Beyond The Weight Room
From Contest Prep To First Place
Melissa Leier, Saskatoon-based Figure Competitor and cover model for Saskatoon Well Being Magazine’s debut January 2012 issue, takes us through three weeks of contest prep and her experiences at this year’s Saskatchewan Amateur Bodybuilding Association (SABBA) Provincials in Regina through excerpts from her journal.
March 17, 2012
3 Weeks To Go
After a solid off-season of trying to make gains in muscle symmetry—especially to fill up my legs and glutes to balance with my wide upper body—it is now time to lean out to see what lies underneath.
As of this week, there are no more supersets and high reps. Down to 6-8 reps of heavy training, with 45 minutes of cardio in the morning and 20 minutes after weights.
I have regular check-ins with my coaches now (almost daily) for them to track my progress and adjust as needed to dial my body in to exactly where it needs to be.
I have consistently gotten up at 4:30 a.m. to start morning cardio at 5 a.m. The key is routine. Same every day. Just get up and go and make the time in the gym as effective as possible. I don’t get up at 4:30 a.m. for nothing!
Hitting the shower after and having some oatmeal and egg whites is always THE BEST feeling. And then I’m refreshed, wide awake and ready to take on my day.
I notice that I am feeling wiped out by 8 p.m. now. Ideally, I try to do my round two training either over my lunch break or right after work at 4 p.m. Earlier the better. Need to keep workouts effective and intense.
My routine is pretty much the same every week day: gym, work, gym, home to pack up for next day and get in bed as soon as I can to do it all over again next day. Doesn’t really leave room for much else!
All cooking, cleaning and family time happens on the weekends when I have a few extra hours.
I have cut out all social events or commitments to focus just on this last few weeks getting ready for showtime. I’m way too busy right now for anything else to be on the mind.
I’ve started to surround myself with motivation wherever I can. Posting motivational posters and quotes on my Facebook, looking at my role model’s achievements and even looking back to previous years’ progress and seeing how I’ve grown. I try to avoid looking at other competitors’ photos that they share on social media. Some people peak early and look stage ready right now and it can make you think OMG, she’s in better shape than me. Stay away from playing that head game.
Tanning seems to take up a lot of time. I’m going about four times a week. This is something I know isn’t great for skin (exposure to UV), but it is relaxing. Makes me feel like I’m lying on a beach. I always save it for the end of the day.
Posing practice daily now. Going through quarter turns (the four mandatory poses that figure athletes do on stage), ensuring posture, turning on the right muscles, angling your body just right to showcase or highlight your best and hide or cover areas you don’t want the focus to be on. In addition, having smooth transitions, confidence, demonstrating attitude, building up endurance to last while holding these poses for extended durations that happen on stage and smiling while doing it! Posing can be really exhausting.
March 24, 2012
2 Weeks To Go
No change to the training program this week, except I have now progressed to 30 minutes of cardio after weights. I’m still feeling good. Haven’t lost any strength.
I have been working on altering my posing suit, making adjustments as my body changes. The fit, style and cut can make quite a difference in a competitor’s appearance. You want to use your suit to your advantage as much as possible to shape your physique. I’ve had to learn to be a little “artsy and craftsy” with my sewing kit.
Yesterday I made a trip to Swift Current to meet with my coaches for body measurements (I’m at 8.3% body fat at 128 lbs. with another four lbs. to go), posing practice and a team get- together to discuss the next few weeks’ preparation.
I woke up to find that my boyfriend, Chris, had cut up, weighed, measured and packaged up all my chicken and veggies. WOW, this was an awesome surprise! I am so thankful to have this support at home!
It is amazing what a good supportive environment can do to enhance sustainability of a commitment to this exact science of fitness for competition. The first year I competed, I remember my family wondering why I was doing this. They had the perception of the old school women’s bodybuilder look— unfeminine and all muscle and huge, unnatural looking. But, after I did it the first time, my family realized that figure athletes have an athletic look while showing muscular definition, poise and the beauty of the human body in exceptional health and fitness condition.
Last time I went home my mom had stocked a fridge full of at least 10 kinds of veggies, washed, cut up, put in Ziploc bags and ready for me. And my dad had cooked a full BBQ of plain chicken breasts for me to eat over the weekend. WOW, how’s that for support? I couldn’t ask for more!
March 31, 2012
7 Days To Go
I’m looking forward to some extra time on the weekend to get some final details into my posing suit (fitting and adjustments, adding more “bling”) and get my nails and toes done.
My water-load plan starts this Sunday with up to eight litres of water and increasing one litre per day to a maximum of 10 litres of water a day up until before the show. I normally drink four to five litres per day all year round, but once you get up past the eight litre mark, you better try your best to get most of it in earlier in the day so that you can sleep at night! I always map out washrooms no matter where I am. If I walk by one, I take the chance to stop whether or not I feel I need to, because guaranteed once I get five minutes past it, I’m gonna wish I had!