If you’re like me you’re probably trying to figure out what the heck a “Powerbuilder” is.
I first heard the term “Powerbuilder” last January when I read this article. And, even after the article I still wasn’t so sure what it meant.
However, in my defense, at the time I heard the word “PowerBuilder” I was still trying to wrap my brain around being a Powerlifter.
I was putting all of my energy into better learning the back squat (I only back-squatted six times before my first meet; “Start before you’re ready,” that’s the saying, right?) and I was honing in on bench press technique.
The term “Powerbuilder” went in one ear and out the other, to say the least.
But here I am 8-weeks out from my first NPC Bikini Contest and I must say, I am feeling like a Powerbuilder…
I was always told that you can strive for gains in strength and performance or aesthetics but not both; the two don’t go hand-in-hand.
However, as I have focused more on aesthetics than ever before, fully anticipating losses in strength and poor performance in the gym, crappy moods and body image struggles (because that’s what they all said would happen), I have yet to see my strength gains stall.
During this #BikiniPrep I have increased my squat, deadlift, barbell hip-thrust and weighted chin-up while prioritizing aesthetics and getting leaner.
Saying, “I feel excited,” is an understatement.
This strong, powerful feeling I possess leads me to believe I have achieved “Powerbuilder Status.”
Side note: I am not Katie Ann Rutherford (an incredibly strong figure competitor and powerlifter) and there are a zillion people much stronger, competitive and leaner than I am (search #Powerbuilder on Instagram and you’ll be inspired). This term “Powerbuilder” takes on a more personal meaning for me which I would like to share with you today.
Being a Powerbuilder, in my opinion, is having the best of both worlds of strength and aesthetics.
“Powerbuilder” [CROF] Definition: an athlete whose goals to improve strength in the big three lifts of powerlifting coincide with aesthetic desires of leaning out as much as possible and keeping a symmetric body that will be able to walk on stage within a certain time frame all the while maintaining strength throughout the leaning out phases. It requires a strategic diet with calculated macronutrients and smart training schedule with precise programming.
From the start of my NPC #BikiniPrep (eight weeks ago) and I began creating my own programming to continue to improve my big three powerlifts (bench, squat and deadlift), while also getting leaner and building a booty.
I am competing on November 14th.
It is important to know that I do not have a coach.
Well, I do have a coach, and it’s me.
I have bootstrapped this entire process and I cannot tell you how liberating, enlightening and empowering it has been to do my own training, nutrition and posing practice.
In case you missed my first two articles on why I am competing, predictions I have and current updates see them here:
Now I want to share with you why at 8-weeks out I feel more empowered than ever before and relish the fact that I can call myself a “Powerbuilder.”
I have learned to give myself breaks, that I am entirely up to me, and that I cannot place blame my progress or lack of progress, speed bumps or roadblocks on anything or anyone else but me.
I can also laugh at myself and let me tell you, I laugh daily.
I could sit here and tell you I have followed a meal plan for the past eight weeks, done a lot of bicep curls and cable rows, and checked in with a bodybuilding coach weekly or even daily, but that’s not the case.
The Garrett/Powerbuilding style of #BikiniPrep has been much more enthralling and unique.
This process has been and continues to be entirely invigorating. I will explain how I feel that Powerbuilding applies to me with regards to my training, nutrition and mental state.
Not only will you get a better idea of the Crossroads of Fitness approach to #BikiniPrep but so that you learn that you too, can be a PowerBuilder…. let me be your coach!
Powerbuilder Training, 8-Weeks Out:
I began this process with a pretty chilled out mentality towards training, the goal everyday is simple: GET STRONGER.
But, getting stronger has been the goal for the past two years and knowing that nutrition was now going to take a front seat, I kind of expected my performance to drop, or slightly decrease.
This anticipated drop has yet to happen in the first half of the prep.
When I go into each training session and each lift, the difference now is knowing that at the end of this prep I will not be on a powerlifting platform but rather a stage, half-naked and being judged on aesthetics.
The goal is getting leaner and my training has to be accompanied by strategic nutrition.
It has been and continues to be a huge relief to know and to TRUST that improving my big three lifts would help me get an even more aesthetically pleasing physique.
After all, these big lifts encourage brute strength, are not cardiovascularly taxing (on most days) and easier to do on lower calorie days than say, running 7 miles.
I have packed on some dense muscle and the more muscle I have the more metabolically active tissue I have. Therefore the food I eat is directly fueling that tissue for lifts, recovery or repair.
Key to my training success: Trust the process and big picture.
I get really excited for each session. I don’t let one good or bad training session make or break me.
I love training. I love taking solace in my strength and being proud of what I can do physically rather than hard on myself for my bodyweight or leanness. The leanness is a cool side effect of focusing on strength.
Schedule: I began training four days a week with one of the big lifts on each given day. The fourth day includes lighter or more moderate loads. On the fourth day I work on the front squat, push-presses, bicep training and bodyweight exercises like pull-ups and push-ups.
Every three weeks I progress the exercises in some fashion. In example, adding pauses, doing a more difficult variation, higher reps, more weight or using a different piece of equipment are ways I change things up to add a new stimulus.
