your Olympic bar, or you could try training with a sandbag that’s only partially filled. Still too stable? You could even fill a sandbag with smaller bags of water rather than sand. In either case, since the contents shift inside the bag during the exercise, you will continually have to react to maintain balance and the correct body position.

This form of instability training increases the difficult of the exercise and can keep you progressing to more and more advanced challenges for months or years. Trust me, the following complex is a different animal with a sandbag, a partially filled sandbag, and a water-filled sandbag.

Jon-Erik Kawamoto
Watch The Video – 1:14

Perform all movements without resting. Rest 60 seconds, and then perform another round. Perform 5 rounds total.

  • Lateral Deadlift to Clean: 3 reps
  • Rotational Lunge to Clean: 3 reps (opposite side)
  • Rotational Lunge to Clean 3 reps (deadlift side)
  • Cossack Squat: 3 reps (opposite side)
References
  1. Behm, D.G., Drinkwater, E.J., Willardson, J.M., & Cowley, P.M. (2010). Canadian society for exercise physiology position stand: The use of instability to train the core in athletic and nonathletic conditioning. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab, 35, 109-112.



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About The Author

Jon has coached and helped numerous clients reach and surpass their fitness goals, including high-level athletes, emergency personnel and more.

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3 Rules For Effective Sandbag Training

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Body Transformation: Feeling Young, Ripped, And Unstoppable At 55!

Why I decided to transform

I’ve basically tried to stay in shape all my life, but some back-to-back life events really derailed my efforts. In 2008, I lost my mom, and in 2009, I lost my dad. From there, it was just an avalanche of potato chips and ice cream at night. After the damage was done, I weighed around 270 pounds and sported a 44-inch waist. I looked like a walking ball of cholesterol.

My moment of clarity occurred one day when I got out of the shower and looked at myself in the mirror. Gosh, I wasn’t happy with what I was looking at. I decided right then and there to whip myself back into shape. You know what they say about getting older and it getting harder to stay in shape. I say bullcrap to that, since I (and many of my fellow transformers here) are a testament to the fact that hard work and dedication at any age reaps huge rewards.

Since I had been in shape at one point in my life, I still possessed some knowledge of what I could do to work this weight off. I knew what I had to do: Fixed weights, cardio, and cleaner food. Not only did I have to change myself on the outside, I had to change myself on the inside. This transformation would be inside and out.

Before

After

AGE 52 / HEIGHT 6’2″ / BODY FAT 26%

AGE 55 / HEIGHT 6’2″ / BODY FAT 10%

Post To Fitboard

Through sheer willpower and determination, I returned to the gym in March 12th of 2010. My personal story had a really positive effect on the people around me. I have become a good example to the younger guys in the gym, showing them that hard work does pay off. Some of the younger blokes would tell me that they hoped to look like me when they get older. Such a compliment! It only made me feel more motivated and pushed me towards my goals.

Now I feel I am in the best shape of my life at 55 years old. I meet and know a lot of people my age. I feel particularly proud of my body when a lot of them talk about what they used to do but cannot anymore. Well, no disrespect to these people, but I am proud to say that I can still do these things.

I do ballroom dancing with my wife…but you won’t see me on Dancing With The Stars anytime soon.

How I accomplished my goals

I knew I had the muscle memory of working out from before so getting back into the groove again was easier for me. I started with low repetitions, light weight to build muscle fibers back up and to strengthen tendons. I had to exercise more caution to avoid injury, and it took a while; I had to be patient.

Over time, I increased the intensity and the variety of exercises. I even implemented a “pyramid” style of training, during which you increase your intensity until you reach a peak and then decrease it again. (1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 1, for example.)

“At age 55, I’m living proof that age is not a factor, that anything is possible.”

I had a modest grasp of eating healthy—you know, the basics: avoid sugar and eat your vegetables. I read more on healthy foods and asked a lot of questions at the gym. I gradually swapped unhealthy food out for a “clean” food and really increased my water intake. Every month, I replaced a “bad” food that I used to eat with a clean food. Within twelve months, I basically ate only unprocessed and whole foods.

Some days I just didn’t feel like working out. I never beat myself up over it, but instead I cut down my cardio and workout sets. Getting even a little bit of work and sweat in makes me glad that I put in the effort to go to the gym.

To me, working out is the easy part; eating clean is hard even though it’s the major factor in improving myself. A lot of people could work out for years but never change their body composition. That’s because they don’t get the food part of the health equation right. Eat clean; it’s worth it.

At age 55, I’m living proof that age is not a factor, that anything is possible.

Apply Here To Be A Transformation Of The Week!

Apply Here To Be A Transformation
Of The Week!

Bodybuilding.com honors people across all transformation categories for their hard work and dedication. Learn how our featured transformers overcame obstacles and hit their goals!

Supplements that helped me through the journey

Diet plan that guided my transformation

Training regimen that kept me on track

I employ “pyramid” style sets and do at least four sets per exercise, including a warm-up for each body part. My philosophy is to change things up and making things more challenging by shortening rest periods or slowing down my movements. Keep things simple by focusing on form, breathing, and squeezing.

What aspect challenged me the most

“Stay away from negative people. They only make you stray from your goals.”

My age definitely made things challenging at times, but I learned to let fitness become part of my daily routine. I make sure it’s part of my schedule for the day.

Sticking to a proper diet that promotes a leaner body and positive gains was the toughest for me. It’s a process of figuring out timing and knowing your own body: what can it process well and how much can it process? Because my metabolism isn’t what it used to be, I watch my carbohydrates at night since I’m less active.

