Fitness Amateur Of The Week: Stephanie Sexton

Stephanie's second pregnancy left her with an extra 30 pounds she just couldn't kick. Boot camp training updated her fit status!

Weight gain can put pressure on more than your joints. Stephanie started to feel her self-esteem wavering from her inactivity. But what could she do? She'd never been involved in athletics, weightlifting, or even basic training.

With encouragement from her husband and the camaraderie of a good friend, Stephanie started a fast-paced boot camp training regimen every morning. Her results speak for themselves! She lived on a limited diet, started weight training, and transformed her body. She did so well that she now aspires to compete in figure.

How did your fitness journey begin?

I started by merely working out to lose weight. I used pregnancy as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted, and I was not physically active during that time of my life. After having my second child, I gained 30 pounds that didn't go away. I knew I had to do something.

I had never been athletic or even been in a real gym. I didn't know what to do and I was intimidated to get started. Most everyone experiences that worry, but I knew I had to start doing something! I spent a year in the gym doing nothing but cardio. My husband continually encouraged me to begin lifting with him. I wasn't quite there yet and had the perception that women didn't need to lift weights. I lost about 20 pounds that first year doing cardio. My weight was 140 at that time.

A good friend and coworker invited me to an early-morning boot camp class. We went before work four days a week. The class was fast paced, performance-based, motivating, and did incorporate weight training. I met accountability partners and had instruction and guidance by a trainer.

It was amazing to start my day off with a great workout, and I felt accomplished. I began to see my body transform and take shape. I developed a passion to take fitness to another level.

What fitness regimen delivered the best results?

As a figure competitor, I train with a focus on back, legs, shoulders, and glutes. In the off-season I do little to no cardio and lift six days per week. During prep I typically do 45 minutes of interval cardio six days per week and do five days of lifting. I periodize my training by varying rep ranges from week to week.

As a figure competitor, I train with a focus on back, legs, shoulders, and glutes.

A current competition-prep training program week would like this:

