Category Archives: Figure Athlete

Interview with Not Just A Man’s World (Part 3 & 4)

About two months ago, I participated in an interview with Ammi from Not Just A Man’s World. Ammi put together a very thoughtful and organized set of questions that dug a little deeper into where I came from, what I’m about and where I’m going in regards to training. She also provides an inside look at my mental and nutritional strategies during previous Figure Competitions. The interview was broken down into four parts and released throughout the month of May. I shared part one (personal history and motivation) and part two (nutrition) in a previous post. Now we have the final two segments to wrap up the interview. 

You’ll find in parts three and four, more details about my training for the Figure Competitions as well as what to expect in the future.  

Check it out, as well as Ammi’s blog. We hope you enjoy!

Interview with Not Just A Man’s World (Part 1 & 2)

Shortly after completing the Arnold Classic, I had the pleasure to do an interview with Ammi on Not Just A Man’s World. Ammi put together a very thoughtful collection of questions that range from motivational topics, diet, training and personal tidbits. As Ammi mentions, she and I (especially when put together) are not short in our delivery – therefore, she is releasing this interview in four parts that will be running on Thursdays during the month of May.

For those of you who have followed my blog throughout these Figure preps, there is still never-before shared information due to the nature of Ammi’s questions. You can check out last week’s interview (part 1 here ) and this week’s interview (part 2 here). Stay tuned for the third and fourth portion to be released over the next two Thursdays.

Ammi’s blog has been on my blogroll for sometime now. She provides a great collection of information in a very well-organized manner. Make sure to navigate your way through her site and follow along as she discusses topics on training, dietary strategies for fat loss and women-specific challenges.

We hope you enjoy!

Goals, Strategies, Perception and Change.

What are you training for? Do you have a goal? Is it measurable? Does it have a time frame? Do you have a plan?

You know, if you don‘t know where you‘re going, how will you get there??

I debated whether or not to write this post, because it may turn some of you readers off.. Or give you the impression that I’m shying away from my love of pure strength training. What I’m about to write has been a thought process of mine over the last few weeks however and I think it’s worth sharing.

The Arnold wrapped up about three weeks ago. Since then, I took a week off from training and have been back at it for the past two weeks. My current regimen consists of four 30 minute sessions of fasted cardio each week and five afternoon sessions of strength training. My next show on the horizon is tentatively July 9th, Team Universe in NYC. With this upcoming show, my training methods are shifting. For the past 3 years, I would say I have focused on athletic based movements with a strong physique emphasis. Primarily working on strength and power in the gym, followed by physique and function. Conditioning too in the mix consisting of all out short bursts of intensity for 10-60 seconds maybe up to 3 minutes depending on the challenge, but you get the point.

For a while now, I have specifically been trying to hammer home the message to women of the benefits of STRENGTH training and heavy lifting. I am not afraid to lift with every ounce of effort. I have followed and performed all programs ranging from 9 sets of 3 reps, 10 sets of 10 reps, 5 sets of 5 reps, 4 sets of 8 reps, 3 sets of 15 reps and 2 sets of 24-30 reps…and so on…I am not turned off by any lift, set / rep scheme or challenge as long as there is a rhyme & reason. I am not afraid of getting “bulky” because I think I have proven as a figure competitor, you can train like the big boys and still look like a chiseled, petite, feminine woman. Ladies, hear me loud and clear.. genetically and hormonally, we will not beef up! Unless of course we have a poor diet and then we’ll beef up from fat, not muscle!

If you asked me to define an “athlete” in a few words, I would immediately think “strong, agile, powerful”…then I thought, what about the triathelete? They are built very different from the average power or field athlete and function quite differently, yet they are an athlete. From there spawned my thoughts: What defines “athlete” and what defines “being fit”?

My brother is a sick athlete, but he’s not a field athlete or a triathlete. In fact, he’s a rock climber and snowboarder. In a recent conversation with my brother Doug, we were talking about training disciplines. We often identify with a specific one and may even limit our attention and appreciation to one. Why not, if it’s what interests us and pleases us to pursue. We may also however fall into the trap of becoming opinionated and closed-minded towards other disciplines and training methods. Remember, it‘s the principles that we adopt that are most important – not necessarily the method(s) we use or the discipline we tackle. Now there may be more favorable methods to utilize when pursuing a particular goal, but there’s also a lot of ways to skin a cat or there wouldn’t be so much debate on the internet regarding the good, the bad and the ugly in training exercises and design.

This brings me to another point. What defines “being fit?” I think I’m fit…I have gotten my pull ups to 10 body weight reps for four sets, my DB bench to 60 lb Dbs and my legs can outlast most. I like to pull tires, hit the prowler, run sprints, or jog for an hour. Ask me however to swim for an hour and I think I’d sink. Ask me to train only in circuit or high rep ranges, I may vomit. Ask me to go rock climbing with my brother and my forearms would fry. Take me for a 50 mile road bike venture and well, I might gas out at that too 🙂 …but I’m fit right? And so is the triathelete and or my brother who doesn’t lift in schemes of 5 sets of 5 reps or push the prowler all day long.

El Capitan, Yosemite National Park

So my brother and I were talking about training disciplines. Once you master one, its good to switch it up, both for the learning experience AND the mental and physical challenge. He referenced his personal experience of rock climbing because that is one of his thriving passions. My brother has been climbing for 14 years – about as long as I’ve been lifting (going on 13 years). When he was younger, he used to spend his time mastering bouldering – a style of rock climbing that is essentially all strength and power. You may get 5-8 moves in a bouldering challenge. At the time, Doug had disgusting relative body strength. Years later, he wanted to challenge himself differently. He decided to pursue the outdoor climbs more and challenge his endurance. Now he scales 3,000 foot walls such as El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. He even sleeps suspended from an edge because the climbs take a few days. Talk about a challenge and change!!! Doug’s shift in style stayed within his love for climbing but demanding completely different energy systems and tolerance of his body. Not to mention, a new learning curve and stepping outside of his comfort zone both physically and mentally.

I share this conversation with you, because I believe we should pursue what we love but also push ourselves to be open-minded, learn and master new things. Stepping outside of that mental and physical comfort zone. Learning something new and trying to enjoy sucking at it at first only to make new gains over time.

Now, going way back to my first point – training goals. Over the next four months, I am a FIGURE COMPETITOR. My training goal is to step on that Team Universe stage with the best physique I can bring. If I had a sports performance goal in mind, I’d train for that. If I needed to get stronger, I’d train for strength. If I needed to put on muscle, I’d train to put on muscle. My goals however are to streamline and fine tune the foundation I have built. To come in more petite than previous shows. Although I don’t want to lose strength or the athletic nature of my movements my training is shifting.

For a while, I have identified with heavy lifting. I am proud of my strength and conditioning abilities. I love feeling like the strongest girl in the gym but I am shifting my training methods because my goal over the next four months is not to be the strongest girl competing, if so, I’d enter a power lifting competition – it is to get on stage with my best physique yet. Please please, don’t get me wrong, I will never turn my back on STRENGTH nor will I stop studying it, appreciating it or prescribing it for most, if not all, of my clients. I however, will be shifting my personal training methods to a new scheme in order to see what response it brings. It took me a few weeks to wrap my mind around the change in training because I like and identify with the strength and conditioning crowd. My goal to compete however dictates my latest training style and I am excited to change things up, suffer at first because my body is not used to this style, learn to be open-minded and use myself as a guinea pig to see what works and how I can transform my lines and physique. Believe me, my principles will remain intact and you better believe I will keep the intensity high in my sessions, but it will be different 🙂 To me, this is a shift much like my brother took on. There will be crossovers in my latest training program, but at the same time a very different approach. (and yes, I will continue to post the new training days)

So I ask you again, do you have a goal? Do you train (and eat) to meet those goals? Are u in a trap of closed-minded training beliefs? To you, what defines an athlete or being fit?

Already, I have had to step outside of my comfort zone both mentally and physically. For now, I will be putting the training I have done for the past three years on hold. I also thought I was going to vomit on one of my recent leg days and I was sweating like it was 110 degrees and humid out. I look forward however to embracing this change, holding on to the things I love about training, learning from the experience and sharing the ride again! After all, if you do what you always did, you’re going to get what you always got. I encourage you to do what you love but don’t get caught up on one style or discipline forever…
 

My brother Doug, "sleeping" on his big wall climb (El Cap)

p.s. Doug plans to climb El Capitan again in late spring / early summer. He is one rad guy and the very best big brother. I love him to pieces and am so proud of his accomplishments and pursuit of his talents and passions!

Hard Work and The Arnold Classic

“Hard work can be defined in many ways. Work can be physically hard or mentally difficult or something so unpleasant that it is hard to make yourself do it. Most people will look for the easiest way out and avoid hard work all together. That is exactly why doing the opposite sets you apart from others.

When you have the discipline to work hard, you gain results that other people aren’t willing to work for. More results will fall into place if you have a greater capacity for hard work. Hard work does not have to be overly challenging to the point where it is painful or uncomfortable. A major key to success is to learn to enjoy the challenges that come along with work. Instead of running from the challenge, embrace hard work and you will gain the ability to execute your goals no matter what it takes. Tackling daily challenges help build character just as lifting weights builds muscle.” -Jeremy Reynolds

HARD WORK
Whether it’s within our careers, our education, our relationships, our sport or our hobby – to me, hard work is not the specific challenge(s) we face, hard work is the attitude and approach we make towards our challenges.  To work hard is a choice. Some of us have personalities wired to do nothing short of hard work. I also believe it is a mindset, similar to mental toughness, that can be trained through effort just like the body can be trained in the weight room.

When we begin ascending the higher levels in sport and competing, the hard work is relative. Though it’s important to maintain balance in our lives, we better be ready to prioritize, make sacrifices and focus in order to achieve our goals.  

At this stage in my life, among other things, figure competitions keep me sharp in practicing HARD WORK. It’s a 24/7 commitment because if it’s not in the gym, it’s in the kitchen or finding recovery in the nooks and crannies of my other daily responsibilities.

THE ARNOLD RECAP
I just wrapped up the Arnold Classic last week. I competed in the Women’s Figure Amateur Division in Figure Class C. I wound up placing 12th out of the 24 competitors in my class. In order to move onto the finals, I needed to place among the top ten in my class, but I was certainly pleased to place middle of the pack in my first national effort and considering the caliber of physiques I was among. The competitor in me of course wanted to place further up the ladder, but I was equally happy to cross the finish line and enjoy the infamous EXPO as a patron while rockin’ a tan and lean physique!

I learned SO much about myself through this prep as I always do. Every prep is different. This time, I started with certain people and strategies in place and I finished the prep with different people and strategies than originally planned. I learned it’s about being resilient and resourceful. The main variable that stayed consistent throughout this prep was MY WILL to work hard and finish strong. There are many people who can provide you the tools to help accomplish your goals and support is always a driving force too, but ultimately, it comes down to what’s within YOU. When you find and capitalize your inner strength, that to me is the most VALUABLE lesson and tool. I’m so glad I have that to take into every future challenge and adventure.

COLUMBUS, OH
I had a phenomenal time in Ohio. I arrived on Tuesday, March 1st and relaxed through Thursday morning (competition day). Thursday was a hectic yet fun day full of spray tans (Thanks Jan Tana!!), hair and make up (Thanks Val Nova!), competitor check-in / meeting, backstage moments, taking the stage and finally re-feeding with loads of water and trail mix. 🙂

On Friday, I went in early to the convention center to cheer on my friend, Andy Deck, at World Amateur Strongman Championships. I love watching that sport and it’s always even more exciting to watch an event when you are cheering for someone personally! Andy did a hell of a job!! He competed in the Yoke Walk, Axle Clean & Press, Frame Carry/Backward Drag Medley and the Car Deadlift! A HUGE CONGRATS TO ANDY! You can see Andy’s article / recap here at  Elitefts.com.  

Last but never least, the EXPO! It was SO fun crusin’ around the expo this year. With over 700 vendors, there was no shortage of supplement companies, fitness gear, clothing companies, Pro appearances, the presence of magazines, fit bodies, fitness enthusiasts and of course, the main stage where a lot of the preliminary events /  prejudging took place. I was able to catch the Figure Pro prejudging and the Pro Strongman events and they were awesome!!

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THANK YOU’S

As always after every show, the Thank You’s. Sheesh, this blog post is already running long enough and my list of thank you’s will hardly do justice to all the individual people I’d like to thank and the gratitude I feel.. but here goes:

Carter Schoffer – Carter is a class act coach. He was the man behind my Arnold prep designing my training, nutrition and supplementation programs. Carter and I have worked together for almost a year now and he has proven time and time again to be all around GREAT. In my opinion, Carter is brilliant in his program design – it has an athletic foundation with a strong emphasis in physique. His programs are balanced both in movement and muscle. Not to mention, for the first time in almost three years, I did not have any hiccups from my low back. I was pain-free in this training season! Carter also taught me so much in nutrition. He gave me the tools to both follow and create a sound and balanced nutrition regimen. Carter’s service is also incredibly detailed in delivery and execution. Last and equally important was our rapport. Carter has a way with communication. He always clarified any questions and or concerns in a timely fashion and with messages and support only a great coach can convey. I am thrilled to have him in my network and corner.

Team GST – Thank you Gretchen for taking me under your wing first with posing and then the unconditional support and expertise. As an extension of Gretchen, I slowly became integrated with her team of motivated and supportive athletes. This was a game changing move and really solidified the camaraderie and fun of this prep and at the event itself. Thank you to Rich, Alli, and Katie as well as the rest of Team GST. You all made this prep a fun and memorable journey. I look forward to Team U and what’s to come!

FX Studios / Silo Point / Under Armour – I feel so fortunate to be a part of these companies and facilities. I am so grateful to be among such high-caliber and passionate people. From my bosses, to my colleagues, my clients and surrounding athletes and friends – you all made this the most delightful and heartwarming experience by sharing the day-to-day experiences with me – the training, my orange cooler, the ups & downs, the pride, excitement and support. It is also a blessing to have not one, not two but THREE great facilities / locations to train out of. It keeps everything so fresh in terms of the environment, equipment and the faces I see when coming and going from the gym. A special thank you especially to my “A-Team” 🙂

My FAMILY – I won the lottery with my mom, dad and brother. They are always behind me 110% but their support displayed through this prep was unbelievable. 

Internet Friends – You guys and gals who sent emails, blog comments, facebook messages, tweets, you name it… THANK YOU. It’s all the more fun to share these experiences with you and the support from like-minded fitness enthusiasts and or competitors is absolutely uplifting and encouraging throughout a prep 🙂

I’d like to name every name, but that could just got on and on, so I suppose that about wraps it up! As for what’s next, it’s time to refocus on the growth of my career and as for competing, nothing is in stone, but it’s looking like Team Universe on July 9th. 🙂

FINAL THOUGHTS
“When a gifted team dedicates itself to unselfish trust and combines

instinct with boldness and effort — it is ready to climb.” -Pat Riley
(Thanks Mike, it does take a village)

Technique is just a tool – hard work, belief and courage are what make it powerful.

(The opening message about Hard Work, was sent to me from Maura Norton, a very close friend of mine and colleague. Maura is also the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Women’s Lacrosse Team at Loyola College. The team is undefeated so far against powerhouse teams such as Virginia, Towson, Penn State and Cornell. Next week, they play against my Alma mater, University of Delaware. In this case however, I route for my girl who is contributing to the creation of CHAMPIONS – so GO MAURA and LOYOLA WOMEN’S LACROSSE!!! )

All SHOW and GO!

Ahhh, you all know I love a good strength and conditioning challenge. I haven’t shared a lot of my personal training videos lately and that is simply because I keep some of Carter‘s program design private as it is his intellectual property. The following however is a new favorite of mine and one I must share!

We are in the home stretch of my figure prep for the Arnold Classic and I am proud to say that I still have as much hustle in my training sessions as I do the stage physique. I am also very pleased to report that my back has been pain-free (knock on wood) since I started this prep. I no longer consider myself an injured athlete with a fear of flaring up my low back. Though I am still cautious, I am confident in my health and movement.

Right now, Carter has me on a two-a-day schedule that is heavy with cardio or as he prefers to call it, Energy Expenditure Work :-). I am also strength training four days a week with two push / pull days, a quad dominant leg day and a hip dominant leg day. At the end of each strength training session, I have the beloved CONDITIONING!

As you know, I love to push my limits when it comes to conditioning and cross the finish line with the hardest effort available despite fatigue setting in. The following is my current conditioning segment on Friday’s push / pull training session. I have recorded the entire circuit from start to finish so you can see I do indeed practice what I preach. You can also see how hard we train and I still have the GO behind the SHOW

Push / Pull Conditioning Circuit
Reps and Regulations:

  • Explosive Burpee into Pull Up x AMRAP
  • Vertical Thrust x 8 – 10 reps
  • Jump Rope x 15 seconds
  • Complete 5 ROUND in as little time as possible

The other beautiful component of this circuit is the self-regulation. The objective is to take as minimal rest as needed, however, you may take as much rest as you need to complete the circuit. The burpee / pull ups are AMRAP (as many reps as possible) so that is relative to your abilities and the weight of the vertical thrust can be  selected based on your strength abilities. Even further, this circuit can be measured and progressed simply by cutting down your rest time and or adding weight. It’s all about relative intensity baby!!

Have at it and enjoy!

Video filmed at Under Armour’s Combine Training Center (UACTC) and a special thanks to Mike Whitman. 😀

Alli’s Road to Dallas and Columbus!

This past Monday, I returned home from Dallas, TX where I was working the NFL Experience with Under Armour. Needless to say, it was an incredible time. The environment and activities were so much fun to be a part of, but above all, it was the team I was with that made the trip! Thank you so much to Jamie, Chris W, J. Parker, Big E, Dash, Coach Cox, DJ, George, Chris H, Jordan, Ryan, Shana, Patty and Xan for making the trip so fun and memorable! It was a pleasure to work with you all and I really look forward to crossing paths again and working together in the future. 

A few photos to recap the event:

 
When I returned home, the final phase of my training and nutrition / supplementation for the Arnold Classic was waiting in my inbox. Within my program was the following commentary from my Coach, Carter Schoffer
 
“You, miss, have done a phenomenal job in and out of the gym & kitchen these last few weeks. You’re in stunning shape and your physique is dialling in very nicely.
  
Having said that, no rest for the wicked or for those in wicked shape. It’s 4th quarter, time to the win the game mode from now to the stage. You’re a machine from here on in. Eat, sleep, dream, think, talk, act, BE figure.”
 
Carter always has the appropriate things to say and a great way of communicating them. This time was no exception. We are officially in the final weeks counting down to the stage. This is a phase that not only dials in the nutrition, but also a time to ramp up the activity (just when I thought we were close to the max!). I must say, for the first time during this prep – it’s tough!!! I can feel it in my energy levels but my heart and committment to excellence are combating the fatigue. At times the final phase seems daunting, so I follow through one day at a time and it’s certainly manageable.
 
Since returning from the NFL experience and with the Super Bowl tomorrow, I relate my seasons challenges in the Arnold prep to football. I have certainly taken a few hits this show season (as we all do) and although it’s been challenging in some respects, it’s been an extremely rewarding process at the same time. Every hit that comes my way, as I make my run to the end zone, seems less and less problematic.
 
Each time I got tackled, I got up faster (I am more resilient).
 
Then, the hits that came my way, may have hit hard but I no longer fell down. In fact, I stiff armed a few and kept charging forward (I am stronger).
 
Until finally, I dodge the tackles all together and have a clear line to the end zone. (I am smarter).
 
So despite a few challenges and heavy hits, I have become a stronger and more resilient player in the game. Also smarter for future plays.
 

We are three and a half weeks out.. with a lot of diet and training between now and the stage 🙂 Next week I hope to post a few videos of some of my new favorite training combinations. You can also find my day-to-day progress on twitter @AlliMcKeeFit. Stay tuned and always look for the blessing in the challenge…You may not get what you “want” but you’ll receive everything you “need” …an opportunity to become more resilient, resourceful, stronger and smarter!

Progress Report: 6 Weeks In, 12 To Go.

Today begins week six of the Arnold Prep already! It’s crazy how fast time flies. Perhaps because after two years of continuous prep, my training and nutrition feel like a natural part of my day, week and lifestyle.

Over the past 5 weeks, my body composition has changed tremendously which puts me in a very good position for the next 12 weeks of prep. As mentioned in previous posts, my initial training focus was to rev up my metabolism and reduce body fat. I recently had my body composition taken and am currently at 13% body fat while managing to gain a little lean mass in the process – operation complete!

I’d like to thank Nick Tumminello for his training guidance to date. Nick certainly contributed to the successful progression of my physique as a Figure Athlete and in my journey to compete at the Arnold Classic.

For the remainder of this prep, the architect behind my last show’s nutrition and supplementation, Carter Schoffer of Body Transformation & Precision Nutrition, will be taking over the exercise design reins as well. Carter has proven to be extremely bright, very comprehensive, well organized and supportive. He has my full trust in the process of taking the Arnold stage.

Through March, I have three more planned training blocks. Over the next four weeks, his goal (and my dedication) are to shift into shaping and sculpting my physique via strategic lean mass development. Followed by a more targeted fat loss phase and finishing up with a refinement or finishing phase. Our main goal throughout is of course, per Carter, “overall body comp optimization for Arnold dominance.” 😀

I’m looking forward to the upcoming weeks as I shift from the metabolic work to this next phase. Although I love the metabolic training, it’ll be a fun change of pace to truly resistance train. As Carter has instructed me, “please note, I want you to treat the resistance training as exactly that – resistance training – not “cardio with weights.” So lift as heavy as you can and worry about your muscles, not your heart rate, how hard you’re breathing or how much you’re sweating.”

Friends, it’s time to get LIFTING! 😀

More on training to come.