I’m Back!

After a couple months of inactivity, I’ve decided to resurface in blog world.  I’m thinking of it as a bit of a New Year’s Resolution because I haven’t made any others.  Also, over the past few months, I’ve taken a job as a photo journalist.  Because I’ll be taking pictures and writing about other people, I might as well do it about myself, too.  Please note that I will probably not be editing these like I would a normal assignment, so if there are a few grammar mistakes, don’t judge me ;).

My new NPC Figure Prep begins Saturday, January 2, which is 12 weeks out from my first show on March 26.  I plan on competing in two shows after that, including a natural show on April 30.  Posts will hopefully be consistent, as will workout posts.  If you have stumbled upon this page and would like to give me feedback, don’t hesitate to comment or contact me at michelleworkoutparty@gmail.com.

Here is a recap of the last few months (during the hiatus)…

7 Weeks out:

michelle 1

3 Weeks out:

michelle 2

2 Weeks out:

michelle 3

3 Days out:

michelle 4

SHOW DAY:

michelle 5

I ended up placing 1st in my height category, but didn’t grab the Overall Title.  During the off season, I focused on my lower body and I’m hoping that the hard work will pay off when I begin to shred again. Since the show, I have not stopped doing IIFYM.  I ate a lot to put on mass, but of course, I put on bodyfat as well.  On average, I have been consuming roughly 2600 calories/day with 1-2 higher calorie days/week.  I will post my macros and training schedule as the days go on, and I will also be training myself, like last time. All these pictures were taken from my instagram, so if you’re interested in every part of this journey, follow me @michelleberhart.

Looking forward to beginning a new challenge! Happy New Year!

Michelle

 

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Transformation Tuesday

Everyone starts somewhere.  I have been lifting weights since my freshman year of high school (10+ years!) I’ve noticed that only when I start to diet that I notice my results begin to shine through.  In this sense of the word, “Diet” is PROPER NUTRITION. Not a juice cleanse or grapefruit diet, etc.  It means that you are fueling your body with everything it needs to be a well-oiled machine.  Over the past year especially, I have used my knowledge of nutrition and been able to transform my body.The pictures on the left are from exactly 11 months ago.  The pictures on the right are from today…

transform

transform 2

Posing has improved too 🙂 8.5 Weeks out!

I would also like to announce that I recently signed up for the Oxygen magazine ULTIMATE CHALLENGE #TeamErin.  The contest starts July 15 so I will keep posting on that.  It’s a 90 day challenge and I’m hoping the athlete in me will want to take my physique to the next level! The link for more info is here.

team erin

Have a good night 🙂

Michelle

Leg Day!

Happy Sunday! I am going to run through a leg workout I did on Friday… I can barely walk today so that proves it was successful 😉 I switched out of my regular routine, went a little heavier and I really noticed the difference.  If you do a “usual” leg workout (or any workout for that matter) make sure to switch up all the time.  The difference in gains is crazy!

leg extension

Squats: 15×95, 2x8x135, 3x5x155
Bulgarian split squats on smith 4x10eax50
Leg extensions 15@7,8,8,12@ 9
Single leg deadlift 15x25lb kb
Glute bridges 15x100lbs
Walking Lunges 4x25x45 bar
I included the weights I used to give you an idea of rep range/weight but also because I copied and pasted this from my phone 🙂
Have a great day and remember to make your leg day LEGenDArY
Michelle

PREP PARTY!

It’s apparent I haven’t posted in a while.  Oops.

Anyway, I’ve been training harder than I ever have and to me that only means one thing: I AM COMPETING IN ANOTHER SHOW! 

After careful consideration, I have chosen AUGUST 15 as the show date, which means it is 9 weeks, 4 days from today! I am going to use this blog to help keep my moral up, keep me motivated, and hopefully find some supporters along the way! Throughout the next 9.5 weeks I will share my workouts, diet recipes, pictures (lots of pictures), and pretty much everything. I have also decided to do this show without a coach.  This is to test my knowledge, experiment with my body, and really see how far I can push myself. Of course, I will have friends pushing me along the way training with me and helping me with my diet, etc.  But, heck, why not do it while I’m young!?  I had a friend take pictures today and those are below.  I am also posting my workout split and current macros!

