The year was 2010, Bruno Mars had his first hit song and I had just learned the BioSignature from legendary Strength Coach, Charles Poliquin. More specifically, I learned key lessons about oestrogen detoxification and how excess oestrogen can be the at the root of stubborn leg fat – despite doing all the right things.
Before my superstar client Janet Kane won three Arnold Classics, four Ms Australia’s and three INBA Ms Olympia’s – she was told “her legs were too soft” by the judges and to come back next year with better symmetry.
So herein lies the tale of how I trained, tweaked and guided Janet’s 2010/11 comp prep to leaner legs and the many future titles that ensued. Originally written in 2011. Since Janet’s won 37 titles and I opened Enterprise Fitness, where my team and I have trained over 267 first-place victories.
I’ve learnt a hell of a lot in that 10 year period, as such, I’ve made notes and updates of things I would do differently today, ten-something years later. Enjoy!
Meet Janet Kane.
Mother. Wife. Driven.
When Janet enters the weight room, not only is her outfit perfectly colour coded, including her socks, the men stop and women take notice. The manic has just arrived. But don’t get too close, because between her gruelling sets, she just may launch words of encouragement, or shout ‘one more’ directly at you. Everyone worked a lot hard when Janet was in the room, including me.
When she stepped on stage in 2009 at the ANB Australasian titles she placed second. She was told by the judges, “your legs are too soft, you are out of symmetry“. To Janet, that was like waving a red cape in front of a bull. She had only one goal and that was to come back leaner, better – and WIN.
As a trainer, I like to be encouraging. So I told Janet, “We can do it. Top your condition from 09 and get your legs leaner than ever.” Below is a picture from Janets previous show where she won her first Ms Olympia. This was the condition we had to beat.
Janet at the 2009 Ms Olympia
Applied Oestrogen Detoxification
In 2010, I spent 11 days straight with world-renowned strength coach Charles Poliquin. Three of those days were solely focused on addressing specific female health issues such as menopause, oestrogen detoxification and supplements for pregnancy. Looking back, one of the most important things that happened on that trip to Perth was meeting Bob Guiel. I went on to bring Bob out to Australia numerous times. Learning from Charles and then deepening that learning with Bob was nothing short of game-changing.
After the seminars, I was chomping at the bit to apply my new knowledge. My key take-aways for all clients, particularly Janet was:
- The dangers of xeno-oestrogens
- Stop heating meals in plastic
- Beware all skincare, make-up and cosmetics.
- Utilise the Environmental Working Groups skin deep database.
- Fat hamstrings indicate problems with xeno-oestrogens metabolism
- And the keys to kicking off an oestrogen detox
Janets Comp Starting Point
Janet’s body-fat on the 27th of October 2010 was 15.4%, weighing 60 kilos. The ANB Australasia’s was on the 12th of June 2011, so we had a good 7 months to prepare. The initial plan was to start cleaning up her diet with the ability to let her hair down once a week within reason.
From a detoxification point of view, the first instruction was to eliminate xeno-oestrogens at the source. To do this, it requires carefully reviewing all skincare and cosmetics on the EWG Skin Deep database.
EWG rank make-up and skincare products from one to ten. A score of ten indicates the highest level of safety, free from toxic environmental pollutants. A score of one indicates the product is highly toxic and something you want to eliminate and avoid.
To Janet’s shock, the products she was using scored an average of a two. There’s no point attempting a detox if you are lathering up your body daily in xeno-oestrogens. Often people forget that we can absorb vitamins, minerals and toxicity transdermally, winding up in our bloodstream. Reviewing your toxic load and intake is always step 1. So Janet took this advice and ran with it. Throwing out her poorly ranking toxic cosmetics and replacing them with ones that scored a 10. Equally as important, food containers were upgraded from plastic to glass. It was an all out assault on the removal of xeno-oestrogens.
On the 8th of January 2011, Janet’s body-fat was 11.5%. She was very lean. Consequently, her quadricep fold was 22 and her hamstring 22. These were high for someone that lean. The good news was, they were in a 1:1 ratio which indicated things were moving in the right direction. On the BioSignature, the quadriceps site is an indicator of your bodies internal oestrogen production. The hamstring, an indicator of environmental/xeno oestrogen’s and oestrogen metabolism. Hence, these two readings became very important biofeedback in hitting our goal of leaner legs.
Xeno-oestrogens can have a huge effect on endocrine health. As a side note for males, the average sperm count fell from 113 million per millilitre in 1940 to 66 million in 1990. In addition, the definition of a “normal” sperm count fell from 60 million per millilitre to 20 million in the same period. I wrote a very detailed article about xeno-oestrogens for T-Nation called Fighting the T-killing Toxins which you can read here. To simplify, a xeno-oestrogen acts as an oestrogen in the body, but with two differences:
- It’s foreign to the body.
