Category Archives: Competition Prep

Changing My Look for Success on the Stage

Photographer Thomas Guaghan recently spoke with Bikini Competitor, Maricela Lemus about competing this year. He decided to share that interview with MuscleBombshell. We hope you enjoy the interview as much as we did.

Maricela Lemus is 27 years old and currently a Graduate student working towards her Masters of Science in Higher Education at California State University Fresno. She is working to complete her internship as an Advising Intern. She is going to school full time as well as training in the gym 5-6 days a week.

She became very intrigued with the world of bodybuilding back in 2007 when her boyfriend Cesar Martinez won the overall in the Fresno Classic Bodybuilding competition. She learned a lot from just watching him and using him as her guide. She began competing in 2011, but did not place in her first competition.

She decided to take a year off to train and put on some muscle. A year later she entered the Muscle Shoot out in Clovis, CA and took first place in the bikini “A” class. She then proceeded to prepare for the NPC San Jose in July, where she took 4th place and finally the NPC San Francisco, where she took 2nd place.


TGP:  After finals you didn’t place as high as you would have liked, what were the judge’s comments?

ML: After pre-judging I had the feeling that my placing was not going to be top 3 because of where the judges had placed me in the lineup. I was able to talk to the head judge following pre-judging and asked him what he thought of my physique now compared to the previous show in Clovis (where he happened to be the head judge as well). He commented that I was too hard and defined; emphasizing the hardness in my shoulders and abs. According to Jim Reyes (who was part of the panel of judges), the judges preferred the bikini girls to be softer and fuller for this particular show. According to them, I stood out like a bullet next to the softer bodies versus my hard conditioned look. I felt somewhat disappointed, not in myself, but in knowing how hard I had worked and how well conditioned my body was, it just made me wonder whether all the hours at the gym and diet were even worth it. I started asking myself “What are they really looking for?” I began to reflect back to the Clovis show and how I looked then and what I could have done for the San Jose to come in softer and fuller. My goal with the San Jose was to try to take the overall and I thought by coming in tighter and more conditioned the judges would see the work I put in to improve my physique, but that was not the case at all, instead of getting recognized for my tight and hard physique, I got scored down for it.

TGP: So having this in mind, what were your thoughts on competing going forward?

ML: Although I felt a bit disappointed, in the back of my mind I was not content with the results of the San Jose show, so I was debating whether I should give it one more try before the end of the year. I was not planning on doing anymore competitions, but I wanted to figure out what the judges really wanted and if softening up would change their perceptions of my physique. A week before the NPC San Francisco I made the last minute decision to register for this show and give it a shot.

TGP: I was shooting the NPC SF show as well and was glad to see you back on stage.  You made obvious changes to your physique, tell me about that process.

ML: Honestly, the process was easy, but frustrating at the same time. I pretty much had to do the opposite of dieting in order to soften up and put on some weight. The most frustrating part was that it is really hard for me to put on weight. I have to intake a high calorie diet in order to gain a good 3-4lbs. I would say it took me about 2 months to gain 2 lbs. I had to cut my cardio back to 15 minutes a day and just try to maintain focusing on my glutes and legs. This process was difficult because I am use to working hard when it comes to getting ready for a competition; it was tough.

TGP: I know some girls would love to not be able to put on weight but that is equally frustrating to deal with.  How did you feel going into that show, how you felt on stage and finally taking 2nd in your class?

ML: Like I mentioned before my decision of competing for the San Francisco was last minute and was not really planned. I did not feel as confident as I felt going into the San Jose show where I felt prepared and had really put in the work, but at the end of the day I was more than happy with my placing considering the different approach I took for this show.

TGP: Sounds almost bitter – sweet.  Which physique do you prefer, the more conditioned Maricela you presented in San Jose or the one that landed you a second place trophy?

ML: Although I did not land a 2nd place trophy like I did at the San Francisco show I do prefer the more conditioned Maricela that came in the San Jose show. For me it’s about putting in the work and to know that I was able to transform my body in less than a month was impressive and that pushes me to work even harder.