I find supplements help me when I train hard. I also try to eat a little more protein to keep my muscle mass. As they say, everybody is different so what works for me may not work for you.

My future fitness plans

I’ve been very happy with my results thus far and the way I feel so I plan on continuing this fitness path as a healthy lifestyle. I still have physique goals to attain.

Some day I’d also like to use my experience and knowledge to help others by becoming a certified personal trainer. As far as other lofty goals, you might even one day see me in a Subway commercial (only kidding).

Suggestions for aspiring transformers

Stay away from negative people. They only make you stray from your goals.

I believe the highly coveted “fountain of youth” can be found in the gym. People seem to forget that exercise and eating right don’t only transform your outward appearance, but they transform you internally by improving your blood pressure and cholesterol and protecting you from scary diseases.

I don’t know about you or the next guy, but I am after longevity, feeling good, and getting a sweat on.

How Bodybuilding.com helped me reach my goals

I love their articles and information on new supplements. The articles are a real source of inspiration. Keep up the good work!

Joe’s Top 5 Gym Tracks

  • “Backstreets” by Bruce Springsteen
  • “Tougher Than The Rest” by Bruce Springsteen
  • “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen
  • “Bobby Jean” by Bruce Springsteen
  • “Better Days” by Bruce Springsteen

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About The Author

Have you made a dramatic change either by gaining muscle of by losing all the weight you have been hoping for?

View original post here: 

Body Transformation: Feeling Young, Ripped, And Unstoppable At 55!

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Over 40 Amateur Of The Week: ''Gym'' Stands For Get Yourself Moving

QHow did your fitness
journey begin?

The desire for a better body started where it must: in my mind. I was a young mom with three kids and didn’t want to be a chubby wife wearing “mom jeans.” I thought to myself that I wanted to instead feel and look as good as possible for as long as possible. Fast-forward years later, what started as a goal fully bloomed into a lifestyle. I no longer work out merely to look good; at the risk of sounding cliché, I work out to feel good. Plus, the lifestyle really is its own reward.

What workout regimen delivered the best results?

There is no best workout regimen, if you ask me. I just do something for five days a week. I am an 80s chick at heart. One of my favorite things to do is go in-line skating—pretty old-school, I know—but I love what it does for my lower body, and it never gets boring. I don’t mind the looks either!

I encourage others to not always think of exercise as gym time, but as activity time: Just move is what I say!

GYM = (G)et (Y)ourself (M)oving

“I no longer work out merely to look good; at the risk of sounding cliché, I work out to feel good.”

Circuit: 2 rounds

21s Technique: 7 reps of top half of ROM, 7 reps of bottom half ROM, and 7 reps full ROM

Circuit 6 rounds

Amateurs Of The Week Main Page

Amateurs Of The Week

Bodybuilding.com honors amateurs across all categories for their hard work, dedication, and great physiques. Learn how our featured amateurs built their bodies and hit their goals!

What nutrition plan fueled your body?

There are certain habits that work, and always will. Reducing sugar, for example, helps most people in a hurry. When we think of eating “clean,” most people actually eat “pretty clean.” I use an 80-20 balance, meaning that I eat healthy 80 percent of the time. And the other 20? A girl needs to have a little fun!

Specific food types, sizes and portions? I’m not one of those people who goes around measuring and weighing everything I can. To me, that takes you down that dreaded diet road. I’ve never known anyone who can stick with a diet for long. In the end, it takes consistency and common sense to eat in a healthy manner. Have the choice between a grilled chicken sandwich or one that’s breaded and fried? You know what to do. The question is: Do you actually do it?

What does work for me is eating six small meals a day and alternating high and low carb days. I know you’ve heard it before, but it keeps my metabolism, energy levels, and mental mood all positive. Eat small portions of good stuff every few hours. That’s a plan I can stick with easily.

On a typical high carb day, I eat the following:

  • Omelet Omelet
    3/4 cup egg whites, 1 whole egg
  • Oats Oats
    1/4 cup (dry)
  • Protein Shake Protein Shake
    1 serving with 1 tablespoon all natural almond butter

What supplement schedule gave you the greatest gains?

Creatine has by far been the best thing to help me recover from workouts and get muscle gains. Other than that, I must have my morning coffee!

How did your passion for fitness emerge?

My interest was immediate, but my passion developed when I started training others. I truly love being part of a person’s transformation process. They often start off with a frown (because I work them hard), but after a few weeks of sweat and soreness, something happens. There’s a glint in their eyes because they want to be at the gym. They’re excited to check the scales once a week and see their weight improve. They notice that their clothes fit better. They get to buy new clothes. They get to buy new shoes! Yeah, I know that shoe size has nothing to do with it, but a gal deserves new shoes with her new clothes and body…right?


What drives you to
get better?

Not sure that I do get “better,” but I sure get different. Recently I’ve gone through many of my old photos. My body has changed almost as often as my hair color. When I first got serious about lifting, my goal set was to add muscle to my frame. Then when I started doing bodybuilding shows, that goal morphed into becoming more cut and proportioned. Now it’s more about how I feel and doing what I love. I don’t look at my body and think, “Wow, that area needs work; I better get after it.” I come to the gym excited to try new things and have fun. Lately, I have been practicing walking on my hands! Don’t care if it makes me look better or not… it’s just fun!

What aspects about the sport fascinate you?

When I did more shows, it was fascinating for me to see how the body could be manipulated for appearance. Look at a competitor on stage day and then again two weeks later: The difference is astounding. And the weight can change by up to 20 pounds! Cut carbs, cut fat, load carbs, load fat, cut sodium, load sodium, deplete water – it’s really like a science experiment. Seeing how each body responds so differently is even more intriguing!

