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Kelly Ryan's Corner - June 2004.

Kelly Ryan's personal area to answer your questions about getting into fitness.

Summer is just around the corner and as we all move into these hot weather months, let's remember one simple thing; you are what you eat! I know it is a bit cliche but it the truth. Craig and I have just returned from the Arkansas State Championships put on by Chad Nicholls and his champion wife Kim.

I just want to say thanks for all the great southern hospitality we were shown by everyone at the show. I look forward to going back to Little Rock to guest pose in the future! The fans in Little Rock are awesome - Thank you so much. Craig and I also just finished a three day GNC Convention at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

I am really excited to share all the new supplement info I learned over the past three days. The supplement world has moved forward from the set back it had with the removal of ephedrine, so stay tuned and check out this month's questions and answers.

Questions & Answers

[ Q ] Hi Kelly, I am 17 years old and have been working out for a bit over a year now. I would really like to get into bodybuilding once I finish school.

My question is, is there much of a chance that a bodybuilder could be successful if they do it naturally? A lot of people at the gym I go to tell me that there is no way I would get anywhere without supplementation. Well, thank you for your time. You're truly amazing, look great, and most of all you are an inspiration!

    A. Hey Whitney, I am really glad that you wrote in because your have a fantastic question and one that I am sure a lot of others would really like to know as well. Here is the absolute truth. There is a possibility that a bodybuilder can be very successful being natural. I will give you three very good examples; Skip LaCour, Tito Raymond, and Frank Sepe.

Frank Sepe & Skip LaCour.

    All three of these people have done very well in the bodybuilding world because of the way they marketed themselves. Now when it comes to women, I honestly do not have any success stories for natural female bodybuilders. I believe that the reason for this is because of the size stigma female bodybuilding has. There are plenty of shows that are drug tested that you will be able to compete in, BUT in order to attain a major nutrition company endorsement; it takes a lot of exposure.

    That particular exposure comes from winning major shows that the magazines cover, and those are only the IFBB shows. NPC News does a fantastic job covering all the shows in the NPC Amateur ranks but that alone will not be enough. These days the companies expect the athletes to come to them and not vice versa.

    When you approach a company, it takes a very strong press kit containing media coverage and contest placings that will make you desirable and credible in the industry. If you really enjoy training, then follow the Fitness or figure path. Both of these divisions require muscle that is attainable through hard work and intense training and dieting.

    It sounds like to me that you have both of these qualities. I know a lot of figure and fitness women being signed to companies because they appeal to the mass market. You have plenty of time to really make up your mind, so after reading this if you still want to chat with me, just e-mail me and we can discuss this further in detail.

[ Q ] I have read a lot of what has been posted on the site. The thing is, most of what I have taken in is from people who are cutting down for a contest. Me on the other hand, I am trying to just cut down in weight. I weigh a lot.

No need to say how much but I will say that I can't see my feet. LOL, I could lose about 70 lbs. and then still have a little fat on me okay. I started using the machines at the gym and going to the track.

My schedule is like this:

I wake up and take two of the Xenadrine pills you suggest. Walk my dog at a somewhat fast pace (going up a huge hill for a part of it) for about an hour. After work on Mon., Wed., and Fri., I use the machines for 2 sets of 15 reps in a circuit. Tues., Thurs., and Sat., after work I jog the straight part of the track and walk the turns (saw it in a magazine after hearing Beyonce' and Drew Barrymore run to stay fit).

Is this okay and should I be noticing results soon, or should I be splitting my routine or maybe doing more cardio. I don't use free weights because I feel uncomfortable with the guys at my gym. The weight room is separate from where I work out. Any points or stay with this?

    A. It sounds to me like you are very motivated and that by itself is a plus. What I would suggest to you is this, for the best results make sure your workouts and cardio sessions are intense. The key for you is to get your body down to a lower percentage of body fat.

