Diana Sadtler's Key Ingredients To Doing A Figure Competition

How Motivation, Determination, and Focus Help You Achieve Your Fitness Goals

Diana Sadtler Competing At The 06 All South
Diana Sadtler Competing At The 06 All South. Lucas-Photo,com

What started out as an innocent goal to look a bit more trimmed and defined ended up with me on a figure competition standing on a stage in a skimpy two-piece bikini made up of no more than a quarter of a yard of fabric! The preparation and training leading up to the show showed me how in addition to a sound training and diet plan, determination, motivation, and focus are the key ingredients to successfully achieving any fitness goal.

My First Figure Competition

Participating in a figure competition had always been a personal fitness goal but life demands always got in the way. As a fitness professional, this goal was not far-fetched, however, others may hesitate to try due to the nature of the beast - dedication and perseverance that seems endless and all consuming at times.

After the initial meeting with my competition coach, I was provided with a training and nutrition plan (shown in the next pages) designed to lose body fat while gaining some moderate amounts of muscle. With the excellent diet plan, training regimen, and raw determination, I jumped in head first.

Determination

Once underway, I was determined to see it to the end, although I threatened many times not to go on stage if I had a saggy butt! Determination is essential at the outset of this endeavor, or any for that matter, due to the strict diet and training schedule that must be maintained in order to succeed.



I started strict dieting and intense weight training six months out, which was probably obscene now looking back. The looming thought of failure made me even more determined to succeed – it was as if something in me switched to total determination mode and I was going to do whatever it took to reach my goal.

Sources of Motivation

It is imperative that regardless of whether your fitness goal is to compete or just lose those pounds that you may have gained over the Holidays, that you be motivated to reach your goals. There were several sources of motivation that allowed me to go through the journey of preparing for my first figure show.
 

  • Belonging On Stage: Being that it would be my first show, I wanted to at least fit in with the other competitors, most of which had plenty of previous experience. My expectations were not so much to win, but to at least to look like I belonged on stage as a “figure girl”. Visualizing myself as a “figure girl” who fit in was my main source of self-motivation along with my unrelenting determination to succeed.
  • Body Changes: My second source of motivation was seeing my body change on a weekly, and sometimes, daily basis. Because I am a degreed personal trainer, I know the effects a good weight training program and healthy eating can have on the body. But training for a competition is vastly different from general training due to the nature of the diet and intensity of training required of you daily regardless of how tired and run down you feel. To see my body transform was not only fascinating but motivating as well. My obliques coming out for the first time was the icing on the cake and the motivation I received from that drove me all the way home to the end!
  • Being Accountable To My Coach: Another important source of motivation for me was my coach. His honesty, patience, and knowledge were priceless and because he is a competitor himself, he knows the dedication and hard work that is necessary to reach the end successfully. And besides, I had to answer to him on a weekly basis with no excuses! I was not about to let him think I was a quitter! The trusting relationship I had with my coach made the journey fun and he knew exactly what encouraging words were needed to keep me motivated.
  • My Family: My last, but certainly not least, source of motivation was my family. When times got tough and I just wanted to have that coconut layer cake and popcorn, they stepped in and saved me from myself. Luckily, those episodes did not happen often but when they did my family was there to cheer me on. And who else would put up with a competitor during the last couple weeks before a show anyway! But somehow, with humor, they helped me persevere and reach my goal.

    The Importance Of Focus

    If this is not part of your personality, you better find it because focus is essential for bodybuilding success! As with any goal, being focused on the end result is imperative.

    When training for a show it is very easy to “cheat” on the diet or not workout one day because you are wiped out and exhausted. But seeing the goal clearly and remaining focused on the goal will get you through those tough times; which are many! I became the most focused during the last month, and especially the last two weeks before the show because it was the most challenging time. I was physically and mentally drained, craving my beloved popcorn, and sick of constantly looking at myself in the mirror! Fierce focus is what carried me through this trying period.