9.5 weeks progress pic

 If you have insight, hook it up.  If you have questions, PLEASE ask.  If you just want to say hi, definitely do

WORKOUT SPLIT: 

workout split

For my DIET, I will be following an IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) Approach.  I have a pretty fast metabolism and I work out a lot so here is my breakdown FOR NOW (it will change as I get closer to the show)

2178kcal= 250c (~46%), 62f(~26%), 155p (~29%)

I am currently 5’8″ and 155lbs, 21% bodyfat

CURRENT GOALS: 

1. I am aiming to lose ~10lbs of fat (Stage weight- 145lbs) and lose +5% bodyfat. As long as I stay consistent with my diet and tweak as I go, I think I will be fine.

2. Bigger, leaner quads and legs.  Legs have always been my trouble spot.  It’s where I hold most of my fat and the least of my muscle. #Genetics.  During my last show, I did 2 hours of cardio a day. I am afraid that contributed to my lack of leg growth.  This time I am incorporating 2x 30 minute HIIT sessions a week (mostly treadmill work) and 1x 30-45 steady state cardio (going to try to do stairs more, incline walking, and a little running because I love it).  I am also doing legs twice a week and lots o’ booty!

3. Have fun!!! I had a great time my last prep, especially after seeing the end result.  However, I felt like I was always hungry and was always on the treadmill.  It’s not awesome.  I want this DIET/ WORKOUT PARTY to be a blast and I want to share that here!

I’ll be posting pics and workouts throughout the upcoming weeks.  I am also thinking about either making a new instagram account or adding this stuff to my personal account.  Any suggestions? I’m so freaking excited about this I can’t even begin to explain it (I guess I did above, but whatev)!!

Thanks for reading!!! 🙂

Michelle

“She’s pretty big…”

During the hour I spent at the gym today, 3 people commented on how “jacked,” etc. I was looking.

flex1

While my swole was definitely prominent thanks to various factors of water retention, I guess my “jacked-ness” was extra noticeable. The first person to say anything was a man who always says hi to me.  I could take his remark as a compliment. The second was another man who said I have been getting more muscular and segued his remark to ask if I was doing any more shows in the near future. I’m undecided. Maybe he was just trying to have a conversation? I don’t know, I didn’t think about it too seriously.

The third was the kicker. After I had finished my workout I was over by the trainers’ station using the computer and I started talking to another trainer and his potential client. The trainer said something to the woman along the lines of working out and looking like me. Rookie mistake. She just stared at me… So much judgement. He tried to defend me saying that I’m “not huge,” comparatively, and she answered, “…she’s pretty big.” A couple times. She told him she was just gonna go walk on the treadmill. LOL.

Okay here’s my feelings about all of this…
First of all, don’t get me wrong, I love when people compliment or comment on my progress. It means I’m doing something right!
BUT, lady, I can guarantee you will never, ever look “big” like me. Even remotely. Why? Because I have been lifting since I was 15. 10 years of muscle development to get this “big”. I have been on an intense lifting and workout schedule since I was 18 and started collegiate Division 1 track and field. My body has adapted and responded very well to that training. Not to mention my genetics allow me to build muscle pretty well.
Also, if you think that training with a trainer once a week will turn you into the hulk, you’re nuts. He will give you tips and teach you some exercises but doing a couple circuits is probably gonna help you tone up a bit, lean out, not hulk up. So unfortunately, no matter how good of a trainer he is, you’re not gonna be so lucky to be as “bulky” or “big” as I am, sorry to break that to you.
Finally, I hope you enjoy your leisurely walk on the treadmill (While it’s beautiful outside!? What!?) and I hope that burns the fat right up. I can guarantee you won’t get bulky there.

END RANT.

Sometimes it’s hard to receive feedback that may seem negative or unnecessary.  In this particular case, I think I was caught a little off guard. However, over the past year since I’ve been lifting 6x/week and doing some sort of cardio 5x/week I have received a lot more attention regarding my physique.  Mostly positive, but of course some negative.  I think when you don’t fall into the cookie-cutter image portrayed in the media people begin to feel uncomfortable or don’t know how to react.  I also think that people believe that three half hour sessions of cross training workouts and bicep curls  are going to turn them into Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Maybe not, but that’s the vibe this lady gave me.

