Competitor Spotlight NPC Figure Athlete Samantha Ford

Samantha Ford
Age: 29
Occupation: Nurse
Hometown: Philly area
Years competing: 2
Competition History: (See below)

 9 Competitions, 2014, 2015

First contest big cat 2014 1st place class c
May Lehigh valley 3rd place open figure class c

PA state's first place open figure class c

Xcalibur cup 2nd place open figure class b

August Atlantic City Europa 3rd place open figure class b

Future plans are nationals.

ABFITT: Thank you for taking the time to talk with ABFITT. Can you give us some background information? 

Samantha Ford:  I am 29 year old living in the philadelphia area. I work full time as a nurse. I absolutely love competing and fitness is not only my hobby but my passion. It is amazing how you can transform your body with the right tools along with hard work and dedication. I have a bit of what they call a type a personality and will not stop working towards my goals and improving my physique each year.

ABFITT: What sparked your initial interest in weight training and a health and fitness lifestyle? Can you share with us how this lead to competing?

 Samantha Ford: I initially started weight training and getting into fitness after breaking out of a bad verbally abusive relationship that lasted several years. I was living an extremely unhealthy lifestyle and had began to feel less confident in myself. I used to love to work out, mostly cardio, but had stopped and wanted to get back to a healthier lifestyle. I started going to the gym several times per week and lifting more frequently. I was lifting up to 6 times per week, seeing results that I had never seen before with cardio alone. I started reading fitness magazines and websites to teach myself new workouts and diet ideas. In the back of my head I always wanted to compete. I loved the look of NPC figure competitors and wanted to look like that myself. I started to do my research and attended a local show to see what it was all about. After attending that, I was certain I wanted to do it. I reached out to my aunt who was a bodybuilder to help me get started on a diet plan. After working with someone to assist me with a proper diet, I was amazed how my body looked. Diet is essential to competing; almost 85% of what it is all about. In the beginning, I thought I would just do one show but after my first show I had so much fun I was hooked. I felt a sense of accomplishment I never had felt before. 

ABFITT: What is your take on training?

Samantha Ford: Every time I go to the gym I train with a purpose and that is to be better than I was before. Making every workout count. Training hard is only one of the many pieces to the puzzle when training for a show. The key is always consistency. Sometimes it takes time to see results and you have to be patient. I believe in training every muscle group until failure and I like to change things up so I don't get bored. In addition, I believe you should seek help from a
trainer who has good credentials. The best advice I have for somebody competing is to make sure you have the time, money, and resources to compete before you commit yourself. If you don't, you will be setting yourself up for failure. Competing is a lot of hard work but is well worth it for those who are committed. Also, remember to be patient. CHanges don't happen overnight and reward yourself for what you accomplish. Bodybuilding is more than a sport, it is a lifestyle. That is important to always remember. Love the lifestyle and the results will come.

ABFITT: Talk to us about the importance of nutrition and how you dial it in when preparing to step on stage. 

Samantha Ford:  Nutrition is without a doubt the most important factor when training for a show. Eat clean and follow your plan. When I am prepping for a show and even in my offseason I measure and prepare all my meals in advance so I am always prepared. During my prep I limit condiments and seasoning which is very hard for me.I love my contaminants lol. Always make sure I have enough food on hand so I am prepared for the week and am not running to the store multiple times per week. With my job sometimes following contest diets can be difficult but I make it work. The bottom line is always plan.

ABFITT: Discuss your competition history. Tell us about it and what if any one show stands out the most, for better or worse?

Samantha Ford: I competed in a total of 5 shows one in 2014 and 4 this year. Placing within top 3 in all my shows. I truly love competing and the day of the show when the hard work is done and you can have fun. I say it is almost like the prom for bodybuilders lol. I love getting myself done up and tanned to hit the stage and show of the hard work. It is great to be surrounded by other like minded people at the shows. Several shows stand out to me although it is hard for me to narrow it done because they all stand out from me for different reasons. The first show I need The big cat classic stands out to me because it was where I caught the bug as they say. After doing that show I knew I had to keep competing. The excalibur cup was also a great show for me because I met so many great local people who I am still in contact with. The AC Europa was also A good show for me with a bigger venue and pro show as well I loved being surrounded by top of the line inspiring physiques. I am looking forward to experiencing more show next year:)

ABFITT: Let's talk about your contest prep and how you go about getting in the shape required to be competitive in your class.

Samantha Ford: Contest prep is when I become even stricter with my diet. Eating as clean as possible and following my plan to a T. I also switch up my cardio to burn more calories and keep my body burning fat. During prep I do higher reps with my weights and train my abs more frequently. But during prep the main focus should be on your diet. Although you are ultimately the one responsible for getting yourself in contest shape it is vital to have a coach to tel you where you need to improve and recommend the proper diet. Believe ,me even the pros do not go into contest prep alone. Another important part of contest prep is getting enough rest because believe me you will be tired at times. You may not have as much energy to do extracurricular activity but during your prep you main focus should be dialing it in for the show.

ABFITT: How do your friends, family feel about your contests and getting in such great shape to compete?

Samantha Ford: My family and friends definitely do not understand the whole process of prepping for a show and my lifestyle but they are supportive. For instance when prepping during the holidays they don't understand why I just cant have one glass of wine or chocolate etc... They are proud of me for my dedication and how far I have come. Although the do not understand they respect it and are amazed by the willpower practiced during prep. I am very grateful for my family and friends support.

ABFITT: I see so many wonderful photographs of you, from friend of abfitt and top fitness  photographer Spencer Jung of Can you tell us how you met Spencer and how your friendship developed?

Samantha Ford: Spencer was the photographer at my first show and had took so many amazing stage shots and I had also heard about him on facebook and through other competitors / trainers.. After getting myself It contest shape I wanted to capture myself at my best with more than selfies as spence says lol. Worked with him for a shoot and ended up doing more shoots. As a first timer working with him he made me feel comfortable. He is not only a good photographer but has been a great supporter throughout my competitive season.. He has has captured me at nearly every show and has noticed the changed I have made. Looking forward do to doing more shoots next year.

