Archive | June, 2013

Choosing the right Bikini Competition Suit

30 Jun

When your next NPC event is on the horizon, your mind will undoubtedly be racing with all the competition prep to be done. If you aren’t happy with the look of your deltoids or the tautness of your glutes, for example, what last minute tweaks can you make to your regular workout to enhance these areas?

But, while it is of course essential that you take to the stage with a perfectly muscular physique, there is another element of your presentation that should go overlooked: your posing suit.

Before selecting your suit, be sure to look over the specifications for your competition. These can typically be found on the official event website. For instance, if you are taking part in an NPC-sponsored bikini competition, you are (obviously) required to wear a two-piece posing suit. In addition, the federation stipulates that your outfit must be “in good taste” – so no thongs allowed – and should have V-cut bottoms. The NPC even reserves the right to turn away contestants in inappropriate attire, so, to prevent this, be sure to pack a spare suit just in case.

Once you understand the basic requirements, it’s up to you how far you want to go in terms of embellishments. Do you want a posing suit covered in crystal details, for example? These models are typically more expensive, but they certainly make your presence felt on stage. Of course, you can always opt for a pop of color to create that extra impact, particularly if you won’t be dripping in Swarovski.

Whatever style you go for, be sure to make this decision well ahead of time. The NPC allows contestants to wear off-the-rack suits in their bikini division, but you still may be tempted to get something custom made, especially if you have a specific idea in mind. That means you’ll need at least a month to make sure that your ensemble is as stunning as you intended.

One way sports drinks can enhance an intense workout

27 Jun

Ever wonder if popular sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade are all they’re cracked up to be? Given the rise of overly processed, sugar-laden foods it’s good to have a healthy suspicion about any food-based product you can pick up at a local 7/11. And, if you’re currently training for a fitness, figure or bikini-competition, then you’re probably paying particularly close attention to what you put in your body.

Nutritionists have gone back and forth about the merits of sports drinks for years, with some touting the benefits of electrolytes while others argue that a simple bottle of water provides all the hydration you need. Recently, though, a professor of physiology and kinesiology has produced a whole new argument in support of the enhanced option.

According to professor W. Larry Kenney, sports drinks are a better option for more intense workouts that last for 45 minutes or more because, unlike water, these beverages keep athletes going back for more until they’re completely rehydrated.

“If you drink plain water until you no longer feel thirsty, you’ve most likely not replenished all lost fluids,” says Kenney, pointing out that some athletes can shed as much as three pounds of body weight via sweat in a workout.

Sports drinks have come under fire because of their sodium content. But, as this blog documented in a recent post, ardent athletes have a very different relationship with this mineral than the general population. While most people consume far too much salt, body competition entrants and other active individuals need to take in more sodium because they lose so much of it through sweat.

Remember, though an excess amount of sodium has been linked to high blood pressure and other health issues, your body needs it to maintain appropriate levels of liquid within your cells. So, if you’re headed to the gym for an hour or two of intense bikini or figure competition training, don’t think twice about grabbing a sports drink.

New study reveals the best times to drink that protein shake

25 Jun

Most people know that protein is essential for muscle growth, and is therefore a must for any bikini, bodybuilding or figure competition diet. However, one thing competitors may not be so sure about is when they should time their daily protein shakes to get the most out of a workout. Is it better to load up on this compound in preparation for an intense workout, or should you grab a power bar afterward to help your body recover?

Earlier this month, researchers from Northern Illinois decided to get to the bottom of this issue by reviewing past studies on the subject in search of “conclusive evidence” about the impact of protein timing on weight training.  The final report was published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

“In general, protein supplementation pre- and post-workout increases physical performance, training session recovery, lean body mass, muscle hypertrophy and strength. Specific gains differ however, based on protein type and amounts,” the study abstract states.

For example, the researchers found evidence that drinking fat-free milk after an intense round of weight-lifting helped build up strength, as well as lean muscle mass and hypertrophy – i.e. an increase in cell size that can make them look more pronounced. Doing so also leads to a decrease in body fat, the source notes.

The study authors also write that bodybuilding or figure competition supplements containing whey protein are best after resistance training – particularly in combination with glucose or maltodextrin – for the best results in terms of strength and muscle mass.  Meanwhile, supplements with essential amino acids and dextrose are reportedly more beneficial before a workout.

So, if studies have shown that most protein sources are best after a training session, what should you fuel up on beforehand? WebMD recommends meals that are familiar to your system, are moisture-rich and have low amounts of fiber and fat.


