Monthly Archives: December 2009

Q&A #2, Laying out the program, part II

In my last post, I gave you the consolidated layout to my physique strength training. Conditioning was a crucial component to my program as well because it helped with a greater EPOC and contributed to overall fat loss. Nick and I were just as systematic about my conditioning programing as we were with my strength training. We wanted to make sure that we were NOT doing conditioning that was heavily fatiguing on the lower body if that day that was intended for legs to rest (ex: we did not run sprints the day after a heavy lower body day). We also undulated my conditioning to match the intensity on my system with that of the strength training.  



Low Rep strength days (5-6 sets, 4-6 reps), I performed high intensity, anaerobic conditioning–4 min-8min max. Often we incorporated Tabatas, sled work or sprints.

Med Rep strength days (3-4 sets, 8-12 reps) we performed about 12 minutes of interval work at a moderate intensity. This often consisted of Airdyne bike intervals or an upper body interval circuit.

High Rep strength days (2-3 sets, 15-25 reps) I did conditioning for a longer duration (15-25 min) at a lower intensity. Sometimes the slideboard, the Airdyne bike or an upper body circuit (see Strength Training Split, High Rep, Part IV)


So there you have it! It’s actually a simple formula that we followed– 1. Match your strength training and conditioning goals for that day in order to keep the intensity levels and energy systems demanded consistent and 2. if it is an upper body day, stick with upper body conditioning –boxing, sledge hammer work, band work, etc.  On lower body days, stick with lower body conditioning–sled work, tire dragging, sprints, etc. This stays consistent with the split routine and aids proper rest on the designated muscle groups intended to rest on that day.


Q&A #2: Laying out the program, Part I

Throughout the majority of my show training, I followed a daily undulated training scheme in an upper/lower split. I have explained in previous posts WHY we chose to do the daily undulated program as well as HOW the training session for each style of the workouts were structured. The posts about my specific training are somewhat spread out among other topics within the blog and I have since been asked to consolidate a layout. Again, I thought this would be of interest to several readers, so thanks Gene for your question!


Q:If you could make/show a chart of your workouts so we all could see how they all fit together, that would be great.”


A: I am not too “blog” savvy so unfortunately, I have not constructed and inserted a good-looking, easy-to-read “chart” but I am able to list things out 🙂 . I certainly hope this is clear and suffice, please feel free to shoot me questions for clarification if needed!!


The following program is what I followed for many weeks while preparing for the Yorton Cup Figure Competition. I adhered to this scheme right up until four weeks before show day. If desired, I will also post more details about the last four weeks of my training in a future post. Enjoy!


 Upper/Lower Split Routine:

A.M. fasted cardio (about 30-35 min)
P.M. upper body push/pull training plus conditioning

A.M. fasted cardio (about 30-35 min)
P.M. lower body training plus conditioning

“active rest day” – cardio, any form, 30-45 minutes, moderate intensity

A.M. fasted cardio (about 30-35 min)
P.M. upper body push/pull training plus conditioning

P.M. lower body training plus conditioning

Vanity Day – a lower intensity day. Primary focus on the smaller muscle groups (shoulder raises, biceps, triceps, calves, abs). Cardio to follow, usually jump rope/running intervals for about 40 minutes

Complete rest day


Daily Undulation:

We cycled my upper and lower workouts with the following set and rep scheme. Using this method, I would train six sessions before ever repeating a particular training session. (Great for minimizing physical stagnation or mental boredom!)

5-6 sets, 4-6 repsHeavy day/high intensity on the nervous system
3-4 sets, 8-12 reps – Medium rep range/moderate intensity
2-3 sets, 15-25 reps – High rep/endurance

Monday – upper push/pull – 5-6 sets, 4-6 reps
Tuesday – lower body – 5-6 sets, 4-6 reps
Thursday – upper push/pull – 3-4 sets, 8-12 reps
Friday – lower body – 3-4 sets, 8-12 reps
Saturday – vanity day (always high or med rep)

Week 2:
Monday – upper push/pull – 2-3 sets, 15-25 reps
Tuesday – lower body – 2-3 sets, 15-25 reps
Thursday – upper push/pull – 5-6 sets, 4-6 reps
Friday – lower body – 5-6 sets, 4-6 reps
Saturday – vanity day (always high or med rep)
…and so on…


As you can see, this is just the strength part of my program. I will give you the secrets to my conditioning layout in Part II 🙂

Q&A #1: Women’s Bodybuilding vs. Women’s Figure

Over the recent weeks, I have had several people email or post comments with questions regarding training, competition experience, guidance and more. It pleases me to help when I can and will begin posting Q&A when I feel the question and answer will benefit many. The following is from Stacy Schaedler, a female trainer out of Boston, MA who sought out Nick for training help with her first show. She has also contacted me for a little perspective from the female side. 