ABFITT:  Any thought on this years Nationals and that IFBB pro card?

Samantha Ford: Going to nationals and doing well is my ultimate goal this year. Of Course I want my ifbb pro card weather it comes this year or the next I am willing to . I am super excited to take my physique to the next level. Body transformation is the most exciting to me. Goal is always to be better than yesterday!. I am excited now to be a part of team biggie smalls. Hoping to bring a new and improved package 2016.

ABFITT: So what’s next?

Samantha Ford: Right now I am in offseason putting on some more muscle to be competitive at national level. I plan on hitting the stage in late spring or early summer to fight for that number one spot and that IFBB pro card!

ABFITT: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us, I wish you the best to come in the new year and be certain Abfitt will keeping an eye out for you this season. Visit us 

James Kinthiseng Has His Eyes Set On The 2015 NPC Junior USA's And An IFBB Pro Card


Name:    James Kinthiseng
Age: 32
Years competing: 1.5
Sponsors: Nobullsupplements and PsychoGear Clothing
Competition History: 2013 Mr. Syracuse, Usbf Pro Npc Mr. Buffalo. 15th at 2014 Team Universe

ABFITT. Can you give us some background information?

JAMES: I've always had a passion for working out just not so much for dieting. That all changed when I decided to start competing. I never imagined in a million years that I would ever look the way I do now. Now I love and breathe health and fitness and I just want to inspire and motivate others to change their lives for the better.

  ABFITT: What sparked your initial interest in weight training and a health and fitness lifestyle? Can you share with us how this lead to competing?

JAMES: Honestly I always wanted to look like my father growing up. He always was very fit and it showed and I strived to look like him so that's when I first started working out when I was probably 13 years old.  I started competing because I wanted to see how I stacked up against my peers.  I wanted to see if I had what it took to actually compete because I recall numerous times I would attempt to start a diet but I always failed in the past to stay on one.

  ABFITT: What is your take on training? What has worked best for you? With so much information available to people looking to start, what the best advice you can offer?

JAMES: Currently I utilize a push/pull split with legs on the third day with a off day after that and then I start the cycle over again.  The best advice I can give is everyone is different and responds differently to workout methods, supplements and diets. Everyone is different so a cookie cutter approach to everything will never work. Trial and error is the only way to truly learn.

 ABFITT: Talk to us about the importance of nutrition and how you dial it in when preparing to step onstage.

 JAMES: "You can't out train a bad diet." I never knew how important nutrition was until after I completely a contest prep. It's awe inspiring how food science works with the human body. I follow a flexible dieting approach but I hit my macros exactly and I eat the same way up until my show. I cheat/refeed twice a week. I don't mess around with any of the peak week stuff except  I tweak my water. I figure if you diet up and make progress up until your show, then there's no need for peak week tactics. Just keep it simple. Stick to what got you there.

ABFITT: Discuss your competition history. Tell us about it and what if any one show stands out the most, for better or worse?

JAMES: I have had a very short competition history.  My worst experience was at the 2014 Team Universe. I failed to complete a mandatory back shot because I took to long completing a side pose that the judges didn't ask for when us competitors first walked out onstage individually. So because of the that I didn't listen and do what the judges ask for, I paid heavily for it. Because I didn't have a back shot for the judges to see, I then didn't get a proper call out. So now it's redemption time for me. I have a huge chip on my shoulders and I want to show the world that I have what it takes to turn ifbb pro someday.

 ABFITT:  Can you discuss your experience competing on the National level?

JAMES: Come prepared and be stage ready week in advance and practice posing. With so many competitors it's easy to get lost in the shuffle because everyone looks good. But I feel if you practice your posing and wow the judges by standing out, they will bold very well for you. Another thing bring enough food.  You don't always step on stage at the times they have mapped out. If it says physique is going on stage at 10am, we'll be prepared to go then or at 1pm. Adjust accordingly and plan for worst case scenario.

 ABFITT: How do your friends, family feel about your contests and getting in such great shape to compete?

JAMES: Everyone is very supportive and it helps because we all know how grueling contest prep can be sometimes. It take incredible discipline to stay on track  and I think everyone realizes that and it inspires them to take control over their only lives for the better.
The best thing you can do for yourself and for those who love you is build the life you want and prove to those who love you that supporting you was worth their time and energy. That's why I work so hard.

 ABFITT:  What is some advice to guys who may be contemplating giving Mens Physique a try.

JAMES: Just have fun with it and always practice your posing.

 ABFITT:  Any thought to tying for an IFBB pro card?

JAMES:  I dream about it night and day. And I'm working hard to make it a reality. "Winners are not those who never fail, they are the ones who never quit"

 ABFITT: So what’s next?

JAMES: I plan on doing the Jay Cutler classic to warm up for nationals and then flying down to South Carolina to compete at junior usa"s  at the end of May and then competing at every national show this year to try to get a pro card.

 ABFITT: Thank you for taking the time to talk with Abfitt. (For more information on James please see his personal links above)


Abfitt training & consulting services can be reached at for more information

46 yr old Physique Competitor Trisha Smick, Will Be Attempting To Secure An IFBB Pro Card Early This Summer At Masters Nationals


Name:       Trisha Smick
Age: 46
Years competing: 2
Sponsors:  Spartan Nutrition. Dr. Susan Hughes
Competition History:
2014:  NPC Golds Classic, Physique 2nd Place
2014:  NPC Natural Mid-Atlantic Classic; Physique 1st Place
2014:  NGA Mr & Ms. Natural Philadelphia; Physique 1st Place
2013:  OCB Battle for The Belt; Physique 2nd, Bodybuilding 3rd Place
2012:  INBF Amateur World Championships; Fit Body (Physique) 2nd, Figure 2nd Place
1994:  WNBF Pro Ms. Universe, Women’s Bodybuilding 6th Place

ABFITT: Thank you for taking the time to talk with ABFITT. Can you give us some background information?

