Every athlete must prepare for competition. Bikini competitors are no different than athletes from other bodybuilding classes. They exercise like crazy, diet with surgical precision, and supplement with additional nutrients designed to promote peak physical performance.
Entering the competitive scene, Courtney didn't just take what was recommended. She did her own research to discover what might fit her body, her lifestyle, and still be true to her ethics. She read a litany of reviews and research studies to understand what ingredients actually did.
Courtney Prather's Fitness Program
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"I had never really taken supplements before because I had seen these big guys with a lot of muscle downing protein shakes and taking creatine and all that," Prather said. "It was so foreign to me, I didn't really know what to do, or if it was right for me. I really had to take my time, do the research and read reviews online."
Her supplement list is short compared to some other divisions in the sport. Bikini competitors are looking for a different body type. Muscle is still premium, but it's more about being lean and sexy. Bikini is about beauty and strength, aesthetics and athletics.
"Just like you can't out-train a bad diet, I don't think you can supplement a bad diet," Prather said. "It's meant to fill in the holes, but it doesn't make up for whole nutritious foods. That's really my focus, to get as much as I can from healthy eating."
When in a bind, Courtney will replace a meal with a whey shake (she prefers Optimum's Gold Standard or BSN's Lean Dessert). But, for the most part, she eats clean whole foods for her nutrients. Multivitamins, fish oils and glutamine go with her daily. She takes a pre-workout and sometimes a post. She works out very hard, so she has to recover.
Start with Essentials
"Just remember: When you're trying to devise a supplementation program, keep it simple," Prather advises. "Start with the basics, the essentials you need. Just don't be afraid to revise it as you move along your plan. Do your research online. Bodybuilding.com has a ton of reviews on all the supplements that you have available to you. Make sure you get educated, you start slow and you add as you need."
Courtney's Supplement Philosophy
I try to get most of my necessary vitamins and nutrients from whole foods, and mainly rely on supplements to replenish my body from the work done in the gym. When you train hard, the anti-catabolic effects of certain supplements are essential to help your body repair and replenish for future workouts.
Any time you change what you currently do, whether it be training, eating habits or experimenting with new supplements, it is important to be able to isolate that change. This means adding/subtracting one thing at a time and seeing how it affects you. Otherwise, if you are not seeing good results, or have adverse effects, you won't know what's to blame.
Also, ladies - supplements are not just for men and bodybuilders! Just find the product that is right for you. For instance, if your goal is fat loss, look for protein powders with low sugar, low carbs, low levels of sodium, and around 25g of protein per serving.
Customization is key. Do your own research and get advice from professionals, but most importantly, listen to your own body and do what is right for you!
Courtney's Supplement Schedule
1 tablet with breakfast
2 pills (6g per day)
1 scoop with water
1 scoop with water