Q: I am CONFUSED! about which show to start with, my friend and I had picked a show and now people are telling us different things! Turns out, she is going to do a bodybuilding show instead. I am over 5’6 and love to lift heavy but I’m not so into that “look.” On the other hand I am not a girly girl either and people are telling me the show I want to do is like a beauty pageant. I just wanted to see what your thoughts were. I am going to do a show regardless, I just want to do it with like-minded people. If you could send me in the right direction I would greatly appreciate it 🙂
A: First of all, I’m glad you wrote because I remember how helpful it was for me to turn to those who could give me some direction, advise and support –especially from a female perspective when appropriate. That said, I’m happy to start passing along the help!

Second, here is my disclaimer: What I will give you is my opinion, take from it what you like! 🙂 

Third, correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m guessing you are taking on this endeavor because: 

A. You want the challenge and focus
B. You want a different and new goal to achieve
C. You want a reason to drive you to extreme discipline
D. You want to change something about your physique
E. You want the experience and accomplishment
F. You want to train hard with a purpose and a finish line
G. All of the above! 

OK… so here is what I can tell you about my experience with Figure and what I gather about Women’s Bodybuilding. 

Training “Heavy” 
No matter what, you are going to train “hard.” Some days may be a little less hard on your strength and conditioning (because you can’t go ALL OUT everyday or you will over train and kill your nervous system). Make no mistake though, you can still lift plenty heavy on the regular for Figure training relative to your daily program. You will still challenge yourself on the intensity regardless of the set/rep range for that day because you’ll choose weights that are “heavy” for you relative to the set/rep range assigned for that day’s goal. That said, Figure is NOT a wimpy effort in the gym by any stretch of the imagination. Nor is it less of a challenge relative to Bodybuilding. In fact, it’s a similar physique, yet how you train and the program you follow, will depend on your physique strengths, weaknesses and needs.


The “Look”

DIET is going to play a big role between Figure and Women’s Bodybuilding. It is going to be even more crucial when it comes to bodybuilding because they want UBER LEAN with bodybuilding. You would display more closely to an anatomy chart with a very dry look and a lot of muscle striations and separation.




Alli McKee, Figure Class, Yorton Cup

Figure is a cross between Women’s Bodybuilding and a Bikini model. You will probably aim for a lean (8-12 percent body fat depending on the way you look) yet muscular physique. You will also find it depends on the federation you choose to compete in, regarding the “look” they want. That is one of the challenges with Figure because it is subjective and the standards for first place my not be clear. In that instance however, you just take YOUR BEST to the stage and hope that is what appeals to the judges among your competition. 

The “Pageant”  
Show day is about PRESENTATION–how you can present your physique on stage. Presentation is all-encompassing–it all counts–the posing, your suit choice, even the shade of your tan. Unfortunately, on that day, it’s not about how STRONG you are in the gym, it’s about how you LOOK and present your physique on stage.
Ok. So some further perspective to think about regarding your question of “choice,” Women’s Figure vs. Bodybuilding. Despite what I told you about stage day, there are many weeks and months that you TRAIN for stage day. Those are the days of the process. Those are the days that you can be your sporty self. Personally, I was not a fan the stage. Some women see it as their glory day–a time to shine and show off all your hard work. Personally, I LOVE the training process, not the stage glamour. When I had anxiety about the stage, my mom even asked me “why do you sign up for this then?“ and I gave her all the reasons I listed above to you (see “A through G”). This time around however, I fortunately became a lot more comfortable with the stage and had a BLAST doing all the glitz and glamour. I’m very sporty myself but it was fun to get all dazzled up for a day. 


Choosing Women’s Figure vs. BodyBuilding. As far as choosing, I would work hard for the

Alli McKee, Figure Class, Yorton Cup

physique that YOU want and the “type” in this sport that you feel most comfortable identifying with! I personally prefer Figure because to me, it feels strong, lean, sexy and feminine. Stage day may feel a bit like a “pageant” with the skin prep, hair, makeup, suit, tan, heels but bodybuilding also has to do the tan and wear the suit. They also pose, it’s just a different routine and they get to skip on the high heels. 

Regarding “like-minded” people, I think you will be with like minded women regardless of what you choose because it takes an extreme amount of dedication and hard for either sport. Not to mention a passion for lifting and presenting the beauty of a lean, muscular physique. So! I think you will find like minded people with either category. Lastly, once you compete in one, you can always change gears and try another for the next show.





Stacey Schaedler is a Personal Trainer out of South Boston, MA. She is about to embark on her first physique show in 2010. She follows the best of the best in the training industry and has since sought out Nick for programming on her first show. You can catch her blog as well as encourage her here.