Fitness Amateur Of The Week: Rachael Pursues A Bodybuilding Pro Card

Tragedy urged Rachael to change majors and improve her strength. Now she wants the big prize: to stand on the Olympia stage!

Fitness Amateur Of The Week: Rachael Pursues A Bodybuilding Pro Card
Q

How did your fitness journey begin?

I ran cross country in high school, and continued running in college. I started weight training in college when I decided I wanted a career in law enforcement. Now, 12 years later, I have brought my passion and drive to be strong to a whole new level! I started competing in 2013, with my first show being the NPC Baltimore Gladiator Championships, held in Towson, Maryland. I took first place out of three, and haven't stopped since.

I grew up in Buffalo, NY, and started my athletic career as a little league baseball player at the age of 11. My younger brother and I played on the same team, with our dad as our assistant coach. I played until I was a teenager, and we moved to Kansas City. While living there, I remember asking my parents for a piece of cardio equipment for Christmas—who does that at the age of 14?! A year later we moved back to Buffalo, and I began running cross country and track.

Rachael Pecoraro 2014 Metropolitan Bodybuilding Womens Bodybuilding Pre Judging
Watch The Video - 2:32



I switched college majors from physical therapy to criminal justice after the murder of my grandfather. I needed a different level of strength to get through the police academy training, and I realized running wasn't a well-rounded option. That's when I found the weight room and found my new passion. I started going to the gym every day, and it's been a staple in my life since.

Cool Fact

Rachael loves to travel and is an avid photographer. She has a collection of antique cameras (about 60) that she tries to use in photo projects.

What fitness regimen delivered the best results?

In contest-prep mode I train seven days every week. Along with training every day, I also complete 75-80 minutes of cardio. My current workout plan is from my coach, Matt Porter. Most of my set/rep schemes are 5 sets of 8-12 reps unless otherwise noted. I also alternate between training abs and hyperextensions every other day.

Day 1: Biceps/Triceps
  • Standing Barbell Curl Standing Barbell Curl Standing Barbell Curl
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Standing Hammer Curl Standing Hammer Curl Standing Hammer Curl
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Hammer Strength Preacher Curl Hammer Strength Preacher Curl Hammer Strength Preacher Curl
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Cable Curl Cable Curl Cable Curl
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Rope Curl Rope Curl Rope Curl
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Lying Skullcrusher Lying Skullcrusher Lying Skullcrusher
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Close-Grip EZ-Bar Press Close-Grip EZ-Bar Press Close-Grip EZ-Bar Press
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Overhead Dumbbell Extension Overhead Dumbbell Extension Overhead Dumbbell Extension
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Rope Push-Down Rope Push-Down Rope Push-Down
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Reverse Bar Press Reverse Bar Press Reverse Bar Press
    5 sets of 8-12 reps


Day 2: Delts/Hamstrings
  • Seated Dumbbell Press Seated Dumbbell Press Seated Dumbbell Press
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Seated Arnold Press Seated Arnold Press Seated Arnold Press
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Seated Barbell Press Seated Barbell Press Seated Barbell Press
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Standing Dumbbell Lateral Raise Standing Dumbbell Lateral Raise Standing Dumbbell Lateral Raise
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Bent-Over Dumbbell Rear Raise Bent-Over Dumbbell Rear Raise Bent-Over Dumbbell Rear Raise
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Single-Leg Lunge Single-Leg Lunge Single-Leg Lunge
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Stiff-Leg Deadlift Stiff-Leg Deadlift Stiff-Leg Deadlift
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Heel Press Heel Press Heel Press
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Seated Calf Raise Seated Calf Raise Seated Calf Raise
    5 sets of 8-12 reps


Day 3: Back/Traps
  • Bent-Over Barbell Row Bent-Over Barbell Row Bent-Over Barbell Row
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Bent-Over Dumbbell Row Bent-Over Dumbbell Row Bent-Over Dumbbell Row
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Seated Cable Row Seated Cable Row Seated Cable Row
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Barbell Shrug Barbell Shrug Barbell Shrug
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Close-Grip Upright Row Close-Grip Upright Row Close-Grip Upright Row
    5 sets of 8-12 reps


