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Over 40 Amateur Of The Week: Shyrlena Bogard-Williams

Shyrlena was just too tough to be a weak girl. See how battling the boys prepared her for a life in fitness!

Name: Shyrlena L. Bogard-Williams
BodySpace: sbogard08
Age: 40  Height: 5'4"
Weight: 130 lbs off, 120 lbs contest
Location: Illinois
Years Competing: 3

How Did You Get Started?

Having spent my youth as one of only two girls in my neighborhood group, I got an early start in competitive sports with the boys, and you might even say I have always been a tomboy. Because I never wanted to be looked at as a "weak girl," I never backed down from a challenge and played just as hard as the boys. Throughout my high school years, I participated in many team sports like track and basketball and continued to stay active in college. Although I was no longer participating in organized team sports, I spent a lot of time in the Student Rec center doing cardio and trying to learn some of the sports I had never been exposed to, like tennis and racquetball. I didn't have any real fitness goals or plans back then. I just enjoyed staying active and being what I considered to be healthy and fit.

It wasn't until I started medical school that I began weight training. With limited extra money, I could not afford a gym membership, and therefore ventured into the small weight room that my medical school provided. Initially, I made use of the treadmill followed by some post-cardio abdominal work. I occasionally used the dumbbells for some lightweight upper body work, but I truly had no structure. Eventually, my weight slowly began to creep up, which is typical for anyone who spends hours upon hours sitting in one spot studying and eating a diet of fast food. It was then that I decided I needed to start lifting some "heavy weights." Without thinking twice, I made my way to the squat rack, copying routines that I saw in some of the fitness magazines. It would be a far stretch to call what I was doing bodybuilding, but I did become a regular in the weight room.

Fast forward to residency ... now is when it all started. The demands of an obstetrics and gynecology residency caused drastic changes in my habits. I gained approximately 15 pounds in my first year. This was the result of unhealthy eating habits, inconsistent working out, erratic schedules, and constant sleep deprivation. As a result, I became moody and unhappy with myself, which affected my entire life. I was tired all the time and generally uncomfortable with my appearance. I knew that I needed to get back to regular working out and healthy eating habits, but could never quite get it together.

A co-worker, who later became my workout partner, suggested that I register for a local Boot Camp class that was held close to the hospital. I signed up the very next day. I lost 10 pounds in one month and suddenly had increased energy and focus, renewed motivation, and the drive to keep pushing myself harder. Shortly after completing that boot camp class, my co-worker suggested I think about competing in a Figure competition. Initially, my response was, "absolutely NOT!" There was no way I would ever walk across a stage half naked in front of a room full of people and then get judged on top of it. The thought mortified me, but he kept bringing it up. One day he said, "Let's just pick a show, train for it, and see what happens." Well, I did pick a show, the OCB Charm City Classic, and 16 weeks later I stepped on stage in the tiniest sparkly bikini I had ever worn. To my surprise, I won for Novice competitors and placed 3rd in my open class. I really enjoyed the experience, and have had the bug ever since.

That boot camp class was the start of my current obsession with living a fit life, and more importantly it gave me back the ability to enjoy life during a very difficult time.

Stage competitions test your courage, but what a rush!

What Workout Plan Worked Best For You?

Whether I am training for competition or not, I have found that I do best with splitting my cardio and lifting. My energy is the highest when I wake in the morning, so that is when I get in my best cardio sessions and can go all out. In the evenings, I am a little less energetic but still motivated, which helps me focus on the mind-muscle connection while lifting.

As I get into training for competition, I have to add in additional cardio. I will do high intensity, HIIT type cardio in the mornings and focus on lower intensity, fat-burning cardio in the evenings after lifting. To keep the focus on bringing down the fat in my gluteal region, most of my cardio is performed on an incline. Recently, I have fallen in love with the VersaClimber. I walked by it for almost a year before deciding that I wanted to try something new. Now I want to get one for use in my basement!

I used to weight train almost every day (unless the sky was falling), however my current coach, Kim Oddo, has me on a 4-day weight training schedule. I typically will add in an addition day of plyo-type training, just because I love pushing myself. Typically, I stick to a schedule that looks like this: 2 days lifting, 1 day cardio/abs, 2 days lifting, 1 day cardio/plyos, and 1 day rest.

