Interview With Female Bodybuilder
& Powerlifter Carol Ann Myers Interviewed by Ben Tatar of CriticalBench.com - September 2009
CRITICAL BENCH: CRITICAL BENCH: Hi Carol Ann, please tell us about yourself.
I am 43 years young and loving life. I am a wife and mother. I work full-time and I am a gym rat by nature. I believe in living life to its fullest: I believe in keeping it real. I apply this philosophy in everything I do.
CRITICAL BENCH: How did you get started in Bodybuilding, Figure, Powerlifting, and Coaching?
I began my introduction to weights in 2002 at a local gym. I began to weight train, moderately, to attempt to regain control of my weight and body shape. The transformation in six months was amazing! It is never too late for anyone to gain control of his or her body. As luck was to have it, I lost my training partner and started to train with my husband. Needless to say, that was the beginning of a very colorful history. From that point, I entered various push/pull meets. In April 2004, I entered my first full-power meet and was hooked! I am an adrenaline junkie and there is very little to compare to conquering a monster squat! It's a rush like no other!
The figure competitions came as a direct result of my powerlifting. I had put on the muscle lifting heavy weights and it was just a matter of cutting down. With the help of a great nutritionist, John Micka, and lots of encouragement from Bobby, my husband, and friends, I trained in a manner totally foreign to me: high reps with low to moderate weight. I took the stage at my fist show at 140lbs at 5.8% body fat - shredded. I was prepared to hear that I was too big and too hard for figure. I considered it a compliment and fuel for the fire. I took the stage as a bodybuilder in the Panhandle Showdown in April of 2009 in Pensacola, Florida. I placed first in the women's middleweight class and took the women's' overall trophy home. I went on to compete in a level 5 show, the Southern USA Classic and placed first in my class again. Also, taking home my second overall award. I will compete in May of 2010 in Charleston, SC at the Junior USA's where I will rock it with other national-level competitors.
CRITICAL BENCH: What have you achieved in Bodybuilding, Figure, Powerlifting, Coaching that you are proud of?
My greatest achievement in bodybuilding and figure is the simple fact that I persevered and was able to achieve my goal of competition. I stayed my resolve to follow through and reaped the reward: two shows and two overall wins. Powerlifting is another animal; anytime I achieve a new PR I am proud. Gary Frank once said that the only record worth anything is bettering your last lift. He is correct. The larger your numbers, the smaller and slower the gains come. Any gain is still progress. I have my eyes set on the new world record squat in the 148 lb class.
Coaching is fulfillment in its own right. I love to see clients gain self-esteem and personal betterment as they strive for their personal goals. It is an awesome reward to be a part of that process.
CRITICAL BENCH: You were sponsored by BMF Sports. What was that like for you?
Anytime that someone can gain recognition for hard work and effort, it helps to pave the way for the next painful workout or the next hardship. It makes the sacrifice worth it. I greatly appreciate the faith that BMF has placed in me. BMF Sports and Bud Lyte have been nothing but supportive in my all my efforts.
CRITICAL BENCH: So far in your iron journey what has been your favorite, most memorable and most powerful moment?
There are so many, but the one that stands out the most is one that took place while training at NGBB with Jon Grove and his record-making crew. NGBB has a deserved reputation for not only hardcore, but awe inspiring lifting. Bobby and I are privileged to be team members and more so to call them all friends. But on to the story, it was my first attempt in their house at a 500lb plus squat and I fell forward into the rack. I pinched my fingers between the bar and the upright. Everyone was telling to undo my wraps and reset - forget it. I was pumped and the fall made me even more desperate to hit the lift. I reset, grabbed the bar and….ouch! I had a huge blood blister on the outside of my finger that prevented me from grabbing the bar. I bit off the blister, spit it on the floor, bled all over Jon's beige carpet and got my lift with room to spare. I told Jon I was sorry for staining his carpet and he laughed and growled that he liked a little blood - it was hardcore!
CRITICAL BENCH: What do you both think of Bud Lyte?
I like Bud tremendously. He has been extremely supportive of my desire to be a multifaceted lifter: raw and equipped competitions, bodybuilding and figure. Now I need to spring the Highland games on him! In a more serious note, Bud has powerlifting in his veins. He will be instrumental in keeping the sport in the public eye. He says that he is a work in progress, but his love of the sport is already strong and elite.
CRITICAL BENCH: What adversities have you had to overcome?
I have been blessed not to suffer any injuries that could possibly effect my gym time. I think my biggest adversity has been public opinion. Women that carry muscle are still a social oddity. I have had to learn to hear the positive and ignore the negative comments. Also, the time I spend training places constraints on time with family and friends. I hear the word "obsessive" a lot, and I retaliate with "dedicated."