Trisha Smick: I’m am a 46 year old Women’s Amateur Physique Competitor, Married 13+ years and a proud Mother of 3 beautiful children; Trevor 12, Sierra 8 and my baby Haley 5.  I live in NJ approximately 25 miles outside of Philadelphia.   I’m the youngest of 6 siblings and the only one to graduate college.  I attended Penn State University graduating within the top 10% of my class in 1991 with a B.S. in Exercise and Sport Science.

ABFITT: What sparked your initial interest in weight training and a health and fitness lifestyle? Can you share with us how this lead to competing?

Trisha Smick: My initial interest in fitness sprouted in early high school when I struggled with my weight and body image.  I joined a local fitness club within walking distance where I enjoyed circuit training and aerobics.  I would rush home from school, run full speed from the bus stop to change and make it just in time for class.  By the time I was a senior in HS, I was teaching aerobics and “personal training.”  Although initially motivated by a need to lose weight, these early experiences sparked my overall passion for health & fitness and ultimately laid the foundation for my pursuit of a degree in Exercise and Sport Science.

However, it wasn't until post-college 1992, following a difficult life event, that I began dedicating myself to the sport of physique competitions.  As a distraction, a friend and personal trainer Todd Zabielski, invited me to attend a physique competition for a female client.   As a fitness enthusiast I understood the discipline & tenacity required to step on that stage prepared!  That night, I told Todd with such conviction “I can do that and I want to do that” and 3 months later I did.  I had a great showing my first time out and continued to do well during my next few outings.  Soon thereafter,  I earned my WNBF Pro Card and went on to place 6th at my first pro show, WNBF “1994 Ms. Universe” in NYC.

Following the Ms. Universe at age 26, I stopped competing altogether for 18 years.  I found myself quietly struggling with accepting the concept that I will likely never be “THE BEST,” and there would likely always be someone better than me, so “what’s the point”?  This destructive all or nothing mindset left me feeling deflated and defeated.  Although I continued to “train” for the next few years, as my family grew so did my distance from the gym.  At 33 following marriage and the birth of my first child, I stopped altogether and did what way too many women do that I strongly urge against; i.e., In becoming a wife and mother my life revolved around everyone else’s needs but mine and in the process I lost “ME.”

Ironically, It took another difficult life event to get me back to the gym and the roots of the sport.  In early 2010 my mother’s health declined eventually leading to her loss of life in 2012.  Witnessing her painful decline and accepting the inevitable outcome on my best friends life was a tremendously painful process and had a detrimental impact on some interpersonal family relationships.  I needed, and continue to need to this day, a productive outlet for my pain and angst.  As a result, I turned to the sport I knew I could count on like I did so many years ago.  In May 2011 I walked through the doors of a gym again and stepped on stage 1 1/2 years later at the 2012 INBF World Amateur Championships, placing 2nd in both Figure and Fit Body (Physique).

So what’s different this time around?  I now realize that while this sport can summon so many of our core strengths, oddly many of our insecurities surface as well.  But, I have the maturity and wisdom now to embrace the concept that this sport is not about anyone else but me; It is my journey!  As I enter each new day I strive to leave behind an older version of myself to unveil an improved one; a version that has learned from both her mistakes and triumphs of yesterday.  So, it really doesn't matter if I am “The Best” as long as I am “My Best”!

ABFITT: What is your take on training? What has worked best for you? With so much information available to people looking to start, what the best advice you can offer?

Trisha Smick: As a natural athlete, the “more is better” approach does not work for me.  Rather, I am a proponent of training smart and hard with brief, focused sessions and plenty of rest to ensure adequate muscle recovery.   I prefer training heavy using big basic compound movements complemented with ancillary isolation movements.  I also incorporate supersets and/or drop sets to create variety when needed.  I hit each body part hard weekly on a 4 day split designed around addressing my weak areas first and foremost.  I incorporate supplements such a Creatine, Glutamine, and BCAA’s, to name a few, that assist with strength, endurance, protein synthesis and muscle recovery.

In my opinion, execution of a training protocol is only 50% of the success equation.  The other component is mentality and establishing what I call the “mindset of a champion.”  I have a mental rolodex of positive affirmations paired with positive visual imagery that I call upon to create an intense focus prior to and during my training.  As Muhammad Ali states, “It is the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief.  And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, great things begin to happen!”

My advice to beginners embarking on their fitness journey - educate yourself and become a student of the sport.  Or, find a trainer or a mentor that can teach you and get you started with an effective strategy designed around your fitness goals.  Once goals are identified and strategy established, DO NOT be inconsistent, make excuses, or be a weekend warrior.  Execute your plan with steadfast commitment, be patient, trust the process and results will follow!  As Bruce Lee states, “Long-term consistency trumps short-term intensity.”

ABFITT: Talk to us about the importance of nutrition and how you dial it in when preparing to step on stage.

Trisha Smick: Nutrition; what, when and how much is absolutely 1000% critical when preparing for stage.  I work closely with my Coach, IFBB Pro Vilma Caez, to manage my nutrition all year. Monitoring and modifying caloric intake/expenditure and macro nutrient intake (carbs, proteins, fats) while observing the physique changes that ensue, is critical in determining off-season and contest strategy to dial my physique into stage ready condition.  Since calories/carbs are kept relatively high, cardio sessions kept to a minimum and we typically avoid the need to carb deplete or cut water, prep is very manageable as strength and energy are sustained and I’m often asked, “How are you so Happy?”

Aside from pre-contest, eating a clean gluten free diet is a lifestyle that I enjoy all year.  Not just because I feel and look better, but eating clean and gluten free enables me to manage my Celiac’s Disease as well as Lymphocytic Colitis.  Overall, I avoid almost all processed foods and lean toward simple foods with minimal ingredients.

ABFITT: Discuss your competition history. Tell us about it and what if any one show stands out the most, for better or worse?

Trisha Smick: Coming off an 18 year hiatus I wasn't sure which division would best serve my physique.  Upon experimenting with figure, physique and bodybuilding, it became clear that WPD is where I would thrive.  Although figure was a viable option, I lacked some of the strong classic v-taper characteristics and I wasn't able to highlight or be rewarded for my muscularity.  In bodybuilding, I simply lacked the muscle mass to be competitive.  Physique is the perfect blend of both worlds where I can be rewarded for my moderate muscularity, sharp conditioning as well as my stage presence and presentation with a choreographed routine.

Up until October 2014, I competed in only natural bodybuilding sanctions (OCB, NGA, INBF, WNBF) where polygraph/urine testing for performance enhancing drugs were routine.  In October 2014, I competed in my first NPC competition and although initially intimidated, my coach reassured me that I had all the makings to do well in the NPC.  I feel good about the NPC and I’m excited to continue my loyalty with them as I pursue my IFBB Pro Card.

Many would be surprised to learn that I have stage fright, sometimes to the point of “performance paralysis.”  I tend to experience anxiety when on stage alone as the center of attention. I’m more at ease when surrounded by other competitors; i.e., during pre-judging.  Sometimes I experience cold sweats, racing heart, loss of concentration and difficulty breathing  in varying degrees.  I work super hard on preventing this from happening and affecting my performance by calming my state of mind through positive self talk and visual imagery.

So, regarding a show that stands out; I would say there are two and both experiences were related to stage anxiety; the 94’ Ms Universe and the 14’ Golds Classic.  Being fully aware of my stage anxiety, I over-prepare for anything and everything stage related; from walking out, mandatory posing, individual posing routine, to a class pose down, etc. so everything becomes very intuitive. At the Universe and Gold’s I completely blanked either just prior to or during my performance.  However, due to the hours upon hours of practice, self talk and visual imagery, I was able to calm myself enough to regain my composure and execute flawlessly.

ABFITT: How as a mother of three do you find the time to plan, focus on contest prep and compete?

Trisha Smick: Well, Its not easy or perfect but it’s manageable as long as you make it a priority and don’t allow yourself, or anyone else, make you feel guilty!  First and foremost, I embrace the concept that I count too and to be a “better mom” I need to be a “better me!”  Being healthy, looking good, fulfilling a passion and serving as a role model for my children makes me a “better me.”  I schedule my training just as I would any of my kids activities and strive to stick to the plan.  Sure, as a Mom you need to flex based on family demands, but overall if you establish a realistic plan sprinkled with a little bit of flexibility, it should work most of the time and that’s good enough for me!

Regarding contest prep, because I usually stay within 5-7% of stage weight my prep is short and therefore fairly pleasant.   Typically my children don't even realize I'm prepping until the final two weeks, at which point I sit with them and share what to expect and how Mom may need their support.  Speaking of support, never underestimate the value of a strong support network and the impact it can have on your prep.  I’m not afraid to ask for help, I just don’t do it very often but when I do I pick my shots and make it count.

ABFITT: How do your friends, family feel about your contests and getting in such great shape to compete?

Trisha Smick: I would say that out of all of my family and friends the ones who are most enamored by me
being a physique competitor are my two little girls, ages 8 and 5.  They are so proud to see Mommy on stage performing and love holding the trophies.  Hopefully there’s more than one trophy otherwise they fight the whole ride home!   More importantly, they truly enjoy the process with me.  I recall a few preps while waiting with them for the school bus, they would lift my shirt, count my abs and were excited to see the number of visible “squares” (as they put it) increase weekly.  They get a kick out of mimicking me and watching me practice my routine in the driveway or while cooking where my reflection is visible on the face of appliances.  My 12 yr old son on the other hand is another story.   Understandably, he’s at an age where kids just want to fit in and be like all the other kids.  Having an athletic and muscular Mom who doesn't quite look like the other Mom’s as he states, is embarrassing.   For example, when picking him up from school in gym clothes, he got texted by friends asking “who’s that,” and he responded that I was his Aunt  LOL - lesson learned and note to self; don’t pick Trevor up from school in gym clothes.  My Husband, friends and family overall admire my dedication and commitment and support my passion for the sport.

ABFITT: I see so many wonderful photographs of you from a friend of abfitt and top fitness  photographer Spencer Jung. Can you tell us how you met Spencer and how your friendship developed?

Trisha Smick: Spence is an NPC Photographer providing stage photography covering many regional NPC competitions.  In May 2014, I competed in my first NPC Competition.  I decided to order some pics following and contacted Spence for the first time.  He said, “Oh, I remember you, you stood out, your posing was great, were you ever a ballerina”?  What’s not to love already about Spence!!!  So, that was the beginning of our friendship.  I can always count on Spence to capture me at my best whether on stage or during a photo shoot.  He has been a great supporter and has contributed to my pursuit of climbing the competitive physique ranks.  Thank You Spence!  xo

ABFITT:  Any thought to tying for an IFBB pro card?

Trisha Smick: Absolutely YES!  I will be attempting to secure my IFBB Pro Card early this summer at Masters Nationals and possibly Team Universe.  IFBB Pro Card or not, I am hoping that 2015 is my year; a year of progress, growth and development

ABFITT: So what’s next?

Trisha Smick: To focus on being my personal best; as a mother, wife, competitor.  Making those I love proud.
To continue to better balance my competitive passion with my family/personal life.
To inspire women who doubt they can achieve their fitness goals whether due to age, family demands and/or commitments.
To stay mentally grounded and keep it in perspective; focus on the journey, not the destination.
To continually learn from the cues my body provides to spawn new development and growth

ABFITT: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us, I wish you the best to come in the new year and be certain Abfitt will keeping an eye out for you this season. Visit us

 Special thanks to Spence.

Abfitt talks with rising local NPC Athlete Ehreck Wes


Name: Ehreck Wes        
Age: 25
The Particulars- 5'9  165 Lb
Years competing: 1
Sponsors: None

ABFITT: You have been very busy lately two NPC shows in what three weeks? Thank you for taking the time to talk with ABFITT. Can you give us some background information?

Ehreck Wes : Yes I did 2 shows in the past 3 weeks it defiantly took a lot of discipline to not want to break diet after the first show. I was born in New Haven, Connecticut and raised in Staten island, NY and Scotrun, Pennsylvania! I am 25 years old and studied at East Stroudsburg University and The University of Jaen in spain, Europe and I have a bachelors degree is in foreign language and business. I competed in the Lehigh valley NPC show and took third as well as the New Jersey NPC show and took 4th. I would have very much like to have taken first but these were my first set of shows ever so I was happy with the results of being in the top 5 for both. 

 ABFITT: What sparked your initial interest in weight training and how did this lead to competing in the men's physique division?

Ehreck Wes: I originally started weight training thanks to my father and uncle. I had gotten caught with marijuana on school grounds when I was around 15 years old and had been suspended and put on juvenile probation. needless to say I was grounded by my parents. One morning at around 4 am my father woke me up and said "LETS GO!" so I got out of bed, we jumped in the car and he drove me to a local Wal-Mart and purchased me a bench, weights and a set of dumbbells. by the time we got back my uncle had been at our house and my father said "Your uncle is going to help you set this up and he is also going to teach you how to weight train." so being that the only thing I was allowed to do was spend time with my uncle after school I began to learn dieting, weight training and supplementation through my uncles guidance, but the thing I will remember most is the reaction I got when I returned to school my 11th grade yeah after a whole summer of training. People could not believe how different I looked and how much bigger and stronger I had gotten! I loved the feeling of being able to feel and look great!     

ABFITT: Talk to us about the importance of nutrition and how you dial it in when preparing to step on stage.

Ehreck Wes: Nutrition is the number one most important thing when it come to stage prep or even training in general it allows you to maximize your gains and can help you achieve that razor sharp physique you need, to be able to place well, and really stand out on stage. There is no amount of cardio you can do to out run a bad diet. I am always sure to take in the proper amounts of proteins, healthy fats, carbs and water.   

 ABFITT: What is your take on training? What has worked best for you? With so much information available to people looking to start, what the best advice you can offer?

Ehreck Wes:  I think when it comes to training being consistent is the first place to start. Getting in your 5 days at the gym and your 2 days of rest. I like to train separate body parts on each one of those 5 days making sure I am hitting all my muscle groups within the training week. I like to pyramid my sets making sure my rep range is usually 15, 12, 10, 8,  and I adjust my weights accordingly, as I grow in strength. I will however change my exercises and swap out rep ranges to 10,8,8,6 or 20,15,12,10 to give my muscle some confusion that will help stimulate constant growth. I usually top of my weight training session with about 30 minutes of high intensity interval cardio.   

ABFITT: Let’s talk about your competitions. Tell us about them  and what if any one show stands out the most so far.

Ehreck Wes: Doing My first 2 shows was an amazing experience it allowed me to stay disciplined and train much harder knowing I would have to step on a stage in front of a panel of judges, audience and along side other guys who have been training just as hard as me. The show that will always stand out in my mind is my first show at Lehigh Valley where my best friend Zach Migala and I turned an individual sport into a team sport by training together, dieting together, and stepping on stage together. We stuck by each other and made sure we pushed ourselves to ultimately become better versions of ourselves and it allowed both of us to place among the top 3. Bobby Cartalemi our coach at Muscle INC also was a big part of my success. He was able to monitor my diet, improve my training techniques and help me with my posing. He really helped keep me on track in the weeks leading to the show.

ABFITT: What advice would you give guys thinking about competing in MPD?

Ehreck Wes: Stop thinking and just do it! Its a great experience even if you come in dead last or first place you still are walking a path that will ultimately make you a better person then you are currently! You will learn discipline, proper nutrition, become more in tune with your body and walk away feeling and looking better then you ever did.

ABFITT: So what’s next?

Ehreck Wes: Now that I am done with the shows for the season I am going to continue to train, look for modeling work and casting calls for television shows and movies. I am also going to be trying to receive some sponsorships from other companies as well as continue to compete.  

ABFITT: How can ABFITT readers follow you and your MPD career?

Ehreck Wes: I currently have a Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and profile on many of which you can find by just typing Ehreck Wes into a Google search bar but here are the specific links to my Instagram and Facebook.

 ABFITT: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with ABFITT and I wish you continued success.

Boxing Workout Programs

boxing may at times look easy when watching from the comfort of your living room, however the basics of the sport require a great deal of mental skill and strategy and of course a tremendous amount of physical training. A boxing workout is long, tiring and made of many types of exercise.

Understanding the Sport
To understand why a boxing workout is so involved, it helps to understand the basics of the sport. Televised professional boxing puts a lot of emphasis on knockouts and injuries--they make for good television after all. But amateur and Olympic boxing puts its emphasis on landing good touches while keeping your opponent from touching you.
A touch happens when your glove makes contact with your opponent. You can touch them on the head, face, body and arms, but nothing below the belt. In order to get your gloves near their body, you must be fast, have great endurance, decent flexibility and strength.

Warming Up

Shadow Boxing: Facing a mirror so that you can check your form, practice each of the moves you would use in the ring. Start with a simple combination and work your way up to something more complicated.
For example, start with a simple 1-2-3-4 combination (jab, cross, hook, uppercut) and work up to a more complicated combination of moves. The objective here is to check form and keep your heart rate up.

Jump Rope: Jump roping keeps the heart rate up, strengthens arms and legs, and teaches quick footwork. Try jump roping for 3 minutes at a time, then resting for a minute--the same pattern of time you would be boxing in a ring.
As you jump rope, switch up the way you are jumping. Try jumping with your feet moving in a shuffle pattern, crossing your arms as you jump or double jumping--making the rope move twice under your feet before your feet hit the ground again.
Strength Moves
Building muscle serves two purposes in boxing. It helps you land stronger, faster punches and helps protect you when you get hit.
Pushups and crunches are the best basic moves for boxers to practice. These moves train the areas where you will be getting hit and require no additional equipment. Try these variations to add even more power to your workout.

Pushup Variations
Standard pushups - Legs are straight out behind you while hands are under your shoulders.
Diamonds - Legs are in a V-shape you. Hands are together with the forefingers and thumbs touching to make a diamond shape under your chest.
Wide grips - Legs are straight out behind you. Hands are set farther away from your body so that your body makes a "y" shape.
Knuckles - Legs are straight out behind you. Hands are in fists under your shoulders.
Fingertips - Legs are straight out behind you. Hands are in the standard pushup position, however you will balance yourself on your fingertips.

Crunch Variations
Basic crunch - Hands are behind the head. Feet are flat on the floor so that the knees are bent at a 45-degree angle.
Obliques 1 - Hands are behind the head. One foot is flat on the floor so that the knee is bent at a 45-degree angle. The other foot rests on the opposite knee. Repeat on each side.
Obliques 2 - Hands are behind the head. Legs lay to one side, resting on top of each other. Repeat for each side.
Rope climb - Hands are straight out from the chest at a right angle from the body. Legs are extended up at right angle from the body. As you crunch, move your arms as though you are climbing a rope.
Mitt and Bag Work
After your body is well warmed up, it is time to actually hit something.

Speed Bag - Use the speed bag to practice precise movements. You do not need to hit the speed bag very hard. Instead, you should focus on hitting it accurately--making it swing the same amount after each hit and being able to hit it again when it swings back.
Heavy Bag - Use the heavy bag to practice all the punches and to add strength to your punches. You can practice each of the four punches on the bag, now concentrating on landing each punch with power.
Mitt Work - Use a partner wearing mitts to practice hitting a moving target. This will also show you why cardio training is so important because you will have to control your breathing as well as your punches.

Make sure that your partner moves around as they hold the mitts that you are working to hit. Like the shadow boxing warm up, start with a simple combination and work up to something more complicated.

An Inside look at IFBB Men's Physique Pro Jake Phippen's contest prep for 2014 IFBB Pro Grand Prix

Part I of a IIII part series following IFBB Men's physique pro Jake Phippen's contest prep for 2014 IFBB Pro Grand Prix April 12 in Culver City, CA (Los Angeles) 
Interviewed - 2/2014

ABFITT: Jake the last time you spoke with Abfitt you were wrapping up the 2013 season with a win
at the Sacramento pro. Can you bring us up to speed on what's been going on in your offseason?

Jake Phippen: Since the IFBB Sacramento Pro my coach and I decided to add a little mass to my physique, increase metabolism, and continue to work on symmetry.

The last couple months my diet has been a higher caloric intake mainly through an increase in carbs with a free meal once a week. My workouts would be described best as MET Training (Metabolic Enhancement Training). This is strength and/or conditioning exercises performed with the intention of increasing the capacity and efficiency of the energy pathways to store and deliver energy for activity.

As of this morning my weight is up 12 lbs from what I
 typically show at. With the increase in mass I will step on stage heavier, fuller, and just as lean. Very excited to see the end result April 12!

ABFITT: Lets talk about your upcoming contest, the first for the 2014 season. The 2014 IFBB Pro Grand Prix April 12 in Culver City, CA (Los Angeles) Why this particular venue?

Jake Phippen: I wanted to get back on stage ASAP to give myself
 enough chances to try and qualify for the 2014 Olympia and this show is 1 of the 2 first IFBB Pro Men's Physique shows of the year. It's the closest event from where I live and I enjoy competing out in Cali. But, the main reason I wanted to do this show was for the competition. There will be a bunch of guys competing who also competed and placed in the '13 Olympia. This will give me an idea of where I stack against them and what I need to work on.

ABFITT: So take the casual observer through your thought process going from your last contest to this point, as you prepare for the Grand Prix.

Jake Phippen: Mental strength will either make or break you. I get into the mindset that nothing will stop me or distract me from my prep. I always train to win and this motivates to give my all day in and day out.

ABFITT: Take us through a typical day of contest prep for Jake Phippen. Your nutrition, your training, your mental state. *(Trying to give someone who has never sacrificed the things a competitor has to in order to compete an idea of  the daily struggles as well as rewards a athlete goes through during contest prep)

Jake Phippen: Nutrition wise I eat 6 meals per day and an Intra Workout drink called Plazma. My protein and fat is divided up fairly evenly through 6 meals and the carbs are setup for recovery and optimizing my metabolism (Each meal has a different carb amount).

 I workout 6 days a week with 1 recovery day and no cardio at this point. With the way MET training works my workouts include some heavy lifting, lighter tempo lifts, followed by a short high intensity circuit. I try to workout at the same time everyday. These routines last between 1-1 1/2hrs.

Each day I wakeup with the intent to better myself from the day before. This could include physically, mentally, or emotionally. Always trying to improve some aspect of my life.

Let me take you throughout a typical day while prepping for a show.

4am: wakeup, check weight, posing practice
5am: meal 1, work
8am: meal 2, work
11am: meal 3, social media, emails, and online clients
2pm: meal 4, preworkout supplements
3pm: workout, posing at the gym, work
5pm: meal 5, work
8pm: meal 6,
 social media, emails, and online clients
9pm: posing at home, meal prep 
10pm: bed

I normally cut out all social life so I don't put myself into a position to possibly ruin my progress. I also ramp up posing. Bad posing can ruin an exceptional physique. I've seen too many great competitors lose out because they don't present themselves well. I love my sleep and go to bed early but sleep is a key element for proper recovery. If you don't get

 Your rest your body will start breaking down and this can affect hormone levels and loss of muscle mass. I know if I can be 100% in the situations under my control (eating, workouts, sleep, posing, social life, etc) then I will bring to stage the best physique possible.

ABFITT: Any other shows planned for the 2014 season?

Jake Phippen:The only other show I have in mind is the Dallas Europa May 3. After that my coach and I will make a decision as to what shows would be ideal and realistic to compete in.  

ABFITT: Thanks for your time Jake. We are going to chat again at three weeks out for the second of four updates as we follow you in your lead up and post contest for the Grand Prix.

Jake Phippen: Thank you again and I look forward to updating you all in a few weeks. Feel free to follow me on social media and don't hesitate to ask any questions about my prep.
Facebook: IFBB Pro Jake Phippen

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Hope Taylor 2014 Posters For A Better Cause

" Our kids deserve advocates that empower them to believe in themselves and their future AS A BRIGHT ONE. If we don't act the risk that they might carry the beliefs and labels that society puts on them because of what they endured is highly probable. If we can help one kid, that helps another kid, that helps another kid... it'll be a beautiful thing to see, experience and be amazing to be apart of. I can show them what I've done and the odds I fought to aligned me with my dreams. And this is only the beginning "

Please show your support, friend of Abfitt  Hope Taylor: 

" These Hope Taylor 2014 Posters are selling 1 for $15, 2 for $25 and 3 for $30. Proceeds will go to a local organization designed to protect children from abuse. It's a cause very close to my heart.

In addition to our collective monetary donation, I'll be contributing my time in efforts to be an advocate for these kids, to help them believe in themselves, to be their own success story, in whatever direction they choose to live their dream!

If you are interested in purchasing please send me an email to  with your selections and/or any questions. PAYPAL is available! I only printed a limited amount so if you are interest please order promptly!

Thank you all so very much for your consideration. Love, Hope "

The Curvy Truth...One woman's Quest For Balance, As She Reaches Her Fitness Goals

Note from the editor: Guest writer and friend of AbFitt Latina Wanda shares her story of struggle and success with her personal fitness. All photo's courtesy of Miss Wanda.

The Curvy Truth-

I gave up everything to move to a foreign country and follow my heart. Cultural integration was proving to be a challenge due to the need to quickly learn a language that could possibly open the gateway to social acceptance and a chance to work. In spite of my high qualifications and many job interviews, I never found a job in my area of expertise. It was frustrating because I was very young, full of ideas and the energy to boot…

I had always been active, but with my move to Germany came complacency. I didn’t make much of it since a high metabolism compensated for my overindulgence. But then it came… That dreaded moment that most of us women know all too well and to which I refer to as “the shift”… It basically translated to “I gotta start cutting down my intake”, and I knew I ate way too much because 1) I love food and b) I could. Well that wasn’t happening anymore. I also knew that I had to start exercising.

There was a pivotal point in my life where I just got tired of living for others, and it was pretty much exactly at the same time where as a young family we were struggling with money. I had my first child, a workaholic husband, a demanding household and absolutely no time for myself. A gym membership was out of the question and forget a babysitter because there was no money for that either. I had no support system, because I left that behind when I moved and his family was far away. What did I do to overcome so many obstacles? I decided to put myself as a priority – no excuses! I started doing all sorts of floor exercises at home while my child took his naps and even found a YMCA that offered aerobic classes at a reasonable fee with childcare. It was a start towards getting my body back after the initial shock of pregnancy and childbirth but more importantly, towards liking myself again.

By the time I had my second child, I was better prepared, but goodness do these kids suck the life out of you! My energy levels were alarmingly low and soon after the birth of my second child I fell ill. I had very little support at home and was stressed beyond belief… I do think it was the closest I have ever come to being depressed. I needed surgery and knew that once I recovered, I would be pain-free and could get back on that horse. I got through that and continued to keep my focus. Through my home efforts I at least manage to keep my weight under control and felt very proud about that.

The biggest change, however that I experienced as a woman came when I moved to Asia. Expatriate life offers many perks, and one of them was the luxury of time… Now we all know that you cannot buy time, but you can hire a housekeeper/babysitter to clear your day so that time magically appears… All the things that were not possible before, could now be done. I wasted no time! The gym membership was the very first thing I got. I attended classes feverishly, trying out everything, and my body transformed before my eyes. With my new body came overwhelming confidence. My energy levels were through the roof, and to be completely honest, not much has changed today…. I am the oldest in my current boxing/mix fight class, and I leave that class nearly every time with the biggest smile on my face because when we are doing those drills, it would seem that in a room of teens and 20-year olds, I am the only one that can complete them without looking like I’ll be dragged to the next emergency unit! Now that’s something to brag about…!

Returning back to Germany meant a smack of reality and a test to see what I had truly learned about my fitness journey. I no longer had the maid to clean the house nor the babysitter to look after my kids, and the monetary benefits were all slashed. So what changed in my fitness regime now that I had less free time? Absolutely nothing! The moment you make that conscious decision to care for yourself and you begin to reap the benefits, chances are you’ll never go back! It becomes a priority and not an item on your excuse list. Working out should be a habit but never a burden! You do it because you keep remembering how utterly fantastic you feel every time after that. If your attitude is to live a healthy lifestyle, then the fact that you may have little money, have kids to care for, have a house to clean, have a job in a workplace, etc. should never be a reason to NOT do something about it!

Exercising comes in so many shapes and forms. There is something out there for everyone. And today we even have the luxury of attaining a wealth of information online, and get this, for free! One of the great things about exercising besides the obvious fact of staying healthy is the amazing side effect of looking good. People look at you differently, admiringly, with respect and some even with a little bit of envy… ;) How can anyone want that to stop?!?

Being a Hispanic woman has endowed me with steep curves and some serious junk in the trunk! So many believe that I am lucky because they wish they could have it too. Now I’m not going to lie to you, it is great to be curvy IF you can control the fat…. IF you can eat moderately all the time… IF childbirth doesn’t expand you and then deflates parts of you that say “a perky butt once lived here”…

IF the weight you are trying to lose is coming off the excessive saddlebags you’re lugging around and NOT from your already lean forearms… I could go on with the “IF”s, but you get the picture. For me it has always been important to have a body that exudes both strength and femininity. I’m not in this to compete, and I most certainly am not in it to prove that I am stronger than anybody. I am just a normal mom and housewife, who just wants to prove that a positive attitude and an ironclad will is all you will ever need to begin to care for yourself!


ABFITT Talks With Rising Local NPC Athlete Allegra Nicole....

Rising Local NPC Athlete Allegra Nicole....

Name: Allegra Nicole Labar         
Age: 24yrs
Years competing: 1
Sponsors: N/A

ABFITT: You have been very busy as of lately, thank you for taking the time to talk with ABFITT. Can you give us some background information?

Allegra: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share a little bit of my story! I’m 24 years old living just outside of Philadelphia and I started my fitness journey about 2 years ago at the tail end of my college career. Today I’m an Internal Auditor and Security Analyst by day and a self-proclaimed gym junkie by night. I’ve competed for the first time in two shows this past August, and since then my fitness aspirations have been materializing before my eyes! More recently I’ve had the opportunity to travel for some photo shoot opportunities and have been selected as a semi finalist in the BodySpace Spokesmodel search on

ABFITT: Seems I am currently seeing you all over BodyBuilding.Com can you talk more about this?

Allegra: It’s so exciting - I’m still wrapping my head around it all! is really where it all started for me about 2 years ago. I began my fitness journey by reading a ton of articles, watching videos, following diet plans and using workouts that I found on the site. It’s always been a great educational tool for me! I stay active on BodySpace, and more recently it seems to be paying off as I’ve been featured several times in the “We Mirin” editions and most recently as a semifinalist in the 2014 BodySpace Spokesmodel Search! I can’t explain the feeling to see my face on the website side by side with my biggest fitness inspirations. It’s truly an honor!

ABFITT: What sparked your initial interest in weight training and how did this lead to competing in figure?

Allegra: I “found fitness” during my last semester of college. I was discouraged with my physical appearance and mental state after four years of living the typical college lifestyle. My boyfriend ended up taking me to the gym one day to teach me how to lift as a last stitch effort. I was terrified and had no idea what I was doing. I was a certified cardio-bunny up until that point, so I was a stranger to weight training and possessed very little strength and confidence in the gym. He was very patient with me and taught me all of the basics. After that work out I was hooked. I slowly started seeing results and that fueled me to keep pushing even harder! It wasn’t long before I started getting asked at the gym if I was training for a show. That’s really what sparked my initial interest in competing. The wheels started turning and I was curious what these “shows” were all about. Once I learned more about the competitive world and the sport of bodybuilding, I was determined to be a part of it. The women I saw on stage were strong, sexy, athletic, and moved with such grace. I knew I wanted to be up there doing what they were doing!

ABFITT: Talk to us about the importance of nutrition and how you dial it in when preparing to step on stage.

Allegra: Nutrition is everything. I can’t stress that enough. The gym part is easy; it’s the refrigerator that presents a challenge. I often get asked in the locker room or in between sets at the gym, “What’s your secret?” or “How do I look like you”, and “What fat burner are you taking?”. My answer isn’t always popular with most people. I put in hard work at the gym and I eat in accordance with my goals. That’s it! No short cuts or magic pills. Personally, I follow the IIFYM approach to dieting. Everyone has a different theory for dieting, and that is perfectly fine. You need to find what is realistic for you, so that you can actually sustain that diet and that lifestyle. I follow a nutritional plan that gives me the ability to eat foods that I enjoy while being structured so that I’m eating whole and nutrient dense foods 80% of the time to fit my macronutrient constraints. I’ve found a great deal of success with this methodology because it’s a realistic lifestyle for me.
               When I’m preparing for a photo-shoot or to step on stage, truthfully I don’t do anything drastic. I increase my cardio and slowly decrease my daily carbs, consequently lowering my caloric consumption. For my first two shows, I prepped for a little over 5 months. That gave me the opportunity to dial in slowly while keeping my carbs and calories relatively high.

ABFITT: What is your take on training? What has worked best for you? With so much information available to people looking to start, what the best advice you can offer?

Allegra: It can be completely overwhelming for a beginner to figure out what the best approach to training is. There are so many conflicting ideas on training. It’s confusing and easy to end up second-guessing yourself.  The best advice I can give is to find what challenges you, keep the intensity high, and don’t doubt yourself. Personally, I train on a 3 day split. A typical week looks like the following:

Day 1: Legs & Abs
Day 2: Back & Chest + 20 Min HIIT Cardio
Day 3: Shoulders, Triceps, & Biceps
Day 4: OFF
Day 5: Legs & Abs
Day 6: Back & Chest + 20 Min HIIT Cardio
Day 7: Shoulders, Triceps, & Biceps + 20 Min HIIT Cardio
When I was first starting out, I went to the gym with my workouts written down. As I became more comfortable in the gym and more in tune with my body, I stopped planning my routines ahead of time. Now, I plan which muscle groups I’m going to work out and I choose exercises based on how I feel. Additionally, I don’t follow any rep range rules. I lift heavy and with intensity whether I’m in the “off season” or 2 weeks out from a show or photo-shoot.

ABFITT: Let’s talk about your competition history. Tell us about it and what if any one show stands out the most, for better or worse?

 Allegra: My competition history is actually very brief! I’ve only competed in two shows, both of which were in August of 2013. I competed at the NPC Muscle Beach Championship where I won 1st place Novice, 1st place Figure Class A, and Overall Figure. Next I competed at the NPC PA State and PA Classic show where I won 1st place Figure Class A and Overall Figure in the PA State division.
               My first show will always stand out to me. I was so nervous and I was shaking like a leaf on stage! I prepared for so long, but nothing prepares you for that rush of adrenaline the first time you step foot on stage! Its an amazing feeling – and so addictive!
              I have yet to have a negative experience at a show. From the first moment I’ve stepped on stage, I fell in love with the sport! I’m always so taken back by how friendly and supportive everyone is back stage. Even though it is a competition, I’ve always experienced a strong sense of respect and support between the competitors!

ABFITT: So what’s next?

Allegra: At the moment, I’m currently in the running for’s 2014 BodySpace Spokesmodel Search. It’s an honor and I’m thrilled to death to even be considered! The male and female winners will become a Team Athlete, which would undoubtedly change the path of my fitness journey. Cross all of your fingers and toes, and wish me luck!
               As far as competing, right now I’m focused on making improvements for next year. There is always room to improve and build a better you! I plan on competing in a few national shows in 2014 in an attempt to secure an IFBB Figure Pro Card. That’s the goal! I don’t want to just compete for the sake of competing. I want to make sure I’m bring the best possible package to the stage so I’m not sure as to how many times I’ll be stepping on stage in 2014. One of my first stops with likely be Team Universe in July. 
How can ABFITT readers continue to track your progress and continue to follow you?

Allegra: I share my fitness journey on a daily basis through Instagram on @Allegra_Labar and on my Facebook page . I post my workout videos, progress, personal