Another concept that I now practice is tempo training, which has helped to sculpt my muscles for the Figure competition, rather than adding on a lot of bulky mass. During the cutting and leaning phase, my tempo was typically set at 2-1-3 or 2-1-4, very slow and controlled with emphasis on the concentric motion. Now that I am in a semi-bulking period, the tempo is usually 2-1-2 for most of my lifting.

An average week of training typically looks like this:

Day 1: Back/Rear Delts/Abs

AM Cardio

Day 2: Legs/Calves

AM Cardio

Day 3: Cardio/Abs

AM Cardio

Day 4: Shoulders/Triceps

AM Cardio

Day 5: Chest/Biceps/Calves

AM Cardio


Day 6: Cardio/Plyometrics

AM Cardio

PM Cardio

Plyometrics Circuit: Between Cardio Intervals And Sprints

When running the stadium stairs or doing track sprints, each high intensity sprint is combined with sets of body squats, jump squats, pop squats, butt kicks, walking and jump lunges, etc. Each set is 25-to-50 reps and immediately followed by sprint up the stairs without a rest between each interval.

Day 7: Active Rest
    Usually an active rest - light run outside or ride spin bike while watching a movie.

Muscles like this aren't bought. They are paid for.

What Nutrition Plan Has Worked Best For You?

Like many others who have competed, I have followed some crazy and extreme diets in the past - low carb, no carb, low calories, etc. As a result, I my metabolism came to a screeching halt and each new prep for competition became more and more difficult. I was killing myself with the training, but my body would not respond, which made me train (spelled C-A-R-D-I-O) even harder.

When I first consulted with Kim Oddo, we both were on the same page as far as my diet. Kim makes the health of his clients a priority, and therefore prescribes well balanced and healthy meal plans throughout contest prep. My carbs are maintained throughout a prep cycle, and adjustments are made only when necessary. As a result, I now feel more energetic consistently and find it easier to stick to my diet. Also, I drink about a gallon of water every day, whether competing or not.

Currently, I am in a "semi-bulking phase" and my calories and carbs are higher than what I have eaten in the past. My protein and fats stay pretty consistent.

I try to keep my diet interesting by trying new recipes using the foods allowed in my plan. Over the years, I have learned to make competition diet-friendly zero carb pizza, protein powder ice cream, breakfast quiches, natural peanut butter cups, brownies, and many other things. I can make almost anything from egg whites with a little imagination and a few clean ingredients.

Early in a competition prep, my diet looks somewhat like this:

Meal 1
Meal 2
Meal 3
Meal 4
Meal 5
Meal 6


What Supplements Have Given You The Greatest Gains?

I recently started using Evogen's EVP and Cell K.E.M. Complex. Using the EVP, I was able to maintain muscle while leaning out for my most recent competition. This is extremely important because as an ex-distance runner, I have a tendency to get lean and loose muscle in my legs quickly. Now that I am in a bulking phase and using both products, I feel like my energy, focus, strength, and recovery have improved tremendously. I plan to continue using them to try to gain some much-needed mass in my physique.

Upon Waking
Three Times Daily With Meals
With Breakfast & Lunch
  • ALA


    300 milligrams

Mid-Morning & Late Evening
Post Workout
Before Bed
Why Do You Love Fitness/Bodybuilding?

Everything! No other aspect of our lives provides such a guaranteed return on your investment. You definitely get out exactly what you put into your training. As someone who has definitely passed my young days, at age 40, I know that my "fountain of youth" is directly attributable to my healthy lifestyle, consistent training, and clean nutrition. Not only does being fit keep me physically in awesome shape, it also provides a lot for my mental well-being. I am much more confident when I feel that I am in-shape than I am during my not-so-fit times. And the endorphins that are released while I am training keep my mood on high throughout the day.

As someone who is naturally competitive and goal-oriented, the never ending challenges that are provided through bodybuilding and training will keep me coming back for more for a lifetime!