CRITICAL BENCH: What is your advice for people facing extreme adversity of any kind?
Adversity comes in many forms and usually without warning. The best advice I can give anyone is to stay true to yourself. No matter what comes your way, never compromise your beliefs and standards. Keep a positive mindset and remember that the dawn after a storm is always beautiful.
CRITICAL BENCH: What was your childhood like?
I am a military brat. I am the oldest of three girls. I came from a close family with strong ties. We participated in gymnastics, swimming, and a variety of outdoor activities. I was considered to be an elite student , but always one of the last to be picked for team sports. I'd bet they would think twice now! LOL
CRITICAL BENCH: How is the powerlifting scene different than the bodybuilding scene? How would you compare and contrast the worlds as you have done both?
They are two sides of the same coin. Both require determination, dedication, and guts. They goals differ as greatly as do the workouts and diet. I get to be a fat and happy 148lbs for powerlifting. Lots of heavy weights and scrumptious carbs - and no cardio! My bodybuilding side is kicking and screaming…. it demands massive reps sets, minimal carbs and way too much cardio for any normal person! I get a huge rush when I get a huge squat or dead lift, but I have to admit that my vanity gets stroked a lot during bodybuilding season when I weigh in the low 130's at 5% body fat!
CRITICAL BENCH: What are your future goals?
I want to have my name listed as having the largest raw and equipped squat in the women's' 148lb class at the same time. I currently have the raw squat and I am working toward the equipped record. I am currently training to compete at the Emerald Coast Power Expo to be held in Ft. Walton Beach FL on September 26th where I hope to make this goal a reality. I also plan to compete in a national level BB show where I have a chance to gain my pro-card.
CRITICAL BENCH: What do you enjoy doing away from the gym?
I have several diversions: I love our Florida beaches with a passion - the gym rat likes a golden glow! I like to chill with my crew and hit the dance floor.
CRITICAL BENCH: How does your family respond to your lifting?
It is a mixed response. I get verbal support from most, but "approval" is another matter. The support that I do get from close friends is phenomenal - they mean the world to me. But, the greatest support I receive is from my husband, Bobby. He is my training partner, coach, and cheering section. He makes it clear to everyone just how proud he is of my accomplishments. Without him, I would be a mediocre lifter at best. He pushes me to go beyond my boundaries and limitations. He knows what I am capable of before I do.
CRITICAL BENCH: Is there such thing as too strong?
No. How can anyone be too strong? I believe in pushing yourself to the limit to test your metal. As long as you maintain good overall health and aren't taking unwarranted risks, I say push it, get as strong as you are able, but do it smart.
CRITICAL BENCH: Give us your bodybuilding routine and powerlifting routine.
As I stated earlier, the two seasons require different training. Powerlifting is just what the name implies: power and strength. My gym time centers around three sets of three on heavy weeks alternating with three sets of six repetitions on light weeks. I will train four nights per week during power lifting season: Monday is set aside for dead lift training along with core, back and legs; Tuesday is bench night where we concentrate on chest and triceps isolation. Wednesdays are set aside as an off night. Thursday night is my favorite: squat night. We hit our squats as the main exercise moving onto leg extensions, hamstring curls, abs, and shoulder work. Friday nights are reserved for auxiliary training. We hit the areas of workout that we do not feel were maxed out during the week. The weekends are playtime. As for cardio, it is minimal. My idea of cardio during power lifting season is reps with the squat bar!
The major difference for bodbuilding season is the high number of repetitions and moderate weight. It is not unusual for me to perform 5-6 sets of 15-20 repetitions on all exercises. There is no midweek break, and cardio is a must everyday. Three weeks before a show, I will do cardio two times daily. Although the training regimens differ greatly, there is no one training lesser than the other. They both require a great amount of physical and mental endurance.
CRITICAL BENCH: How has your bodybuilding and powerlifting routine changed now compared to 5 to 10 years ago?
I am much more aware of what is required during a training session. I allow the seasonal need to dictate the workouts. I find myself better equipped mentally and physically to endure the rigors expected to achieve my goals. I have become much more focused and determined to finish each and every session.
CRITICAL BENCH: How has your perception in regards to training and life changed since you have became such a big time force in iron sports?
I do not consider myself to be a "big time." I am simply blessed to excel in an area that I have such a great respect and love for. I believe that the youth of our sport, as in our ever-changing world, holds the key to its longevity. Whether it be bodybuilding or power lifting, I believe it's critical to assist and motivate those around you. If I can be remembered as the lady that offered to wrap someone's knees, glue a suit in place or give a supportive hand-up when needed, then I have stayed true to myself. After all, that is the key to life; never compromise your own standards to fit those around you. Records come and go, but integrity and honor never fade.
