IFBB Figure Pro Meriza DeGuzman's 2009 Olympia Journey!

I've been very fortunate to work with some of the best training and nutritional experts in the sport. Here's a quick look into my 2009 Figure Olympia Prep. Learn more.

Article Summary:
  • Meriza qualified at the 2009 Europa to compete at this year's Olympia.
  • After some poor placings for too much muscle she is focused on toning.
  • With close to two hours of cardio a day she needed a serious energy boost.

  • Figure Perfect... Reshaping A Prize-Winning Physique
    My Journey Back To The Olympia Stage...

    Hi, everyone! I'm Meriza DeGuzman. I'm a professional figure athlete. But, I'm also a full-time personal trainer and fitness coach, as well as a full-time mom. This year, I qualified again for the Ms. Olympia competition and I'm so excited! The opportunity to stand under that big red "O" on the stage with some of the best female athletes in the world is such an honor.

    I am very thankful - I feel blessed to be able to have the chance so many pro athletes in our sport dream about. I'd like to share with you a little bit of what it took to get me back up onto the Olympia stage once again.

    Meriza DeGuzman At The 2009 Europa Super Show & Supplement Expo.
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    Meriza DeGuzman At The 2009 Europa Super Show & Supplement Expo.
    View More Pics Of Meriza DeGuzman At The 2009 Europa Super Show & Supplement Expo.

    As an athlete, I've been very fortunate to work with some of the best training and nutritional experts in the sport. For my contest preps this year, I have worked very closely with nutritionist, Kim Oddo, my sponsor, Joey Rodrigues of MAN Sports and Physique Specialist (and also my fiancé), Pete Ciccone of 619 Muscle.


    My First Year In The Big Leagues:

      In 2007, when I turned pro and earned my first Olympia qualification, the criteria for girls at the pro level was somewhat different than it is now. Competing at the elite level meant displaying more muscle and having a leaner, tighter look.

      After turning pro and then standing on the Olympia stage next to physiques like those of Gina Aliotti, Monica Brant, Amanda Savell, Jenny Lynn and Jen Gates, I saw that I needed to develop more quality muscle and shape in certain areas, especially in my legs.

      Preparing for the 2008 competitive season, this was my goal: build more shape and curves to my quads, glutes and hamstrings. Peter and I, along with his training partner, IFBB Pro Derik Farnsworth, created a leg program that included mass-building exercises and heavy shaping exercises to build more shape and curves into my lower body. It worked!

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      However, since the end of 2007, and especially after the Arnold in the spring of 2008, the trends in Figure and the top physiques have evolved. The girls with a softer, more elegant look to their muscle seemed to be placing higher. The physiques at the top are so beautiful, feminine and graceful! I had to carefully re-assess my physique again, and further evaluate the hard-earned changes I had made over the past off-season.


    Grace And Refinement:

      After a few tough placings, we came to the conclusion that even a few pounds of muscle made a huge difference on my tiny frame. I'm only just over 4'11", so I've got to be careful not to appear too "thick" - especially standing against the taller, longer girls. It was hard to swallow at first - I really enjoy weight training, but now, I had enough muscle mass and it was time to refine and perfect my look.

      I needed to focus on refining and carefully shaping my physique. The sport of Figure is an art, - balance, shape and the lines of the physique, and how you present your total package on the stage - having a polished, refined and athletically feminine look - that's the art in the game!


    Training - A Slightly Different Approach:

      In the recent past, I trained as often as 5 days per week. I'm pretty strong for my size, and I like weight training. But, as my physique has progressed, I began to see the need to add more finesse and refinement to my physique, so I made some changes to my training program.

      Although I still train with weights, these days I focus a lot more on the details and carefully shaping my physique, especially focusing on shaping my delts, glutes and hamstrings, rather than adding more muscle. In order to soften some of the muscle size I had gained, I needed to increase my cardio - I needed to learn how to love the stair mill!

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      My new program entailed increasing my cardio regimen while dropping my weight-training down to only 3 times per week, focusing very carefully on isolation exercises for delts, and targeting glutes and hamstrings.