What Motivates You To Follow A Healthy Lifestyle?

Most importantly, I motivate myself. I want to be the best me that I can be at all times. And part of that includes staying in shape physically and maintaining my cardiovascular health.

I have a teenage daughter, and I want to set a healthy example for her. Also, as a physician in Women's Health, it is very important that I practice what I preach. Oftentimes patients think that I do not understand what they are going through when we discuss their weight issues and overall health. I have to remind them that I too must follow healthy and balanced eating habits and maintain a consistently active lifestyle.

What Made You Want To Achieve Your Goals?

I love a challenge period! I am my own biggest competition and I am also my biggest critic. I have an internal drive to 1-up myself every time I get back in the saddle. And when I look at some of the top fitness pros, I ask myself, "What does she have that do not?" And the answer is, "Nothing!" Her genetic makeup is composed of 23 sets of chromosomes, just like mine. She has daily obstacles to overcome, just as I do. She finds a way to get it done, just like I can. And she is focused and driven to succeed, just like I am!

What Are Your Future Fitness/Bodybuilding Plans?

Wow! This question brings up so much excitement. Currently I am studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer through NASM. After that, I plan to continue and get a nutrition certification, followed by specialized training for fitness in pregnancy.

Eventually, I plan to establish a complete women's healthcare facility that encompasses my Obstetrics and Gynecology practice, where I will primarily focus on sports and fitness in pregnancy. The facility will also house a spa and a fitness center to meet to the complete wellness and fitness needs of my clients. My husband is a certified personal trainer and fitness instructor, and we share this vision to someday own this complete healthcare complex.

On a more personal level, right now I am preparing to compete in NPC Junior Nationals this year. Because it is held in Chicago, many of my family members who have never been to a competition will be able to come. After Jr Nationals, I am not certain what lies ahead for competitions because there are a few other things that I would like to focus on for awhile. As I get more involved in the business aspect of the fitness industry, my time to train for competing will become more limited. Whether or not I am competing, my commitment to maintaining a healthy and balanced life will continue because I don't train to compete, but rather I train because I love it. The competitions are just one of the benefits of achieving a stellar physique.

What One Tip Would You Give Other Fitness Competitors?

Be consistent and never ever give up. Most importantly, do it because you love it. You must be able to have fun and enjoy yourself. Making the decision to compete is something that is done voluntarily. When you make that decision, you are deciding to be committed to your diet, your training, your health, and to yourself. Setting a goal and seeing it come to fruition, no matter what obstacles present themselves, can be very challenging. But when that special day arrives and you look back at your progress and realize that you have achieved your goal, there is a personal reward that is beyond measure. It is not who walks away with the trophy that makes us a success, but more so the ability to stay on the journey to achieving our goals.

Who Are Your Favorite Fitness Competitors/Bodybuilders?

I could write and talk all day on this one. Gina Aliotti and Ava Cowan are two women whom I truly admire for both their commitment to the sport as well as their desire to be an encouragement to others. I am also excited to see women of color who are making an impact on the fitness industry, such as Alicia Harris, Teresa Anthony, Tanji Johnson, and Iris Kyle.

What Features Do You Use On

When I first starting training to compete, I spent hours upon hours looking at the BodySpace pages of other competitors and reading about their diet, training, and supplements. I also used my own BodySpace page to track my progress and keep photos. Sometimes when it seems as though I am not making gains, I look back at where I started and then can appreciate just how far I have come.

And I should probably get some stock in the company because I am a frequent online shopper of to purchase most of my supplements. Love the fast and inexpensive shipping. And I can usually depend on them to have in stock everything that I need.

What Features Do You Use On

When I first starting training to compete, I spent hours upon hours looking at the BodySpace pages of other competitors and reading about their diet, training, and supplements. I also used my own BodySpace page to track my progress and keep photos. Sometimes when it seems as though I am not making gains, I look back at where I started and then can appreciate just how far I have come.

And I should probably get some stock in the company because I am a frequent online shopper of to purchase most of my supplements. Love the fast and inexpensive shipping. And I can usually depend on them to have in stock everything that I need.

Photographic Credit

Nga Azarian,

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