“The Business Of Building A Body, A WOMAN’S PERSPECTIVE ON TRAINING”
By Donnie Rust
Bodybuilding is a sport that requires a specific kind of mindset. Genetics and good luck may play a part, but they are of the tiniest importance compared to hard work, dedication, research and preparation. I asked Miss World Fitness and Miss Fitness Australia, Connie Garner, if she could take me through what it takes to build a body into a physique that wins national and international competitions.
A recognisable figure on the female bodybuilding scene, Connie has appeared in competitions across the globe and magazines such as FHM and Oxygen. She has also been in films, is a writer, has a bachelors degree in Information Systems, a diploma in Management, is a fully certified group fitness instructor and personal trainer and to top it off is a qualified hairdresser.
It takes dedication, a long-term vision, planning, consistent hard work and passion to be a winning bodybuilder or fit girl, things that many people struggle to muster. It also takes sacrifice, focus and above all, tactics.
“Early in my fitness career I did a lot of planning,” Connie says, “After all, the longer you do something the better you get at it!”
The highly sought after fitness model and competitor developed a taste for competitive and challenging sports at the age of fifteen when she started car racing, this soon progressed into fitness and bodybuilding alongside other sports such as UFC, MMA, Rugby, Nascar and V8 Supercar. Through all of these she quickly learnt what was important and necessary to win:
“Research and planning,” she says, “I found out what the people who were the best in the business were doing and established what the current trends were and evaluated what worked for me so that I could develop and work to my strengths.”
This is a tactic that she has used repeatedly ever since and has added that to a philosophy of hard work and repetitive learning, “Practice, practice, practice,” she says, “Particularly when it comes to fitness routines; they need rehearsals to ensure the best results. The best in this game get there because when they train hard they don’t have to think about anything else other than their training.”
Winning a bodybuilding competition is not all about just the gym. It is a full-on demonstration of dedication and those who plan, usually do better than those who don’t. Connie has a list of fundamentals that she looks at before each and every contest:
- Get your training right
- Get your diet right
- Outfits ordered and fitted early
- Be impeccably manicured head to toe
- Ensure you tan for the lighting you’re working with
- Be prepared for the expected and unexpected (pack spare outfits, food, shoes, jewelry, makeup, hair products, safety pins, bobby pins, nail polish)
- Get a great night’s sleep before the event.
- Take the best attitude you possess, everywhere you go.
Clearly, a lot of work goes on behind the scenes, that many people don’t appreciate, Connie however believes that the most important things to remember are the details that most spectators will never know about.
“Sunday afternoons are spent prepping meals for the week ahead because you never want to be caught hungry,” she says, “Packing your gym bag and preparing your food the night before ensures you are prepped for the next day and helps motivate you.”
Nutrition accounts for 70% of your results and Connie knows that you are what you eat. If you’re not eating right, you’ll be at an automatic disadvantage, “I tell people who complain about not being able to lose weight that even if they don’t like exercise but have the correct nutrition that they can still lose fat. Exercise, of course, will bring tone and shape to your body but nutrition is the key.”
In a game where results are as clearly evident as with bodybuilding, motivation is a key component for any sort of success and Connie explains that she keeps her spirits high is by keeping a lot of motivational quotes, images and mantras around her at all times.
“Everyone needs to find the system that works for them and I’m a visual person, so I like things to be in my face,” she says, “It’s so important, because setting goals is a must, to keep yourself motivated and on track.”
TRAINING THROUGH PEAKS AND TROUGHS
One thing that everyone knows about body building is that it’s a balance between training, diet and rest. What you may not be aware of however, is that to gain the perfect physique that wins competitions, timing plays a key role. ASuccess depends on a juggling act where a number of different elements, such as diet, training and water intake, have to come together at just the right time.
“The first two weeks of dieting is the challenging phase as your body still craves things you are cutting out and your energy dips,” Connie relates, “the key is knowing that once you get through those first two weeks you’ll be back to normal and this helps to keep your spirits high enough to push yourself through it.”
She goes on to say that pre-workout supplements are great for a boost for training, while protein supplements are vital to repair and rebuild the muscles that are damaged through training; “A lot of bodybuilders and athletes neglect multivitamins and amino acids but these are essential for your body when dieting.”
As a bodybuilder, you cannot train and diet at the same pace throughout the year because the body is not designed to do so and you have to coordinate things to meet at a point- usually the day of the competition. The phases of training for all bodybuilders and fitness girls are:
Hypertrophy – improving areas that need more shape. Long sessions of self-assessment and analysis in front of a mirror are important to assess what areas need to be worked harder and smarter.
Speed and agility training – the body works as a unit; skeleton, muscles, tendons and soft tissue all need to be trained in different fashions with different procedures and routines required.
Plyometric training – a method of training muscle elastic strength and explosiveness to enhance athletic performance, allowing athletes to train harder and longer in the gym to get their results.
Cutting phase – (6-8 weeks before event) – this is the most technical and arduous period during an athletic schedule where training is undertaken to burn calories, while dramatically reducing calorie intake to create the formidable lines and definition in the muscle.
Connie says that she doesn’t have a favourite training method and what she does depends on what phase of training she is in. Leading up to a competition, she trains three hours a day, mixing up cardio, weights, routine and flexibility training. During her hypertrophy phase she will train four days a week, with little cardio while focusing hard on weight training to gain the muscle bulk that can then be shredded down later.
“I am online a fair bit. I love Twitter, Facebook and bodybuilding.com,” Connie says, “Connecting with likeminded people and sharing information with others is how this sport grows and it’s also motivational to be able connect with and share others training and nutritional experiences.”
But when it comes to the training itself, Connie says that this is very much an individual sport and she doesn’t have a training partner preferring to be able to move around quickly through her training, “I superset my work outs and have found I’m not as productive if I train with someone else.”
“I do have an inspiration that drives me,” she admits, “And that will always be Monica Brandt; she has an amazing physique and is a lovely soul.”
THE FITNESS REVOLUTION
Thanks to the Internet, the prominence and importance of fitness has gone from being ‘health orientated’, to something that is now trendy. It is simply more fashionable today to be a healthy, hard-training gym fan.
“Fitness is and has been the ‘hot’ topic for the past decade,” she says, “I believe we will see it continue. Tough Mudder and the new Miss Muddy style events will continue to draw new participants for a few years yet and there will be new ones popping up soon.“
We’ll also be seeing a lot more of Connie who has been involved in a Hollywood blockbuster, due out mid 2015, where she was involved in a couple of scenes, “I’m looking forward to doing more movies and television work as well as continuing to model and give motivational speeches.”