      My marching orders also included taking care to avoid over-stimulating the muscles of my upper body. (As an active personal trainer, I spend a lot of my day racking and unracking weights, and I'm constantly demonstrating exercises or spotting clients, so this was a challenge at times!)

      For this competitive season, my training looked a lot like this:

      • Cardio: 2 sessions per day, Monday thru Friday - Stair mill in the morning, treadmill in the evening.
      • Monday: Delts, focus on feel, and shaping
      • Tuesday: Hamstrings/glutes/ light quad work
      • Wednesday: Light back training, width exercises only, no back thickness
      • Thursday: Delts, focus on lateral head; up-hill lunges - 10 trips up a 25-yard steep grade
      • Friday: Hamstrings/glutes
      • Saturday: Cardio, stair mill session only (am)
      • Sunday: Cardio, stair mill session only (am)

      I've increased my cardio quite a bit (mostly on the stair mill) this year, to help refine and tighten my physique... trust me, climbing the stairs at a moderate - to high-intensity for 40-50 minute intervals or more will really help to shape your lower body and tighten and tone it!

    Meriza DeGuzman At The 2009 Europa Super Show & Supplement Expo.
    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    Meriza DeGuzman At The 2009 Europa Super Show & Supplement Expo.
    View More Pics Of Meriza DeGuzman At The 2009 Europa Super Show & Supplement Expo.

      Also, I routinely practice my presentation, posing and walking in heels. We also hold regular posing/presentation clinics in San Diego to give girls of all experience levels the chance to walk on a stage, under lights, in their heels and posing suits. In our sport, it really is all about the details, and everything matters!


    Nutritional Evolution:


    Supplementing For High-Performance:

      In order to survive all of the cardio I was doing (up to two 50-minute sessions per day, 7 days per week) and still finish strong, I really relied on my supplementation program more this year.

    Meriza DeGuzman At The 2009 Europa Super Show & Supplement Expo.
    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    Meriza DeGuzman At The 2009 Europa Super Show & Supplement Expo.
    View More Pics Of Meriza DeGuzman At The 2009 Europa Super Show & Supplement Expo.

      I began using Body Octane faithfully. It is an incredible product by MAN Sports. It tastes yummy in my water - it's lemonade flavored and mixes easily. It contains beta alanine and citrulline malate, both which fight muscle fatigue and help boost endurance.

      Joey Rodrigues is really proud of this formulation - and I tell you what, Body Octane works! I use 1 serving before each cardio session; I found that my legs stayed strong, even during my high-intensity stair mill sessions. My job is physical, so taking an extra scoop during my long days at the gym also helped keep me fueled so I could give my full attention to my clients.

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    The Journey Continues!

    It's been a long year for me, but as a professional Figure athlete, I consider this a part of my life, so there really is no off-season and that's ok... I'm used to it!

    Meriza DeGuzman At The 2009 California State Pro Figure Championships.
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    Meriza DeGuzman At The 2009 California State Pro Figure Championships.
    View More Pics Of Meriza DeGuzman At The 2009 California State Pro Figure Championships.

    When I closed out last year, with a top 5 finish at the IFBB Tournament of Champions, we knew the best was yet to come. That's when we decided to consult with Kim Oddo. Kim is one of the most-experienced and knowledgeable coaches in the Figure game, and has been a tremendous help to me this year.

    Thanks to Kim, and to my sponsor Joey Rodrigues and MAN Sports (and Body Octane!) it's been a great year so far! I feel very lucky and very grateful to have such a great support system behind me.

    I've worked hard and worked smart all year, turning my 5th-place finish at the Tournament of Champions last year into a 4th-place at the Cals in May, and two top-3 finishes this year, at both the Europa Pro and the Houston Pro shows. And, yes, earning that much-coveted trip to the big show, to the Ms. Figure Olympia in Las Vegas later this month!

    It's been a great journey so far - I'm super-excited and feel very blessed. To me, the art and sport of Professional Figure is a beautiful celebration of what it means to be female - strong and feminine, graceful, elegant, all at once! It's an amazing honor to be able to stand onstage with some of the best, most beautiful female physique athletes in the world! I cannot wait! Hope to see you all there!

    xoxo

    Meriza