- It’s more harmful than natural oestrogen.
Xeno-oestrogens do all the things that we don’t want. Decreasing testosterone and increase oestrogen. Researchers have also linked it to insulin resistance.
Present-day note: When working with high-level clients or athletes, I like to send them off for blood work, and if dealing with environmental pollutants, we get an objective measure using an organic acids test combine with an environmental pollutants test. This tells us objectively what we’re dealing with and how the client metabolises and detoxifies. Importantly, I don’t work alone. I refer to our in-house naturopath Kristine and we work together.
I use the BioSignature test more as an indicator if the intervention is having the desired effect on body composition. The BioSignature test is useful, however, it’s not able to pinpoint pollutants. The best way to do this is with a combination of labs.
Oestrogen Detoxification Supplementation
We didn’t use any specific detoxification supplements until Janet completely replaced her cosmetics, skincare and stopped heating food in plastic containers. Adjustments to her training and nutrition took Janet’s body fat from 11.5% on the 8th of January to 10.5% on the 20th of February, photos below:
One per cent down, we needed to start ramping up results. In this period, we had not introduced cardio, and made no additional changes to diet. She was in a relative strength phase with her training with her primary lifts being 3 to 5 reps. We still had a lot of time. We introduced the following supplements:
The first estro-specific protocol was:
- Calcium D glucarate, one, three times a day
- DIM, two, three times a day
- Estro Clear for Women, two, twice a day
Additionally, Janet’s protocol included things like digestive enzymes, zinc and magnesium. After three days on the above protocol, Janet reported clearer and calmer thinking. This is can be a side-effect of an oestrogen detox protocol. Excess oestrogens can cause erratic thoughts. Think of the 15-year old girl who takes 3 hours to choose an outfit. It’s erratic behaviour. Not that Janet could ever be described as erratic, however, reporting calmer and clearer thinking was a sign that we were on the right track.
Present-day note: Today, I would have used sulforaphane instead of DIM. I also would have added glycine and 5MTHF months prior and possibly NAC to gentle boost detoxification processes. This would have been running months ahead of introducing any specific estro-detox supplementation.
Friday the 25th of February 2010
I muscle-tested Janet on the 22nd of February and found that her body was in much need of more anti-oxidants. The new protocol was:
- Multi Intense
- Vitamin E
- Anti-oxidant supreme
- Estro Clear for Women
Present-day note: Bob Guiel taught me his system of muscle testing. The way I explain muscle testing is that it’s a branch of kinesiology. Over the years, the things that I’ve noted is that there are a lot of really bad muscle testers and most use inferior systems. Hence, I think it’s healthy to have a high degree of scepticism to muscle testing in the view of the general public. However, when I used muscled testing, I was always amazed at how accurate my testing was. Of course, the only way I knew I was being accurate was to double up my findings with requesting clients to get further lab work- which I did often to further develop my knowledge.
Muscle testing is a great tool however I must acknowledge, not everyone is able to utilise it. Today, we only use lab testing. However, if I was personally training a client, if I felt it could provide me with further information, I would personally utilise muscle testing skills.
In 2010, I had 7 points to work with when muscle testing. Today, 50. So if I did this today, I dare say the above protocol would look entirely different.
Janet on March the 9th 2011 – Janet at 10.5% body fat
March 18th 2010
We rotated Estro Clear for Women, to using Rhubarb px and Poly Estro Detox.
Janet’s body fat didn’t move despite starting the new protocol. I was getting a little nervous. I mean, this was supposed to work. However, we kept going. Janets hamstring site had gone down considerably, but it was her quad site that wasn’t moving.
This meant that she was in fact detoxing but there was something I was missing. Taking another look at her BioSignature results, I noticed the tricep site was priority number 3. The tricep is an indicator of testosterone. As it was becoming a priority, it meant her testosterone was plummeting. This got me thinking to something that Mark Schausssaid when I interviewed him for my podcast.
“Phthalates are the worst toxins to suppress testosterone.”
So I asked the questions: “Hey Janet, by any chance do you microwave plastics with your food?” Janet responded, “Yea, why? It’s only Tupperware” When I said plastic containers, Janet thought it meant disposal plastic and hadn’t clicked on that it was all plastic, hard and soft.
Janet was puzzled on my stance on plastic containers, so I explained: “In an ideal world, you use glass containers… However, if you must use plastic, just don’t heat them with food. Plastic leeches into the food and you consume the food. That is how things like BPA and phthalates are transferred. It’s a real problem that no one pays attention to. Fat cells store toxins… plastics are toxins and don’t belong as part of our physiology.”
Note from present-day: If I was doing this today and noticed an increase in the tricep fold, I would implement a training deload and encourage the client to have better sleep. Ideally, I would implement an Oura ring which allows you to track heart rate variability, resting heart rate during sleep and gives you an overall sleep score. This would have been used to track and gauge Janet’s recovery from day to day. Additionally, I would have made clearer from the beginning what classifies plastic containers and given a safe to use list.