WHAT MAKES ME HAPPY is that the strong, fit female physique has become desirable amongst the younger female generation.  Visibly, a strong woman is present, one with self-discipline and pride.  The external image that is reflected in internally.  I like that shiz.

What do YOU think?

drake gymI LOVE DRAKE.

Michelle

Back Attack!

Hello! What a terribly cliche title for a back workout.  But I guess this workout is just that intense that I’ve deemed it an “attack.”  -_-

row 1

I’m not training for anything in particular right now so I’ve been able to experiment with sets and reps for fun.  I’m always switching up my training style in fear of remaining stagnant and not seeing results. I love results.  (But, I guess everyone does, duh)

Something I’ve noticed that works especially well for me is super-setting (I super-set pretty much everything except squats and bench press) and drop sets.  This workout contains both of them. Yay.

Also, this workout is a bit unconventional;. Like I said, I’ve been experimenting so I’m trying to see how I feel after combining different techniques.  Don’t knock it til you try it! 😉

SUPERSET #1- 5 sets

Pullups (Unassisted)– Until Failure

Wide Grip Pullups (Assisted machine)– Low resistance- Until Failure

Straight Leg Deadlifts– x15 (choose a difficult weight that you feel by the last 5.  Keep the weight the same throughout or increase slightly)

Go immediately from one exercise to the next, :60-:90 rest between sets

SUPERSET #2- 5 setsIncrease weight every set*

Seated Rows– Reps: 1. Warmup x15 2. 12 3. 10 4. 8, DROP WEIGHT until failure, DROP WEIGHT until failure 5. 6, DROP WEIGHT until failure, DROP WEIGHT until failure

Lat Pulldown– Reps: 1. Warmup x15 2. 12 3. 10 4. 8, DROP WEIGHT until failure, DROP WEIGHT until failure 5. 6, DROP WEIGHT until failure, DROP WEIGHT until failure

Go immediately from one exercise to the next, :60 rest between sets

SUPERSET #3- 5 sets

Bent over Rows or Single Arm Rows- Reps: 1. Warmup x15 2. 12 3. 10 4. 8, DROP WEIGHT until failure, DROP WEIGHT until failure 5. 6, DROP WEIGHT until failure, DROP WEIGHT until failure

Standing Lat Pulldown (cable machine)- Reps: 1. Warmup x15 2. 12 3. 10 4. 8, DROP WEIGHT until failure, DROP WEIGHT until failure 5. 6, DROP WEIGHT until failure, DROP WEIGHT until failure

Go immediately from one exercise to the next, :60 rest between sets

Supplementary Stuff:

-3×15 Glute ham back extension

-3×20 Supermans

-Stretch

It’s always good to step out of your comfort zone!! Even if you don’t want to use these exercises, try this style of working out one day (it can’t hurt, right?) Or it can– you’ll probably be sore. Really sore.  But we’re building muscles and character 😉

row 3

Let me know what you think!

Michelle

Injury Prevention. Calm the EF down.

Happy Flex Friday Party People!!

As I sit here on a bag of ice, I will start with a disclaimer: nobody is safe from injuries.  Sometimes, I think I’m superwoman. Like forreal I think I can do anything.  I can’t.  But a reality check like this one is necessary every once in a while.

Anyway, over the past nine months or so I’ve stepped up my lifting and workout game tremendously.  I work out 5-6x/week usually 2x/day (AM lift, PM cardio for time and fueling purposes) and to be honest, I work at two fitness centers so when I have a break, working out is the clear choice in activity.

So this past week’s workouts were as follows:

Monday–  AM Shoulders/ PM HIIT

Tuesday– AM Legs/ PM steady state cardio

Wednesday– AM Back and Bis/PM steady state cardio

Thursday– AM Chest, Tris/ PM Sprints

Well, today is Friday and it’s blank. 

Why? Well, note how it says “sprints” on Thursday PM. Two days after leg day. I didn’t even think about it.