Day 1: Chest and triceps
1
Cardio intervals Cardio intervals

2

Incline dumbbell press

4 sets of 10-12 reps
Incline Dumbbell Press Incline Dumbbell Press

3

Dumbbell fly

3 sets of 10-12 reps
Dumbbell Flyes Dumbbell Flyes

4

Dumbbell pull-over

3 sets of 10-12 reps
Dumbbell pull-over Dumbbell pull-over

Superset
5

Decline push-up

3 sets to failure
Decline Push-Up Decline Push-Up

Triceps bench dip

3 sets to failure
Triceps bench dip Triceps bench dip

6

Rope pull-down

3 sets of 10-12 reps
Rope pull-down Rope pull-down

Day 2: Back and biceps
1
Cardio intervals Cardio intervals

2

Wide-grip pull-up

3 sets of 10 reps
Wide-Grip Rear Pull-Up Wide-Grip Rear Pull-Up

3

Close-grip lat pull-down

3 sets of 12-15 reps
Close-Grip Front Lat Pulldown Close-Grip Front Lat Pulldown

4

Seated cable row

3 sets of 10-12 reps
Seated cable row Seated cable row

5

Bent-over dumbbell row

3 sets of 10-12 reps
Bent-over dumbbell row Bent-over dumbbell row

6

Preacher curl

3 sets of 10-12 reps
Preacher Curl Preacher Curl

7

Hammer curl

3 sets of 10-12 reps
Hammer Curls Hammer Curls

Day 3: Abs and calves
1
Cardio intervals Cardio intervals

2

Lying leg raise

3 sets of 10 reps per leg
Lying leg raise Lying leg raise

3

Reverse crunch

3 sets of 15 reps
Reverse Crunch Reverse Crunch

4

Russian twist

3 rounds of 60 sec. each
Russian Twist Russian Twist

5

Standing calf raise machine

4 sets of 20 reps
Standing calf raise machine Standing calf raise machine

6

Seated calf raise machine

4 sets of 20 reps
Seated calf raise machine Seated calf raise machine

Day 4: Legs
1
Cardio intervals Cardio intervals

Superset
2

Barbell squat

4 sets of 12-15 reps
Barbell Squat Barbell Squat

Dumbbell lunge

4 sets of 20 steps per leg
Dumbbell Lunges Dumbbell Lunges

Superset
3

Romanian deadlift

3 sets of 10 reps
Romanian Deadlift Romanian Deadlift

Lying leg curl

3 sets of 10 reps
Lying Leg Curls Lying Leg Curls

4

Abductor

3 sets of 12-15 reps
Abductor Abductor

Day 5: Shoulders
1
Cardio intervals Cardio intervals

2
Smith machine seated shoulder press Smith machine seated shoulder press

3

Low-pulley cable side raise

3 sets of 10-12 reps
Low-pulley cable side raise Low-pulley cable side raise

4

High-cable rear-delt fly

3 sets of 12-15 reps
High-cable rear-delt fly High-cable rear-delt fly

5

Dumbbell front/lateral raise

3 sets of 12-15 reps
Dumbbell front/lateral raise Dumbbell front/lateral raise

6

Leg-press calf raise

4 sets of 20 reps
Leg-press calf raise Leg-press calf raise

7

Decline crunch

3 sets of 15 reps
Decline Crunch Decline Crunch

8
Pike roll-out using a fitness ball Pike roll-out using a fitness ball

Day 6: Cardio
1
Cardio intervals Cardio intervals

Day 7: Rest

What nutrition plan fueled your body?

I eat 5-6 meals per day. I have better results eating whole, nonprocessed foods. I prep my meals in advance and utilize a local meal-prep company—which is a lifesaver for a working mom.

During offseason I have one cheat meal per week and plan that around family events or special date nights. I consider proteins and greens free foods. If I get hungry, I eat more lean proteins and fresh vegetables. I eat about every three hours.

I alter my carbs based on training days. A high-carb day would look like this:

Meal 1

Scrambled egg: 1


Egg Whites: 1 cup


Oats: 1/2 cup


Meal 2

Tilapia: 4 oz.


Asparagus: 1 cup


Meal 3

Chicken breast: 4 oz.


Sweet potato: 1


Meal 4

Kale salad


Chicken breast: 4 oz.


Mixed fruit: 1 cup


Meal 5

Chicken breast: 4 oz.


Green vegetable of choice: 1 cup



What supplements gave you an edge?

Daily
Before cardio

Whey protein: 1 scoop each morning


After cardio

BCAAs: 10 g


Glutamine: 10 g


Whey protein: 1 scoop


Pre-workout

Pre-workout supplement: 1 scoop, used in offseason 20-30 min. prior to weight training


Before bed

Casein protein: 1 scoop


How did your passion for fitness emerge?

I was approached by a friend suggesting I compete in a figure competition. I competed for the first time last year. I am now prepping for my third show. People often ask me why I compete. What fascinates me about fitness? With nutrition and workouts I can control my health, the way I feel, and the way I look.

With nutrition and workouts I can control my health, the way I feel, and the way I look.

What drives me to get better? Bodybuilding has not only increased my physical strength but also my mental strength and confidence. That confidence and strength goes with me outside of the gym, into all areas of life.

What or who motivates you to live healthy?

My main source of motivation comes from within. As a wife, mother, and health care professional I have a responsibility to be a healthy role model for my family and the community.

Where did you go for inspiration?

I frequent Bodybuilding.com and will look up workouts from my favorite pros, Erin Stern and Jessie Hilgenberg. They have great print-and-go workouts and I love the videos that go with the workouts! I use my fitness friends to inspire me. I have met some of the most motivating and inspiring people through fitness; they are lifelong friends. I recruit my husband or a friend to push me through a workout when I feel tired or unmotivated.

What are your future fitness plans?

My desire in fitness is to inspire, motivate, and encourage others. I love to help and watch others transform their bodies and improve their health. I plan to continue competing and see where that road may lead. I have learned so much in just two shows, I hope to be a positive influence to other rookie competitors, as I have some amazing figure mentors.

I have learned so much in just two shows, I hope to be a positive influence to other rookie competitors, as I have some amazing figure mentors.

Competing and following such a strict regimen is not for the mentally weak. I hope to show that it is possible to compete without comparing yourself to others and becoming obsessed with everything you eat. It's all about a healthy balance.

What is the most important fitness tip?

Be patient! It takes time to develop the body of your dreams. There is no one-size-fits-all nutrition or workout plan. It takes time to find out what type of training and diet will give you the best results.

Who is your favorite fitness competitor?

Erin Stern is my favorite. I love her physique and training style.

How did Bodybuilding.com help you reach your goals?

I use BodySpace to network with others. I follow Bodybuilding.com and multiple Bodybuiding.com athletes on Instagram and Facebook for motivation, workouts, and fitness articles.

Stephanie's Favorite Gym Tracks


Usher
"Yeah"
Katy Perry
"Dark Horse"
Nicki Minaj
"Super Bass"
Luke Bryan
"That's My Kind of Night"
Usher
"Yeah"
Katy Perry
"Dark Horse"
Nicki Minaj
"Super Bass"
Luke Bryan
"That's My Kind of Night"


Competition history

  • 2013 Battle at the River Chattanooga, TN NPC National Qualifier Novice Figure Med, first place Place
  • 2014 Battle at the River Chattanooga, TN NPC National Qualifier Figure Open Class B, fifth place