Fit Tip: Secrets From A Bodybuilding Mom
I was sobbing in my car in the parking lot of my daughter’s nursery school one cold November morning, while my toddler son snoozed soundly in his car seat. I distinctly remember staring at the leaves changing colors and at the tear drops rolling off my hands, white knuckled from gripping the steering wheel so tightly.
Of course I was crying, my life was a mess! Business failing, marriage on the rocks, my doctor just told me I was borderline obese, and that’s when the invitation to my 20th high school reunion came because God has a sense of humor. Closing my eyes I silently prayed to God, “Fix me.” Maybe you can relate? Maybe you’re in that car right now crying right along next to me.
Well I want to tell you something. First, it gets better. Because once I dried off my eyes, I stumbled into the gym and discovered bodybuilding, something I didn’t even realize was an option for women.
Long story short, I lost 50 pounds in five months, kept it off ever since, and fixed my messy life in the process. Heck, I even wrote a book about it called “She’s Losing It!” Bodybuilding combines a well-balanced diet with specific strength-training and cardio exercises to make your body lean and sculpted.
Until training for that first competition I had mostly done cardio but hadn’t been to a gym since before being pregnant, so it was intimidating. I hired a personal trainer who explained to me that bodybuilders do things differently, especially in the gym.
Instead of doing full body workouts every day, bodybuilders break up muscle groups, called a split, and rotate through them giving each group at least a day or two to rest and recover. Since I was (and am) a bikini competitor, the muscle group I focused the most on were my legs and glutes. (Male bodybuilders focus more on their chest and back muscles).
Cardio is also done differently, depending on your fitness goals. If you are trying to lose fat, you will do fasted cardio (meaning you do it before eating breakfast) followed by a protein shake and strength training. If you are trying to put on muscle, you do just the bare minimum of cardio so you don’t lose any lean muscle mass.
Currently, I’m training for the Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic – Amateur Bikini division. I’ll be 45. Below is an example of what a bodybuilding workout looks like. When I write a number like 4x15, it means four sets, each set has 15 repetitions. When you are trying to figure out the weight, it should be heavy enough that you can maintain proper form with the last 2-3 reps being difficult to finish, but doable. Whether you go to a gym or use your home gym system with some adjustable dumbbells and a bench, these are the core exercises that will sculpt your body into its best self.
Fasted cardio (5x/week) – 20 minutes on treadmill, incline 5, speed 5.5
- Barbell Squats 4x15
- Leg curls 3x20
- Dumbbell goblet squats 4x12
- Bridges 2x25
- Lateral pull downs 4x20
- Seated rows 4x20
- Dumbbell curls 3x15 (each arm)
- Shoulder press 3x12
- Lunges 3x15 (each leg)
- Leg press 4x20
- Step ups holding dumbbells 3x12 (each leg)
- Leg extensions 3x15
- Bench press 3x12
- Dips 2x25
- Push-ups 2x25
- Rope pull-downs 3x15
- Planks 3x 1 minute
- Russian Twists with medicine ball 2x25
- Incline sit-ups 2x25
- Pilates stretches
- Foam rolling (to break up muscle knots)
Saturday (just cardio)
Bodybuilding isn’t just for men anymore. It encourages self-discipline and makes your body strong and sculpted. With time, consistency and effort, you too can go from crying in your car to loving your best self.
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