    Once your body is used to being at that percentage, then it becomes even easier to get leaner. Get on the cardio equipment at the gym if possible. I know you said you were uncomfortable with the free weight section, but if the cardio equipment is away from that area, then take full advantage of it.

    This way you can measure the amount of work you are putting into your cardio. Create a circuit for yourself by doing the treadmill (on a 10-15% incline at 2.6-3.0 mph) for 20 minutes, then ride the upright bike for 20 minutes, and finish with either the revolving stairs (called the Gauntlet) or the recumbent bike for the last 20 minutes. This hour of cardio work will fly by.

Station Versus Circuit Training.
Find out the difference between station training and circuit training. How one can benefit you more than the other. What works best?
[ Click here to learn more. ]

    Next, training on machines is great as long as you are training heavy enough to be fatigued by rep 15 and add an extra set making your circuit a total of three sets.

    If you have gotten used to the circuit, take it up a notch by adding the extra set and heavier weight. This will kick your body into another gear. The more lean muscle tissue you have, the faster your metabolism will be. I would not suggest running like you read about with Beyonce' and Drew.

    The impact is very hard on your body, even if on a track. Wait until your body weight comes down to run, you will only cause a possible injury to your self. Taking fat burners is a great idea, but also follow a good meal plan like I have listed in several of my past month's columns.

    Nutrition, cardio and weight training are the three main components to a program. Give these changes a try and see how your body changes over the next couple of weeks. Good luck!

[ Q ] Hi Kelly, thanks for replying. I have finished school and already have begun my weight training. I am beginning to look for a coach to help me with my skills and routine elements. You mentioned your coach in California and the one in Las Vegas. Do you have contact info on them?

Also I am curious to know how long after you began training did you do your first competition? I want to set a realistic goal for myself and choose a competition, so I am trying to get a sense of how long it took others.

Thanks for all of your help,

    A. I will begin by saying that the time between your introduction to training and the time in which you compete solely depends on your past experience with sports. I was a gymnast when I was very young. I played sports all through school and cheered for the University of South Carolina which enabled me to keep up with all of my basic tumbling.

    I saw my first competition on television in April of 1994 and began training right then for a fitness show. I ended up competing in either May or June of the following year and won out of 13 girls. The routine part was not that bad for me to get together because of my past experience. I watched tapes of fitness competitions non-stop and put a routine together based on what I saw.

    The physique rounds were much more of a challenge because my body was built like a gymnast - no back or shoulders, all legs and abs. I made sure that I trained with a great coach named Keith Kephart who was a national level bodybuilder and the strength coach for the athletics program at USC. I knew this way, with the amount of time I had to get ready for the next year's show; I would change my body as much as physically possible.

    Let's just say I threw up after a lot of my training sessions. I am not saying that it what it will take you, but I did what I personally needed to do to e ready. Here is the contact info for both coaches since I am not sure if you are closer to LA or Las Vegas.

    • Don Spencer - Go For It USA - Las Vegas, NV. 702-480- 1584
    • Richard Pascale - The Athletic Garage - Pasadena, Cal.- 626- 584-9701

    I hope this helps you a lot.

[ Q ] Hey girl, I have a fitness question for ya? Is there any truth to the low carb fad when it comes to people who are physically active/religiously exercising?

I am wondering about this for myself because I run 5-6 miles a day, with one day off a week, and I do yoga and power yoga. I feel great but just wonder about the low carb stuff and what the rumors in your field about how it applies to people who are generally fit and healthy.

Is it dangerous for people who exercise so frequently to cut or eliminate carb intake? I've learned to listen to my body. I eat a lot of raw food but I still do love pasta.

I know about glycogen but I read somewhere that people who are active need carbs because they burn fat and calories differently than the population of people that probably need to eat less of everything, including carbs.

Love ya,

    A. Corey, it is so good to hear from you and so happy you are doing so well. Okay girl here is the skinny on the whole low carb fad. This fad was created for the majority of our population who is sedentary and not active at all.

    If you really sit and think about it, most of the restaurants offer high complex carbohydrate foods at a cheaper price, so when the families or people go into the food chains, they quickly are offered the cheaper meals as the specials.