TGP: So when are you going to be competing next?

ML: Now that I qualify for a national show, my thoughts at the moment are to do the USA’s next year in July. I want to step on a national stage and see how I do there. I do know that doing a national show is different from doing an amateur show. The judging seems to be different and from what I have seen, bikini competitors come in a bit more conditioned for a national show. I know that I will be ready to put in the work when that time comes and I look forward to it.

Overall, I have learned a lot with every competition. I take everything in as a learning experience and an opportunity to grow, but at the end of the day I do realize that I have to be happy with my physique and the way I look regardless of what the judges prefer.

I want to thank my boyfriend Cesar Martinez who has supported me through the process as well as Jim Reyes (Cesar’s coach) for being there and giving me tips. Also A special thanks to Matt Stephenson and his wife Sophi Stephenson who coached and prepped me for the NPC San Jose show. To all the friends I made along the way, thank you for your support and lovely comments and thank you all for believing in me! Watch out for me next year!

Anyone can follow me on Twitter or Facebook at:

twitter.com/marilemus88

https://www.facebook.com/marilemus88

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How to achieve your goals!


Today’s article is going to explore goals, goal setting and look at the reasons why people often fail.

 

I think it’s fair to say that at one time or another we have all set ourselves a goal and failed at it. Sometimes this is because the goal was unrealistic but more often than not it is because although the goal was achievable, the steps and processes needed to get there were not well planned, followed or executed properly.

Let’s think of this another way for a moment: you want to make a chocolate cake with butter crème icing. You have all the ingredients and the recipe book and the oven, but instead of opening the packets, weighing the ingredients, shelling the eggs and mixing everything thoroughly before placing it in the oven, you just dump everything in a bowl (packaging, shell, you-name it, it’s going in!) you don’t stir it, and then you put it in the oven and burn it to a crisp, that’s going to be one disgusting cake! This doesn’t mean that you will always be a failure at baking cakes, it just means that you need to change your approach and follow a number of smaller steps to get to the end result that you want.

It’s about taking things one step at a time and doing everything properly.

The 2 main goals that I find within the fitness community or those first stating out are the following:

1)       Weight loss

2)       Muscle gain

These are both similar in the fact that they require long-term work to achieve but it is easy to become despondent.

To achieve your goals look at the bigger picture first: what is your ultimate dream / goal? “I want to be a Pro Bikini Model”.

Once you have set that initial goal ask yourself how you need to get there? What qualifications / wins / shows do you need to achieve / complete or compete in to be eligible to become a pro?

Look at people who have already achieved your goals. Compare yourself. You need to become your own biggest critic. Look at the stats of people competing at the level that you want to be. How do you measure up? If the leading atheletes have 32” busts, 28” hamstring / quad diameters, defined 6 pacs, then you need to compare that to yourself.
Set yourself a bi-weekly goal of 1/2 an inch loss or gain in your chosen area.
Keep a diary, record your achievements, comment on areas where you’re struggling.

The key thing is to be aware when something isn’t working. If something isn’t working you are wasting your time. That’s not to say you won’t achieve your goals, not at all, what I am saying is that you can’t keep doing the same thing and expect to see a different result.

If something isn’t working, tweak it, change it, try again. Keep a record of your changes and new things you are trying – but don’t change too many things at once!

Overall my advice would be your bigger picture is your motivation, the smaller steps are your goals that will get you to your bigger picture. What you do to achieve your goals are your tools. Make sure you have the right tools.

Train Hard
xoxox


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Choosing the Perfect Suit


Finding the right bikini/figure suit can be just as important as your diet and training program. You have worked hard for months and now need to present your physique in the best way possible.  I have some great information for you given to us by an amazing and talented suit designer Jen Whitfield of A Suit to Remember.

