There are 3 suggestions that I recommend if you are having issues:
First let's start by defining these two words that are completely opposite from each other. A BRO DIET is a pretty strict meal plan that is based on highly nutritious and whole foods. A meal example would be the infamous chicken, rice, and broccoli. During a bro diet you are only allowed to eat certain foods that will allow you to reach your goals.
A IIFYM DIET plan is a free far all diet, which means that as long as the foods fit your macros (how much protein, fats, and carbs you should be eating per day), you will be able to meet your fitness goals. If you look through social media you will see individuals eating mainly pop tarts, m&m's, pizza, and other lower nutritious foods.
A third form of dieting is FLEXIBLE DIETING, this is a combination of a bro diet and iifym. In this diet, your food intake will be mostly whole nutritious foods, but you are flexible and can add less nutritious foods to meet your macros if you wish. This diet has been shown to help many individuals stay on track with their goals because they can still try to fit in foods that they enjoy.
I am super open to individuals doing a flexible diet during an offseason and the first few weeks of prep. Once calories start getting lower and lower, you want foods that are high in volume... All the ones in a bro diet. So you want to be consuming more foods like veggies, lean meats, oatmeal, and rice to be able to stay satisfied throughout the day. If you decide to consume less nutritious foods (eg pop tart) that may take up all of your calories in one meal, you will be hungry the rest of the day.
This is the golden question! Mostly every girl that competes struggles to be able to shred their legs and be able to obtain that glute tie in. This is because most women hold their body fat in their legs. I personally struggle with this area and notice that the lines do not start to show until a couple of weeks/days before the show. To really get them to pop my suggestion is to add glute activation exercises before every leg workout, add plyos to your routine, make some of your cardio glute/ham focused (squeeze through every step on the stair master, and give it time. Don't get frustrated if you are not seeing the lines, take a step back and determine whether you are doing everything possible.
A prep length depends on your fitness level; you may need more or even do an offseason to grow some extra muscle mass or trim down on extra body fat. I recommend my clients to do a prep anywhere from 8-16 weeks depending on the point that they are starting. A 12 week prep is usually a safe place to start because it gives you enough time to adjust your plan and let your coach get to know your body.
An 8 week prep can be perfect for those that keep a low body fat percentage in their offseason and only need to drop a couple of pounds before stepping on stage. For my last 2 preps, my preps were 8 weeks long which were perfect for me to hit the stage ready to rock and roll. I have had other preps were they were much lengthier because I had to drop a bigger amount of body fat due to a careless offseason. My advice is always treat your offseasons right and stay on track, it will make your preps much much easier and less taxing to the body.
Absolutely not! You should include some amount of cardio weekly even during your offseason. Cardio has multitude of benefits; it will help you maintain your body fat a low level, increase your endurance, keep your heart and lungs healthy and strong, increase blood flow to muscles, and reduce your chances of obtaining a cardiovascular disease. If you add the right amount of cardio during your offseason, you will still be able to acquiere all the benefits without comprimising your muscle gains.
The amount of cardio that you perform in your offseason depends highly on you. Some individuals have higher metabolisms and their bodies can burn calories at a faster rate than others. Other individuals stay on track with their diets even during their offseason allowing them to develop and increase their metabolisms. These two groups of individuals can get away with performing less amounts of cardio. If you have a slow metabolism or decide to go off track on your food intake because you are not on prep, you will need to have a higher quanity of cardio during your offsason to keep your fat percentage down. If you decide to not watch your diet and not do cardio, you will suffer the consequences later and you will have to go through a low caloric diet and high amounts of cardio to be able to drop all the body fat that you gained from being careless.
If you are on prep, you should track to the gram to make sure that you are getting the right amount of calories daily. This will make it easier for your coach to make changes to your diet and know what foods need to be decreased or increased. It allows there to be no uncertainty.
Yes! whether you are pale or really darked skinned you should always tan. A tan will make you darker so that you do not wash out on stage and it will also make your skin look one unified color and hide any imperfections (e.g. skin discoloration, scars). If you do not tan, you will disappear under the bright lights.
The number of cheat meals that you have per week depends highly on your body and the coach that you have. I have seen some coaches prescribe one cheat meal per week, but most coaches don’t give out cheat meals the whole prep. When it comes to cheat meals, these are typically untracked and if you don’t really needed can just set you back. Instead I find it most useful to prescribe refeeds during prep. Refeeds are meals or a day where you get spike on the amount of carbs. During this period you will increase your carbs, lower your fats, and keep your protein intake the same. There are many benefits that come along with refeeds; increasing muscle glycogen, helps rebuild muscle that has been lost through a diet, and can also help normalize hormones in your body. Depending on your level of leaness, I would recommend 1-2 refeeds per week.