Now my fascination is about what lasts far beyond the stage lights and ever-smaller show suits. Keeping a healthy body lets me play with my grandchild without tiring. It lets me travel to see my three wonderful kids. It keeps me going when the day is too long and the demands are too many. I’ve learned over the past couple of years that even though we might desire to “do it on our own” that we’re actually doing it through the support of others and our religious beliefs. Lots of people talk about going for a walk as part of a healthy lifestyle? My walk with faith is the most important I’ll ever take and the only one that lasts forever.

What or who motivated you?

Maybe the most life-changing conversation of my life happened as my grandmother’s life ended. She told me to get out there and live life to the fullest, to not miss a thing. Her words changed my life. So I would ask anyone reading this to remember that it’s okay to love the gym, but realize that the gym will never love you back.

Where did you go for inspiration?

I found inspiration in my religious faith. I also find inspiration in rollerblading by the beach, looking up at the moon, or watching tiny spring flowers that signal the coming of summer. It’s hard not to be inspired. To me, inspiration starts with having a grateful heart.

Sometimes I don’t want to work out, but I have found that mental battle cannot be won. The best way for me to handle it is to just go anyway. After working out, I tend to feel better. I always believe that feelings follow actions, not the other way around.

What are your future fitness plans?

The more years I spend doing this, the less I realize it’s possible to really plan. Life changes fast and hard. My only plans are to pray a lot, continue working out, and help others reach their goals.

“Bodybuilding is not for sissies. It isn’t even for tough guys. It’s for tremendously dedicated people who are willing to sacrifice a lot to reach a goal.”

Where will bodybuilding take you?

As I already mentioned, life changes so fast. I honestly have no idea, but I know it’s going to be exciting and fulfilling. It’s already taken me through some of the best and worst years of my life. And I am better for having been a part of it.

What is your most important fitness tip?

Eating right is more important than working out. If you work out like a beast and eat like a pig, it won’t do you much good. Start with a base of healthy eating and then—whatever your choice of exercise—it will count.

If you are looking to be a bodybuilder, just realize your life will change. You will lift six days a week. You will watch everything that goes into your mouth. You might spend more on supplements than your electricity bill. You will be sore and tired many days, but have to push through it at the gym. Bodybuilding is not for sissies. It isn’t even for tough guys. It’s for tremendously dedicated people who are willing to sacrifice a lot to reach a goal. How bad do you want it?

Who is your favorite bodybuilder/fitness athlete?

In my opinion, Laura Combs was a groundbreaking female athlete. She had amazing biceps back when the public wasn’t sure whether a woman should have biceps or not. Despite naysayers, she followed her dreams and didn’t let the drama drag her down. We could all look to her as a role model who paved her own path.

Among the more modern fitness stars, how can you not love Jamie Eason? The girl has a passion for others. She loves her husband, her new baby, her supporters, and her friends. And after all those, she loves fitness. That’s an impressive order of priorities.

How did Bodybuilding.com help you reach your goals?

Without exaggeration, BodySpace helped me reach my goals by being a valuable resource for any question I might have had. Within that community is such a depth of experience and sense of camaraderie that, if you have an issue, someone there has already worked through it and written an article about it. Try it yourself. Type something in the search box and see. It’s hard to get lost in the sometimes confusing world of fitness when you use BodySpace as a resource. It’s just the truth.

The other thing I love about Bodybuilding.com’s site is that there are countless articles and examples of different ways to train. Some people like to lift heavy. Others like cardio. Still others are more into yoga and flexibility. If you ever get bored, simply search around the site to find something fresh and motivating.

Gina’s Top 5 Gym Tracks

  1. “Colourless Colour” by La Roux
  2. “Bloodstream” by Stateless
  3. “Too Close” by Alex Clare
  4. “You My Everything” by Ellie Goulding
  5. “Take Me With You” by Serge Devant
Competition History
  • 1999 NPC National Championship
  • 2003 NPC Junior Championship
  • 2003 NPC Junior Championship
  • 2003 NPC USA Championship
  • 2003 NPC National Championship
  • 2004 NPC Junior National Championship
  • 2005 NCP Junior USA Championship
  • 2006 Shannon Dey Classic
  • 2007 NPC Junior National Championship
  • 2008 Flex Arnold Classic Model Search
  • 2009 NPC National Championship
  • 2011 Fitness Universe Weekend Miami
  • 2011 Top 10 Fitness Universe Las Vegas
  • 2012 Fitness Universe Weekend Miami
Photography Credits
  • Eva Simon Photography



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Workout Music Vol. 9: Jen Jewell's Barbell Beats Playlist

Jen Jewell has one of the best bodies in the industry. She also has one of the most fun personalities.

This killer combination of awesomeness and aesthetics has made her a star in the WBFF and a go-to expert for training advice and motivation.

Jen didn’t earn her fitness-industry fame by chance, though. You better believe that Jen works hard for career and her physique.

Meet her in person, check out her BodySpace, or look at her Instagram and you have to wonder what kind of music a bubbly person like Jen listens to when she’s crushing a workout.

The answer might surprise you. Here’s Jen Jewell’s barbell beats playlist!

How does music influence your workouts?

Music makes all of my workouts better! Whether I’m stepping away on the step mill, running stairs by the beach, or pushing some weight in the gym, music plays a key role. There are days when I head out to do cardio and my energy levels aren’t quite as high as they usually are, but once I put the headphones on and tune into some of my favorite Pandora stations, I automatically crank up the intensity.