    Success

    My success was relative to where I started. Just a girl wanting to lose some extra pounds to being on stage and looking awesome in a skimpy two-piece bikini, if I do say so myself, in an auditorium with a huge crowd of spectators! Although I did not place top 5, I successfully reached my goal. My progress was relative given where I started, however, not relative when I was on stage. I definitely fit in as a “figure girl” and certainly belonged on stage with the others who also worked so hard. Now, because of a gentle challenge my coach put in my ear, I plan on competing again. But this time I will not only have killer obliques, but I’ll take home a trophy as well!

    See my Figure Pre-Contest Weight Training Routine.

    Below you will find what my pre-contest weight training routine looked like in preparation for my figure contest. Keep in mind that this routine was designed with my weak points in mind and also for my level of training experience.

    All exercises were performed using strict form for 3 sets each resting around 1 minute in between sets. For repetitions, I would perform the following periodization model:

    Weeks 1-2: 13-15 reps
    Weeks 3-4: 10-12 reps
    Weeks 5-6: 8-10 reps

    After week 6, I would start over at the 13-15 repetition range.

    Also, I would change the order in which I would perform the exercises for each body part in order to keep the body guessing.

    Cardiovascular Exercise

    I would perform cardiovascular exercise in the form of walking on the pavement either first thing in the morning on an empty stomach for 30-45 minutes, or right after the workout if for whatever reason the morning was not an option. On the final 6 weeks I had to do 45 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes right after the workout later on.

    MONDAY

    DELTS
     

    • SIDE DB LATERALS
    • UPRIGHT ROWS
    • ONE ARM DB LATERALS W/ CABLES
    • SEATED DB PRESS
    • BENT OVER LATERAL RAISES
    • MACHINE REAR DELT FLYES


    BICEPS

    • HIGH CABLE SINGLE ARM CURL
    • INCLINE DB CURLS
    • DB CONCENTRATION CURL
    • DB HAMMER CURLS


    TUESDAY

    HAMSTRINGS

    • LYING LEG CURLS
    • STIFF LEGGED PARTIAL DEADLIFTS
    • STANDING LEG CURLS
    • DB LUNGES (PRESS WITH HEELS)
    • SEATED LEG CURLS
    • WEIGHTED STEP UPS OR BUTT BLASTER / 3 SETS OF 30 TO EACH LEG


    CALVES (4 SETS OF 15)


    LOWER ABS

    • HANGING LEG RAISES
    • HIP RAISES
    • WEIGHTED FROG KICKS

    3 SETS OF 25 ON ABOVE

    WEDNESDAY

    BACK

    • MACHINE ASSISTED WIDE GRIP PULL-UPS TO FRONT
    • MACHINE ASSISTED CLOSE GRIP PULL-UPS (REVERSE GRIP)
    • MACHINE ASSISTED NEUTRAL GRIP PULL-UPS OR PULLDOWNS USING V-BAR
    • ONE ARM DB ROWS OR SEATED CABLE ROWS
    • STIFF ARM PULLDOWNS WITH ROPE


    TRICEPS

    • ROPE PRESSDOWNS
    • SEATED OVERHEAD DB TRICEPS EXTENSIONS
    • STRAIGHT BAR PRESSDOWNS
    • TRICEPS DIPS ON BENCH


    THURSDAY

    QUADS

    • LEG EXTENSIONS (TOES OUT)
    • BARBELL SQUATS (MEDIUM STANCE)
    • BARBELL SQUATS (WIDE STANCE)
    • LEG PRESSES (FEET & KNEES TOGETHER)
    • WALKING LUNGES
    • LEG EXTENSIONS (TOES STRAIGHT)


    INNER/OUTER THIGHS

    • ABDUCTOR MACHINE
    • ADDUCTOR MACHINE

    SUPERSET THE ABOVE / 3 SETS OF 25 REPS

    CALVES

    • SEATED CALF RAISES / 4 SETS OF 50


    FRIDAY

    CHEST

    • INCLINE DB BENCH PRESS
    • INCLINE DB FLYES (PALMS FACING FORWARD)
    • FLAT DB BENCH PRESS
    • MACHINE ASSISTED DIPS (CHIN DOWN / ELBOWS FLARED)
    • LOW PULLEY CABLE CROSSOVERS


    TRAPS

    • SHOULDER SHRUGS WITH BARBELL
    • DB SHRUGS


    MID / UPPER ABS

    • 45 DEGREE INCLINE SITUPS
    • WEIGHTED CRUNCHES
    • HIGH CABLE ROPE AB PRESSDOWNS

    3 SETS OF 25 ON ABOVE

    See my Figure Pre-Contest Diet Program.