In case you’ve been uninformed of the weather in the northeast this winter, living in New York (or anywhere near it) has been miserable for the past 5 months.  I’ve been performing all of my HIIT work on the treadmill or just straight up skipping it because sprinting outside on a snowy track in below-freezing temperatures isn’t my idea of a Workout Party.  Anyway, Thursday was SUNNY AND OVER 60 DEGREES. Being a track and field athlete from middle school through college, I was so excited for a track workout. And good weather.  OMG.  Like probably more excited than I should have been, but whatever.

So I walk down to the track (about half a mile) and did a normal workout for me- 8x100m, so walk the curve, sprint the straight.  I could fly.  All my splits were :14-:16 and for repeats, that’s pretty great for me.  My twice a week leg workouts were paying off. Until #8, obviously.  I had about 20 meters to go, almost done, and POP! You see this happen to sprinters at meets all the time, the hamstring goes at the very end of their 55m dash and they grip their leg and fall to the ground in agony.  That didn’t happen to me. Thankfully.  But after hobbling the last couple strides, I realized I effed up.  I wobble-walked the half mile back to my building (which so amazingly comes fully staffed with athletic trainers) and it was clear I strained my hamstring. The trainer gave me a bag of ice and told me to take it easy for a few days.  Superwoman doesn’t “take it easy” so that’s when I realized I was definitely not her.

Long story short, I got lucky.  It wasn’t a BAD injury, I mean it wasn’t good, but it definitely wasn’t bad.  I was also lucky to have an athletic trainer check me out almost immediately.  But nonetheless, I effed up.

Like I stated earlier, I’ve been stepping up my workout game for almost a year now which means bigger, tighter muscles. Also, the weather has sucked so that means I wasn’t doing all-out-sprints like I do in the spring and summer.  AND, a :30-:45 “sprint” on the treadmill is tough, but an all-out 100m dash blows it out of the water.  I took a bite bigger than I could chew.

Stretching

So YOU. Yes, you. Before you go out Usain Bolting all over the track, help yourself out and make an effort to prevent possible future injuries…

1. Warming up- Like duh.  Everyone’s body is different but apparently a half mile walk wasn’t enough of a warmup for me.  And 60 degrees may have been a little too cold for my muscles. Who knows, but a warmup is a good idea.

2. Be mindful of your workouts that week-  I should have realized that the Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) after my leg workout two days prior would have had an effect on my sprints.  But you live and you learn.  If your body is sore or tight from a workout, you don’t have to hit the same muscle groups immediately after.

3. Ease yourself into it. It’s okay.  I have to remember that explosive work like sprints uses fast twitch muscle fibers that haven’t been activated in that way for a while.  If you’re starting a new kind of workout, or re-starting it after an extended period of time off, don’t think you can be 100% the first time you do it, intense stuff takes practice.

4. Stretch. I definitely don’t do enough of this.  I love my foam roller but it hurts.  Like a lot.  From here on out, I vow to cut down my PM cardio on leg days down and replace it with 30 minutes of dynamic and static stretching and foam rolling.  Hopefully this will help me in the future.

5. Rest. If your body feels like it needs some rest, it probably does.

So in conclusion, don’t try to be a superhero or an Olympic athlete.  Unless you are one.  Then you do you, boo. Be mindful of your body and take all preventative measures so that this kind of stuff doesn’t happen to you.  It’s all good in the hood but missing my second leg workout this week was a bummer.  On the bright side, my arms are gonna look so sick next week ;).  Have a happy and healthy (and injury-free) weekend!

Michelle

Jumping on the IIFYM Bandwagon?!

Hello! Hope everyone had a great weekend! I spent my time in NYC walking around Times Square, eating food cart gyros, and experiencing the most on-point brunch I’ve ever brunched before (see below).

brunch

But now it’s time to get serious. Dun dun dunnnn. Summer is creeping up real fast and I’m excited to get consistent with my food intake and workout schedule.

I am officially ready to sign my life away to the world of IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros). For those of you who’ve never heard of it, IIFYM is described as a “lifestyle” rather than a diet, ya-de-ya-da.  In a nutshell, you eat a certain amount of carbs, fats, and proteins (your macro nutrients) and adjust them your diet to fit these specific amounts. Sounds simple, right?  I used the IIFYM calculator on the website to calculate my own personalized macronutrient ratio and I’ll go from there.