Due to fatigue and schedule glitches I trained only three days per week in 9-weeks and 8-weeks out.
Every other week I either deadlift really heavy or squat really heavy.
For instance, at the end of 10-weeks out I deadlifted 225 for three reps followed by 8 sets of 2 speed deadlifts at 205.
Then, in 9-weeks out I did three sets of 8 back squats with 160 pounds and a set of 5 at 165.
By alternating weeks wherein I choose one lift with which to go super heavy my body doesn’t get totally jacked.
But don’t get me wrong, I haven’t been taking it easy in the booty department. I train my glutes in some fashion three times per week.
My favorite, non-powerlifting exercises to date which I find crucial to maintaining the body parts I love are:
- Reverse lunges
- Lat pull downs with various grips
- Close-grip bench
- Overhead Kettlebell presses (single arm)
- Heavy chin-ups
- Single-leg hip thrusts
- Step-ups (weighted and unweighted)
It is crucial to know that eight weeks ago I did not simply decide to begin a new “diet” for a bikini contest.
At the outset of this #BikiniPrep I was fairly lean due to a culmination of two and a half years of working on my nutrition and strength training.
For the past few years my nutrition has been in a realistic groove that has kept me on the leaner side all year round.
At the beginning of 2015 I was 123 pounds. At the start of this #BikiniPrep I was 117.
My nutrition hasn’t changed too much in the is prep, but I have a unique routine due to the fact that I get up at 3:40 a.m. Monday through Thursday.
Getting up early means feeling hungry earlier on in the day. It means being awake more hours and therefore having more opportunities to eat and to feel hungry.
Instead of trying to avoid eating until later I simply have a yummy breakfast at 4 a.m. most days, unless for some crazy reason I am not hungry. (And let me tell you, this has yet to happen).
My biggest piece of advice: if you are hungry at a meal, EAT! Some meals I have 500 calories. If that’s what I feel I need at that point I do better by giving it to myself in that setting rather than restricting myself only to binge out later.
My favorite go-to breakfast is egg beaters and oats.
If I want less calories in a sitting I have 1/4 cup of both egg beaters and oats and if I want more I have 1/2 a cup of both.
Today I had 1 cup of both before teaching at Barry’s, training upper body and teaching a Cyc Fitness class.
I have made quite a few “mistakes” along the way, which I will share later, but what’s very interesting to me is that I haven’t had cravings at all!
On the CROF Weekly Update last weekend attributed my lack of craving to three things:
- Subconsciously I know that if/when I crave something, I will figure out a way to have it. Nothing is truly “off limits.”
- I am such a routine person I seek the same foods everyday and they are all meals I look forward too because I love them so much!
- I have still been social and around restaurants, the only difference for me is knowing that in the short-term, my portions must be smaller.
The “mistakes” I have made have not quite been “mistakes,” but rather learning experiences in which I realized I should go with my gut... no pun intended!
- Stop with the deli-meat: in weeks 12, 11, and 10 I was eating obscene amounts of deli-meat. Who knows why I was craving it, but I wanted it so badly I ate most of my daily calories from deli-meat which left little room for veggies because I used every last calorie to fit in deli-meat. Without the greens, my digestion was way off and my bodyweight was significantly higher. However, the calories were not over the daily limit in most cases.
- Having too many Quest bars: I must admit on days I teach 5 a.m. 6:30 p.m. 7:40 pm Barry’s classes and an 8 am Cyc Fitness class I have relied heavily on Quest bars. These automatically make my calorie count higher. In my case this has been OK, considering I am more active than a labrador retriever, but mentally I was pissed at myself because I would constantly go over my calories planned. Being mad at myself for something like that was wasted energy. However, no weight was gained. I have planned to omit them 8-weeks out, more on that below.
- Omitting veggies: I thought I was invincible…. I was two parts lazy, one part salt-craving, deli-meat fiend I really sucked at eating veggies for a while. As noted, I felt kind of crappy without veggies. Veggies keep me full, improve my mood and my digestion.
- Drinking alcohol: Maybe this is a mistake, maybe it is not. I don’t regret the few martinis, vodka waters and one amazing glass of Sangria I have had in this process, however out of pure calorie awareness I will be omitting alcohol moving forward with the exception of one weekend I am going to Chicago.
- Eating too much in the morning: I have had to get really good at what will work best for me with my crazy teaching, training, teaching mornings from 5 am to 8:45 a.m. Meal timing and frequency has been hard but I have realized that simply having a big breakfast each day that carries me through my spin classes and or training is best so I can then refuel after. Sometimes I simply go into the class or session slightly hungry.
- Vanilla Tripact, banana, kale and PB2
- Chocolate Tripact, sugar-free chocolate sauce, and spinach
- Gluten-Free oats, egg beaters, spray butter and organic blueberry pancake syrup (Oh the irony!)