The other BIG issue: Sleep!
The second biggest problem was Janet’s calf site. In the BioSignature, the calf site is an indicator of IGF-1 or how well you sleep. Janet’s calf measurement was 14 when we started. The ideal calf measurement is 3. To put this in perspective, the fold on Janet’s stomach was 4.2. Her calfs had more fat on them than her stomach. Not something you usually ever see. For someone as lean as Janet, her calf was very high.
Could Janet’s sleep be the limiting factor in her body’s ability to produce lean legs? The answer was yes. Janet admits she usually goes to bed late working on business and doing other motherly duties. The other problem was Janet would often wake up in the middle of the night. In functional medicine, if you wake up for more than three seconds it’s classified as interrupted sleep. Needless to say, when Janet woke up in the middle of the night, she had problems falling back to sleep. This had to be addressed. So I emphasised a focus on getting 8 hours of sleep every night.
Sleep is one of the greatest fat loss aids we have. It helps you get lean. I empathise with the competitive mind, going to bed an hour early can feel like you’re not doing ‘enough’ and you should be using that hour for an extra cardio session.
Janet heeded my sleep recommendations. We tried a few different supplements to help Janet stay asleep. The most effective being 3 grams of Taurine before bed. Janet reported that she would usually wake up in the middle of the night at around 4 am. In eastern medicine, this means you need more antioxidants. Using this knowledge, we also added Vitamin E and a broad spectrum anti-oxidant supplement. This was also confirmed after muscle-testing Janet. After a week, Janet reported a full 8 hours of staying asleep and uninterrupted sleep was achieved.
Present-day note: Today my first go to sleep supplement is Magnesium threonate. Taurine will probably not work as magically for you as it did for Janet.
Present-day note: Years later I brought Bob out to Australia. He muscle tested Janet and found she had a higher than average need for taurine which is likely due to genetics. Taurine worked wonders for Janets sleep and ramped up detoxification processes.
A common training mistakes competitors make is they are always trying to burn fat. This can be confirmed by the constant use of fat-burner products and endless amounts of cardio.
My magic is not in getting a competitor to train hard. Most competitors I know like to train hard. My magic is planning training programs with the end in mind. You see, when most female competitors see the scales go up, they want to start dieting and do cardio. Janet included.
So we switched our focus from scale weight to body fat percentage and lean muscle mass, which tells a much better story of body composition.
As I knew, Janet wanted to bring something extra special to the stage; I knew that would take proper programming and foresight. Most women are always “trying to burn fat” and if you’re always trying to burn fat you’re not building muscle or making improvements. Being an advocate of getting competitors strong to build muscle, Janet’s programming from October 2010 to February 2011 was centred on getting her stronger.
From March till mid-May, we focused on hypertrophy.
From mid-May till the end of June, we focused on getting her in peak conditioning and getting comp prep lean.
The golden rule of programming is to focus on one main outcome per program. We don’t mix intentions when writing. Example, we don’t program for fat-loss and to improve your deadlift. Those things can happen, and often do, however, it’s the gift free with purchase. The more advanced the athlete, the more this becomes true. You need to centre your efforts around one outcome.
During training, Janet supplemented with BCAA’s and glutamine.
Present-day note: Today, if I am going to use BCAAs they must also have ample amounts of EAA’s. The product of choice is Thornes’ Amino Complex. Glutamine, as an intra workout supplement is not something I’ve ever recommended. Janet utilised this as she felt a benefit.
May 5th 2011
We did all this with minimum cardio. Previously, Janet a cardio fiend.
Whilst I can’t say we did absolutely no cardio during her prep, I can say we did manage to get her body fat down to 9.2% with no cardio and dramatically decreased the amount of cardio she did compared with previous preps.
We brought cardio in 6 weeks out from her show.
On the 21st of April, for the third week, Janet’s body-fat was still sitting in the 9’s. I made a deal with Janet that she could start doing some cardio, under the condition that if her body-fat didn’t change, we would try something else. One week later and her body-fat was in 8’s. The next week in 7’s, then 6’s followed by 5’s. The best part about it was I shaved 10 weeks off the cardio process and shaved down the two cardio sessions per day to just one 45 minute session after training.
Additionally, when the cardio was finally introduced, it worked way more effectively. In previous preps Janet did 3 cardio sessions per day and started this from anywhere between 12 to 16 weeks out. With this comp prep, Janet started doing cardio 6 weeks out and kept it to one 45-minute session after training.
Present-day note: I like competitors to do a little cardio as possible. Working with Janet’s psychology around cardio in 2009, this was a fair compromise. In later years and preps, Janet greatly reduced the amount of cardio for preps.