The music played in most gyms can be a real drag, (you know, the random assortment of sad 80s love songs to the latest top 40 Bieber hit), so when I want to listen to music that motivates me to push harder, work out longer, lift heavier, I turn to the Dr. Dre or Jay-Z stations on Pandora. I love the assortment of old school rap, new releases, and greatest hits. The beats really help my workouts. I may even rap along sometimes?

How has fitness improved your life?

Fitness has improved my life in more ways than I can count. Since embracing a healthy and fit lifestyle year-round, I am now at my healthiest and happiest I’ve ever been. I am far more productive in my professional life as well; the work I do now is truly rewarding because I help others on a daily basis.

I have also found that the more fitness-related goals that I set for myself, the more motivated I become to achieve those goals. Then I aim higher, set more goals, and repeat. It is amazing what achieving even just one simple goal can do to improve your mindset and determination!

Fitness also helps me stay focused—there is always room for improvement in one way or another. Whether I have a new physique goal, or am challenging myself to run a few extra miles than normal, or setting a new personal record in the weight room, the fire to improve is always ignited.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

I stumbled across this Mark Twain quotation a few years ago. It prompted me to finally give fitness a real shot. I dare you to read it and not be called to some sort of action:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

What sort of tips would you give to a newbie?

“Too often I’ve seen people give up and shrug off their fitness if they don’t achieve drastic results in a short amount of time. Understand that you’re making the commitment for the long haul.”

I always have my new clients create short-term goals (within the next 30 days) and long-term goals (3-6 months). Having established goals automatically provides more focus and direction to your fitness.

These goals don’t have to be weight-loss centered; they can be as simple as “I want to go to the gym 3-4 times per week for the next 30 days.” A goal like that can be a bit less daunting and far more realistic than “Lose 15 pounds in the first two weeks.”

Setting an aggressive weight-loss goal often does more harm than good. Too often I’ve seen people give up and shrug off their fitness if they don’t achieve drastic results in a short amount of time. Understand that you’re making the commitment for the long haul. You’re making a lifestyle change, not going on a two-week crash diet.

Once you have established these goals, make sure that you also have a plan of attack. Even an outline of the steps you need to take in order to achieve this goal will make your success seem much more achievable.

If your goal is to go to the gym 3-4 days a week for the first 30 days, plan ahead to eliminate excuses. Pack your gym bag before you go to work or always have workout gear in your car. That way you’ll never “not have time” to get to the gym after work!

Lastly, cast aside any and all self-doubt! Having a positive mindset and truly believing that you are capable of achieving these goals can really change the game. Results will not happen overnight, but all progress—no matter how large or small—is progress and will ultimately bring results!

Who is your biggest fitness inspiration?

My clients! I interact with my clients via Skype or email and I cannot stress enough how much inspiration I get from them on a daily basis. My clients are all ages, male and female, and have various fitness goals. But the one thing that they all have in common is how incredibly determined they all are to achieve their goals. Many of them are married, have children, and work full-time, but they still make their health and fitness a priority.

What’s also amazing is that they are all so incredibly supportive and encouraging of whatever I am doing in fitness, too. Whether I am preparing for a shoot, have written a new article that’s been published, or am counting down to the WBFF World Championships, my clients are every bit of supportive of me as I am of them.


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Fitness 360: Jim Stoppani, PhD, Supplementation Program

Supplements are a big part of Jim Stoppani, PhD’s, nutrition plan. His column is titled “Ask The Supplement Guru” for a reason! Just like he did for his training and nutrition programs, Jim uses research to back up his supplement choices. Guesswork is a recipe for failure, not success.

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More Science, More Supps

“Supplements help provide nutrients in a more concentrated form. We know that certain supplements can help increase muscle mass, strength, and increase fat loss. I am a firm believer in the benefit of supplementing a good diet with the proper ingredients, taken in the proper doses at the right time. I have seen the benefits of supplements firsthand in the lab, in myself, and in the thousands of people who I have worked with”

“I have seen the benefits of supplements firsthand in the lab, in myself, and in the thousands of people who I have worked with.”

Jim admits that all the information out there, much of it conflicting, can be overwhelming. He suggests that every person interested in supplementation should do his or her own research. “A good place to start is Bodybuilding.com, where you can read my articles,” he says. “You can also go to PubMed and search for scientific articles on certain ingredients like creatine.”

In fact, Jim is so passionate about supplements that he started his own company to create them.

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Facebook And Fitness: Maria Kang Interview

One evening in September 2012, Maria Kang, a 32-year-old wife and mother in Sacramento, published a loaded Facebook post. It read, “What’s your excuse?” a message made knife-sharp by its juxtaposition with a grinning, super-fit mom and her three toddler boys—a handful for anyone. The response was overwhelming; overnight, her Facebook page blew up with thousands of likes and plenty of vehement criticism. Kang found herself the subject of wide discussion as “the Facebook fit mom.”

“I was in shock,” she says of the initial outpouring, good and bad. Kang believes her Facebook post became a Rorschach test of sorts. Some folks embraced her as an inspiring role model; others saw her as a poster child for social media “fitspiration” taken to an obnoxious extreme.

Fast-forward to the first anniversary of the post, and Kang reposted the image along with what she called a “non-apology” lobbed at the haters who had dogged her over the preceding year. “What you interpret is not my fault,” she wrote. “It’s yours. The first step in owning your life, your body, and your destiny is to own the thoughts that come out of your own head. I didn’t create them. You created them.”