    My diet consisted typically of five low carbohydrate days and two high carbohydrate days, which most of the time were Mondays and Thursdays. This strategy worked as it prevents the body from adapting to the diet. At times, my trainer would add an extra high carbohydrate day while other times he would take one away. It all depended on how my body was reacting to the program.

    Again, just like my training program, this is a sample of my pre-contest figure diet, which was tailored for my specific metabolism.

    If you are seriously looking to do a figure competition I would strongly advise you to get a pre-contest coach.

    Sample Low Carbohydrate Day Diet

    The diet below provides a sample of how my low carbohydrate days diet typically looked like. For the most part, except for Mondays and Thursdays, all other days were low carbohydrate days.

    Meal 1:
    9 egg whites (can be from pasteurized carton)
    3/4 cup oatmeal (measured dry before cooking)

    Supplements: 100 mg Alpha Lipoic Acid & 1000 mg of Vitamin C

    Meal 2:
    30 grams of protein from protein shake
    1 Tablespoon of Flaxseed Oil

    Meal 3:
    3.5 ounces of fish
    3/4 cup of brown rice (measured cooked)
    6 ounces of green beans

    Supplements: Multiple Vitamin and Mineral with Extra Iron, 100 mg Alpha Lipoic Acid & 1000 mg of Vitamin C

    Meal 4:
    30 grams of protein from protein shake
    1 Tablespoon of Flaxseed Oil

    Meal 5:
    3.5 ounces of fish
    5 oz broiled baked potato
    6 ounces of green beans

    Supplements: 100 mg Alpha Lipoic Acid & 1000 mg of Vitamin C

    Meal 6:
    3.5 oz Halibut
    6 ounces of broccoli


    Monday and Thursday

    Sample High Carbohydrate Day Diet

    The diet below provides a sample of how your diet can look like.

    Feel free to make any substitutions by using the Food Group tables provided above.

    Meal 1:
    9 egg whites (can be from pasteurized carton)
    3/4 cup oatmeal (measured dry before cooking)

    Supplements: 100 mg Alpha Lipoic Acid & 1000 mg of Vitamin C

    Meal 2:
    30 grams of protein from protein shake
    1 Tablespoon of Flaxseed Oil
    1/2 cup oatmeal (measured dry before cooking)

    Meal 3:
    3.5 ounces of fish
    3/4 cup of brown rice (measured cooked)
    6 ounces of green beans

    Supplements: Multiple Vitamin and Mineral with Extra Iron, 100 mg Alpha Lipoic Acid & 1000 mg of Vitamin C

    Meal 4:
    30 grams of protein from protein shake
    1/2 cup oatmeal (measured dry before cooking)
    1 Tablespoon of Flaxseed Oil

    Meal 5:
    3.5 ounces of fish
    3.5 oz broiled baked potato
    6 ounces of green beans

    Supplements: 100 mg Alpha Lipoic Acid & 1000 mg of Vitamin C

    Meal 6:
    3.5 oz Halibut
    6 ounces of broccoli

    About The Author

    Diana Sadtler is a University of Tampa graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise and Sport Science.

    She is not only a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) with years of training experience ​but also a successful competitive figure athlete and fitness author as well.

    Diana is currently working on a project to create a series of practical, easy to read articles on nutrition and women's health that will be submitted to several nationally recognized publications on food and fitness. She also is performing several speaking engagements to women's groups on the value of a healthy bodybuilding lifestyle and working on her first fitness book geared towards busy women.