Mini Goals

Lately I’ve been setting a lot of “mini goals” to keep my focused through prep and beyond. I’m not talking about my powerlifting goals or aesthetic goals – those are self explanatory. Lately I’ve set out on some performance based goals that are pretty independent of things I’ve done in the past. For example, pull ups, weighted triceps dips, etc. These will help my bigger picture goals but also make me feel like a badass.

Yesterday, I hit one of my goals.

tumblr_ncl1rdtBQo1qck3nso1_500It was my first time attempting it and I was surprised I got it! Of course, as I practice these I want to eventually straighten my legs completely and not hunch my shoulders so much. Those sort of body weight calisthenic exercises have been all the rage lately and I’m interested to try out a few!

Heart Rate Training: THE BEST

As I’ve said before, HIIT is my preferred way to train cardio. If I can spend 30 minutes throwing the barbell around and never once stepping foot on the treadmill I am 100% happy. Hell, I’ll voluntarily do box jumps before I get on any sort of machine.

However, lately I’ve been feeling like…behind. Like I’ve been putting in this extra work for my HIIT routines and not seeing much progress. My body has stalled, my weight loss has stalled, and while I look great I’m not where I want to be for my show. At 3.5 weeks out this is always startling to me. No, my diet hasn’t been 100% – but a lot of that is because I’ve found myself saying “What’s the use?” All in all, I’ve been feeling discouraged.

Then I was reading something the other day and realized that I’d been going about this all wrong. See, I’ve been doing “baby HIIT.” I’ll “sprint” for 40 seconds, rest for 20, etc. and do this for 15-20 minutes and it’s whatever. Last year this was the best way for me to lose fat. This year? Nothing. It’s because I’m not really getting to that high intensity level, and it’s my own fault.

Bring in: my heart rate monitor. I sat down and figured out my max heart rate using this calculator. Once I did that, I figured out 75% of my max heart rate. It’s 140 bpm, based on my age and gender. When I’ve been doing my “HIIT” I’ve been getting my HR up to about 145 – that’s not max effort! I’m not saying I should be all the way up to 188 every time, but for a HIIT workout 145 is kinda wimpy. I vowed not to let this become the norm so I’ve changed the way I do my HIIT.

Now, I’ll do the 40 seconds of sprints, then rest until my HR is down to 75% of max, or 140. Then I’ll sprint again for 40 seconds, and repeat. I’ve only started training this way this week, so I’m not sure if it’s working, but I have a feeling it will. Why? Because when it comes to cardio I am a notorious slacker. If you tell me to do an hour of cardio I will get on a stairmaster, put it to a low setting and watch TV for an hour. My powerlifting training taught me to rest a lot between sets, which is great for strength, but not so great for the fat burning effects of HIIT. ESPECIALLY when my HR isn’t getting high enough to do any good.

I’ll see how this heart rate training goes and try to implement it in the off season. I mean, what good is a strong girl if she has no endurance, right?!

HIIT Sprints and Tuna Cakes

One of my favorite ways to do cardio is in the form of HIIT or sprints. I absolutely hate cardio. Running gives me shin splints and visible bruising within minutes, the elliptical is boring, and I just dislike it. If I can pump out a quick 30 minute or so workout and burn the same – if not more – calories than steady state I’m so happy.

Of course, this rule doesn’t apply to days when I’m catching up on my favorite TV shows. I love the stairmaster on intervals and some True Blood or The Last Ship. Recently I’ve started watching X-Files from the beginning and it’s been heaven sent.


After today’s back/leg day workout I wanted to really up the ante. Since I have a break from school for 2 weeks (so I can write my senior paper and senior presentation) I’ve been getting SLEEP! It’s heaven sent because I was averaging like 4-5 hours a night, then going back to school for patient care/rounds, then crashing in bed for a few hours, then doing a half-assed gym session…ah. I was tired, hangry and over it. Once I got onto a more normal sleeping schedule my workouts became a joy again. Sure, during this carb depleted state I can’t rep out 275# deadlifts like a pro anymore but I can do 155# for 15 reps. I feel a need to make up for my week of sleep deprivation by killing it during my post workout cardio.

Today, I did some sprints on the treadmill.

Set your incline HIGH – I’m talking 10% or so. Do a 3 minute walking warm up with dynamic stretches. Now, set the treadmill for SPRINT SPEED. This is highly individualized, my sprint speed is like 6 mph haha. Do 15 seconds on/15 seconds off. That is, run for 15 seconds, jump off for 15 seconds, jump on for 15, etc. Do as many rounds as you can – mine usually adds up to 15 or so minutes. Cool down with a speed walking pace on incline.

Most importantly? DO NOT HOLD ONTO THE HANDLES. I could write a novel on why this is bad for you (oh wait, I did!) If it’s too hard, back down! Lower the incline, lower the speed. No one gives a hoot how high your treadmill is jacked up or how fast you’re running. You know your body best, don’t cheat yourself to “show off.”

Anyway, I love that little kick me in the booty workout. It gets my heart rate UP!

When I came home I was craving something new – which, if you’re a figure competitor a week out from a show, you know doesn’t exist. Your diet is strict to the point of eating the same thing every day. I really don’t mind this one bit because I’m a creature of habit. The less guess work the better for me. But I wanted to dress up a classic, so I made TUNA CAKES!

Tuna Cakes!

Tuna Cakes

  • Beat 1 large egg until the yolk is broken
  • Add 1 can of tuna – about 4oz total
  • Season with your favorite seasonings – onion powder, garlic powder, Miss Dash, whatevs
  • Add spinach if you’re feeling creative!
  • Cook in a non-stick pan over low-medium heat until you can easily flip it

I added dijon to mine (aka the Holy Grail of Figure Prep) because to me dijon + tuna is the best combo ever. Depending on your ingredients your macros will change, but mine ended up as 187 calories, 1 g of carbs, 6g of fat and 28g of protein. I also added some broccoli with some Miss Dash steamed. In the mug is Chamomile tea, which I’ve been drinking like a mad woman before bed. I was raised by a tea-loving mother and it’s definitely carried onto my adulthood. Not pictured is the casein and peanut butter medley I had for “dessert.”

I’m going to end this post with a gratuitous picture of my back, because I’m really, really happy with the progress it’s made. I blame deadlifts!

Pepe Le Pew boxers are anabolic, that's a fact

Sunday Leg Day

I don’t know what the weather is like where you’re at, but it’s about to get REALLY cold down here in the South. Having just come from spending the holidays in Arizona (where the average temperature was in the mid 70’s) I was sad to find that I landed in a freezing Memphis with 32 degrees, and promises of snow on Sunday.


So before the weather got TOO crazy I suited up and headed to the gym for my Sunday Leg Day routine. Even as I change my workouts for my goals one thing has always stayed the same: Sunday is for legs.

As such, I wore my leg day shirt!

Since I am a busy vet student I don’t often have days to myself. I spend my weekdays at school from 6/7 am – 5/6 pm. In the morning I’m pressed for time (unless I want to wake up at 3am) and at night I don’t want to spend hours rushing through sets so I can get home and eat before 10pm. Saturdays are filled with patient care, discharging patients, grocery shopping, catching up on things I’ve missed during the week, and other such busy endeavors. But Sundays? Sundays are empty in the gym due to church and football and without much going on (usually) I can spend all the time I want resting during squats, adding a fun new move, walking on the treadmill with an incline, etc. Really, Sundays are for worship (or something) and there’s no greater worship than doing something you love.

Today’s workout included…