This post, once again, went viral, skyrocketing her Facebook audience from 78,000 to 288,000. She began frequenting national media platforms, including CNN, Yahoo!, Nightline, and Time. She was interviewed on morning shows in Australia, Britain, Germany, Brazil, and the Philippines. The fit mom became a global fitness phenomenon.

The exercise provocateur recently chatted about her newfound celebrity and her longstanding fit-mom movement with Bodybuilding.com, the site where she got her start as a fitness writer in 2004.

Q Do you remember when and how you got the idea for that first Facebook post?

It came from that popular catchphrase “no excuses,” which you see a lot in the fitness world—especially when people like paraplegics and the elderly overcome incredible odds to be in great shape. I thought, Wow, I’ve had three kids in three years—born in 2009, 2010 and 2011—and I’m in pretty good shape.

When I posted that photo my son was 8 months old; it’s not like I was posting it eight days after giving birth. I gained my pregnancy weight, and I took the same amount of time to get the pregnancy weight off. So I felt like it was a realistic portrayal.

Originally, I took the photo to update my Facebook page. I’ve been a writer and a fitness person for a number of years, but I’ve never been a paid fitness model; I just have an abiding passion for fitness. I hadn’t taken any professional pictures of myself for 10 years, because I had gone through a lot of stages in my body. I gained 30 pounds before I was even pregnant with my first child, because I had an eating disorder. So I wanted to use this image to update my profile picture.

Some people might think you have social media consultants recommending what will go viral, but it sounds to me like this just sprang unfiltered from the mind of Maria Kang.

Whenever I post a picture, I never think it is going to go viral, first off. I think there are a lot of misconceptions about me. I don’t have a team of people, I don’t have an agent, I don’t have a PR agency—I don’t have anyone. This is just an example of following your passion and your gut and living and breathing fitness. It comes from a good place.

What triggered that second, bigger wave of popularity—or notoriety, depending on your perspective?

I was approaching the anniversary of the photo first being posted, and I started getting a lot of hate mail again. I seldom respond to people who say negative or hateful things, but one particular email read: “You should be ashamed of yourself. You’re a bad example to women. You are a poor representation of a woman and a bad mother.” I thought: This is ridiculous. I’m tired of people using me as a scapegoat, and frankly, I’m a little bit pissed off.

It took me all of about five minutes, but that morning I wrote a “non-apology,” which basically said, “Whatever you perceive this picture to be, it’s your fault. If you hate this image, then get used to hating many things in your life because I have no control over that. Let’s focus instead on the bigger issue, which is obesity in America.” That message, coupled with the photo, made it go viral.

Some of the public critiques you’ve received have been strident, which makes me wonder if the private messages have been downright nasty.

There were some who were really quite mean to me, but the majority of people have been supportive. You often hear the loudest voices, and a few boos can drown out a lot of cheers if you let them. I’m showing people the possibilities. I’m trying to be an inspiration, and I have been an inspiration.

Any regrets about being the catalyst for this controversy?

It sounds so cliche, but I believe in living your life without regrets and owning every action you take. It hasn’t been an easy journey, though; let’s say that. This touches something deep within my personal history.

“I believe in living your life without regrets and owning every action you take. It hasn’t been an easy journey, though.”

In my mid-20s I battled an eating disorder. My mother struggled with obesity. She had type-2 diabetes in her 20s, strokes in her 30s, heart attacks in her 40s, and a kidney transplant before turning 50. She’s still alive, but she didn’t make it to my wedding because she was taken to the emergency room.

She can’t blame her genetics, either. She didn’t work out, still doesn’t work out, and she doesn’t watch what she eats. I feel strongly that you need to take care of your body, your temple, your vessel—whatever you want to call it—because that’s the only thing you own in this world.

My telling people that there aren’t a lot of excuses; that being overweight is, more often than not, your own doing—that’s what pissed a lot of people off. I’m trying to empower the overweight by letting them know they can change, but it’s really tough for many of them to wake up and take accountability.

Readers may not realize that you actually got your start in fitness writing on Bodybuilding.com.

I was a new fitness manager in San Francisco and so inspired by fitness that I wrote this piece about 10 universal life principles as embodied by fitness. I sent it to Bodybuilding.com because I used to read that website when I was on the exercise bicycle.

That was my favorite website. It’s where I got a lot of information, so I was excited when it was posted. I continued writing for the site.

Your involvement in the intersection of motherhood and fitness well predates the Facebook controversy, right?

Since 2012, I’ve been running a private Facebook group page where thousands of moms connect daily to talk about fitness. I noticed that these women wanted to connect, and they wanted answers, and they wanted to do what I did. Farther back, in 2009, after the birth of my first child, I started a mom group in the park. We worked out together without sacrificing time with our kids.

I took this concept and replicated it. I created an official guide, put it out there, and within two weeks, I had 200 group leaders. Now we have more than 700 leaders in 24 countries ranging from Aruba to Canada to Columbia.

There is a large movement of moms who want to make a difference. They want to be a hero in their community and a healthy role model to their children. To change the obesity crisis in America, we have to start at home. You can’t raise a healthy child if you’re an unhealthy parent, and I think that’s where we are all getting it wrong.

I know this from personal experience. Through my nonprofit, I supported programs in elementary, middle, and high schools that focused on the kid, and they were largely unsuccessful. I grew so discouraged and frustrated. Then I realized that the programs that work are those which incorporate the parent and the child. So that’s what I’m focused on.

What would you say to people who would argue that it’s none of your business whether they are fit, fat, or somewhere in between?

“I’m really trying to guide and inspire and lead.”

I’m the type who will say to somebody, “You are beautiful, but you are unhealthy, and I’m saying this because I care about you.” I’m not afraid to tell people about something I’m passionate about.