Day 4: Chest/Lats/Delts
  • Dumbbell Incline Press Dumbbell Incline Press Dumbbell Incline Press
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Cable Cross-Over Cable Cross-Over Cable Cross-Over
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Hammer Strength Incline Press Hammer Strength Incline Press Hammer Strength Incline Press
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Dumbbell Fly Dumbbell Fly Dumbbell Fly
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Dumbbell Rear Delt Raise Dumbbell Rear Delt Raise Dumbbell Rear Delt Raise
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Straight Bar Front Raise Straight Bar Front Raise Straight Bar Front Raise (shown with dumbbells)
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Wide-Grip Pull-Up Wide-Grip Pull-Up Wide-Grip Pull-Up
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Close-Grip Pull-Down Close-Grip Pull-Down Close-Grip Pull-Down
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Behind the Neck Pull-Down Behind the Neck Pull-Down Behind the Neck Pull-Down
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Wide-Grip Pull-Down Wide-Grip Pull-Down Wide-Grip Pull-Down
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Cable Straight Arm Pull-Down Cable Straight Arm Pull-Down Cable Straight Arm Pull-Down
    5 sets of 8-12 reps


Day 5: Legs
  • Squat Squat Squat
    10 sets of 20 reps
  • Hack Squat Hack Squat Hack Squat
    10 sets of 20 reps
  • Barbell Deadlift Barbell Deadlift Barbell Deadlift
    10 sets of 20 reps
  • Seated Hamstring Curl Seated Hamstring Curl Seated Hamstring Curl
    5 sets of 20 reps


Day 6: Delts/Triceps
  • Hammer Strength Military Press Hammer Strength Military Press Hammer Strength Military Press
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Hammer Strength Seated Lateral Raise Hammer Strength Seated Lateral Raise Hammer Strength Seated Lateral Raise
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Pec Deck Rear Delt Pec Deck Rear Delt Pec Deck Rear Delt
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Straight Bar Press-Down Straight Bar Press-Down Straight Bar Press-Down
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Incline Cable Skullcrusher Incline Cable Skullcrusher Incline Cable Skullcrusher
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Reverse-Grip Press-Down Reverse-Grip Press-Down Reverse-Grip Press-Down
    5 sets of 8-12 reps


Day 7: Legs
  • Seated Hamstring Curl Seated Hamstring Curl Seated Hamstring Curl
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Walking Dumbbell Lunge Walking Dumbbell Lunge Walking Dumbbell Lunge
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Lying Hamstring Curl Lying Hamstring Curl Lying Hamstring Curl
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Leg Extension Leg Extension Leg Extension
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Leg Press Leg Press Leg Press
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Hack Squat Hack Squat Hack Squat
    5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Deadlift Deadlift Deadlift
    5 sets of 8-12 reps


What nutrition plan fueled your body?

I currently eat seven meals a day.

Meal 1: 4:30 a.m.
  • Turkey Turkey
    3 ounces
  • Egg Whites Egg Whites
    6 whites
  • Oatmeal Oatmeal
    1/2 cup
Meal 2: 8 a.m.
  • Chicken Chicken
    4 ounces
  • Asparagus Asparagus
  • Sweet Potato Sweet Potato
    4 ounces
Meal 3: 11 a.m.
  • Chicken Chicken
    4 ounces
  • Cucumbers Cucumbers
  • Sweet Potato Sweet Potato
    4 ounces
Meal 4: 1 p.m.
  • Tilapia Tilapia
    4 ounces
  • Rice Rice
    1/2 cup
  • Vegetables Vegetables
Meal 5: 3:30 p.m.
  • Tilapia Tilapia
    4 ounces
  • Rice Rice
    1/2 cup
  • Vegetables Vegetables
Meal 6: 6 p.m. (Pre-workout)
  • Tilapia Tilapia
    4 ounces
  • Rice Rice
    1/2 cup
  • Vegetables Vegetables
Meal 7: 9 p.m. (Post-workout)
  • Lean Burger Lean Burger
    5 ounces
  • Vegetables Vegetables

What supplements gave you an edge?


