Bikini Prep – 18 Weeks Out – The Colosseum

I’m sure you’ve probably heard of the Colosseum. Located in the center of Rome, Italy, this famous oval amphitheater, the largest ever built, was used for gladiatorial contests, public spectacles, executions and re-enactments of famous battles. I visited the Colosseum this past week, and even though it wasn’t in Rome, it certainly felt like home to some of the great gladiators of our time. Over 200 men and women lined the walls of this facility in Columbia, MD. Strong, confident, disciplined men and women proudly displaying the muscles that they spent months – years – in this gym, building. It’s a place where you walk in and stop in your tracks and go WOW.











And then for a split second you want to run out and get in your car and drive home really, really fast because you get a little scared, and a little bit of self doubt creeps in, and you think, what the hell am I doing here? But before I had a chance to run, my coach Joe Bender walked up and greeted me, and it was time to get down and dirty for our first one-on-one training session.

This was the first time I had seen Joe since we initially met four weeks ago, so I was pleased when he said that he noticed some physical changes in me since our last meeting – more rounded shoulders and more defined arms. Sweet. I’ll take it. I send Joe progress photos in a 2-piece bathing suit each Monday morning (a little intimidating to say the least), but sometimes the lighting and shadows don’t show the real picture of progress. My diet has not been perfect, so I was glad that the changes are showing on the outside.

I also send Joe a food log of EVERYTHING I ate the week before, all of the workouts I completed, and a daily journal of how I am feeling (energy levels, hunger, mood). Needless to say, all of this reporting helps to hold me accountable and stay very focused. Since my show is still so far out, these weekly check-ins really help me to stay on track.

While I do feel that I am an advanced weight lifter, it is important for me to set aside extra time and money to train with Joe, one-on-one, while I am preparing for this show. A trainer pushes you to add that extra weight, motivates you to hit a few more reps and makes sure that your form is perfect. Perfect form helps to prevent injury and ensures that you are targeting the muscle groups that you intend to activate.


We started the training out with deadlifts. I told Joe that my max was 90 pounds, and he told me that I just warmed up with 95 pounds. That’s another perk of having a coach. He was adding all the weights for me. I was just lifting when he said GO. By the end of the session, I maxed out at 135-pound deadlifts, 45 more pounds than I thought I could handle. It was awesome AND HARD!

Joe also suggested ways for me to add extra weight to some of my exercises in creative ways. For instance, I had been maxing out at my local gym with 100 pound glute bridges. (Photo taken below was on July 3rd when my max out was 80 pounds). I was having a hard time pulling the 100 pounds on and off of me. Plus, there is no heavier barbell at 24 Hour Fitness, so I would have to use a 45 pound bar + plates if I wanted to go heavier.

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Joe suggested that I use the leg extension machine to add more weight. It takes a little finesse to wiggle under the bar, but I made it work. I also needed to make sure that I lowered myself as low as I could on the descend of the exercise and to drive through the heels when I thrust my hips up. Since the bikini division of this competition is all about the booty and the shoulders, I need to make sure to master all of the exercises that grow these muscle groups.

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By the end of the one hour, I was re-energized, re-motivated, and tired – a good tired. I couldn’t wait to get home and (after a large post workout meal) record my weights. There is no better feeling for me than to feel STRONG, and this training session helped to remind me that I can push myself more. My body is stronger than I think it is, and if I wanted to be on the gladiator wall, I needed to step it up. Next session with Joe is in 3 weeks, and I’ll be ready.