An Interview With 2004 Masters National Overall Champion Carla Salotti.

After taking a year off in 2003 to reassess her competitive career, Carla came back and won the 2004 Masters National Overall Title... Find out how she is doing and what her plans are right here!
2004 Masters National Overall Champion Carla Salotti shares with us her comeback to female competitive bodybuilding. After taking a year off in 2003 to reassess her competitive career, Carla came back and won the 2004 Masters National Overall Title and later on took her class at the 2004 North Americans. After that event, Carla decided to focus on taking her class at the upcoming 2005 NPC National Championships.

[ Q ] Congratulations on your fantastic performance in these past two shows! Before we get started, tell us a little bit about yourself. What is your background and what's your line of work?

    A: I have a Bachelor of Science degree in child and family studies from the University of New Hampshire and hold a job as a full time social worker.

    My area of expertise is working with troubled teens. I have done community based volunteer work for Junior Achievement as well as with alternative schools in their fitness classes.

    Carla Salotti.

    I am also a certified personal trainer, and work part time for ProTan. I attend competitions and assist the athletes backstage at the national level shows. This is literally "hands on " work but I find it very rewarding. The competitors really appreciate being taken care of by one of their own. I have met such awesome people doing this.

    This is a labor of love and it has given me a great opportunity to meet some awesome people. It is tough to warm up and prep so many athletes... but we all know that women bodybuilders need sponsorship and support.

[ Q ] How did you get started in bodybuilding?

    A: Growing up, I was involved in classical dance and cheer leading. I started working out after college just to "tone up".

    It wasn't until I started training with a male friend from high school that I started seeing muscles! I also was watching my boyfriend at the time, Jose Santiago (from Team BODYTECH ), start to train and eating like a bodybuilder. I watched him compete and do very well.

    Carla & Jose.

    While visiting Jose, I saw a picture in his trainer's office of Mimi Hollman, who I thought was a fitness competitor. She was muscular and feminine and just beautiful.

    When I found out she was a bodybuilder I was shocked! My idea of what a female bodybuilder was at that time did not look anything like her. Mimi and I became friends and remain so today. She was inspirational... thanks MIMI!

[ Q ] Do you have a coach that helps you with your contest preparation?

    A: Jose introduced me to Tim Gardner of BODYTECH and he offered all the support I would need to enter my first show. I have worked with Tim ever since I decided to compete.

    Brandie & Tim Gardner.

    I would not do a show without him. He believes in hard work, basics, and determination. I never would have imagined I could compete in bodybuilding without their support and encouragement.

    Jose, motivated me and got me through what I thought was the hardest thing I had ever done. I still feel most complete on stage to this day with them both behind me.

[ Q ] So once you got introduced to Tim in 1999 your competitive career got started. Can you tell us about what titles you won that took you to your first National Competition?

    • 1999 Tampa Bay Classic - Tampa, Florida - lightweight and overall

    • 1999 Southeastern USA - Orlando, Florida - 1st lightweight (national qualifier)

    • 2000 Jr. USA - Hackensack, New Jersey - 1st lightweight

    • 2000 Southern States - Ft. Lauderdale, Florida - 3rd lightweight

    • 2000 Team Universe - New York, New York - 3rd lightweight

    • 2001 Team Universe - New York, New York - 1st lightweight (qualified to represent the USA at World Amateur Championships)

[ Q ] That's an impressive record! 2001 was the year that the World Championships got cancelled. How did you take that?

    A: After winning the Team Universe in 2001 my dream of competing internationally was coming true. I began preparing to go to Rio right after my victory!

    I was so motivated that I held my diet for two more long months and continued my pre-contest training. Then came 911... and the world changed in a split second.

    The USA could not send us to Rio for security reasons. There would be no competition for me. My dream of competing on an international stage was gone... just like the towers. My heart was broken.

    Tim asked me to guest pose for him at his show in Florida in October of 2001. I was still in great condition. So I went to Tampa. I was happy to see my trainer and friends. It took away some of the sting.

    I Was Happy To See My Trainer & Friends.

[ Q ] As a competitor that knows what it takes to get ready for a show I can only imagine how you felt. So then you decided to come back to the stage on 2002. What happened that year?

    A: I competed at the USA in 2002 but my heart wasn't in it. As a result, I took 8th in the lightweight class. After that I took a year off to reassess, and find a balance. I took up contact cardio kickboxing with Shisho, Red Dragon, Maritza Miranda. She is truly inspirational.

    This training kept me lean throughout the year as well as helped me to gain size in my shoulders (an area I felt I needed improvement on). It also helped give me a balance to my training regime that I so desperately needed.