Absolutely NOT! Yes, you will go on a deficit of calories which may make you a bit hungrier since you are eating less. Nevertheless, you should be eating enough calories where you are capable of staying satiated and being able to have your brain functioning. There are different ways of coaching; some coaches prefer to give their clients less food to give them less cardio. Other coaches prefer to give a bit more cardio and give their clients more food. In both situations the athlete is put a deficit; amount of cardio VS. amount of food. I am under the believe that as an athlete you should be nourished to perform your program even though that means that you will have to do more work. At the end of the day, you are an athlete, your job is to perform and give it your 100%. Nevertheless, that is my personal preference and opinion and I do not undervalue other coaches that prefer other methods.
As an amateur, no. You will have to obtain your professional status and place in the top 5 to be able to get a monetary reward. Nevertheless, this sport can open up many doors for you to obtain paid sponsorships and other perks.
Posing should be practiced as much as you can in both your prep and offseason. During prep you should practice your posing at least 3 times per week and once you get closer to the show the frequency should increase. At the point you are at least three weeks out, you should try to pose every day. I always recommend to get a second opinion when posing. I would always recommend to get professional help and hire a coach to make sure that your posing is on point.
This sport is a very selfish sport. Along with your mandatory daily duties (e.g. work, school), you will spend hours at the gym, cooking, and planning. As you get closer to your show date you will become more tired and more busy with the workouts and cardio that you have to do. A lot of your time will be extremely preoccupied. There are things that you may miss out on such as eating out at restaurant or drinking until you pass out at a frat party. Nevertheless, it all depends on you! If you become really good at time management, you can fit all the activities into your schedule (e.g. movie and game nights). You can also enjoy time out with your friends and family. If you go to a restaurant, you can pack your own meal and bring it with you. Honestly, you can make a lot of it work in your favor. Now if you want to go out drinking every Friday night during prep, that is something that you are going to want to give up temporarily. It all comes down to how competitive do you want to be.
I eat clean all year round; I believe that a happy body is fueled by the healthiest options. I choose foods that are not processed, fried, or with added chemicals. My diet mainly consist of organic and whole food choices, such as chicken, turkey, fish, jasmine rice, fruits, sweet potatoes, salads, nuts, and lots of vegetables. I follow my macros year round and I have found that if you set your percentages correctly, you can keep your abs year round.
In the past, I have found myself losing motivation due to being hungry during a training session, causing me to skip on some exercises and even completely skip cardio to be able to go home and eat my food. I have felt super depleted and noticed my body going catabolic from depriving my body of nutrients for too long of a period. I typically always do my training before my cardio, so I am always finding myself hungry right before starting cardio.
To be able to fix this problem, the best way to go about it has been to take in some calories throughout my workout or right before my cardio session. I don’t like having the feeling of a full stomach before doing any exercise, especially cardio, so drinking a shake has been my go to!
To avoid being hungry, I take 1 scoop of protein isolate and 1 scoop of Formula 19 (carbs). This is the perfect meal replacement because it has 24g of Protein 27g of Carbs and 1g of Fat
In short, no! Carbs, just like protein and fats are essential macronutrients that your body needs to be able to function properly. Carbs are a source of energy, spare muscle proteins, provide essentials fibers, and aid with the metabolism of fats. The amount of carbs that you consume is contingent on the individual; some can eat more than others to be able to reach their goals. Nevertheless, everyone should be consuming a certain amount of carbs to keep your body healthy and progressing towards your goals.
Many of my weight loss clients prior to starting a program with me will admit to having a habit of not eating past 7 or 8pm to avoid gaining fat. Some even confess that they go to bed starving to be able to lose weight. Some even have trouble sleeping because their stomachs roar like a lion throughout the night. So are they right? Will eating at night make you gain body fat?
In short, the answers is NOPE, you will not gain body fat by eating after a certain time period.
Your body does not have an internal clock that decides to store your food after a certain time period. If you think about it, if one person wakes up 6am and another at 1pm, how would their “internal fat storing clock” work, will they both stop at 7pm? Simply put, there is no time period that will make you start storing fat.
So how exactly can you gain fat? To gain fat you have to be at caloric surplus. This means that you are eating more calories than what you burn per day. As long as you are eating the right amount of calories, you won’t gain fat no matter what time you decide to eat. So if your goal is to lose weight, you want to decrease the amount of calories that you consume to be able to reach your goals.
I learned this one the hard way. Back when I was living in Chicago and pursuing my masters degree I decided to stop tracking my food and accept any food that came along my way. I thought that since I was working out hard, I would be ok, especially since I needed to “BULK”. Within a time period of 5 months I went up around 15 extra pounds. The main problem was that I was eating A LOT of food and A LOT of junk and my daily expenditure of energy was not equivalent to what I was eating. I worked out hard for 1.5-2 hours per day, but after that I spent most of my time in front of my computer working. I was not burning enough calories to compensate for all of the calories that I was eating.