 

Jen has been designing suits since 2006. She believes you should have top-notch quality and a stress free experience.  I found Jen through a friend a few years ago. I had a malfunction in my suit and had to have a back up suit sewn immediately.  The part that impressed me the most was how fast Jen got my suit to me. It was done quickly and perfectly.

A competitor herself, Jen understands the stress that can be experienced when waiting for your suit to be made. She doesn’t believe a suit should be sent to you the week of your show and she wants to make the process as fun and stress free as possible. Here is some great information that she shares with us:

Consider Your Budget:

Be realistic on how much you are willing to spend. There are suits that are available in every price range. There is also the option of purchasing a used suit or renting a suit. Check with your suit maker for these options.

Choosing a Color:

Every person can wear any color; it is just a matter of finding the right hue for you. If you choose a color you like, you will appear more comfortable and confident on stage. The current trend is brighter colors but again go with what looks best on you.

What are Different Styles of Suits?

The primary cut of choice for bikini competitors is the scrunch butt bottoms with a triangle top. This looks great on most everyone.

The primary cut for Figure, Fitness, Physique and Female Bodybuilding is the V cut bottoms and triangle top.

A Glute Issue

One issue many women have is they want to cover too much of their glutes. You must follow the guidelines put in place by your organization but you want the minimum coverage allowed. The reason for this is: the more fabric covering the glutes, the larger the backside looks.

How far Out Should I Order a Custom Suit?

Most designers in the industry request a minimum of 6 weeks for a custom stones suit. Bikini suits, posing trunks and plain suits can typically be completed in 2-3 weeks.

How do I Order?

If you are looking to order a suit, contact the designer of your choice as they all work a little differently. If you would like to get a suit from A Suit to Remember, you can order via email, phone or go direectly to the website  @http://www.asuit2remember.com/

 

 Custom suits made by Jen


Trust Your Coach


Its something I see everyday on Facebook and Twitter, girls talking about their prep with other competitors. I think its fine and a great way to be encouraged. The one thing I do see a problem with is when girls start asking questions about diet and training.  Comparing their prep with others can be a dangerous thing. I was talking with featured athlete Kari Keenan about this very topic and she agreed to do a short interview with me.  Kari has the experience and knowledge to take on this topic. Read more about what she shared with us:

What are your recommendations for girls who are competing and social media sites?

If you’re working with a coach, listen ONLY to your coach. You hired him/her for a reason, so why waste your money if you don’t plan on listening to him/her and following the plan? There are a lot of competitors on social media sites, and many of them are very willing to share what does/doesn’t work for them and methods THEY feel are best.  Keep in mind that just because certain methods, diets, or training programs work for one person, that doesn’t mean they’ll work for everyone. If you listen to everyone, you’ll quickly become confused and begin to doubt your own program. That’s a slippery slope, and often leads to disappointment and frustration. Trust YOUR coach. Trust YOUR program. Don’t listen to the “advice” of anyone other than your coach. You’re paying that person for their expertise, so respect them and follow the program they designed specifically for YOU.

What are your feelings about posting progress pictures on sites?

I believe that a lot of people (competitors and non-competitors) post progress pictures just to receive praise and to get followers. I say this not to anger anyone; I’m guilty of it myself periodically. I see a lot of unwarranted self-promotion on social media sites, and to that I say, “different strokes for different folks.” I very rarely post my REAL progress pictures anywhere other than on my personal blog. Simply for the fact that I don’t think my 2,xxxx followers and friends need to see me in various stages of fat loss in a bikini. If you want attention, then by all means, post pictures. But keep in mind that you’ll most likely receive both positive AND negative comments. And you’ll most likely also receive false praise.

 

What are some of the negative results one can have by listening to “too much advice”?