And while health is an individual matter, I believe our national healthcare system represents a collective responsibility. We pay for each other’s care, and it’s really important for us to not condemn each other or insult each other, but rather try to lead or guide each other. That’s what I’m trying to do.

Some of your critics contend that you’re shaming the overweight, and that your tone is punishing rather than encouraging. How do you respond?

I’m not insulting, condemning, or shaming anyone. I hate that word, “shame.” Shame and guilt are internal feelings that must be already present in someone’s mind in order for them to sense it. If they react negatively to my image and the word “excuse,” then they must be feeling they aren’t doing something they know they should be doing.

We all know exercise and eating healthy are important, but the vast majority don’t practice it. I’m really trying to guide and inspire and lead. Being healthy is a lot better than being unhealthy, and that’s just the truth.

What do your children and husband think about all of the attention you now receive?

My kids don’t think anything about it, and my husband knows that I’ve been doing local media on health and fitness for years, and that this was my path. So he’s like, “I didn’t know it was going to go that fast,” while I’m thinking, “It took me a long time to get here!” [laughs] I started writing about fitness in 2003, and finally someone is noticing me.

How do you manage healthy meals for yourself and your three boys?

I make regular food that other moms make; it’s just that mine is a healthier version. My kids love my turkey meatballs, sweet potato fries, and they love the spaghetti I make. We make pizza together all the time. They love it. My kids eat a lot of fruit and other whole foods.

“The biggest thing is that I try to control my kids’ palates, so they don’t crave unhealthy, addictive foods.”

The biggest thing is that I try to control my kids’ palates, so they don’t crave unhealthy, addictive foods. I’ve noticed that when they go to a lot of parties [at their friends' homes], they don’t want to eat my dinners as much; it doesn’t taste as rich as what they’ve just been fed.

You talk a lot about the need to work out. So how do you train?

I train intensely 5-6 days each week, and my workouts haven’t changed much in 10 years. Three or four of those workout days revolve around resistance training. For each body part, I usually do at least three exercises, 3 sets per exercise, 10-15 reps per set, resting 30 seconds between each set. I try not to waste a lot of time because I don’t have a lot of time, so you will often see me supersetting [movements].

I do at least 30 minutes of cardio on all five or six training days. Most of my cardio is high-intensity interval training using running, stair-climbing, or spin class.

I suggest a lot of the same things you guys suggest. A lot of women ask me, “How do I get a really lean midsection?” and “How do I build my backside?” Obviously there’s no such thing as spot training. In order to attain a certain level of leanness, you need to be lean all over. That means you have to weight-train your entire body over the course of the week.

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Skinny To Strong: Karina Baymiller's Complete Fitness Journey

In the fitness community, I’m most often recognized because of my big weight-loss transformation. I went from 185 pounds to a little less than 130 pounds. It took me a few years to get to my lowest weight, but I followed the motto that slow and steady wins the race and I never gave up. I know it was this attitude that helped me place second the 2013 Bodybuilding.com BodySpace Spokesmodel Competition.

Sometimes, I look back and can’t believe how far I’ve come. I don’t even remember the girl who had never stepped foot in a gym and gorged on pizza, chips, and ramen all day.

But I’ve decided my transformation work is not yet done—in fact, it’s only just begun! I’m on a second transformation journey, and this time I’m putting my happiness and my health first. I’m transforming my body from skinny to strong, and my mind from unhealthy to happy.

Before

After

Why I Decided to Change … Again

Believe it or not, when I weighed 185 pounds, I was one confident girl. I loved my body and never thought of myself as fat. I was who I was and that was that. I wasn’t defined by my body’s appearance. But that self-confidence changed the moment I decided I should lose weight. It seemed as though the more weight I lost, the more self-conscious about my appearance I became. I reached every weight-related goal I had set for myself, and yet I was never good enough.

At 125 pounds and with barely enough body fat to function, I competed for the first (and last) time with anxiety that I was “too fat” to be on stage. I had become so progressively wrapped up in numbers and body fat percentages over the few short years of dieting, that I was mentally destroyed.

I also noticed that my training started to suffer. I first began working out to be healthy and because I loved the way it made me feel, but I had lost sight of those reasons. I trained to burn calories and stay as thin as possible. If I didn’t burn enough calories according to my heart rate monitor—which was never accurate anyway—my mood was ruined. More often than not, I would make myself go back to the gym later to do HIIT or run. I started to hate outdoor runs because I was forcing myself to do them. I allowed my training to control me. I stopped doing the things I enjoyed in exchange for doing whatever it took to stay thin.

Along with a severely distorted body image and training that was running me into the ground, my relationship with food started to become extremely disordered. Gone were the days of using food for fuel. If my food wasn’t weighed out to the gram and if I didn’t prepare it myself, I refused to eat it. There were days that I had full-blown anxiety attacks because I couldn’t log something in MyFitnessPal.

“If I didn’t burn enough calories according to my heart rate monitor—which was never accurate anyway—my mood was ruined. More often than not, I would make myself go back to the gym later to do HIIT or run.”

I began taking hours of my day to try to configure my food so I would hit my macros just perfectly. If I didn’t, another anxiety attack would ensue. To say I was obsessed is an understatement. I restricted myself with calories, types of foods, and situations. God forbid I would eat a cookie!

I felt like I was drowning, like I was just barely holding my head above water. Everything I had loved so much in the beginning—the healthy eating, the workouts, my body—now had complete control of my life. They were no longer positives. They had become negatives, weighing me down with each passing day. I knew I had to change. It was only a matter of time before I broke down completely.