CRITICAL BENCH: How do you see the future of bodybuilding and powerlifting?
Public perception is the key to this question. Media hype surrounding steroid use and cheating in all arenas creates a massive barrier for any sport to overcome. If we can get back to focusing on the positive aspects of bodybuilding and power lifting, they will survive, maybe even thrive. Let's remind everyone about the camaraderie behind the scenes. Let's remind everyone that our "obsession" in the gym leads to betterment of ourselves not only as athletes, but contributing members of a society that is in desperate need of individuals that are determined and dedicated to a goal. It is past time that we quit beating each other up and stand together, and giving others fuel to do the same.
CRITICAL BENCH: What goes on your mind before a big lift? What about on the bodybuilding stage?
It is much the same on both stages. I try to focus inward, knowing that I have done all I can in preparation for the moment at hand. I try to stay calm and visualize what is about to take place. I will run a squat over and over in my head as I am chalking my hands and preparing to take the platform. It is no different in BB. I can't lose any more weight, I can't get any bigger or leaner, all I can do is what I have practiced over and over. The work is all done at this point, now it's time to have fun.
CRITICAL BENCH: What sport is harder bodybuilding, figure or powerlifting would you say?
I am sure that you are familiar with the expression: "comparing apples to oranges." Both are fruits, both are nutritious, both are sweet, and both will spoil. I cannot say that power lifting or bodybuilding is more difficult than the other. Both require rigorous training sessions, both have diet requirements, both require unwavering grit and determination. The goals are different, but the road is the same. I, personally, could not train either as a year-round endeavor. I utilize the differences in the two to help maintain my physical and mental balance.
CRITICAL BENCH: Who do you coach and what is your philosophy on how to inspire one?
I have a variety of clients: figure, general fitness, and strength athletes. My mainstay is to always stay true to yourself and to keep it real. Unreal expectations lead to disheartened workouts and eventual failure. Progress is measured by any and all steps forward: a single pound lost when trying to regain one's health or a better blood-pressure reading, maybe an additional rep on the bench - it's all progress. Rome wasn't built in a single day, but Atlanta burned in a single night. Goals need to be kept realistic and obtainable. Never push someone so far as to cause physical or mental harm. Progress can be a slow process, but the results can be life lasting and altering.
CRITICAL BENCH: What is it about the RAW powerlifting fed that draws you in?
The RAW draw is no different than other challenge to me: what can I accomplish? How hard can I push myself? It is always about pushing limitations; not staying in accepted parameters. Someone could do away with equipped feds tomorrow or someone could disband every RAW federation tomorrow, I would still lift in whichever platform remained. I like the feel of the heavy weight and the burden of the challenge.
What is the best and worst advice someone has ever given you before?
The worst advice would be: none. I take a little from everyone and everything and put to work what works best for me. The best advice is not to take tomorrow as a given, but a gift.
CRITICAL BENCH: How do you want to be remembered?
As a woman that gave it her all. As a woman that did not compromise her standards to fit into society's accepted norm. As a woman that loved her sport, her friends, and her family. As someone that if you did not know her, that you would have liked to have had the chance.
CRITICAL BENCH: What makes you happy?
My husband, my family, my friends, a sunny day at the beach, a rainy day and a good book, a child's smile ….life. It worth living.
CRITICAL BENCH: It has been a pleasure. In closing who would you like to thank?
This article is not long enough for me to thank the multitude in my power lifting and bodybuilding families. My husband, without question, is first. I love him for all he is and all that he inspires in me. Titan Support Systems, thank you for the awesome gear! Your generosity and support have made all the difference. Bud Lyte and BMF Sports for their support in my endeavors in both sports. Russ Messy and Max Fit for their support with nutritional and BB needs. Jon Grove and NGBB, they are the steel in my armor. I so proud to be a member of the NGBB Elite! John and Amanda Micka for their never wavering friendship and support. They gave me the confidence to fly a different wind. Christina Hart, my training partner, we have come a long way together and I look forward to the rest of our journey. And to all of my powerlifting, bodybuilding and figure family - THANK YOU for allowing me to be a part of your lives, to play in your arena, and to be your friend. And last, but certainly not least, I would like to thank Critical Bench for this incredible opportunity. I have a tremendous amount of respect for all that you do to continue placing the lifting platform in the public spotlight. To one and all, lift heavy, lift often, and keep it real!