Amanda Latona Wins

24 Jun

Amanda Latona Wins

1st Place at the greater gulf #IFBB Pro Bikini competition.

The benefits of a competition coach

19 Jun

When you step on stage to show your stuff in a bikini, physique or figure competition, the judges will be evaluating every inch of your body to determine your placement. Since IFBB and NPC judges are so thorough in their work, you have to approach your training with the same degree of dedication.

However, unless you are a personal trainer and licensed nutritionist, it’s all too easy to neglect certain parts of your frame, or miss out on essential nutrients that would further fuel your workout routine. That’s why, if you have the means to do so, it’s always a good idea to enlist the help of a professional.

If your coach has experience in bikini or fitness competition training, they’ll know exactly how discerning the judges can be, and will also be familiar with the physical and emotional strain that this arena can take – especially on new competitors.

IFBB Pro Victor Prisk recently extolled the virtues of a good competition coach in a piece for NPCNewsOnline.

“The role of a good coach is to keep you positive and on the right track – to prevent your emotions from messing it all up,” writes Prisk, adding that an experienced trainer can keep you from making impulsive decisions about your diet and training that may sabotage your performance mere weeks before an event.

We all have moments where we doubt our own strength – not to mention exercises that we just don’t like doing – but a professional coach can help overcome these obstacles and keep you focused on the bigger picture.

But, fitness competitor, nutritionist and motivational speaker Olesya Novik warns that it’s important to keep your expectations under control. Many people think that working with a coach for a couple of weeks will make them competition-ready, she writes on her website, However, depending on your shape when you start, it typically takes at least a month or two of determination to obtain the toned look you need.

Bikini and Figure Competition tanning

19 Jun

In recent posts, we’ve been guiding you through one of the most surprisingly finicky aspect of bikini competition prep: Achieving the perfect tan. Once you’ve properly exfoliated your skin and gotten rid of all that pesky body hair, it is up to you whether to use competition tanning products at home or leave it to the professionals.

There are plenty of these items to choose from, and a few benefits of the DIY approach are that it is generally less costly and you have plenty of time to perfect your technique. Plus, you are in complete control of the end result, so you don’t have to worry about a last minute mistake by a technician.

If you aren’t particularly confident in your application technique, though, you can always consult fellow contestants about local tanning salons that could tackle the job. Of course, should you take this route before your next NPC bikini competition, make sure that the salon you go to specializes in competition tanning. That’s because, according to experienced IFBB competitor Julie Lohre, the ideal tan for an official event is radically different from the coverage an average tanning salon customer requests.

“Understanding the chemistry of how tanning products work and how competition diets affect competitors’ body chemistry is the responsibility of the spray tanning technician,” Lohre writes on her website. “Those that are serious about what they do will have this knowledge and training to work with competitors in this very specialist sport.”

A deep uniform tan is a great way to emphasize the muscles you’ve developed over the last few months and really make that posing suit pop, so don’t leave this all-important step. 

Jamie Eason: “The World’s Fittest Model”

18 Jun

There are few people in the world of fitness competitions who haven’t heard the inspiring story of Jamie Eason, who, just seven years after stepping on stage for the first time, has become one of the most prominent models and writers in the industry.

Eason has been an athlete for most of her life, and was even a professional cheerleader for the NFL’s Houston Texans. However, CBS reports that her cheerleading career came to an end when Eason was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though she ultimately got the all-clear from her doctors, she had to leave behind the Houston Texans because of her numerous treatments.

After a few years of working office jobs and making unhealthy lifestyle choices, Eason knew she had to regain control of her life – and particularly, her health. To do so, she enlisted the help of a professional nutritionist and personal trainer, and in 2005 she began training for a figure competition in her home state of Texas.

And that is where the fairytale begins. Eason won and received a pro card that very day, and was even spotted by a fitness model scout. By the following year, she had a WNBF Figure Pro and WNSO Fitness Model Pro card under her belt, as well as the coveted title of World’s Fittest Model.

“I felt physically fit and emotionally, I had a true sense of accomplishment and well-being,” Eason told CBS of her decision to begin fitness model training. “I realized I had found a path for my life.”

Eason’s accomplishments are all the more inspiring due to the fact that she a has a mild form of the complex spinal disorder spina bifida – a condition that, though often unnoticeable, can be incredibly painful when aggravated. Yet, Eason has not let this diagnosis, or any other obstacle stop for from accomplishing her goals and bringing new meaning to her life and those of others as a fitness model.  