When you listen to advice from everyone, you end up with a mismatched and unguided plan that will guarantee you to fail. And by fail, I mean you won’t be the best you could possibly be had you just listened to ONE person. Different foods and training programs work differently for different people. Find what works best for YOU and then stick with that. The best advice someone ever gave me was before my first show. He told me, “Everyone becomes an expert when you begin prep. Ignore them all and only listen to ONE person.” I didn’t know what he meant until I started getting confused and frustrated from information overload. Once I stopped trying to follow everyone else’s plan and just concentrated on my own, I began seeing better results.

 

Contest prep is trial and error each and every time. What worked for you last year may not work for you this year. What works for your friends may not work for you. Like I said, every BODY is different; every BODY responds differently to different foods and training programs. For example, one of my friends has oatmeal in her diet. When I tried oatmeal in my diet, I became very bloated and uncomfortable. Listen to your body. Pay attention to how you feel after you eat different foods. Do you feel full? Do you look watery? Do you feel bloated? Do you feel hungry? All of these questions are important to ask yourself in order to discover what works for YOU.

One of the best (and most important) things you can invest in is a prep coach. Find one person whose methods seem to mesh with how you’d like to approach prep. Listen ONLY to that person. Follow the plan EXACTLY. Don’t lie to your coach. Don’t get distracted by what other are or aren’t doing. Most of all believe in yourself and have faith in your coach. Best of luck and enjoy the journey of contest prep!

 

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Kari Keenan is a National-level Figure competitor who is an Instructional Designer by day and gym rat by night. She has been competing for six years and is currently prepping for her 11th Figure show on June 30 in Maryland. She writes about the everyday life of a Figure competitor at www.figuregirlworld.com, and submits weekly fitness/health articles for www.fitnessrxmag.com. You can reach her at babytatten@yahoo.com.


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Why Do You Compete?


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It’s a question that is asked so often: “Why do you compete”? I know why I do but I thought I’d put the question out there to see the responses.

To Challenge Myself (The most popular answer)

A lot of women who are already fit or bikini ready sometimes feel the need for a higher goal.  Deciding to compete is a way of taking them to the next level. Nothing shows dedication and strength like a fitness competition. They love watching their bodies change from ordinary to extraordinary!  One girl told me  “Win or lose, it didn’t matter. In my eyes I won as soon as I got on the stage”.

To Cross It Off My “Bucket List”

Many women answered that they wanted to do something to feel accomplished. They made the competitions a goal to achieve and then crossed it off their list. The ironic thing was, that they enjoyed competing so much that they became hooked after only one show!

To Defy the Aging Process

As time moves on, so does your strength and physical beauty.   Competitions have an interesting way of stopping that unflattering process. At 40 I could do more push ups that I could at the age of 20, simply because I wasn’t taking my health for granted anymore.  Competing is a great way to fight the aging process and feel confident again. Age shouldn’t define your physique, in fact some of the best bodies I have seen are on women over the age of 40!

A Weight Loss Goal

One girl I talked to had previously weighed 215 lbs before becoming a bikini competitor and you would never have believed it by looking at her now! These are the inspirational stories that move us into our own motivation.

“Competing is to show others that with enough dedication you can achieve ANYTHING! I competed the first time to prove to myself I could do it. I compete now because I love the process of changing my body through diet and exercise. I’m a competitive person, the stage is my carrot!” Kaylee Norton

To Show Off All My Hard Work

A lot of these women are nurses, teachers and moms. They are not interested in walking around town showing off their hard-earned abs. Competing is a perfect way for them to showcase their determination and commitment.  There is so much sacrifice and discipline that goes into this sport. It’s an amazing feeling to finally feel like your hard work is being displayed!

Because IT’S FUN!!!!

Ask any girl 4 weeks out from a competition if she is having fun. Usually you will get the answer “NO!”.  However, ask her again the day of the show and you will get a completely different answer. The pure adrenaline and thrill of the show are like no other feeling in the world. The glamour and sparkle of it all makes you feel beautiful. The lights and music make you feel like you are part of a spectacular Broadway Production for just one evening. A bonus to it all is the new friends you make and the experience that you will remember forever.


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