Fitness Amateur Of The Week: Lola Took Her Bikini Body To The Stage!

Lola Onanuga always had a bikini body, but she wanted something better. Social media and the Bodybuilding.com forums taught her how to grow muscle and compete on stage.

Q
How did your fitness journey begin?

I have never been totally sedentary. As a child I was a gymnast. As a teenager I did quick workouts at home using videos I found on YouTube. When I went to university, I cycled a lot and joined the cheerleading team. However, I didn't really get into fitness until September 2012.

I had just returned from a holiday where I constantly ate junk food and wasn't feeling or looking so great. I realized that although I wasn't overweight at all, I was going down a bad path, and it was time for a change.

When I first stepped into the gym, I had no idea what to do. Like most girls, I stuck to the cardio machines, with no specific goals. As time went by, I started to feel a lot more confident in the gym, and tried new things. I decided I needed a solid goal, and a structured diet and training program to match this goal. I wanted to gain some size and develop a more feminine shape. After doing plenty of research, I increased my calories and gradually eased myself into weight training. I also started a program called Strong Curves by Bret Contreras.

"I felt like I needed a new source of motivation besides simply wanting to look nice in a bikini—because I had already achieved that. I needed a bigger challenge to work toward."

I fell in love with this new hobby of mine, and put my all into learning about how to train, eat, and supplement to achieve my goals. Within about a year of eating more and lifting heavy with a focus on compound lifts, I went from a skinny 123 pounds to a fit 132. I was pleased and content with how I looked. At that point I felt like I needed a new source of motivation besides simply wanting to look nice in a bikini—because I had already achieved that. I needed a bigger challenge to work toward.

Through sites such as Tumblr, YouTube, and Instagram I came across popular competitors such as Amanda Latona, Ava Cowan, and Erin Stern, and I thought they looked incredible. That's when I found the challenge I was looking for, and decided I wanted to compete. In January 2014, I joined a coaching team run by IFBB pro Michelle Brannan called Showgirl Fitness.

Being a member of the team has been amazing! You get plenty of support from other girls on the team, as well as your coach. It also makes life easier, because someone plans your meals and training for you. Within four months of joining, I entered my first show, the UKBFF Nationals, and I placed third! I did another show a few weeks later and placed first! Following that I placed third in another show a week after.

Cool Fact

Lola is a self-taught graphic designer! She loves illustration, logo design, and creating posters and fliers.

What fitness regimen delivered the best results?

I weight train 5-6 days per week and do minimal to no cardio unless I'm nearing a show. My sets and rep ranges change frequently week-to-week. I find that variety works best for me and prevents hitting plateaus. Here is a sample week of how I train:

Day 1: Legs


Day 2: Shoulders/Arms


Day 3: Hamstrings/Glutes


Day 4: Back/Chest


Day 5: Glutes


Day 6
Day 7: Rest

What nutrition plan fueled your body?

I typically consume 5-6 meals per day. My calorie intake changes according to my goals and how close I am to a show, but I always vary my foods and consume a wide range of lean protein and carbohydrate sources. I also have an off-plan meal 1-2 times per week. A typical day of my diet looks like this:

Meal 1
Meal 2
Meal 3
  • Tilapia Tilapia
    100 g
  • Brown Rice Brown Rice
    100 grams
  • Mixed Vegetables Mixed Vegetables
    200 grams
Meal 4: Post-Workout
Meal 5
  • Lean Beef Lean Beef
    100 grams
  • Mixed Vegetables Mixed Vegetables
    200 grams
Meal 6

What supplements gave you an edge?

With Meal 1
Pre-Workout
Intra-Workout
Post-Workout
With Meal 6

"I'm motivated by motivating other people. I love setting a good example for my family and friends and seeing them get fit, too."

How did your passion for fitness emerge?

Fitness is something I got into out of boredom but has become a passion of mine. I love the process of building the body you want for yourself. It's such a fun and exciting thing to see it changing. I also love how much stronger I feel. As someone who used to be very weak, it's incredible to see the weight I'm able to lift now. I've also seen myself become a person who works hard to succeed in everything in life outside of fitness. It's also interesting to see how my own fitness journey inspires others to start. It's infectious!

What or who motivates you to live healthy?

As cliché as it may sound, I'm motivated by motivating other people. I love setting a good example for my family and friends and seeing them get fit, too. My boyfriend has lost more than 50 pounds since I got into fitness and he followed suit. My younger sister joined a gymnastics club because she wanted to be more active, and she has been performing incredibly! My younger brother has started eating healthier. And many of my friends have started their own fitness journeys. I won't take credit for their hard work, but it pleases me to know that I was a source of encouragement for them. This is what pushes me to keep going.

Where did you go for inspiration?

Social media is a great source of motivation for me when I'm not in the mood to work out. Scrolling through countless photos of pretty girls with perfect bodies doesn't do it for me. Seeing videos of women working hard in the gym gets me looking forward to having a good workout!

"I believe you have to love the whole experience of competing and not just being on stage. Enjoy the process of building and sculpting your physique!"

What are your future fitness plans?

I am now qualified for the British Championships in October, and through that I hope to qualify for next year's international shows. Right now, in preparation for the show, I am trying to put on some muscle all over, especially my calves and upper body.

What is the most important fitness tip?

Enjoy the whole experience! You will be on stage for 30 minutes or less for each show, and the amount of work you put in is far too much to only enjoy those few moments. I believe you have to love the whole experience of competing and not just being on stage. Enjoy the process of building and sculpting your physique!

Who is your favorite fitness competitor?

Oh there are so many! One that comes to mind is Danielle Carr. When I first got into competing, I struggled to find any IFBB pros who looked anything like me, so I was happy when I came across Danielle. When you find yourself looking totally different from most competitors, it's nice to see someone with a similar look to you doing well in the sport. I've also spoken to her a few times and she is lovely!

How did Bodybuilding.com help you reach your goals?

Bodybuilding.com has been a great help. I love to use the forum to chat with like-minded people and share experiences and advice; it was the first place I went to for information when I decided to compete. The Bodybuilding.com store is also very good, as I find supplements and other essentials there a lot cheaper than other sites.

Lola's Favorite Gym Tracks

Drake
"Tuscan Leather"
Ellie Goulding
"Burn (Tiesto Remix)"
Michael Jackson
"Give In To Me"
Kanye West
"Mercy"

Competition History
  • 2014 UKBFF Nationals, Bikini over 166cm—3rd place
  • 2014 Bodypower USN Classic, Bikini over 168cm—1st place
  • 2014 UKBFF Amateur Grand Prix of Wales, Bikini over 163cm—3rd place
Acknowledgements

Thank you so much to my coach, IFBB Pro Michelle Brannan (Showgirl Fitness). Thank you for your help and support! You are an incredible coach and a big inspiration. Thank you Flexonline.co.uk for the photos!