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Amateur Fitness Competitor of the Week: Karen Patten

Amateur Fitness Competitor of the Week: Karen Patten! - Pics and info and more!

  • Name: Karen Patten
  • E-mail:
  • Age: 33
  • Where: Anchorage, Alaska
  • Height: 5' 3"
  • Weight: 118 Lbs.
  • Years Bodybuilding :2
  • Favorite Bodypart: Shoulders
  • Favorite Exercise: Legs (Quads)
  • Favorite Supplements: BCAA's

How Did You Get Started?

I got started thanks to an interesting (my husband might use the word dangerous) combination of ignorance, compulsivity, and boredom. The ignorance stems from the fact that I had only joined a gym and first heard of fitness as a sport less than six weeks prior to my first show.

Compulsiveness is something I've been blessed (or burdened) with my entire life. Once I set a goal, I don't let anything get in my way. I've noticed that it's a trait most if not all successful individuals possess. Finally, I use the word boredom in the sense that I had spent the previous eight years carrying and nurturing my three young daughters.

Motherhood itself wasn't, isn't, and never could be considered boring, but the isolation that sometimes goes along with it can be, particularly since I had immersed myself in the raising of my children to the detriment of myself (again, my compulsive nature!). I had spent very little time caring for myself and my exercise consisted of a creative routine I had developed to train at home in my living room.

This lack of resources combined with limited socialization led me to join a local health club. So, two years ago I joined a gym, heard of this upcoming competition, threw a routine together, bought some off-the-rack swimsuits, and stepped out on stage for the first time.

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That day, I earned the Alaska State Fitness Champion title and set forth on a path that would allow me to develop greater self confidence, discipline, balance, and a more defined role in the world. As a mother, my greatest priority is to present an image of a healthy, fit, competitive woman who embraces challenges, accepts defeat, and overcomes obstacles.

I have grown stronger from defeat, and shown my children how to lose with graciousness and pride. I have achieved greater success than I could have imagined, and shown my children how to win with humility.

It is important to me that I stay close to competition shape year round, and am able to compete often. Since the 2004 Alaska State Fitness Competition, I have competed and placed as follows:

arrow Competition History:

    2004 Northern Lights/Lee Priest Classic: First Place Figure
    2004 Anchorage Bodybuilding and Figure Competition: First Place Figure (This win gave me the distinction of being the only
    Alaskan athlete to win all three NPC sanctioned shows in one year!)
    2005 Alaska State Fitness: First Place Overall
    2005 Alaska State Figure: First Place Tall and Overall
    2005 Emerald Cup Fitness: Second Place Tall
    2005 Emerald Cup Figure: Sixth Place
    2005 Team Universe Fitness: 12th Place
    2005 Northwest Fitness: First Place Tall and Overall
    2005 Northwest Figure: First Place Medium
    2005 Fitness Nationals: Fourth Place!!
    2006 Emerald Cup Fitness: Overall Champion!

Click Image To Enlarge.
Karen Patten - Overall Fitness Winner.

Visit my personal web site:

Published article about Karen being chosen as Fitness amateur of 2006 at -ALASKA SPORTS DIGEST

What Workout Plan Worked Best For You?

I'm fairly inconsistent in my training. The time of day I work out and the number of days I work out each week changes constantly. I do try to do some cardio every day. The following is as close to average as I get in a week:

arrow Training Week:

    Monday: Back Day
    I usually do three sets of four different exercises, varying my reps. My favorites are wide-grip pullups, close-grip pulldowns, pullovers, seated rows, horizontal bodyweight pullups, and lat pulldowns. I work my rear delts on back day, too. I'll finish with hyperextensions or back extensions, usually keeping my reps high, around 25 to 30. Sometimes I'll do a little hamstring and glute work on back day, too.

    Tuesday: Chest Day
    Again, I try to do three sets of four different exercises. I always do incline bench press, cable flyes, and dips. I alternate doing flat flyes, horizontal bench press, one or more of the seated chest press machines, or seated chest flyes.

    I'll finish with 2 sets of 30-40 crunches. I used to work my abs every day, but found my waist getting too thick, so now I work abs twice a week only and rely on routine work to keep them strong.