"Being a competitive bodybuilder, I have to stay focused and make sure I bring the best package possible to the stage."

How did your passion for fitness emerge?

The gym is my time to focus and spend time on myself. I have a hectic schedule, so being able to focus on myself for a couple hours each day is important. If I am having a bad day, or even a good day for that matter, I can escape to the gym and make it worth my time!

What drives me to get better is seeing the improvements in my physique. It pushes me and keeps me motivated to power through each lift and shape my body into my idea of perfection. Being a competitive bodybuilder, I have to stay focused and make sure I bring the best package possible to the stage.

What or who motivates you to live healthy?

I'm lucky enough to have a very supportive family by my side. I've watched my family engage in healthier lifestyles since I started competing. My dad constantly compares workout tips, my mom asks about diet, and my sister always checks in to see that I am on track. They keep me focused and motivated to do better. I also have a fiancé—Steve Rovelstad—who stands by my side and assists me every day in training and food prep. He's also a bodybuilder, so he understands the daily grind that we go through.

Where did you go for inspiration?

When I am lacking motivation, I watch "Pumping Iron" and YouTube videos about bodybuilders. I'll also pull up old competition photos to see where I need improvements. I tend to be overly critical of myself, and focus on those areas that I want to better. Symmetry is essential in bodybuilding.

"My ultimate goal is to be an IFBB Pro Bodybuilder. Once I achieve that milestone, I can't wait to see how my future unfolds."

What are your future fitness plans?

I am competing in my first National-level show that is an IFBB Pro Qualifier at the end of July. My ultimate goal is to be an IFBB Pro Bodybuilder. Once I achieve that milestone, I can't wait to see how my future unfolds.

What is the most important fitness tip?

One piece of advice I would give other bodybuilders is to always remember why you are doing this. No one forces you to go to the gym or follow a restricted diet; you do it because you want it, and hopefully you do it for yourself. Don't worry about that other guy standing next to you at the dumbbell rack. Focus on your gains, your form, and your growth. Don't be afraid to invest in yourself.

Who is your favorite fitness competitor?

My favorite female bodybuilder is Anne Luise Freitas. I think she has a beautiful physique and presents herself perfectly on stage!

How did Bodybuilding.com help you reach your goals?

The articles on the website are packed full of information! When I need to change up a routine, or feel like my lift is getting boring, I can go on the site and find something new to try. I have a BodySpace account, and it's awesome to be able to pull up other people's fit status to see who else is out there getting ready for shows or powering through some incredible feats.

Rachael's Favorite Gym Tracks

Dropkick Murphys
"The Warrior's Code"
Five Finger Death Punch
"I.M. Sin"
Johnny Cash
"Ain't No Grave"
Lindsey Stirling
"Crystalize"

Competition History
  • 2013 NPC Baltimore Gladiator Championships - 1st Place
  • 2013 NPC Athlete of the Month
  • 2013 NPC Muscle Max Woodbridge - 1st Place Heavyweight
  • 2014 PC Baltimore Gladiator Championships - 1st Place
  • 2014 NPC Mr./Mrs. Buffalo Bodybuilding Championships - 1st Place
  • 2014 NPC Steve Stone Metropolitan Championships - 1st Place Heavyweight
  • 2014 NPC Emerald Cup - 2nd Place
Thanks
  • Steven Rovelstad, my fiancé, for being by my side throughout this crazy fitness adventure and always supporting me no matter what.
  • My Coach, Matt Porter. Without him I wouldn't be in the best shape of my life.
  • David Johnston, my old training partner and coach. He saw my potential and helped push me to my limits every day.