That’s when I decided I wanted to find strength.

Letting Go

The first thing I had to change was my mindset. I had to let go of the unhealthy habits that were slowly suffocating me. My negative body image was, and still is to this day, the hardest thing to let go of. I found it much easier to allow for self-hate than to find self-love. Sadly, I think this is true for many people. But I had to let go.

I had to let go of having visible abs 24/7. I had to let go of desperately trying to maintain 12 percent body fat. I had to let go of the number on the scale. Most importantly, I had to let go of the idea that I would only be happy if I was lean. I wanted to be happy when I looked in the mirror, and I knew it wouldn’t come from a certain size. It had to come from letting go and loving myself no matter what.

“I’m proud of the person I’ve become and the changes I’ve made.”

I still remind myself of where I started. That girl sitting on her ass eating ramen all day is 180 degrees from where I am today, and she always will be. I’m proud of the person I’ve become and the changes I’ve made. Whether I stay the size that I am now or gain or lose a few pounds, I love who I am. My worth is no longer based on what the scale says in the morning.

I don’t have “fat days” or “fluffy days” anymore, because quite frankly, I don’t care. I refuse to let something like three pounds of water destroy my day. I know now that I’m healthier than I ever was at 130 pounds. My hormones aren’t out of whack, I’m not moody or depressed, I don’t have random headaches, I’m not constantly fatigued, and I don’t feel weak.

Unfortunately, there’s a widespread belief that equates health to six-pack abs. This might be true for some people, but for the majority it’s not. I can lift more, sprint faster, and am healthier now than I ever was. There is beauty in strength. I don’t just say it, I know it.

Letting Go

I wanted my fire for exercise to burn like it did when I first started lifting, so I let go of the forced daily runs and extra HIIT sessions to “make up” for calories. I began to utilize conditioning work 1-2 times per week instead. I added back my short outdoor runs, but much more infrequently, and never because I felt pressure to burn a certain number of calories. I threw my heart monitor away.

I also discovered powerlifting. When I finally dropped the light-weight, high-rep stuff I was doing to stay thin, I started following Wendler’s 5-3-1 program and quickly fell in love. My strength skyrocketed, and when I decided I wanted to take my training to the next level, I signed with The Strength Guys. Now, the spark is back when I’m in the gym. I feel the fire again.


Squat

Strength Training Program

I follow an intense, block-periodization powerlifting program created by my coach, Jon Stewart. It’s high volume, tailored to correct my weaknesses, and uses movements and load intensities built for progression. I’m on six-week cycles of five-day splits. I have one day of light conditioning and one day of complete rest. Mobility is a vital component of my current program because my training pushes my body to its limits.

Each day and week I use different sets, reps, and weight with a specific rest time, exercise tempo, and rate of perceived exertion (RPE) to follow. Days one and three look on week three of my program.

  • Mobility TrainingMobility Training Mobility Training
    30-40 minutes

Mobility Training includes foam rolling the area to be trained, plus two or three dynamic stretches/movements the prepare the area for training.

Pause Squats have the lifter descending to the bottom position of the squat and freezing. The bottom position is held for three seconds, maintaining tightness in the muscles and correct technique, before returning to the starting position.

Compensatory Acceleration Training (C.A.T.)

is lifting sub-maximal loads with maximum force. For more details check

elitefts.com

.

  • Mobility TrainingMobility Training Mobility Training
    30-40 minutes

Mobility Training includes foam rolling the area to be trained, plus two or three dynamic stretches/movements the prepare the area for training.

Reset Deadlifts are performed the same as a standard deadlift, but the lifter will put the weight completely on the floor and reset their hip position between each rep.

Letting Go

The hardest physical aspect to change for me was my diet. I had developed such rigid views and habits around food that it was almost more of a struggle to let them go than it was to keep them. I packed away my food scale and deleted MyFitnessPal. I started incorporating foods that I hadn’t allowed myself to eat in years. I stopped restricting. I re-learned how to eat, not from a clock or scale, but from what my body was feeling.

At first I thought I would feel free without the calorie counting, stress, obsession, and anxiety, but I didn’t. I would take two steps forward and three steps back, wondering if I would ever be able to change. It took years to develop my disordered relationship with food, and I knew it wasn’t going to take a week to fix it. So, I trusted the process just as I always had, kept working at it, and didn’t give up.

Today, around 70-80 percent of the food I consume is healthy, nutrient-dense food that allows my body to perform at its optimal level. This includes things like lean proteins, organic dairy, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts (and butters!), and seeds.

70-80 percent of the food I consume is healthy, nutrient-dense food like lean proteins, organic dairy, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts (and butters!), and seeds.

The other 20-30 percent of food I consume is made up of things that I crave, or that I just plain want—no explanation or condition necessary. There is no special time, day, or place for these foods. I allow myself the freedom to eat them when I want them. Some days I’m at a 50/50 split, some days it’s 100/0, but on most days I stay right around 80/20. It all balances out.

I don’t restrict, I listen to my body’s needs and wants, and most important, I consume everything mindfully and in moderation. Through all of the extremes, I’ve found balance to be the key component in my physical and mental health. It’s also been the key to my happiness.

Sample Day

I don’t have a meal plan to follow because the foods and amounts I eat change on a daily basis. I don’t weigh or measure anything, so all quantities below are estimated. I don’t know my caloric intake or macro breakdown, but I would guess I’m somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,200-2,700 calories per day. Here is what I ate yesterday:

Greek Chicken Wrap

Final Thoughts

Throughout my second transformation, I’ve found myself spending more time with friends and family. They couldn’t care less what I look like—my abs make no difference to them. As long as I’m healthy and happy, they’re happy too.

