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An Interview With 2004 USA Heavyweight And Overall Winner, Carri Ledford-Baldwin.

Firefighter Carri Ledford-Baldwin put sufficient heat on her competition at the 2004 Nationals, to win the Light-Heavyweight and overall... Get her story right here as I ask her questions about her life. Learn more here!

Firefighter Carri Ledford-Baldwin put sufficient heat on her competition at the 2004 Nationals to win the Light-Heavyweight and Overall, a fitting turning point in the 42-year-old's 11-year bodybuilding career.

She now aims to compete in the 2006 Ms. Olympia, after "hopefully" qualifying at the Europa Pro Show the same year.

Indeed, to step onto the Olympia stage at least twice during the remainder of her pro career is a dream Carri feels will become a reality, if she continues to train and diet at the level to which she has become accustomed.

Carri, Oklahoma born and raised, decided to become a bodybuilder after being introduced to the weights in 1994, by a trainer at her local gym.

Carri Ledford-Baldwin
Carri With Hat.
Click To Enlarge.

"He said I had great potential, and the rest is history," says Carri. That same year, Carri won the Novice Middleweight, and Overall at her first contest, The Red River Classic. Since then, the rise has been steady.

In 1995, building upon her success at the Red River Classic, Carri won the Middleweight and Overall Ms. Oklahoma. A progressive shift, however, to a more competitive arena - the 2000 USA Nationals - saw Carri place 13th in the Middleweights.

Carri decided then that she would gradually pack on more size to contest the Heavyweight division. This proved a wise move. In 2003, Carri placed sixth in the USA Nationals, and the following year she won the whole thing to secure her pro-card.

In building her body to its current level, Carri feels she has overcome several genetic limitations. What makes Carri's rise to the top all the more spectacular, is the way in which she balances her bodybuilding career with other aspects of her life.

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Despite Carri's success in bodybuilding (or perhaps because of it), she has managed to care for her family and hold down an oftentimes grueling position with the fire department (Carri's other full-time job). Here's hoping Carri continues her successful run, as she contests the pro division in 2006.

[ Q ] Hi Carri. I understand you work at the Oklahoma City fire department. How does this job compliment your bodybuilding lifestyle? What is it about this job you enjoy?

    A: I would have to say that bodybuilding lifestyle compliments my job actually. Strength, endurance and a healthy lifestyle puts me way ahead of the average firefighter. Even being a strong woman who can do the job is one advantage.

    I love my job because its never the same, every day holds something new and unexpected. You never know what you got until you get there and you have to be able respond ASAP. You see mankind at its best, and unfortunately at its worst.

[ Q ] Please tell the readers more about yourself Carri.

    A: I am 42, about 5'4, at competition my weight is 140-142, off-season it is 155-160. I am married and live in Yukon, Oklahoma. I am also the mother of an 18-year-old son, Michael Bryce.

Carri's Stats.
Height: 5'4 1/2"
Weight Off-Season: 170 Lbs.
Weight Contest: 145 Lbs. (and gaining)
Hair: Brown
Eyes: Brown
Heritage: Native American (Semino)

[ Q ] What got you started in bodybuilding?

    A: Well, I was actually dating a guy who had a personal trainer and I had always been athletic in sports and spent a lot if time in the gym.

    His trainer approached me, I began to train along side the guys and six months later did my first show, after that, I was hooked. Got rid of the boyfriend, not the trainer.

[ Q ] What are your current bodybuilding goals?

    A: I plan on doing the Europa Supershow in Arlington, Texas next year, 2006. I would love to place in the top five and, of course, to qualify for the Olympia would be incredible. But dreams do come true.

[ Q ] You won the overall at the 2004 USA. Describe how this felt. Did you expect to win a show this big when you started out?

    A: Surprised, shocked, sad and happy. Did not expect it at all, and was hoping to be in the top five to bring home a trophy, not a pro card. My friend Sherry Smith and I trained together for the USA '04 and had been training partners for a little over nine years.

    Sherry has been a top five National competitor the past four years, so that was an unsettling feeling, because I was really expecting, and wanting, Sherry to be the next Pro.

Carri Winning The 2004 USA.
Click To Enlarge.

[ Q ] Describe your 2004 USA pre competition training routine. Did you do anything differently to win this time around?

    A: Off-season consisted of doing legs and back twice a week: my outer sweep is weak and legs are the hardest for me to gain muscle on. My back needed thickness, so, deadlift and rack pulls were done also.

[ Q ] What was the name of your first show, and how did you place. How did you feel after this show?

    A: My first show was the Red River Classic in 1994. I was the novice middleweight and won this class and the overall novice championship.

    I was really nervous, especially about the posing routine. I was always shy and very quiet, and to be on a stage in a "small suit", well, really uncomfortable. But afterwards, I got the bug!