    Cardio Kickboxing Gave Me Balance.

    I decided to compete as a bodybuilder one more time at Masters National's (2004) before switching to figure. Well... I won the whole show, much to my surprise.

    This propelled me to go to the North Americans to see how I would fair there. After winning my class there and being on stage with such top level amateurs I felt I had improved enough to go to Nationals in 2005 and try to break the top five. This is a show I never thought I was qualified to compete in due to my small stature.

[ Q ] Funny how things have a way of turning out sometimes. So what is your current training split looking like?

    A: My current split is the following:

    That is the split I try to follow but I have been doing a lot of instinctive training. So if I feel tired or sore with one body part I may save it for later in the week and train something else.

    I started doing this last year and found I had better workouts and better results. I was able to train the specific body part to it's potential that way. I have found that as I get more advanced I am more in tune with my body and know when it is tired or ready to go!

[ Q ] How many sets and repetitions do you do on the average for each body part?

    A: I typically do 3 sets for each exercise and 4 exercises per body part. I usually pyramid the weight. There are times, however, when I feel great with a certain exercise and will do 4 sets. I will also do a lot of drop sets as I usually train alone and can't always lift as heavy and get forced reps without a partner.

[ Q ] Do you believe in changing your training prior to a contest?

    A: I used to train a little lighter and do more cable work pre-contest. I have learned that if I train as heavy as I can with good form for as long as I can, I stay a bit fuller.

    Carla and Nicki Jamrog.

    I switch my exercises up a lot all throughout the year according to what my body "tells" me. That alone helps to stimulate the muscles in a different way. This year I plan on lifting as heavy as I can for as long as I feel strong.

[ Q ] Can you describe a typical day on your diet?

    A: Currently at 8 weeks out I just got my adjustments and it goes something like this:

    • Eight meals with 23 grams of protein
    • Two meals with 30 grams of complex carbs
    • Three meals with 25 grams of fibrous carbs

    I try to get a gallon of water in daily. I have also dropped most of my salt intake. I have to tell you, I am pretty hungry this week. My body will adjust and I won't notice it much within a couple weeks.

    Typically in the off-season I still eat pretty clean throughout the week and do what I want on weekends, or if I go out with friends. I reduce my meals to 5-6 a day and eat carbs 3 times a day.

    If I eat dairy it is no fat and I try to stay away from sugary foods, which isn't usually a problem if I am not dieting! Sweets like ice cream/ice milk/frozen yogurt are a weakness, I have to admit!

[ Q ] Which supplements do you use year round?

[ Q ] What supplements do you feel are essential when doing a bodybuilding show?

    A: My vitamin pak is essential as it is loaded with extra minerals and calcium. I went a few days without it and started cramping pretty bad. Glutamine and BCAA also for repair.

    I take ZMA at night (if I have an empty stomach). I also use some type of thermogenic for fat burning and energy. Tim has me also taking mass amino and ultra 40 (liver tabs) from Beverly. I really hate taking those as they are 12 per day and are huge!

    Really though, the top 3 you can't do without!

[ Q ] A lot of competitors these days take the off-season off in order to let their bodies recover from the contest preparation. Do you take any time off?

    A: I may take a couple weeks at the most. Usually it is more like one. I get right back to cardio to keep the bloat off and to stay in the habit.

    I may train 4 days per week instead of 5 and do cardio 3-5 days in the morning. Your body does need to recover and your body will grow with rest but I find if I get out of the habit of cardio, especially, then I am too lazy to get right back to it!

    With training I try to listen to my body so as not to over train. When I get back into the gym I may lift a bit lighter at first until I build my strength.

[ Q ] What do you think about the future of female bodybuilding?

    A: Well, I have seen a huge change in the judging at this year's national level shows. They are definitely not rewarding the biggest hardest girls on stage, this year.

    The surprising thing is that they have been pretty consistent about this. Usually when they try to set some new standard they are not consistent with the judging and it doesn't follow through.

    My heart goes out to those girls that made the changes they were told to last year and now this year they aren't being rewarded. That is the huge problem with setting these "standards". The "powers that be" seem to constantly change theirs minds; kind of like New England weather; just wait a minute and it will change!

Do You Think Female Bodybuilding Judges Follow The Official Standards?

Not Sure.

    In the long run, I feel that what they are trying to do will be positive for the sport. I feel that keeping the women a bit smaller and feminine can't hurt.

    I know there will be women and fans out there who don't want to hear this but let's face it...female bodybuilders aren't on magazine covers because they don't sell to the general public (like it or not).