YES!! I know of many athletes that are 100% vegan and come in great conditioning. The biggest problem that arises from being vegan is the consumption of protein. I have noticed that a lot of my clients before starting with me struggle to get enough protein in. I always recommend these clients to consume foods with higher protein, vegan protein, and other meat substitutes to meet their protein requirements. You don’t need to eat eggs and chicken to be able to reach your goals, there are many plant alternatives that will help you reach your goals.
A crash diet is when you try to loose weight in a really short period of time. Your calories get really low and your cardio goes up really high. To loose weight in a healthy matter, it is recommended for you to take time to do so. Instead of trying to loose 5lbs in one week, it is most optimal to do it in 5 weeks. Crash diets are unhealthy, they put a lot of stess on your body, can slow down your metabolism, and can even cause heart problems
I find cheat meals to be psychologically beneficial. It allows the individual to stay on track with their diets all week long and then when the weekend comes they can reward themselves with a meal of their choice. I always recommend for my clients to go and enjoy that one food that they are craving and replacing it for 1-2 meals that day. One thing that I do like to emphasize is that it is ONE cheat meal, not a cheat day or an excuse to try to fit in as much food as you possibly can to your tiny little stomach. If you are craving a cheeseburger and fries, eat it and enjoy it. Once you are done with the burger, you are done with your cheat meal. A cheat meal does not mean that you will have the burger, then drive up to Dunkin Donuts and eat half a dozen donuts, then pass by Taco Bell and get two hard tacos, and then pass by the grocery store for a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. This is not a cheat meal, this is how you ruin your hard work. You can enjoy all the foods that you want in moderation if you fit them into your macros if you just can't wait one more week for the other treats.
I prefer for your cheat meal to be consumed on the day of your check-in that way your progress is not affected by your cheat meal. Any time after your check-in you can have your cheat meal.
I usually do a peak week leading up to my shoots and competition. This involves manipulating your carbs and water for a week leading up to the event. I begin the week with drinking lots of water (close to 2 gallons) and decreasing it slowly to about a ½ gallon or less. With the carbs, I begin by eating a good amount and slowly increasing to a surplus. This allows me to have my skin really tight to my skin (water manipulation) and my core muscles to be inflated (carb manipulation)
You want to lift as heavy as you can as long as you are performing the required number of reps without stopping and with good form.
YES! Anything that helps you get your muscles activated and ready is a must. For legs I like to do unweighted or banded kickbacks with really low weight. Do really high reps (about 50).
This is my favorite warm-up for shoulders/arms (use 2.5lb plates):
For the lower back what I have noticed is that the main cause of the pain is due to hamstring and glute tightness. Below is a link to Joe Defranco's Limber 11 video. I literally do the foam rolling stretches and lacrosse ball stretches almost everyday. The lacrosse ball stretch on the glutes is by far my favorite. Last year, I had constant back pains and I would foam roll my back over and over and nothing would happen, it wasn't until I started the lacrosse ball glute stretch that it went away. Highly recommend it!
My secret to my abs include not avoiding weighted abs f you really want to have the definition. If you want to have a flat tummy with no ab definition, stick with unweight abs. You also want to make sure that you are doing each and every exercise with a purpose. Focus on really stretching and contracting the core muscles to have it activated the whole entire time. It is also important to mix up your ab exercises so that your body does not get used to the stress that is being put under. Lastly, my top secret ab recipe is to keep your sodium low and drink lots of water. By doing this your abs will stay tight and dry all of the time.
I have so many different ab workouts! My favorite one is the one below:
Ab circuit- Do each ab exercise for 45 seconds and go as fast as you can, once completed the circuit, rest for 30 seconds, and start again. Complete 3 sets.
I workout my abs 3-4 times a week and I try to stimulate them during every single one of my workouts
YES! I highly recommend Cobra 6p from Blackstone Labs. You can use code stephsequeirafit for savings on your purchase. I use that product as well as many of my other clients and I absolutely love the results.
Yes, creatine is save for both man and women. Creatine is a chemical that is produced by your body, taking creatine will help create more energy in your muscles by turning-over/reforming ATP more quickly. I take 2.5g of creatine, 1 scoop of Blackstone Labs Hype Extreme (for the pump), and 1 scoop of Blackstone Labs BCAA Pre-workout
I take 2.5g of creatine, 1 scoop of Blackstone Labs Hype Extreme (for the pump), and 1 scoop of Blackstone Labs BCAA Pre-workout
1 scoop of Blackstone Labs Protein Isolation, 2.5g of creatine, ½ c of white rice, 2x glycolog
Your nutrition will be based on a calculation of your macros. You have the choice of doing flexible dieting (with a few rules) OR follow a constructed meal plan based on your macros. Once we do get closer to the show date (8-4 weeks out), I do give you a few further restrictions that will help bring your best physique.