Here’s what Janet had to say about the whole experience:
“When faced with the task to come in harder with much leaner legs for this comp and improve over the last comp, I was very hesitant to remove the cardio as Mark had wanted.
There was no logic that I could apply from my experience that would give me the confidence with this plan, but with the sheer confidence I had in Mark’s knowledge, I trusted the result would come.
In previous comp preps, I was used to doing 45 min cardio at 5 am (before the kids would wake) and then a gruelling 2-hour weight session at 9, immediately followed by the second cardio session of 30-45 minutes. The third cardio session would be somewhere in between doing the home reading with the kids after school and cooking the dinner. And all this was done at least 12-16 weeks out from a comp.
Needless to say, this comp prep did not have all that cardio included. Sure I trained incredibly hard in the gym and in the kitchen, and I literally swapped the cardio with more sleep and happier moments with my children. I also felt much more calm and balanced and surprisingly still maintained a higher level of carbs up until the competition than I had in previous times.
Having the weekly measurements, I was able to see the incremental changes in my body and that the program was working; seeing these changes, I became more confident in Mark’s plan as I am very results-focused. If I were only to judge by the scales, then I would have ditched the program as there was not a whole lot of change in the body weight.
Gratefully my body-fat was dropping, lean mass remained the same through the whole process and the targeted sites of my legs were also significantly dropping. I was very happy.
Now that Mark has a process to eliminate the excess cardio and only use cardio as a final prep, WHY would you do it any other way?
Thanks Mark – you truly are a trainer with exceptional knowledge and the results are there for all to see on stage”
I measured Janet each and every week to ensure she was on track. Below is a ‘at a glance’ table of Janet’s progress including her body-fat, weight and quadriceps and hamstring fold:
|Body-fat: 15.4%||Body-fat: 11.5%||Body-fat: 10.5%||Body-fat: 9.8%|
|Weight: 60kgs||Weight: 58.5kgs||Weight: 58.5kgs||Weight: 57.3kgs|
|Quad: 26||Quad: 22||Quad: 21||Quad: 17|
|Ham: 22||Ham: 22||Ham: 16.5||Ham: 13|
|Body-fat: 9.7%||Body-fat: 8.8%||Body-fat: 7.8%||Body-fat: 6.3%|
|Weight: 56.9kgs||Weight: 56.2kgs||Weight: 55.7kgs||Weight: 54.7kgs|
|Quad: 16.5||Quad:15.8||Quad: 14.8||Quad: 12.8|
|Ham: 10||Ham: 10.2||Ham: 10.2||Ham: 10|
|Body-fat: 5.3%||Body-fat: 4.8%||ANB Australasian|
|Weight: 54.9kgs||Weight: 54.5kgs|
|Quad: 11.8||Quad: 11.8|
|Ham: 9.2||Ham: 8.2|
|Body-fat: 6.2%||Body-fat: 4.9%||All Females Championships|
|Weight: 53.8kgs||Weight: 54.4kgs|
|Quad: 11.2||Quad: 11|
|Ham: 9.2||Ham: 10.2|
Janet won the overall title at the Australasia’s were she placed runner up 12 months prior. A few short months later, she competed again at the All Female Championships. At this show, she won the overall title for the second time.
We hit the target.
Janet achieved her best condition to date and did the least amount of cardio in preparation for the show. This was the least stressful prep Janet had done to date, besting her previous condition.
After the dust settled from two big wins, Chris, Janet’s husband made me realise the value of going that extra mile and specialised knowledge when he said:
“I can vouch that in past competitions Janet did 2 hours of cardio every day. The thing that impressed me most was that she didn’t do any cardio until 6 weeks out from the first comp, and even then, she wasn’t doing anywhere near as much. It was so much less stressful and she just got back so much more time to do things… From spending time with the kids to just running errands.”
And when the stage smoke clears, dust forms on the trophies and all is forgotten, I believe Janet will not thank me for helping guide her to multiple titles and championships but for how we got there. I never encouraged her to run harder and faster into brick walls, instead, I always tried to make a door, or at the very least, go through the window.
Janet Kane at the 2011 INBA All Females
Present-day note: Janet competed at the highest level from 2009 to 2020 which is truly remarkable. In that time, she did 50 shows, winning 37 titles. I coached Janet from 2009 till 2018. I took a sabbatical in 2018 and Enterprise Fitness coach, Liam took over. Having won just about every major title in all the major federations, Janet has no future plans of competing.
By Mark Ottobre
Owner and Founder
If you would like my team and I to help you with your comp prep, contact us here to arrange a meeting. I am based in Melbourne, Australia and am available for one on one consults.
Health Disclaimer: Please do not try this supplement protocol. I was tracking Janet’s progress each and every week and fine-tuning as we went. The above article is to be used for information purposes only and is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose. Please seek the advice of a health care professional before making changes to your diet, exercise or supplement routine.