Military Bodybuilder of the Month:
[ Q ] How Did You Get Started?
I have always tried to keep myself in shape through jogging and proper diet. I always wanted to compete in a bodybuilding competition and when I started seeing my fiancé, Phil Cooper (an accomplished competitive bodybuilder), we started training together and I competed in the Lakeland Classic in Lakeland, FL in 2007. I "got the bug" and have done a total of nine competitions so far.
[ Q ] What Is The Hardest Part Of Making The Transition From Civilian Life To Military Life?
I am a United States Department of Agriculture government employee and have over 30 years of Civil Service with them. I am also in the Army Reserves. After 9-11, I activated to come back into uniform and do what I could to serve our country. I've been back in uniform full-time now at Headquarters United States Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, FL for the past five years. Being physically separated from my son and granddaughter have been the hardest dimensions of transitioning from civilian to military life.
What Is The Biggest Obstacle In Leading A Military Lifestyle?
Perhaps the biggest obstacle (when it comes to training and also some personal dimensions of one's life) is that you never know when a contingency requirement will impact your schedule. You may be working at your normal military position and then find yourself on a flight to the Middle East the next day due to some real-world contingency or short-notice military exercise requirement.
You have to be flexible and be prepared to work around this when it comes to fitness facilities and nutrition avenues.
What Workout Plan Worked Best For You?
Pre-contest workout plan 10-days prior to a show that works best for me consists of the following:
- 45 mins of speed walk on the treadmill @ 0430 a.m. on empty stomach.
- 45 mins of elliptical machine or speed walk on pavement at the end of weight session in evening.
Workout A: Legs
- Power Squats: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Front Squats: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Full Leg Press: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Leg Extensions: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Lunges: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Kickbacks: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Leg Curls: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Single Leg Curls: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Stiff-Legged Deadlifts: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
Workout B: Chest/Shoulders/Abs/Calves
- Dumbbell Pullovers: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Dumbbell Incline Press: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Dumbbell Bench Press: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Full Dips: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- High Pulley Cable Crossovers: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Low Pulley Cable Crossovers: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Dumbbell Flyes: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Seated Arnold Dumbbell Presses: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Shoulder Press: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Front Cable Raises: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Dumbbell Side Laterals: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Dumbbell Rear Laterals: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Hanging Leg Raises: 3 sets to failure
- Leg Pull-In: 3 sets to failure
- High Pulley Cable Crunches: 3 sets to failure
- Standing Calves: 3 sets of 20 reps
- Seated Calves: 3 sets of 20 reps
- Leg Press: 3 sets of 20 reps
Workout C: Back/Traps/Abs
- Lat Pulldowns: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- V-Grip Pulldowns: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Reverse-Grip Pulldowns: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Bent-Over Rows: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Seated Cable Rows: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Shoulder Shrugs: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Dumbbell Shoulder Shrugs: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Behind-The-Back Shrugs: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Bent-Knee Deadlifts: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Hyperextensions: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Crunches: 3 sets to failure
- Ab Machine: 3 sets to failure
- Decline Sit-Ups: 3 sets to failure
Workout D: Arms/Abs
- Barbell Curls: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Dumbbell Incline Curls: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Concentration Dumbbell Curls: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- High Cable Double Bicep Curls: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Close-Grip Bench Presses: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Rope Pressdowns: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Reverse-Grip Pressdowns: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Dumbbell Tricep Kickbacks: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Hammer Curls: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Reverse Grip Barbell Curls: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Russian Twist: 3 sets to failure
- Side Ab Sit-ups: 3 sets to failure
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Military Bodybuilder Of The Month Maria Flores Shows
Off Her Double Biceps Pose Backstage Before A Show.
What Nutrition Plan Has Worked Best For You?
I am currently preparing for the Hurricane and Typhoon Bay as well as the All Forces National Bodybuilding Championships and my current daily nutrition consists of the following (includes up to one gallon of water per day):
What Supplements Have Given You The Greatest Gains?
I employ a variety of nutritional supplements with the majority produced by Beverly International. In particular, I really like Bev ZMA as it helps me to get solid restful sleep which is so necessary during peak training periods. Bev's Lean Out, Bev's Energy Reserve, and Bev's Muscle Provider protein shake.
What Are Your Future Bodybuilding Plans?
I qualified for the Masters Nationals (Level VI) so will be looking towards Pittsburg and Cleveland (National Masters and IFBB North American). As a non-drug enhanced competitor, I am also looking at next year's Team Universe and a number of other tested competitions.
Who Are Your Favorite Bodybuilders?
I have always admired Cory Everson, Rachel McLish, and Betty Pariso. Cory and Rachel were the forerunners for today's female competitors and blazed the trail with their feminine muscularity. Betty is just plain awesome and I recently had the honor of competing in (and won) the amateur masters division of Tim Gardner's NPC Extravaganza while Betty was in (and won) the IFBB Pro Tampa Bodybuilding Weekly Division.
Being backstage in the same pump-up room with her was truly inspiring. I look forward to seeing Betty compete in this year's Olympia Weekend.
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Maria Is Truly Inspired When Sharing A Pump-Up
Room With Other Competitors Like Betty Pariso.
My fiancé, workout partner, and soul mate, Phil Cooper, has inspired me the most. Phil has been competing since 1979 and has won many district, state, and regional titles and continues to compete and win. Tim Gardner of Body * Tech and Fitness Emporium in Tampa, FL and a former national level competitor is my coach and has made really fantastic improvements to my physique through his extensive knowledge of nutrition, food supplements, and training.
Jay Cutler has to be my favorite male professional. I had the honor of seeing him guest pose at the most recent Dexter Jackson Classic and his combination of incredible size, muscularity, definition and boyish charm will serve him well in this year's Olympia Weekend. I look forward to seeing him compete later this month when we go to watch the Olympia Competition in Las Vegas on September 25-26.
What One Tip Would You Give Other Bodybuilders In The Military?
Be flexible and be determined. A career in the military is extremely rewarding but also presents many challenges not experience by most civilian bodybuilding competitors. Have a plan and stick to it. When obstacles arise, be flexible and work around them to ensure you get your training and nutrition in. Be determined so that you will succeed.
Look long-term and stay focused! Oh, and remember not to over-train and under eat. No matter how hard you train, if you don't eat the right amount of "clean" food to feed your body, you will not make the gains that you are seeking.
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