    We are freaks to the general public no matter how big or small we are but when the women start looking too much like men it really takes "freaks" to a different level.

    Please don't get me wrong, I totally respect the decisions that women make regarding how they train or look. That is their choice and if they are happy with themselves, I am in no way placing judgment on them. I just know for myself, I like the way I look and I want to stay healthy.

    Judging Standards Are Not Consistent.

    I like when women look at me and say that I inspire them because my look seems achievable (that might be in the off season anyways, LOL!). When women that have "heard" of me first see me, they will say things like; "You are smaller than I thought", or "You are pretty!". These things help me to know that I am going in the right direction. More importantly, I am happy with how I look.

    That really is the key for all women in bodybuilding and fitness; if THEY ARE HAPPY with how they look and feel in the gym that is all that matters. Nobody is getting rich being a pro female bodybuilder so once you are not happy or are compromising yourself it is time to GET OUT of it!

[ Q ] What are your immediate and long-term goals?

    A: Immediately? Well I want to bring the best overall package I can to Nationals in Atlanta! I want to hold myself to a standard of what I feel is feminine and strong. I want to be able to step on stage next to the best in the nation and know I have done everything I can to be my best. In doing that, I also want to be able to get to that spot saying that I was able to be more balanced about my journey there. I want to be able to have fun!

    Long term? That is a harder question. Regarding competing? I will have to see what happens at Nationals and with women bodybuilding in general. I do know that I would love to be more involved in the industry and try to make some money doing what I am good at, which is contest prep. I have been doing contest prep for a few years.

    I am not talking about the actual diet planning, etc. (although I can do that too), but I am talking about the actual food prep, color and last minutes errands the athlete needs the week of or a few days before the contest. I have worked with both IFBB pros and top-level NPC amateurs. Everyone I have worked with has been successful in the shows I have helped them with and have appreciated the work I have done for them to make their prep easier.

    What Do IFBB And NPC Mean?
    IFBB stands for the "International Federation of Bodybuilding & Fitness". Visit their website at

    NPC stands for "National Physique Committee, Inc." Visit their website at

    Being a competitive athlete myself I know how it feels and what it takes to get a person on stage. I understand the highs and lows of the temperament, and physically how they are feeling. I am able to do what needs to be done without asking and am able to encourage the athlete to do what they are supposed do, as well. Whether it be following their nutritionist's plan, posing when they should or getting their color done so it isn't left to the last minute.

    Carla Smiling At The Beach.

    I have worked with the athletes' nutritionist so the food is weighed and prepared according to their instructions. I love doing it and get a lot of reward from seeing the stress just be taken off the athlete. I am hoping to be able to market these services to companies that want to treat their athletes in the elite way they deserve so if there is any interest please feel free to contact me through my site at

[ Q ] Anything else that you would like to add?

    A: I just want to say that I love to train and be fit. Competing is a bonus that just has happened as a result of training. No matter where my competitive career takes me, I plan on always being in the gym, lifting iron and staying fit! The people I have met along my bodybuilding journey has been priceless!

    I am so blessed to have been able to come in contact with so many gifted and genuine people. I know that this industry can be fake and cut throat, and a bit like a circus, but I have been very fortunate to have been exposed to real quality people. For that I will always be grateful!

[ Q ] How can people contact you?

    A: They can contact me through my brand new website I look forward to hearing from all of you!

    Thank you for such a great interview Carla and best of luck at these year's NPC Nationals.

Update, Nov. 22, 2005:
This past weekend, Carla Salotti earned her IFBB Pro Card by winning her lightweight class at the NPC Nationals in Atlanta. Congratulations Carla on such impressive accomplishement!

About The Author

Hugo Rivera is an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer, Sports Nutrition Specialist and Computer Engineer graduate from the University of South Florida. Hugo is owner of, an informational, free fitness and nutrition website.

Hugo is author of a self published bodybuilding e-book called Body Re-Engineering geared towards the natural bodybuilder and co-author of one of the most popular Men's Health book in the country (according to Barnes and Noble) called "The Body Sculpting Bible for Men" and the very popular "The Body Sculpting Bible for Women".

Hugo also just released his new book called The Hardgainer's Bodybuilding Handbook in March 2005 and also serves as a nutrition consultant to several professional football players and other elite athletes. Hugo serves as business consultant to many personal training studios as well and offers personalized diet and training programs through his website.

Hugo continues to publish several articles on the subject of health and nutrition in several magazines and websites, appears on several radio talk shows and has been with Prolab Nutrition for over three years. Hugo competes as drug free NPC athlete at the National Level and his core supplementation has always consisted of Prolab products.