Erica Silva - Figure Competitor

Erica: Iíve been involved in sports for a vast majority of my life. Being competitive was instilled in me very early on by my parents so bodybuilding was just another transition into another sport for me. Growing up, I ran track and cross country, I was on my first track team in kindergarten and the love for running carried well into adulthood. I went to college on an athletic scholarship for cross country and track. I ran the 10k and the steeplechase, I still hold the womenís steeplechase record for Bakersfield College! Running taught me how to be disciplined and in running I learned to love the process involved in conditioning/training for an event. I ran distance for about 20 solid years of my life until around the age of 25, all those years of racking up high miles causes me to have various stress fractures in many of my metatarsals. Simply put, I physically canít run the way I used to without putting myself in incredible pain for days after.

Frustrated with this, I needed to find a means to maintain my level of fitness. A few of my friends had already been active competitors in bodybuilding and hinted to me that I might actually be a good candidate for the sport. I liked the idea of the challenge, and learning the dynamics of contest prep. I liked the idea of going from a pure, dyed in the wool endurance athlete who couldnít even do a complete push-up to bodybuilding. In 2012 I competed in my first show in the bikini class, I took first in my class and the overalls. I was hooked! Since then I have moved up in classes to figure where I feel is a better for me, as an athlete!

My nutrition has always been somewhat balanced. I donít particularly have a sweet tooth or obsess over certain food. I have used various methods of prepping for all my shows, tweaking and learning how to improve my plans. I canít really say there is one solid method I use to get ready for a show. Itís different every time I complete, so the diet I always different. Off-season, I tend to go by an 80/20 rule, 80% of my day is filled with balanced, unprocessed meals that arenít far off my usual contest prep, and then 20% is whatever I want. Consistency to a plan has always been my best bet to get muscle on and/or get fat off. Thereís no real trick there, gotta commit to a plan and follow it through.

Being an ectomorph, I feel itís a pinch easier for me to manipulate my nutrition to obtain the desired goal. Any type of calorie restriction does not work for me. I lose too much weight and end up looking sickly. High protein, moderate Ďgood fatsí, and the right complex carbs at the right time seem to be my best bet. It always takes people back when they find out I eat the same portions as my fiance, who body builds!

Training: there are the obvious components to bodybuilding; lifting and cardio but some things Iíve added to my routine that Iíve felt has improved my overall performance. Off-season, I never actually stop training. I try to hit the weights 5x week in the off-season, I actually like lifting, so itís habitual and more part of my day than anything else. Cardio, I avoid in the off-season, given my endurance history, I drop weight like nothing when I add in cardio to my workouts so I just avoid it till I need it. when itís to get ready for a show, itís anywhere from 6-7x week lifting and MAYBE 3x week cardio, but never anything extreme, nothing more that 30-40 minutes at low intensity. Some other aspects that I feel really helped me was seeing a chiropractor regularly as well as deep tissue massage once a week.

I was never taught to be self-conscious. Growing up, I was always told, ďyou are perfect the way you are! itís other peopleís problem if they canít recognize that!Ē Body image issues never came up in my home, I never felt the need to compare myself to others. if someone didnít like how I was, it wasnít my problem. In all honesty, life is so fleeting and petty insignificant opinions are worth less than the air they float on. I go on stage, every time I compete, with the notion that I can do ANYTHING all I have to do first is TRY. Body image issues? I kill myself everyday in training, I spent a lifetime valuing my body for what it can do NOT what it looks like. I donít compete for the approve of others, I compete to maintain a standard within myself. I set a goal, and then achieve it. I have confidence in myself to compete because I am only competing with myself on that stage, no one else. I have only me to impress, and if I can always bring a better package than the last time I hit that stage, I am happy.

One of my favorite things about competing is hanging out backstage! I really enjoy meeting different competitors from all over the place and learning their stories as to why they were driven to compete! I just competed in the Fresno Classic, where I won my class and took 2nd in Figure Overalls. That was a fun show! With lots of energy and really organized. I have felt the sting of politics while competing, but itís par for the course. Itís always nerve racking during comparisons but at the end of the day, HAVE FUN! Thatís all you can do. I always tell people, ďtrain as hard as you can and you wonít have anything to worry about come show time.Ē

As of right now, I am currently in prep for NPC USAs in Las Vegas, July 29-30th, 2016, I qualified for that show at the Fresno Classic and Iíll be competing for my pro status. I try to not think about it and just focus on my training, making every rep count. I hope I can perform there like Iíve performed at all my other shows and bring home some hardware. After that, itís really dependent on how USAís go. But after Nationalís Iíll most likely take a year to condition and bring a better physique to the stage the coming year.

Erica A Silva ISSA C-PT
IG: @abracadaverz

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Erica Silva