- Trader Joe’s Egg White Salad and spinach or shaved brussels
- Apple and PB2
- Yam noodles with fat free parmesean and spray butter
- Sauteed mushrooms
- Chicken with ketchup
- Quest bar
*If you go to this website and use the coupon code “daretomove” you can try my favorite protein powder for 20% off.
*See the Fat Loss Tips for summer (it’s a four part series) if you are someone trying to watch your calories and macros but often on-the-go!
*If you want to receive my EXACT macros, calories and bodyweight spreadsheets every two weeks, sign-up for the #Daretomove Motivator on the sidebar!
Powerbuilder State of Mind:
Many of you know that I not the kind of girl that colors inside the lines.
When it comes to baking for instance, I don’t typically do well with following the directions. I would rather wing it with a “sprinkle of this” a “dash or that” and a few handfuls of sugar and call it a day.
As you can see from my meal plan, or lack thereof, I have taken this whole coloring outside the lines, #daretoeat mantra from day one of my #BikiniPrep.
In fact in an earlier article I addressed some qualms, reservations and curiosities I had about the experience and I wondered if I would ever result to a more traditional “Bodybuilding-Style” meal plan.
Not yet! Still wondering!
You must know this whole thing takes some insane mental strategies and confidence, but my “willpower” hasn’t needed to increase or change….
This #BikiniPrep is simply a numbers game with smart daily strategies.
I typically decide what I think I will want to eat the night before the next day so I have a rough plan going into each new day.
But if my taste buds change, my schedule flips or I forget that I am lacking an ingredient, I simply alter my plans and make sure the numbers still look okay.
You have to have a powerbuilder mindset to get this stuff done.
Here are the three BIGGEST things for which I have needed to use the “Powerbuilder Mindset:”
- When practicing my poses: I stink at this. I have NO idea what I am doing so not only is it tough to objectively look at yourself on camera, but actually making myself practice has been hard. Each day I say I am going to do it but it doesn’t always happen. I try and remind myself that I would rather talk to myself in a constructive manner with love first than let others rip my posing skills (or lack thereof) apart and ruin my confidence before I am ready.
- When I feel bloated: a lot of the things I have chosen to eat per my calories make me bloated. Whether it’s too many veggies one day, too much Truvia another day, extra deli-meat or even a cocktail, I have to be easy on myself and not stress the times I “feel fat” and remember as the competition approaches I will not be eating the added sodium, fake sugars, and filler etc.
- When I feel like giving up when I am tired: I have realized a lot of times I have eaten more than I should have in pre-#BikiniPrep were out of exhaustion and stress. Food has been more of a comfort-haven for me throughout my life than I ever realized. I now look back at how I would have just crush snacks when I was tired, stressed or bored in the past. Therefore, this experience has made me mentally toughen up and address my stressors, identify where they are coming from, and note other positive ways to destress en lieu of eating.
Maintaining a Powerbuilder mindset for me means focusing on my POWER:
P: Punctuality/timing. I realize my timing with meals is so bizarre due to my weird schedule. I have to own it and eat when it’s right for me, no matter how bizarre it is in comparison to social constructs.
O: Getting OVER the hump. There are parts of the day when I feel tired or hungry and getting through that hump is clutch for me. So long as I can grab an energy drink, coffee, take a nap, jam out to some music and go for a walk or call a friend I am good. It’s all about getting over the hump– especially when you wakeup at 3:40 a.m.
W: Water. I MUST remember to drink water. This brings me mental clarity: I am always consuming a lot of caffeine and it can bring a lot of stress overload. Water keeps me more calm.
E: Everything takes time. This is helpful for me. One bad day, one GREAT day, one day where I am not so sure… I have to remember the results come in time and no single day can make or break me, results are all an accumulation of time.
R: Revel in my strength. My strength makes me feel like a superhero. I love how strong I am. I have worked my ass off in the gym to feel strong. Of course that hard “work” was also very fun so I feel guilty because I have gotten strong from having fun, but I am so damn thankful for my strength. When my day is sucking, I am tired, I am mentally drained or have emotional stuff bothering me, my strength gets me through it. If you take anything away from this article, know that building physical strength will bleed over into every aspect of your life.
Strength brings power.
Being a Powerbuilder entails possessing a certain level of mental, physical and emotional strength. It is a sense of empowerment you begin to feel as you keep kicking strength goals in the face.
As you get stronger, your motivation to eat better and sleep better, and even be better as a human is all increased.
There were points within the past year of my life that tested my emotional-intellectual strength and despite being able to deadlift two times my body weight I didn’t make the choices a “strong” girl would make. I lacked confidence.
However by setting strategic goals on a timeline, following a smart program with mini-goals and accomplishing “fun” goals I have been able to prove to myself that I am strong in every sense of the word and you too, can achieve that feeling.
Email me if you want to join the Powerbuilding community I am starting on my newsletter.
If you have any questions regarding my 8-Weeks out #Bikini Prep, email me at email@example.com.
Wish me luck moving forward in the next eight weeks!!
Anticipated changes in the second half of #BikiniPrep:
- Less Quest Bars
- More water
- Less PB2
- (Let’s be real, less of everything)
- more posing practice!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- MORE FUN (see below)