Carol Covino - Figure Competitor

Carol: I was a competitive distance runner for several years. I consistently placed first in my division and had won overall and masters titles as well. I thought I was going to be running for many more years to come but was forced to quit after a stress fracture and a ruptured plantar fascia. Between the two injuries I was in boot casts for a total of 3 months. During my recovery I looked for ways to stay in shape and decided to lift weights. For the first time in my life, I had muscle definition.

After I healed, I tried to return to running but was never able to train as hard because of continued pain. However, I had discovered a newfound interest in weight training and continued to lift. During this time, I became a group fitness and yoga instructor, as well a personal trainer. Over time my friends and clients began to encourage me to compete. At the age of 51, I took the plunge and entered my first NPC show in the Figure division. I was definitely too thin but managed to achieve a 4th place. Although it was an exciting experience, I realized I had much to learn and a long road to achieving the physique I needed to be competitive. Almost 4 years later, I have completed seven shows and have placed in the top 3 numerous times, including a first place win in my class at the San Jose Muscle Evolution. I am nationally qualified and preparing to compete in Masters Nationals in Pittsburgh.

Nutrition has become a lifestyle for me. Thus, I maintain a healthy diet both on and off season, and there is not much fluctuation in weight (generally no more than 8 to 10 lbs).

In the off season I have more options in my diet. I eat a variety of fruits and complex carbohydrates, enjoy some gluten free pizza, a glass of red wine, or dark chocolate. However, I am always conscious of limiting sugar, eating high fiber foods, and maintaining the right ratio of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats.

Competition Diet Plans:
The only competition diet plan that has not worked for me was the one I used for my first show. I simply did not have the knowledge or proper guidance at the time. Thus, I did not begin preparing soon enough and dieted down too hard for the stage.

After that first show, I had the opportunity to work with some great coaches and have learned something different from each one. I also took the time to become fitness nutrition certified and to learn all I could about the process. However, I cannot emphasize enough that every show prep has been entirely different. You will not enter your first show looking exactly how you should. Building muscle and symmetry takes years of dedication, hard work, and good nutrition. Thus, the diets have changed with my body. For my last two shows, I have eaten a higher fat and carb ratio to maintain fullness in my muscles. As I near the show date, this ratio has changed so that I can achieve lower body fat, tighten up, and bring in more definition. I am currently a member of Team Cyberbodyshop and am working with Coach Matt Allen and his beautiful wife, IFBB Pro Wendy Fortino. They are an excellent team and have been the most successful in achieving optimal results with my body type.

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Building Self Confidence:
Building self confidence did not come easy for me, and I had to learn to take chances and risk failure to reach my goals. In my forties I became a competitive runner and went on to do the Boston Marathon twice. My husband and I opened a business during the financial collapse of 2008. At 49 I became a group fitness instructor despite being terrified of public speaking. Then came my first show. I was nervous, but I faced the fear head on. Once I was under the lights and heard my name called a sense of excitement came over me. I found my smile, a confident walk, and embraced the glamour of the moment. There was much refining to be done with posing and presentation, and I continue to work on both. However, I had discovered a part of myself that I did not even know existed.

Components of Training:
My training split for lifting changes based on my body and where I need to build symmetry. This may include training less or more of a muscle group to achieve results. I lift 6 days per week and currently follow a structured training split where I train push muscles (chest/shoulders/triceps), legs/calves, pull muscles (back width/biceps), hamstrings/glutes, and back thickness.

My cardio varies based on my goals. A few weeks ago I was trying to maintain muscle fullness and did 20 minutes of cardio per day alternating HIIT (high intensity interval training) with steady state sessions. I am currently at 45 minutes per day with less HIIT.

Each day I always seek to nourish and fuel my body with healthy foods to help me feel strong and confident.

Recent Contest Experience:
I was absolutely thrilled and genuinely surprised to win first place in my Figure Class at the San Jose Muscle Evolution in February of this year. I was nervous to compete against much younger women, but my coaches encouraged me every step of the way.

I absolutely love the excitement that precedes every show, the smell of the tanning, the booths of vendors, and meeting competitors from all over the country. When I did the Emerald Cup in Seattle, I met an incredible group of women over 50 and one competitor over the age of 60. I remember feeling such encouragement and hope from these other women. We still maintain contact through social media.

Future Plans:
I am currently preparing to compete in Masters Nationals this month. Ultimately, it is my goal to coach others in not only their exercise and nutrition goals but also in achieving self confidence and bringing consciousness to their fitness lifestyle. I recently submitted a speech to TEDXABQ to speak at a women’s conference in October. The topic is about the power of women and girls to be creators and change makers. I hope to be selected for this honor. You can follow my fitness blog on or I can be reached for coaching and fitness modeling services at

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