Interview With Female Bodybuilder and Fitness Expert Karen Sessions Interviewed by Courtney Westerdal of CriticalBench.com
At what age did you begin bodybuilding and what motivated you to keep with it?
I started bodybuilding at 17 to put on weight. What motivated me to stick with bodybuilding all these years is simply, I love weight training and I like to see the physical changes that occur when I practice different training or dieting tactics. I'm always researching and experimenting.
Which do you prefer..... ......personal training clients or competing in the bodybuilding world? Why?
That's a tough one! I really, really loved competing. I loved the off-season training to put on as much muscle as I could, and I looked forward to dieting down and cutting to sculpt the master piece. It's amazing how your body can change day by day and even meal by meal. Preparing for a bodybuilding contest really allows you to learn your body, and what it responds well to. I also enjoy pre-judging, putting all that hard work to the test!
On the flipside, I enjoy preparing clients for contests. Since I do a lot of online training these days, I'm not always able to make it to their shows. However, I get excited for them, just as if was me preparing.
You have written many books! Which is your favorite and which do you feel female bodybuilders can benefit the most from?
Iron Dolls, hands down, is my favorite eBook because it's primarily about building muscle, the foundation. It addresses the tried-and-true facts, not the fluff-n-stuff. Bodybuilding is a combination of science and art. I really enjoy teaching about how you can manipulate your food intake and hormones to build muscle or lose fat.
Which of your bodybuilding victories and titles are most memorable to you?
My most memorable "victory" was my very first contest, the Pelican Iron Classic. I didn't win, but I was finally living my dream and had the best time of my life. My posing was perfect and the crowd was wild.
From that show I took small steps working for higher and higher goals and placements, such as first place, then overall, and then qualifying for nationals. I'm thrilled to say that I met all my bodybuilding goals that I sent out to do.
What did your training consist of in preparation for bodybuilding competitions?
My bodybuilding contest preparation consisted of a full year's worth of training, starting with the off-season mass-building phase. I usually started cleaning up my diet 16 weeks out and by 12 weeks out it was finely polished (no bread, dairy, protein drinks, or protein bars). I make my final 12 weeks as much natural food as possible to keep my metabolism up.
What tips can you share for other females striving to compete as a bodybuilder?
First and foremost, one needs patience and consistency. Also, stop watching the scale and stressing out.
When you step on stage, the judges aren't going to judge you on how much you weigh. Diet down properly and use the mirror as your guide. You also need a judgmental eye to give you constructive criticism to watch you through your dieting phases to ensure you are on target.
As you diet down, don't panic. If you apply all the contest prep factors and don't cheat on your diet, or skip training or cardio sessions, you'll be ready on contest day.
Before bodybuilding, what were your hobbies? Was competing as a bodybuilder something you ever thought you would do?
I started bodybuilding very young, so you could say my hobbies before bodybuilding was just going out with my friends and having fun.
I use to watch ESPN's bodybuilding and admire the female bodybuilders, never even giving a second thought that perhaps I could do that one day. It just seemed unrealistic. It wasn't until I attended my first bodybuilding contest in Mississippi that I thought I could do it, too.
On your website www.theelitephysique.com you said after attending your first local bodybuilding competition you were 'addicted'. What exactly was is that made you want to be apart of the competitive sport of bodybuilding?
There was just something about being at a show live, and seeing that the women were everyday people like you and me. Seeing that took all the fear out competing and put in the realization that I could do it.
In 1997 you won 1st Place in the Women's Open Light Weight Division. What sacrificies did you make to achieve that goal of your first 1st place victory?
The 1997 1st placement winning was what I was striving for that show. The sacrifices made to win those 1st places that year were giving up family and friend time mainly. I spent most of my time (when not working) preparing meals, eating, training, doing cardio, and sleeping. There were sacrifices, but they were worth it.
Which muscle groups on your body are your strengths? Which are your weaknesses?
I always had good lats and biceps.
When I first started bodybuilding, my legs were my weakest body part. I built those up to a decent size and noticed my shoulders were a bit weak, so after I brought my shoulders up I noticed my triceps lagging behind.
So, over the course of years, I've managed to put emphasis on all my body parts and honestly at this point, I think I'm pretty well balanced. However, I must say my calves are a struggle. I really have to keep at my calves to keep them up to par.
Tell us about your website: TheElitePhysique.com
I started TheElitePhysique.com the last day of 2002. It began with one cheesy sales page with my first eBook, How to Lose Weight, Forever. Within a few months I wrote my female bodybuilding eBook, Iron Dolls. From there, I continued to write eBooks and articles and by simple word-of-mouth, it grew.
Also, as part of my website, I offer online personal training. My online training programs are pretty intense. But if you want results, you have to put in that dedicated work. I love doing mass-building programs for clients and I also like doing contest-prep plans for clients. Those are my favorites.
What is your goal of the website?
My website is now a portal site for my 6 mini-sites (6 eBooks). I am working on expanding and building each mini-site.
In addition, I'm creating a membership site where I'll do some PowerPoint presentations. I'm also in the process of creating some videos to demonstrate certain exercise that I find many people do wrong, and to also show some unique exercises I do for enhanced training.
Where did you find the confidence to keep returning to the competitive bodybuilding world year after year?
I just loved competing and loved improving each year. Each year I set out for a new goal.
My goal for my first year of competing was to simply get on stage and "just do it." My goal for my second year was to place. Obviously, after I placed that wasn't enough for me, I wanted first, and I got it my third year, as well as overall. The following year I qualified for nationals. I started preparing for the Junior Nationals, but developed a stress fracture.
What mistakes have you seen other competitive female bodybuilders make? What advice would you give them?
I would have to say the biggest mistake I've seen other competitive female bodybuilders make is number crunching. They watch their stats so intensely that they stress themselves out and fail to see their true progress.
They fail to understand that building muscle and losing fat takes time and it's a process of learning your body. Just because you dieted and trained for a week doesn't mean you are going to build 3 pounds of muscle and lost 5 pounds of fat.
My advice to them would be to just follow whatever program you set out to do. Take stats and photos once at the beginning. Take stats again only after you have completed your designated program.
The only thing checking your stats every blessed day will do is produce cortisol due to the stress it creates.
What are your own personal future goals?
My future goal at this point is to build my website business. It's done great so far, but I want to get it to the point where it runs itself more so I don't have to work 10-12 hours a day on top of my training.
I spent my 20's engrossed in bodybuilding. Now, in my 30's, I'm living life a little more. I'm enjoying the married life. I also just bought a home and I'd like to work with it some.
I'd like to compete again, simply because it's in my blood, but having a stable life and marriage is something I treasure. I know the sacrifices it takes to do a bodybuilding contest and I don't think I want to put that kind of stress on my marriage, at least not right now. ;)
About The Author
Karen Sessions has been in the fitness industry since 1988 and is a certified personal fitness instructor and specialist in performance nutrition. She is a nationally qualified natural female bodybuilder, holding numerous titles in the southern states including two overalls.
Karen has written six e-books on fitness. She also writes articles for several fitness websites, and distributes two monthly newsletters regarding weight loss and female bodybuilding.
Ladies, own this exclusive, comprehensive E-Book packed with inside information on how to literally transform your body in as little as 12 weeks with proven techniques and never before revealed inside information from an established top level national female bodybuilder.
you want to build a prize-winning physique, find someone who accomplished what you want to accomplish, and base your goals on that. Written by Ms. Fit, Karen Sessions.