It’s funny because these are the people I pulled away from when I started my downhill slide into disordered eating and thinking. I sheltered myself from everything that wasn’t fitness related, even friends and family. But when I finally let go of the obsession and the stress, I felt free.

During this second transformation, I found that the middle is where I want to be.

The fitness community is full of extremes. We work out until we can’t move. We eat diets of tilapia and broccoli. It takes a strong individual to endure what we put ourselves through. But during this second transformation, I found that the middle is where I want to be.

I want to be somewhere between the overweight college girl and the underweight girl on stage, somewhere between the girl who ate pop-tarts for every meal and the girl who ate lettuce for every meal, somewhere between the girl who never stepped foot into the gym and the girl who wouldn’t leave it until she’d burned enough calories. This middle spot is where I’m happy and strong. It’s where I found my balance.



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Skinny To Strong: Karina Baymiller's Complete Fitness Journey

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Pack On 60 Pounds: Your New Muscle-Building Plan

When I first got into bodybuilding and fitness, I weighed 120 pounds, skinny, scrawny, and weak. Quite honestly, I was mocked for even entertaining the idea that I could lift! I didn’t have a strong support system. No one believed that I could do it—even I had my doubts. My self-esteem was extremely low, but I knew I wanted to succeed. I was determined to get big, make gains, and prove to myself that I could go from scrawny to brawny.

Overcoming the mental barriers is just as difficult as overcoming the physical ones. It’s difficult to believe in yourself, to change, to get out of the box you’ve been stuck in, and it’s difficult to admit your weaknesses. However, overcoming challenges in your life helps you to grow as a person and increases your confidence. Once you’re confident, you can face whatever comes your way.

I know what it’s like to feel confused, intimidated, and hopeless. But you can put on muscle! You just need the right application of knowledge. Here is the simple template I used to overcome the cynics, trump the odds, transform my life and body, and put on more than 60 pounds of mass.

Find Your Inner Strength

Yes, you want to find what drives and motivates you to be your best, but the inner strength I’m talking about is your core. Too many people neglect this part of the body—but it’s so important. If you strengthen your core first, you’ll be able to handle a greater load when you move on to heavier weight training. You’ll also ensure your ability to train safer, endure longer, and ultimately make greater gains.

Think Big and Basic

When I say think big, I’m talking about the muscles you train. Emphasize your legs, back, chest, and shoulders! These are large muscles, and if they grow, so will your appearance! To build these muscles most effectively, do basic compound movements. Oh, don’t worry, compound movements will also recruit and work your smaller, surrounding muscles as well. The big and basic approach will help you train for optimal growth in nearly all the muscles of your body.


Deadlift

Train Hard and Heavy

Sounds ridiculous right? How can you train heavy and hard if you’re scrawny? The answer lies in the individual. It’s all relative! Maybe your heavy lift is a 55-pound bench press—like mine was when I started. You need to find what is challenging for you and then work with it. It doesn’t matter how your number compares with anyone else’s. Your goal should be to executive the lifts as safely as possible with enough weight to make each set difficult.


Track And Add

As time passes, you will get stronger. That means you should always add weight to your lifts, even if it’s only two pounds. You have to consistently push your limits in order to grow. Track your workouts so you know what you lifted and how much you might be able to do next week. Pay attention to your strengths and weaknesses so you can modify your training as improve.

Schedule Your Success

Make a schedule, write it down, and stick to it. You’re much more likely to stick to your workout routine if you write down what you are going to do and when you are going to do it. Making gains takes time, so make your schedule fit into the life you have right now. If you know you can’t spend two hours in the gym, don’t plan a two-hour workout. (Actually, don’t plan a two-hour workout, regardless.) Make your schedule something you can follow stress-free!

Rest Up

To add size, you need time to recover, so your training schedule should include rest days. Your muscles don’t grow in the gym—they grow at rest. Although everyone has different rest needs, I suggest all people get two days of rest per week.

Don’t Over Cardio

I hate to discourage people from doing cardio because of the cardiorespiratory benefits, but don’t overdo it and risk losing gains! Going from scrawny to brawny requires food and heavy weight; spend too much time on the treadmill, and you run the risk of losing some of that hard-earned muscle.

Embrace Plateaus And Adapt

That’s right: plateaus can be a good thing. When you hit a plateau, it’s a sign that your body has adapted to the stress you placed on it. View this as an opportunity to incorporate change into your routine. If you were training in a rep range of 12 and hit a wall, change it to eight reps and increase the weight. You can also switch exercises, decrease your rest periods, change the tempo of your lifts, or implement dropsets. Any of these variables will shock your muscles and help you grow. Small changes often lead to big differences.


Seated Lateral Raises

Zane’s Muscle-Building Split

Here’s a sample of one of my old workout templates. I made sure to train and develop my core muscles before starting this routine. Additionally, I made sure to learn the proper form for all the lifts and practiced the proper movement patterns before increasing the weight.

Rest 90 seconds between each set

Rest 90 seconds between each set

Rest 90 seconds between each set

Rest 90 seconds between each set

Final Word

This is just a guideline, so it won’t be perfect for everyone. Remember, your body will eventually adapt to the stimulus, so you’ll have to make changes to the program.

Training is only one piece of the mass-gaining puzzle. You have to eat, rest, and potentially supplement to reach your goals. It’s also important to keep a good attitude. Building muscle takes time—be patient!



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Pack On 60 Pounds: Your New Muscle-Building Plan

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