I decided to increase my protein to 1g/lb of body weight.  Fat is at .35g/lb of bodyweight.  Carbohydrates will account for the rest of my intake.  I chose to “maintain” my bodyweight and then after 2 WEEKS, I will adjust and go from there! I will update my progress as the weeks pass :).

The great part about IIFYM, or flexible dieting, is that I could eat my delicious looking brunch (as pictured above) as long as I account for the carbs/fats/proteins I consumed. How exciting is that!?!? The important part is tracking your intake and not going overboard.  I’m also weird and I think of it as a game to see how perfect I can get the numbers to match my goals.

Do you do IIFYM?? If so, PLEASE lend me some tips or insight! I’d love to learn!

Have a great day!

Michelle

High Intensity Fun!

Doesn’t this title sound invigorating? Maybe I’m just really enthusiastic and the word “intensity” gets me excited.  Regardless, I want to talk about HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training).jumping track

Throughout high school and college, I ran track and field and competed as a long and triple jumper.  In college, our off-season program would consist of different sprinting routines (either uphill, 100m, 200m) 2-3x/ week.  Those days would be accompanied by a weight lifting session and other other days were either recovery days or days spent completely off.  We never ran long distances and our workouts never lasted longer than a half hour.  I WAS IN HELLA GOOD SHAPE.

After doing long duration cardio from training for my first figure show (I’ll post about this sometime in the near future) and from half marathon training, I forgot how amazing sprinting felt… Not to mention how efficient and time saving it was.

Recently, I’ve been doing a great deal of research on HIIT and while opinions may be mixed on the duration and intensity level of the sprint, it is without a doubt the most effective cardio workout you can do. WHY? So glad you asked…

1. HIIT allows you do metabolize fat all day 

-Similar to the after burn of lifting weights, you will still be burning calories after you complete your workout session.

2. It saves you time

-I am DRIPPING  after 20 minutes of HIIT… Walking on the treadmill for a full hour doesn’t even give me that level of sweat satisfaction.

3. You keep more muscle!

-You’ve worked hard for the muscles you have! Excessive cardio can break down muscle tissue due to long duration repetitive movements.  HIIT minimizes muscle loss while maximizing fat loss.

If you’re interested in learning more, check out this podcast by Layne Norton, he knows his stuff!

WORKOUT PARTY TIME!

I tell all my clients looking to build muscle and burn fat to do intervals.  Although they hate me when we make our way over to the treadmill, they know they get in a good workout every time! Interested in interval training? Download the Interval Timer App (it’s free!).  You can set up how many intervals you want to do and the duration of the low/high intensity.  ALSO, you can close the app and listen to music and it will beep every time you have to change the intensity! (I am in no way affiliated with this app I just think it’s awesome)

interval timer

I recommend starting off with a 5:00 walking warmup followed by a HIGH intensity duration of :30 and a LOW intensity duration of 1:00-2:00.  It really depends on your fitness level and your speed but :30 should be difficult.  Repeat as many times as you see fit.  I recommend starting off x6 and increase the intensity or decrease rest each week.  Play around with it and see how your body reacts to weekly changes.  You can do this on a stationary bike, treadmill, on a track…it’s up to you!

Do you do intervals? If you do, how often do you incorporate them into your weekly workout routine? Any suggestions for workouts? Any interesting articles? If you’ve never tried them, give ’em a go and let me know what you think!

Have a great day!

Michelle

MEAL PREP PARTY: Quick and Cheap Meal Prep!

Happy Sunday, Folks!

Raise your hand if you meal prep! (I wish I had a hand raising up emoji to insert).

If you don’t, why not? Is it because it takes forever? You’d rather spend your weekend sleeping? Are meat and vegetables too expensive? OR is it because, in your mind, 4-day-old grilled chicken tastes like the rubber sole of your shoe after a long run in the middle of July?

Regardless, meal prepping is YOUR key to success.  Having your healthy food already prepared at the beginning of the week will save you lots of time, money, and calories (everyone’s 3 favorite things to save!).  So let’s get started, shall we?