    Wednesday: Shoulder Day
    Working shoulders is my favorite thing to do! I warm up by walking on my hands the length of the aerobics room and back. Then I'll do ten each of the strength moves in my routine, consisting mostly of handstands, dynamic push-ups, and presses. I'll then do three sets each of overhead presses, lateral raises, front raises, and an exercise for my rear delts, keeping my reps between 12 and 15. I'll finish with a set of hyperextensions.

    I'll usually take a day off to work on my routine and just do cardio.

    Friday: Leg Day
    I will start with 2 sets of 45 squats. I start with my feet shoulder width apart for 15 reps, then switch to a wider stance for 15, then keep my feet together for the final 15. Then I'll do some combination of the following: Horizontal leg press (keeping my feet close together), leg extensions (with my feet angled out, one foot at a time), standing, seated, and lying leg curls (keeping my reps low), step ups, lunges, front squats, deadlifts, adductor machine work, and calf raises. I'll end with some light ab work.

    Saturday and Sunday:
    If I missed any of the above scheduled days, I'll make up for it on the weekend. I'll also ski or swim with my kids and mostly focus on getting some cardio and routine work in.

What Nutrition Plan Has Worked Best For You?

I was very lucky to have the opportunity to work with Pete Grubbs of Evolution Gym in Seattle. I have learned tremendously from him and am now aware enough of my body and its response to foods that I'm able to work my own nutrition plan. Generally, I'll have 20-25 grams of protein every 2.5-3 hours and carbs when I feel like I need them. I drink lots of water, green tea, and coffee.

What Supplements Have Given You The Greatest Gains?

The only supplements I take are BCAA's and protein powder. It's very easy for me to add muscle and I'm naturally very lean, so I've not felt the need to add anything else to my regime. I am constantly reading and am open to trying something if it seems like it will fit in with my lifestyle.

Why do you love Bodybuilding?

Fitness embodies all that is beautiful. There is no better example than a woman who is self-possessed, strong, athletic, and healthy. I consider it any woman's responsibility to lead by example how she'd like her children to care for themselves. Whenever I have the urge to stray from my healthy lifestyle, I ask myself what I would say to daughter in the same position and what advice I would give her.

By caring for oneself as well as we care for our cherished children, we can teach them the power that comes from health. For years, I put my own needs behind my children's, and I now realize what a mistake that was, both for myself, and my children. I was cheating them out of a healthy role model, and essentially teaching them that once they become mothers that their own self loses importance.

Now that I take time each day to train, I am a much better parent. I am also a better wife, more supportive friend, stronger daughter, and happier self. I can take time to enhance my own natural beauty with hair color and style, make up, and nails without feeling spoiled or vain.

Even though my children may not grow up to be a fitness competitor or personal trainer, I know they will have the skills and knowledge to show their best selves to the world, and will likely experience success from that ability. Keeping myself strong makes me healthier in all ways; physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Fitness is the tool that allows that to happen, and I am grateful to be a part of this sport.

What Are Your Future Bodybuilding Plans?

I hope to one day earn the privilege to compete in the IFBB. I'd like to promote the sport locally, and share my passion with others. I love to write about fitness, and hope to one day soon start the book that's in my head.

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What One Tip Would You Give Other Bodybuilders?

NEVER GIVE UP! I have suffered numerous health problems, personal problems, and familial problems and been tempted many times to quit. It's easy to find an excuse not to train and to see fitness as just another daily stressor. I encourage everyone to view training as a respite from the world's problems, to use it as a form of therapy, as something to look forward to as things get rough.

I go to the gym to battle my demons, and have found that lifting heavy weights actually lightens the weight I carry on my shoulders. When I put my gym shoes on and change into my sports bra and shorts, I feel myself changing into a different persona, one that can face anything, one that's strong, powerful, and undefeatable. That attitude can carry on after a great workout and make any day easier to face.

Who Are Your Favorite Bodybuilders?

I love to watch Jen Hendershott and Tanji Johnson compete. Their dynamics are amazing, and they are just phenomenal athletes!