Fasted cardio: Friend or foe?

18 Jun

If you’re new to the world of fitness competitions, one of the first challenges you will face – before you even pick up a set of barbells – is deciding on the right workout regimen. And, believe it or not, figure competition training can actually get pretty contentious. Perhaps one of the most surprisingly controversial practices is fasted cardio.

Fasted cardio typically means that you’ll spring out of bed and hit the gym without so much as an energy bar to fuel your efforts. There are few people who would be immediately drawn to this idea, but the rationale is that, by working out on an empty stomach, your body will draw from existing fat stores, rather than simply burning through the calories you just consumed.

And, according to industry experts, that is absolutely true. Your body will inevitably be forced to target these stubborn pockets of fat if it has nothing else to run on.

However, one of the big concerns about this method is that it may eventually start to work away at your lean muscle mass as well – and who wants that after you’ve spent so much time toning up? The fact is that is a risk to this kind of cardio. But, you can keep muscle loss to a minimum simply by checking the intensity of your pre-breakfast workout.

So, what is your top priority – burning off fat or building up muscle? The answer to that question should help you determine if fasted cardio is the right choice for you. Just keep in mind that some events, like bikini competitions, actually call for a more feminine physique, so a bit of extra fat might be a good thing!

Whatever workout routine you go with, it’s important to give your body the time (and energy) to recover. Oxygen magazine urges aspiring competitors to eat soon after every training session to help their bodies bounce back from the strain.

Don’t forget recovery time: The best post-worko​ut foods

16 Jun

Every athlete knows that competition training isn’t just about working out for hours on end. To really push your body to the limit, you also have to let your muscles recover between sessions. And, did you know that there are certain foods than can actually enhance this process?

As well as shedding light on raisins, apples and other tasty treats that can rival your favorite energy drink, the nutrition experts at The Huffington Post have also zeroed in on a few foods that promote cell restoration.

If you’re preparing for a body competition, you undoubtedly know the importance of loading up on protein on a regular basis. Unlike carbs, which actually fuel you on the treadmill, the benefits of protein kick in much later in the game. Athletes of all shapes and sizes should get a good dose of protein post-workout, because it promotes muscle repair, replenishes energy stores and can also prevent the loss of muscle mass after heavy resistance training.

And, though figure competition supplements can help in this area, The Huffington Post points out that greek yogurt is a particularly versatile way to consume this compound. After all, preparation time is approximately 20 seconds from tub to bowl, and you can toss in any of your favorite fruits for a bit of flavor. Add a drop of honey and you have a delicious, protein-rich treat that will help your body bounce back.

One of the downsides of really giving your all in spin class is that your muscles may become inflamed – which may put off your next visit for longer than you’d like! But, the source explains that cherry juice contains specific agents that can reduce swelling. So, while you’re sitting back with an ice pack, why not pour yourself a glass of this somewhat unconventional but delicious and nutritious beverage?

The Military Press: A must for shapely shoulders

16 Jun

Whether you’re competing in a bodybuilding, physique or bikini competition, the impact you make when you step on stage is the key to success in this field. And, though the level of definition is certainly different across these platforms, having a strong, commanding set of shoulders is an important part of the package.

No matter how tight your glutes or rock-hard your abs, if you don’t have a strong set of shoulders, you just won’t have the same stage presence – end of story. Your shoulders dictate everything from how you hold yourself to how you’re proportioned, so shoulder workouts are a crucial part of figure competition training for any entrant. 

One of the most tried and true techniques to tone your deltoids is the classic Military Press. This is known as a compound exercise because, as explains, it works mulitple joints and requires all three sides of your shoulder muscles to kick into gear.

This exercise can be performed standing upright or sitting at the edge of an exercise bench, depending on how many other muscles you want to involve in the process. Then, with all your core muscle tightened to keep your upper body stable, grab two dumbbells and hold them up on both sides of your head so that your elbows are at a 90 degree angle. Then, simply lift both weights so your arms are nearly straight up in the air, but be sure to avoid locking your joints.

Depending on preference, this can be performed with a barbell as well. However, the source warns that competitors who go this route avoid lifting the weight behind their necks, since this can cause shoulder strain. 

A great set of shoulders is the perfect accessory for any posing suit, so don’t skimp on this section of your workout regimen!