TIP 1- Look at the weekly ad ahead of time

Sometimes, I’ll go shopping on both Saturday and Sunday (at my supermarket, the weekly deals change from Saturday to Sunday).  If chicken is $1.99 on Saturday, I’ll go then before it jumps to $2.99 the following week.  By mapping out what I am going to buy on certain days, I can get in and out of the supermarket in less than 20 minutes a pop. (Depending on the lines)

TIP 2- Buy your snacks in bulk

I’ll go to Costco and buy a big 3-lb bag of almonds.  It lasts for a while and I’ll portion out about 20 ziplock bags at a time (15 almonds = ~100cals).  I’ll grab 2 for the day that way I have a healthy snack whenever I get hungry.  I also buy the big canisters of oatmeal and the big packs of egg white cartons for 2 weeks.

TIP 3- Frozen steamable veggies and brown rice are your lifesaver

Can’t stand frozen broccoli? Try frozen green beans. I am obsessed. One bag usually only costs $1 and it’s good for 2-3 servings.  Same thing with your brown rice. You can steam the veggies in the bag while you’re prepping your other food. ( DISCLAIMER: Please make sure you get steam-in-bag vegetables, otherwise it’s a complete disaster and you’ll taste the plastic in the back of your throat for a good month)   You will become the expert multi-tasker.

OKAY, enough tips.  Ready to spend just $60 for a week of food for 2 people and prep it in less than an hour? LET’S GOOOOOO

MEAL PREP PARTY SHOPPING:

PROTEINS:

1 package of chicken cutlets $1.99/lb- (~$6.00)

2 packages 93% lean ground turkey ($7.00 total)

1 2-lb bag frozen tilapia ($8.00)

Egg white cartons ($4.00)

VEGETABLES:

5 bags frozen green beans ($5.00)

5lbs broccoli crowns .99/lb ($5.00)

Extra large bag spinach or kale ($5.00)

STARCHES:

10 bags frozen brown rice ($10.00)

Large canister of quick oats ($3.00)

OTHER:

1 jar of salsa ($3.00)

_______

TOTAL- $56.00

It’s normally cheaper than that ^ AND I’ll usually have the big bag of almonds already, so I didn’t add it in.

MEALS:

MEAL 1: SALSA CHICKEN

-In a crockpot (best investment you’ll ever make) throw your package of chicken (trim off the fat before) and jar of salsa in it.  Add a little water to the salsa jar to rinse out all the leftover salsa and throw that in the crockpot so no part of the chicken isn’t covered.  Cook on LOW for 8 hours. DONE. *I recommend doing this overnight or first thing in the AM

MEAL 2: GROUND TURKEY

-In a dutch oven or big skillet, throw both packs of turkey with a little bit of olive oil.  Mix around and cook til its brown and ready.  After it’s all cooked, remove it from the flame and throw seasonings on.  I recommend Flavor God or Mrs. Dash.  Mix it all up. DONE.

MEAL 3: TILAPIA

-While you’re prepping your other 2 proteins, start defrosting the frozen tilapia in a big bowl and preheat the oven to 425.  It should be thawed in about 15 min. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Put the fish on the tray and spray again with cooking spray and put whatever spices you want on top.  Throw in the oven for 10 minutes, flip the fish, add more seasonings, cook for another 10 minutes.  DONE.

  • For the rest of the prep, I steam everything.  I’ll start off throwing a steam rice bag in microwave.  Every 4 minutes, I take one out and put another one in.  At the end, I’ll empty all the bags of rice in a big bowl and add salt.  Then i measure and put it with a protein.
  • I will steam or cook veggies for 1-2 days.  I don’t like having steamed vegetables cooked and sitting around in the fridge all week so I’ll take 5 minutes in the morning to steam them and portion them out accordingly.
  • For snacks I’ll have almonds, bars, and protein shakes (Almonds will already be pre-portioned).

meal prep

So there you have it.  My meal prep.  Like I said, it really only takes me an hour, aside from the slow cooked chicken.  But this has been my go-to prep, especially during the winter and I can’t/don’t want to go outside to grill chicken.  If you have any questions, or any mind-blowingly awesome tips I WANT TO HEAR THEM.  If you’ve never tried salsa chicken, stop what you’re doing right now and make it. If you don’t meal prep, try it.  Even if it’s just for one meal.  You’ll be thankful once you realize you saved $50 from not going to the salad bar all week.

Have a great weekend!

Michelle