She competed in the ICN Victorian Champs this year, and won the Sports Model First Timers title in her first ever show!
Being a personal trainer and having weight lifted for 4 years, competing had been a goal of Danae’s for quite some time. After struggling with previous coaches, she was still a little apprehensive. A thorough assessment, strong detailed and tailored programming for both training and nutrition, allowed Danae to finally prep with results!
Let’s find out how we prepared her for stage…
Although a personal trainer herself, and a previous dancer with great body awareness and flexibility, some pre-existing injuries meant training had to be slightly adapted.
These included a Cam Impingement in the left hip socket, which limited her ability to squat under load. In fact, she hadn’t squatted in 18 months before starting her training with us at Enterprise. She also had some weakness through the upper back and tightness through the pecs.
Her goal was to compete in the Fitness Model category, so a special focus had to be placed on building up her legs (particularly hamstrings and glutes to balance out her quads) and developing her back and shoulders. As she was unable to back squat, we had to utilise other movements that would build up her legs/glutes without aggravating her hip.
Based on Danae’s feedback we were able to utilise deadlifts and all variations, hip thrusts, lunges that maintained a vertical shin, and squat patterns that did not involve excessive hip hingeing or downward loading, such as DB squats, goblet squats and front squats. All lower body workouts were preceded by a sufficient warm up/ mobility routine to activate the core and glutes, which would take pressure off the hip flexors.
Danae’s first two programming phases focused on perfecting movement patterns, developing strength and establishing a solid foundation on which we would be able to build upon. We officially began “comp prepping” 20 weeks out, which saw the programs shift to more hypertrophy-based work, increasing total volume and pace as we came closer to show to assist fat loss. De-loads were scheduled as needed, approximately every 5th week.
Danae had followed various diets in the past, from IIFYM to strict “clean eating”. When she started, she was eating approximately 2000 calories daily during the week, with untracked cheat meals on weekends.
While she was eating a good amount of food, her protein intake was a little excessive for a female of her size, and her fat intake was very low. She was also eating quite a lot of gluten and dairy and was experiencing digestive discomfort. BioPrint results showed that she was quite inflamed.
As we still had over a month before dieting, there was time to build up her metabolism all while refining her nutrition to reduce the digestive issues and inflammation, and position her in the best possible place for efficient fat loss.
Starting macros: 140P 200C 60F (1900 calories) x 7 days per week
End of building phase (approx 6 weeks): 145P 290C 65F (2325 calories) x7 days per week
During this time we were able to identify a number of foods that were causing flare ups, including dairy, gluten, and some fruits, as well as several ingredients contained in her contraceptive pill. Eliminating these saw a marked reduction in inflammation, digestive discomfort and even improvements in mood. Danae dropped 4kg during this initial building phase, despite eating MORE food and performing ZERO cardio.
Protein sources included lean red and white meats, fish and eggs.
Healthy fats came from organic butter, egg yolks, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, and macadamia oil.
Carbs ranged from gluten free oats, berries, rice, potatoes, maple syrup and small amounts of banana.
We started slowly dialling calories down 20 weeks out from show. Based on her skin folds and progress photos at the time, Coach Anna estimated a stage weight of around 51kg, which equated to a minimum rate of loss to be 300g per week. This would give us plenty of breathing space should we encounter any setbacks or plateaus.
We incorporated carb cycling as her calories started to come down, which allowed for better utilisation of energy on her training days. We started with 5 moderate carb days, and 2 lower carb days which she took on rest days. We also slowly started to incorporate cardio at 2 x 15 min medium intensity steady state sessions per week. Adjustments to diet and cardio were made depending on her body’s response. Typically a 5-10% calorie reduction and cardio increase was made every 2-3 weeks when rate of loss began to slow. This is not a hard-fast rule, but rather based on Danae’s rate of loss and whether she remained on track for that target show weight of 51kg. Consideration was also given to sleep and stress management throughout her prep, which plays a large part in governing metabolism.
When calories reached a daily average of approx 1500, we started to incorporate 1x high carb day per week, which helped to support recovery and training performance, as well as give Danae some “mental relief” and stay compliant. So she would have 4 x moderate carb days, 2 x low carb days on rest days, and 1x high carb day which she took on her biggest training day (lower body). Strategic 3-day diet breaks were also incorporated based on Danae’s recovery and performance. These saw calories brought back to baseline, with carbs increased to 4x times bodyweight. We continued with this method, adjusting calories and cardio as required, right up to peak week.
Finishing macros & cardio:
Moderate days (x4) – 120P 135C 40F
Rest days (x2) – 120P 80C 43F
High day (x1) – 120P 180C 35F
For peak week, we adopted a front-loading approach. As the name implies, this sees carbohydrates loaded at the start of the week before show. As the week progressed, carbs were tapered down while fats were gradually increased. Protein was lowered slightly on the higher carb days, but remained fairly consistent with her pre-peak week macros. Carbs were then increased again the day before comp to ensure Danae looked tight and full for show day.
Water intake was kept high throughout peak week and into show day. Sodium levels followed the path of carbohydrates, also increasing the day before show and on show day. Food choices remained the same as what she had been consuming throughout her prep, minus any fruit.
No vegetables or high-fibre foods, and minimal protein were consumed on show day. All manipulations to Danae’s peak week were monitored daily based on morning progress photos and feedback.
Supplementation was kept pretty basic throughout prep, focusing primarily on the foundations to support overall health and recovery: multivitamin, digestive enzymes, fish oil, magnesium, electrolytes, vitamin D, and greens drink.
We also included curcumin and an adrenals support formula to reduce inflammation, regulate cortisol and improve sleep quality.
Learning to conquer your mind is one of the biggest challenges anyone can face when undertaking a comp prep. This is especially true for first time competitors, and Danae was no exception. Achieving stage-level conditioning requires a great deal of sacrifice and often physical discomfort.
Not everyone around you will understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, and at times it can feel very isolating. Maintaining constant communication and establishing a strong coach-client relationship was extremely important in helping Danae feel supported throughout her prep and overcoming these struggles.
In total, she lost an amazing 10kg and 13.3% body fat, whilst maintaining her lean mass.
Weight: from 61kg to 50.8kg
Body fat: 18.6% to 5.3%
Lean mass: 48.8kg to 49.1kg