Carri's Competition History.
Year Event
1994 1st MW and Overall Novice Red River Classic
1995 1st MW and Overall Open (Ms. Oklahoma) Oklahoma Championships
1997 1st MW Red River Classic
1998 1 year off, Fire Training Academy
1999 1st MW Jr. Nationals
2000 13th MW USA Nationals
2000 1st in Team Relay at The Firefighter World Challenge
2001 1st MW and Overall (Ms. Red River) Red River Classic
2002 8th MW Nationals in Dallas
2003 6th HW USA Nationals
2004 Oklahoma 2nd Heavyweight
2004 USA 1st Lt. Heavy and Overall - Pro Card

[ Q ] Describe your training approach.

    A: Don't complain and do what is needed and expected. Never give up. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't do something.

[ Q ] Describe your 2004 USA nutritional approach?

    A: My carbs can stay around 250 (grams) a day for a while. When I do cardio I tend to lose the body fat fast, because I don't carry too much in the off-season.

    I rely on genetics, but also find it hard to put muscle on. The closer it gets, the less carbs I take in. My protein consists mainly of fresh chicken, some eye of round beef occasionally and lots of veggies.

[ Q ] Are you a believer in supplements? Which ones do you take pre-contest, and off-season, and why?

[ Q ] Out of the supplements you have mentioned, which one wouldn't you be without, and why?

    A: Isopure, just due to the fact it is high protein, without all the carbs.

[ Q ] Describe a typical day in the life of Carri Ledford-Baldwin.

    A: At the fire station, my day starts at 6am. I get my cardio at the station. I check the rigs, the medical equipment and make sure everything is there, clean the station, and I am the cook, so I do the grocery shopping.

    Carri Ledford-Baldwin
    Carri Ledford-Baldwin.
    Click To Enlarge.

    I get relieved at 7 am the next morning. At home I feed the dogs (3) and my spider (Tarantula), sleep if I was up all night at work, and train at 11:30. If its Tuesday, go for lunch afterward with the girls. My husband is powerlifting now so I go to gym with him at 7pm and help him.

[ Q ] Do you do many powerlifting movements?

    A: I love to deadlift! So we do that, now going sumo style. He plans on qualifying for the worlds in Las Vegas next year.

    I squat, though not too heavy yet, due to my recent knee surgery and I also do heavy rack pulls as well as benching. Most of my reps are still around the 3-4 at the heaviest, even deadlifting and rack pulls.

[ Q ] A tarantula as a pet? This is interesting. Why?

    A: I am not quite sure, they have always fascinated me - spiders that is. My husband caught it on a job site, called, said he caught one and ran and bought an aquarium! They are nocturnal, and cool to watch at night. You can even hear them crunching their crickets if you're really quiet!

[ Q ] What other hobbies and interests do you have Carri?

    A: I love co-ed softball, but after a few torn muscles, my trainer Howie, insisted on me not playing while competing. I love forensic science and enjoy working in my yard - flowers and stuff.

    Carri's Favorites.
    Favorite Exercise: Rack pulls and deadlifts (315 x5)
    Favorite Cheat Food: Peanut buttercup ice cream
    Favorite Diet Food: Rice cakes with sugar-free jelly
    Favorite Activity: Going out dancing with all our friends
    Favorite Colors: Forest green and purple

[ Q ] Is your son into bodybuilding? If not, is he involved in sport of any type? What does he think about your bodybuilding endeavors?

    A: My son is an avid basketball player. He was great in baseball as well when growing up, but basketball is his love. He loves my bodybuilding, he is proud.

    I remember when he was about 10 and was having an argument with a friend and told him "my mom can beat up your dad"! Thought that was funny, never heard that before.

Carri And Her Son, At His Graduation.
Click To Enlarge.

[ Q ] You work as a personal trainer. What qualities should a good personal trainer have in your view?

    A: Patience, motivation, and the ability to accept the things you cannot change!

[ Q ] What are your main strengths and weaknesses from a physical standpoint?

    A: Strengths are pullups; love them, and could do them all day. Rack pulls and deadlifting also. Weaknesses are shoulders. I hate training shoulders and my legs, cannot gain muscle very fast or very much. Good squatter, but not so good at hack squats.

[ Q ] What are your long-term bodybuilding goals?

    A: To step on the Olympia stage at least twice in my lifetime.

[ Q ] What are your thoughts on the current state of women's bodybuilding?

    A: I think they are trying for a less induced, healthier approach. I think its an admirable thing, but we will just have to see how long it lasts. I still like a nice muscular back and outer sweeps. Just hard to say how long they will stay with this, as their goals seem to vary.

    Carri's Philosophy.
    Keep your eyes on the dream.
    Never give in.
    Compliment at least 3 people a day.
    Sing in the shower.
    Call your MOM each day!

[ Q ] How can women's bodybuilding be improved upon for it to become as viable as the men's competition, do you think?

    A: I think more coverage and more positive statements. It seems the magazines insist on printing only the negative aspects. and opinions people have.

    I do think there are so many women bodybuilders who are great representatives and should share the magazine coverage as much as the figure and fitness.

[ Q ] Thank you for your time Carri. Is there anything you would like to add?

    A: I think we all make personal choices, and as long as its something you totally believe and want for yourself and no one else (judges), do what makes you happy.

    Carri's website: