Amateur Fitness Competitor of the Week: Tara Gooch

Amateur Fitness Competitor of the Week: Tara Gooch! - Pics and info and more!
  • Name: Tara Gooch
  • E-mail:
  • Age: 35
  • Where: Birmingham, Alabama
  • Height: 5' 4"
  • Weight: 135 Lbs., Contest: 125 Lbs.
  • Years Bodybuilding :2
  • Favorite Bodypart: Shoulders
  • Favorite Exercise: Shoulders
  • Favorite Supplements: Nature's Best Isopure Dutch Chocolate Whey Protein, MMUSA Femme Hi-Energy Serum (Liquid Creatine), Twinlab Ripped Fuel.

How Did You Get Started?

I was never a very active person in High School or College. In fact, I took a required physical education class in college (track), and ended up spending the course time watching my favorite soap opera instead of running! That is the first time I have admitted to that!

I would have to say I first realized the urge to begin working out in 1992 after seeing Terminator II. Linda Hamilton's body was smoking in that movie and I vowed to myself that I would one day have a body like that. I never really dreamed that it would go as far as competing. I purchased a cheap work out bench with weights and a treadmill and began by working out in my home.

I saw a few gains over the next couple of years, but I knew I would need more in order to see the results I wanted. So I joined a local "Ladies Only" gym with a close friend of mine. I had to get over my gym phobia - you know what I am talking about. This is the feeling that everyone is watching you and that you are doing everything wrong. That was a very big obstacle for me. Once I did get over this, I was a nut case in the gym. I went to the gym 3 to 4 times a week right after work. It also helped to have a friend to work out with.

After a couple of years with the "Ladies Only" gym, I realized I was getting bored and needed a change. So I joined the local World's Gym. However, I had to start over with the Gym phobia b/c I now had to work out with men. This was so new to me and a bit frightening, but once I got used to it I realized that the men at the gym were very supportive and knew so much about weight lifting.

I began to take advice from several people at the gym and changed up my routine. I started seeing some phenomenal results! Then, the most amazing thing started happening - people started asking me for advise. That is when I decided to get my personal training certification with ACE so I could give the correct knowledgeable responses to fitness questions.

Shortly after receiving my ACE certification in 2004, I met Greg Hasberry, a personal trainer that just started working at World's Gym (moved from another local gym). I noticed that he focused mainly on women competitors. I found myself drooling over the girl's that he trained. They all had fantastic bodies and I wanted one too!

I finally got up enough guts to talk to him one day and we started working together on my training schedule and diet. Greg helped me realize that it is not just the workouts, but the nutritional aspect that helps you achieve the next fitness level. I started working with Greg in March of 2004 and entered my first figure competition in September 2004. I placed 1st in the Figure Medium Class at the NPC Heart of Dixie Bodybuilding Show in Foley, AL. I knew right then that this was going to be a lifestyle for me and that I wanted to do more competitions! It is so addictive!

magnifying glass Click Image To Enlarge.
Photo by: William Markey

I have continued my training with Greg and just finished the NPC Alabama State Championship in August 2005. I placed 2nd in the medium figure class! After this competition, my trainer and I felt it was time to move to nationals. I consulted with the judges at the Alabama State show. The head judge confirmed that he thought I was ready for NPC Nationals as well!

I had originally planned to compete in the 2006 USA National Figure Competition in Las Vegas. However, I currently have a minor set back for 2006. I recently found out about a herniated disc in my cervical spine. After some physical therapy, it became quite evident that I would need surgery to stop the pain.

I had my operation in December 2005. Unfortunately, this means no working out with weights for a period of 3 to 5 months - depending on my speed of recovery. The reason I am mentioning this is b/c everyone will experience set backs in their competition career. Don't get to down about these set backs. I think of it as a way that God is telling me to chill a bit and rest my body.

I plan on coming back to working out full force once the doctor gives me permission! I am not ruling out doing a show later in 2006 or early 2007. I am just taking one day at a time right now and enjoying the HOLIDAYS with my wonderful and supportive husband!

What Workout Plan Worked Best For You?

I train at the gym 5 days a week. My shoulders are very responsive to workouts and I usually need very little resistance training to maintain the shoulder muscle mass and roundness. Abs are another feature I do not have to work out too much. I try to fit in abs every other day and my calves twice a week. My legs are the body part that definitely require the most work. Notice that I do my hamstrings twice a week. I am not a big fan of leg days!

Cardio in off-season is around 3 to 4 times a week, 30 minutes each session. When I am pre-contest prep, I will do cardio in the morning and night. Again, b/c I have a fast metabolism, I can get away with no more than 30 to 40 minutes each session even at pre-contest prep. Some people may require more cardio when preparing for a competition. It all depends on your body!

arrow Sample Training Week

Then on day six I do track work with my trainer. We do a combination of sprints, lunges, squats, plyometrics and bleacher work. I try to do this every Saturday morning, however, it is the most important to do this at least once a week when you start pre-competition preparation.

I try to change up my routine every 6 to 8 weeks. Not only does it shock the muscles but it keeps you from getting bored!

magnifying glass Click Image To Enlarge.

What Nutrition Plan Has Worked Best For You?

My diet does not change much from off-season to pre-contest. I am blessed with a very high metabolism and I am not very carb sensitive. I try to eat 6 to 7 small meals a day. My protein sources are Chicken, Lean Red Meat, Tilapia, Tuna, Egg Whites and Whey Protein Shakes. My carb sources are Oatmeal, Sweet Potatoes, Cream of Wheat, Brown Rice, and sometimes white rice and white potatoes. I also try to fit in water-based green vegetables in most of my meals - broccoli and asparagus seem to be my choices more often than not.

In the off-season, I partake of more fats and fruit than pre-contest. I get my fat from peanuts, cashews, peanut butter (natural) and flack seed oil. I usually have an apple or pear after my workouts. In off-season, I also have at least one cheat meal a week to keep my sanity. My cheat meal is usually Mexican food or Pizza! I do not cheat on my pre-contest diet.

About 12 weeks pre-contest I start cutting my fat, fruit and Red Meat. Unbelievable as this may sound, my body responds better if I keep a high level of carbs in my diet. My trainer and I may fluctuate my carb intake during this time, but we never completely remove the carbs from my diet. The last week before competition I start loading carbs on Tuesday/Wednesday. I have even been told I need to throw in a piece of pizza or ice cream the night before a competition so that I do not come in so lean.

Please remember that a diet is different for each person. You are unique and will require your own pre-contest diet. There is a science to a pre-contest diet. In fact, you may not always get the right combination. It takes practice and patience in order to understand what works best for your body. I would suggest consulting with a licensed dietitian when competing for a competition.

What Supplements Have Given You The Greatest Gains?

I drink Whey protein shakes for 2 or 3 of my meals. I like Nature's Best Isopure Dutch Chocolate the best. I also take Liquid L-Carnitine each morning and night. This increased fat metabolism, inhibits lactic acid build up and lowers cholesterol levels. I take BCAA's and Chromium Picolinate after workouts.

These supplements are used for fast recovery and maximum muscle regeneration. I also use Muscle Marketing USA's Femme Hi-Energy Serum (Creatine) before and after workouts. I found that this form of Creatine creates less bloating/water retention than the powder form of Creatine. To increase my metabolism and energy level, I use Twinlab Ripped Fuel in the morning and before workouts.

Of course, I take a multi-vitamin and I drink at least a gallon of water each day.

Why do you love Bodybuilding?

I love the way working out makes me feel. Not only does my body look nice, but I am extremely healthy. I may be 35 years old, however, I feel much younger. I often am told that I look much younger too. I truly believe that fitness is the fountain of youth and that if more people would give it a try, they would feel better about themselves, lead a healthier lifestyle, live longer and would relieve so much stress and tension that comes with everyday life. I would have to say my favorite thing about fitness is influencing others to see the benefits of fitness and helping them reach their fitness goals.

What Are Your Future Bodybuilding Plans?

My future is to compete on the national level in the NPC. I hope to one day earn by IFBB Pro Card status and open my own personal training facility. I also want to gain as much exposure as possible in the hopes of obtaining sponsorship from well known fitness industry companies to promote their company and/or products.

magnifying glass Click Image To Enlarge.

What One Tip Would You Give Other Bodybuilders?

To have lots and lots of fun with competing! I am a very competitive person and I had to learn a hard lesson about competing - If you do not do it to have fun, then you don't need to compete. You have to think of it in personal gains. Do not compare yourself to other competitors. This is such a huge and common mistake that leads to nothing good.

Just think of competitions as competing against yourself. Look at what you have gained since your last competition. Once you realize your personal gains and have fun, then you will have a great time competing. When it is no longer fun, I would suggest to take a break and contemplate your objectives and goals before starting again.

It is all about personal gains not the big win! Also, the judging in the competitions can be so subjective. I think all fitness/figure/bodybuilding competitors are winners for all the preparation, dieting, and sacrifice to achieve their fitness goals! Congratulations to YOU!

Who Are Your Favorite Bodybuilders?

My favorite competitors are Monica Brant-Peckham, Mary Elizabeth Lado and Valerie Waugaman. Each of these ladies bring there own unique look to figure and made it work. I had the pleasure of speaking with Monica over the phone a while back and she was very inspirational. I wish each of these ladies the best of luck with their future competitions and hope that I will one day have the pleasure of being a fellow IFBB Pro Figure competitor.