Yes! email me at email@example.com so we can schedule an initial consultation and get a better grasp of your goals and what program will work best for you.
Cardio, training, and nutrition are all very important pieces to be a successful competitor, they are all highly emphasized. Your cardio will highly depend on your physique and your progress. Your cardio will also vary depending on what stage you are at in your journey. So for example, you will do more cardio in your prep than you will be doing in your offseason.
I am here for all of my clients, on the lows and the highs. I expect all of my athletes to give the 100% that I am giving you all as a coach. I love my job as a coach because it allows me to transform individuals on the daily basis and it is extremely rewarding when I see individuals happy with their results. I expect all of my athletes to be committed and ready to work to be successful.
Nope! I recommend that your last meal is eaten about 30-60minutes before laying down to go to sleep.
Yes!! All of the above and more! My coaching programs include:
YES! my biggest thing is reverse dieting! It is something that I take all my competitors through and I am very strict about. Honestly, without a good reverse diet you can really mess up your metabolism and I don't ever want to see that. Specially after the show, my goal is to keep you on track and accountable so you later don't struggle with massive weight gain.
There is no cost to consult with me. Yes, you will fill out a questionnaire and then I'll ask you more specific questions about what you want to accomplish as well.
When it comes to reaching your new (or old) formulated fitness goals, no one said it would be easy. I hear the same barriers preventing an individual from reaching their goals. So let’s talk through these potential difficulties and break that wall.
UNREALISTIC GOALS: It is so easy to get discouraged when you are not seeing results. Nevertheless, are you giving it enough time? Are you doing everything that is required to fulfill that goal? One advantage that I have seen from competing is that you set your goals to a deadline; “In 12 weeks I will be hitting the stage.” Setting specific goals and monitoring them week by week, allows you to stay focused and calm that if you TRUST the process, you will get your results. You don’t have to be a competitor to see results, just make a deadline for when you want to reach your goal that is attainable. Everyone wants a quick fix but you need to work and patient for real results to come in.
TIME: this is probably one of the biggest excuses that I hear from people not being able to exercise. When you have a busy schedule with, work, school, pets, and a social life, it can seem completely impossible to be able to reach your goals. So what do you do? Let’s start by logging your daily routine and note exactly what you do and when throughout the day. This will allow you to prioritize your time better, reorganize your schedule, and even remove things that you are ok with shortening or giving up to be able to be successful (ex. Watching tv). Workouts don’t have to be forever long. In fact, you can trim down the workouts to your specific needs and available time.
SOCIAL SUPPORT: When all of your friends drink and party, it is hard to find the extra support to be able to reach your goals. My suggestion is to find new communities that share similar mindsets. Social media has helped me tremendously to keep me accountable and connected to individuals with similar goals as mine. I can talk and share my experiences and also connect with other individuals from my area and other parts of the world with similar goals. In fact, many of my closest fitness friends I have met through Instagram.
It was challenging but definitely doable! For my prep for Nationals I was taking 3 classes and had 2 internships and made it work. I didn't know what a TV was and didn't have time for too many activities. Well I guess I watched Netflix during cardio lol. If you manage your time right, you will be able to accomplish it. It won't be easy but you can definitely do it.
When it comes to competing it is hard to pick on our flaws, I find this specifically true when we are on our offseasons. We create this illusion that we only look good when we are stage lean. A lot of competitors and even myself have struggled with this. One thing that we need to remember is that being stage lean is not healthy. That level of body fat percentage should stay on the stage. One thing that has helped me during my journey is to recreate my standards of what I should look like and look at the positives depending on the time period that I am at. For instance, if I am on prep, obviously my butt is going to get a little flatter, so during this time I focus on how awesome my abs. In contrast, if I am in my offseason, my abs may be washed out from the extra water and fat that I am carrying, so instead, I pay attention to how amazingly I fill out my outfits. It is all about perspective.
“Do today the things that you said you would do tomorrow”
This is one of my favorite quotes because it helps me stay motivated to achieve my goals. I think it is important for individuals to realize that if they don’t need to start tomorrow, or Monday, or at the beginning of the year to reach their goals. Every action that they make can help improve them in the future. Only excuses hold us back from our full potential
Do you have a question that you would like me to answer and post about? Submit your questions below. Any question is welcome and remember, there is no stupid questions, someone out there may be wondering the same exact thing. You can submit your question anonymously or include your email so I can respond personally.