    You are very correct when you say that an active person has higher caloric demands than a non-active person. BUT, everyone needs complex carbohydrates it just comes down to how much and what time of the day you eat them. If you are going to go for a run, or train at the gym, then your body HAS to have complex carbs for energy and the glycogen from these carbs for the pumps in your muscles.

    People must learn to teach their bodies how to run more efficiently by running off of energy foods like carbs. If you deplete yourself of all carbs (not veggies) than you will end up walking around like a zombie, lethargic and with extremely low blood sugar. This state causes nausea, headaches, and severe mood swings.

    The body needs carbs before workouts for energy, and after workouts for recovery. The best plan of attack meal plan wise is to have your complex carbs with a source of protein for each of your morning meals.

    Research has shown that an individual that begins their day with a complete meal containing protein and complex carbs will actually kick start their metabolism and burn 25% more fat and calories throughout the day. I usually eat three morning meals (breakfast, mid-morning and lunch) containing 20-30 grams of carbs and 20-30 grams of protein.

    As my body moves into the afternoon hours, I change my carbohydrate source to veggies and keep the same amount of protein with each meal. This would be a great plan for someone active like you Corey.

    For the general population that maybe walks twice a week if lucky, cut the carbs meals back to just two a day, and monitor your body each week. What is most important is to give your body what it needs. You are obviously doing so by even asking me this question so keep up the great work, and those intense workouts!

    Miss you bunches!

      P.S. Corey was one of my college sorority sisters (ZTA) at USC - Go Cocks!

[ Q ] My question to you Kelly is that now everyone has gone into the figure division, what are my chances in fitness if I am very athletic? I have been to a lot of shows where there are 30+ girls in each height division. How would someone even get noticed at one of these big shows?

    A. Amy, you are asking me a question that I have been hearing so often lately because women are becoming discouraged when they do not even place after weeks and weeks of training for the competitions. What I tell anyone who asks me this is right now is the BEST time for anyone to try fitness.

    Most shows do not even have any fitness competitors at all any more, all the girls are signed up to compete in the figure division. I think figure is great if you have never played sports, or do not have the time to train for the routine rounds. The fitness routine is NOT about gymnastics! Let me repeat, it is not about who does the most gymnastics.

    Fitness is about presentation, and hitting your mandatory movements required by the NPC and IFBB. The mandatory movements have NOTHING to do with gymnastics at all. They are flexibility and strength moves, not tumbling or dance. I only use my tumbling to get me from one end of the stage to the other, and to gain the interest of the crowd and judges.

NPC Fitness Rules And Moves!
In answer to the questions probably asked the most - what are the NPC women's fitness rules and scoring procedures and how one can qualify to be an IFBB professional fitness competitor? What moves are required?
[ Click here to learn more. ]

    Anyone can learn how to do a fitness routine if you put your heart and effort into it. Hire a coach at a local gymnastics center because there they teach basic stretching and strength moves. Also most gymnastic studios teach cheerleading jumps which make great crowd pleasers and transitions into fitness requirements.

    I quit gymnastics when I was going into the 8th grade. The only reason why I can still tumble is because I workout three times a week with a coach for two hours at a time plus conditioning. I bust my tail keeping my skills up to par and I am always researching how to invent new moves.

    When I first started competing, the South Carolina NPC Chairman Ken Taylor gave me a tape of other NPC shows to watch and learn what a fitness routine is. It was so new that there were no choreographers like there are now to get us ready. Now it seems like even with the coaches available, people just do not want to try.

Kelly Ryan in action.

    Fitness is so rewarding and the routine(s) is so much fun to perform on stage. It is a fantastic way to show creativity, your personality, and your athleticism.

    Now is the best time to get involved because there is such a small amount of competitors to go against. Challenge yourself and enjoy the amazing rewards fitness can bring to your life, just like how it completely changed mine.

    Go for it Amy - you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!