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Five Months to First Bodybuilding Competition!

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I've been upping the weight and reps on everything: having a goal makes all the difference. I was unaware of how much I'd been coasting in the gym since our photo shoot over a year ago...And eating a lot more is a big help - I can already see my upper body getting bigger and the veins popping in my chest and shoulders when I lift! Strange things for a woman to get excited about, but that's why I love bodybuilding! Strange joys for a strange woman. Anyway:




Morning: Ran 2 miles at the park





I used to do the 30's for Arnold press, and I had a hard time with even the 25's and 27.5's, due in part to the fact that my shoulders were still sore from Sunday's upper body routine, I guess.


I can do a lot more weight on laterals than I had been doing. The front raises are seated and the laterals are standing.

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Morning: Cybex elliptical type thing, 20 minutes high resistance

Weighted decline abs, 3 x 5 x 8

Weighted obliques, 3 x 5 x 10


Afternoon: Upper Body Circuit


I try to keep everything as heavy as I can for 4 circuits, and it's hard.


Followed by 10 minutes Stairclimber




The order is messed up: push-ups come after one-arm db row.


I've actually been doing regular lat pulldowns instead of behind-the-neck, whoops.

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Ran 2 miles outside




Usual plyometrics legs day in which I do 3 x 20 of:



Box jumps

Jump lunges


But this time I upped my box jump height to 8 risers for the last two sets; 6 is the most I'd done. It's not insanely high - comes to just above my knee, but for 20 consecutive jumps with no bouncing or wind-up or pauses whatsoever it's challenging!


I know I did some sort of cardio and abs, but I don't remember what...that's the problem with waiting too long to post.

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In the morning, HIIT at the park:


5 30 second all-out sprints with 4 minute walking intervals. Came out to 2 miles. The sprints were hard after plyometrics the previous day and made me legs sore as hell! Definitely going to work more regular and hill sprints in to my routine work on toning up my legs: they're big but far too fat.


Evening - had a hard time lifting that late after being in the hot sun all day. BUT I've gained in strength on everything except triceps. Didn't learn my lesson about leaving them for last, apparently. And I did more weight than I should have on biceps...but it felt fantastic.


Time to completely revamp my program, starting tomorrow!

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I just found this ... awesomeness! I may have to come out as well since I am back in the region


Funny shoulders are your weakness and legs your strong point, I'm the opposite .... Right now I could rival a line backer and my legs are lagging .... as per usual!


Will be following!

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Thanks for the encouraging words - I need them right now! Completely burnt out and exhausted - at the bottom of one of those lows between the highs that come from working out really hard for extended periods, know what I mean?




To shake things up, I decided to do a M&F routine since they're usually nothing like any routine I would ever put together. Makes for a good shock to the system. This one is intended for bikini or at least it's called bikini blast or something silly like that...The idea is to have a low, medium, and high rep day combined with HIIT, with steady cardio on the intervening days. I believe the weights are intended to be fairly low, and things like the Pushup to DB row are shown as knee push ups...but to make it more intense I kept the weight moderate, did real push ups, etc. Holy crap, it was hard! Followed by 20 minutes of 30 sec all out sprints/90 sec walking on the treadmill.


Each exercise is superset with the one above , except the push up to DB row, which is of course one exercise, and the shoulder part - that's a brutal triset of Upright Row, Military Press, and DB Lateral Raises. The standing calf raises are one-legged, 10 on each leg...the gym unfortunately has no standing calf machine.


Some things I need to work on are hamstring curls and bench dips: my muscles are apparently so tight in those areas that I almost always get cramps when I do those exercises. Weird. I must foam roll!



High resistance elliptical, 20 minutes

Hard stairclimber, 20 minutes

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Catching Up...


4/28/2011 (date's wrong on the log)


High Rep Routine: Performed as a circuit with a minute of rest between circuits:


The fact that it was 80 degrees and humid out made it harder (our home gym is in a shed outside and it takes a while to for AC to cool it down). This is definitely the easiest of this three-day split; it's supposed to be a recovery day.


Cardio: 20 minutes HIIT elliptical intervals (30 seconds high speed and resistance/90 seconds slow and low resistance)




Ran 2 miles outside plus 20 minutes elliptical

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Moderate Rep Routine, 45 seconds rest between sets



Barbell Romanian DL (65 x 10, 65 x 10, 65 x 12)

Step-Ups to high bench (10, 12, 10)

Wall squats with Exercise Ball (0 x 12, 25 x 12, 25 x 12)



DB Lateral to Front Raises (10 x 10, 7.5 x 10, 7.5 x 10)

Exercise Ball DB Flyes (10 x 12, 10 x 10, 10 x 10)

Bent-over DB Tricep Kickbacks (7.5 x 10, 7.5 x 10, 7.5 x 10)



Plate-Loaded Leg Extension (35 x 10, 35 x 12, 35 x 10)

Jump Lunges (10, 10, 10)

DB Push Press (15 x 12, 20 x 10, 20 x 10)



Assisted Neutral Grip Pull-ups (10, 10, 10)

Bent-over Barbell Row (45 x 12, 45 x 12, 45 x 10)

Rope Cable Hammer Curls (20 x 12, 20 x 12, 20 x 12)



Kimura Situp (10, 12, 10)

Exercise ball pull-in (10, 10, 10)

Plank (50 sec, 50 sec, 60 sec)


This routine was a lot harder than I expected. The leg extension/jump lunge/push press triset is particularly brutal...




Sprint intervals...Began with some hill sprints, but Derek pulled his inner thigh so I went back to running my usual circuit around the lake. It's somewhat hilly, but not too steep. Did 30 sec sprints/90 sec walks. Last two were more like fast runs than sprints...hill sprints destroy my adductors.


Evening: 20 minutes easy elliptical

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This whole routine is surprisingly hard! All the leg stuff on top of the sprints is indeed brutal but it's definitely what I need; if this combined with 1 - 1.5 hours of dance practice every day doesn't tighten up my legs then I'll have to seriously consider having them replaced.


Just got back from 4 days in Mexico (memorial service for family) so playing catch up.


The workouts I did just before we left are but a distant (painful) memory at this point:



Low Rep/Heavy Day (all superset 'cept for pushup to db row which is one exercise and shoulders which was a triple set)


Upped the weight on this routine for most everything...looking at this I'm thinking I accidentally did DB curls, because 15 lbs on barbell would be pretty insanely light for 10 reps!


Also did 20 minutes of some sort of HIIT - probably at the park - but no longer recall...




High Rep/Low Weight Day (3 circuits):


Whenever I look at this workout I'm embarrassed by the low weights but it does kick my ass. I'm usually drenched in sweat by the end.


5/5 - 5/7


Workouts in the Mexican Desert:


Included things like sprint intervals up a sandy desert road (youch), pullups on old rusty docks, band resistance stuff on palm trees, pushups, stepups, yoga...that sort of thing. We did work out every day since there's not a whole lot to do as a vegan at a fishing resort...but didn't keep an accurate record. Back to the grind tomorrow.

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What kind of dance do you do?


Gah - so far behind! I'm getting an inkling now of how Robert must feel keeping up with everything!


Middle Eastern dance, aka belly dance (just don't like the unfortunate negative connotations), plus some modern dance. I actually have taken to doing online classes for this because the local classes are kind of silly and dumbed down. There's some new local classes starting up in June I've signed up for; hopefully they don't suck.


The online classes, though, are surprisingly very rigorous - took me a few months to be able to get through even the 45 minute warm ups because my legs were burning so intensely. The awesome thing about this style of dance is the muscle isolations...you learn to isolate the various muscles in your abs, back, glutes, etc and repeatedly drilling those movements is a whole different kind of grueling workout.


Check em out - there's even a free 3 day trial, which is how I got hooked: http://www.suhailaonlineclasses.com/

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Ok: what a horrible workout week! Between stress and travel and a week of a messed up sleep schedule I could barely function in the gym. I kept up with my high/med/low and HIIT split and kept the weights about the same on everything but hated every minute of it. I was also unable to run more than a mile at a time, gah!


Finally after we got up yesterday at 4:30 to drive up to maryland for the Poplar Springs Run for the Animals, we got home and I realized I was seeing spots and couldn't read my book at all. I mentioned to Derek that his mustache appeared to be melting into the siding of our house while he was talking to me and he suggested that I take a nap...I did for an hour and we went to bed early and I feel much better today!


Instead of bothering to post my miserable workouts of the prior week which were virtual copies of the ones above, I'm going to start fresh and am designing a new routine starting now.




Cardio: Two mile run around the lake (moderately hilly) in 17.3 minutes. Not fabulous but good for me!


Tonight I'll do 1 hour of dance practice. No additional cardio as I had been doing; it's time to admit to myself that I need actual time to recover for legs days. My lower back is like a clenched fist with all the sprints, leg exercises, and plyometrics every day.

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Thanks! I seem to have recovered after allowing myself to catch up on sleep.


My new training split:


Cardio Only

Legs Day 1/Cardio


Upper Body Circuit/Cardio

Legs Day 2/Cardio

Upper Body Machine

Sprint Intervals


4/17/2011: Legs Day 1


All body weight


Squats 3 x 40

Step-Ups with Curl 3 x 20

Glute Pulses 1 x 35, 2 x 30


I know is seems really easy. Slow controlled form, deep squats, keeping muscles flexed made it more difficult than it appears. Still, not as hard as a lot of the stuff I had been doing but my joints need the break!

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Warm-Up: 200 weighted jump ropes


Barbell Seated Behind the Neck Press @ 45 x 10, 50 x 10, 55 x 10

Cable Upright Row @ 30 x 10, 30 x 12, 30 x 12

Barbell Front Raise (Negatives) @ 3 x 20 x 10

Reverse-Grip Lateral Raise @ 10 x 10, 7.5 x 10, 7.5 x 10


Can't remember what cardio I did...oh well. Dance for an hour I think.




Upper Body Circuit


3 circuits


Pop Push-Up (wide stance push up then "pop" in to close and push up) @ 3 x 6

Bench Dip @ 3 x 10

Underhand Lat Pulldown @ 3 x 40 x 12

Barbell Deadlift @ 45 x 12, 45 x 10, 45 x 10

Cable Standing One-Arm Bicep Curl @ 3 x 10 x 10

Bench Push-Up (grasping edge so mainly tricep) @ 3 x 10


Something about the sequence is a little weird - I may change some things. For one, moving from one exercise to the next is awkward...I prefer circuits that are all dumbbell or plate or something so there's no time lost to setup.


Cardio: 2 mile trail run, fairly hilly terrain. 30 minutes.

1 hour dance class




Decided to change my split by making this a cardio day, then legs, then upper body machine/sprints


Cardio: 20 minutes stairclimber

Abs: Weighted Russian twists, V-Ups, Bicycles

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4/21 Legs Day 2


Reverse Lunge with Pulse, 3 x 20/leg w/ 10 pulses per set

Donkey Kick, 3 x 20

Switches, skipped


*These are somewhat weird exercises from an old M&F Hers: the competitor the routines were written for suffers from the same big leg syndrome that I do, hence the bodyweight focus...


The reverse lunge with pulse involves doing a reverse lunge and at the bottom tilting the hips forward and coming back up about 25% of the way then back down, then to standing and so on. So I do 10 reps with a "pulse" followed by 10 regular reverse lunges on each leg.


The donkey kick is sans machine, forearms on the ground, one knee on the ground and the other leg raised so that the knee is in line with the torso...that leg is then raised, heel first, while contracting the glute and then the knee is returned to being in line with the pelvis, never back down to the ground as it usually is for this exercise. Not the best description I realize, but there it is!


4/22 Upper Body Machine/Sprints


1/2 mile warm-up run then 5 30 second sprint intervals...can't believe I was doing 10 before. The heat and humidity make a huge difference.


Barbell Bench Press, 65 x 12, 75 x 10, 80 x 8

Cable Seated Row, mid-grip, 40 x 12, 45 x 10, 50 x 10

Cybex Shoulder Press, plate-loaded, 20 x 12, 30 x 10, 30 x 10

DB Seated Bicep Curl, 15 x 10, 20 x 10, 20 x 10

Cable Straight-Arm Pulldown, 40 x 10, 50 x 10, 50 x 10


4/23 Cardio


I know I did 40 minutes of cardio but completely drawing a blank on what it was...


4/24 Legs Day 1


Jump Squats, 3 x 20

Step Up with Curl, 3 x 20


10 minutes Cybex "elliptical"

10 minutes stairclimber


1.5 hour dance class (lots of legs and glutes involved)

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Hi Marcella. I have a question. What exactly is big leg syndrome? Do you tend to gain muscle in the legs very easily? I have been considering bodyweight only leg exercises. Does this help lean out the legs? Thank you. I wish you well in your competition.

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Big Leg Syndrome - yup, I had muscular legs before I ever even started weightlifting...unfortunately, they also retain fat far more tenaciously than any other part of my body. I think sticking to mainly body weight and plyometrics is helping as my thigh measurement apparently decreased from 19.3" to 18.9" over the past month and a half. And the M&F Hers competitor for whom the routine I'm using was designed claimed to have lost 4 inches off her thighs by switching to body weight exercises. That's why I decided to give it a shot: her body type looked remarkably similar to mine in the photos.


Weighted jump squats...man. I actually have never tried them - Derek used to always do them with, I think, a 110 lb barbell and I thought he was insane. That was long before I even started doing body weight jump squats (which kill my glutes as it is) and I'd totally forgotten about the possibility of adding weight. I wonder if that would hurt my lower back? My main limitation in doing any leg exercise is stressing my lower back, it drives me nuts. I can't even do 45 lb deadlifts, good mornings, bent over rows or box jumps without having my lower right back clench up like a fist for a day or two. Anything that involves crouching even slightly while tensing my lower back. When I go back to plyometrics in a few weeks I should try a 20 lb barbell and see how that goes.


Thanks for the suggestion!

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