Laura Best - Figure Competitor
I had no intentions of competing when I started weight training. I was teaching Zumba and took an advanced fitness class which involved weight lifting. The owner of the gym finally convinced me to enter a bodybuilding competition. So after 8 months of weight training, I entered my first figure competition. I placed 3rd in Novice in my first competition and have been hooked: striving to do better and change my body. I was 46 when I started weight training and 47 when I entered my first competition. I am now 50 years old.
The only thing that really changes in my diet from competition prep to off season is more food and a little more flexibility. I stay on a plan year round – regardless of whether I have a competition around the corner or not. The only competition prep that was a failure for me was keto. I’m not sure if the coach I had at the time wasn’t very knowledgeable about how to properly do a keto diet, or if my body just didn’t respond well to it. I lean out very easily and quickly. For me to have no carbs is highly detrimental to my hormones, and brain and body function.
Building the self-confidence to strut on a stage was the biggest challenge I faced. In order to condition myself to being judged and viewed by large audiences, for my first competition, I, first, taught group fitness classes and more importantly, did a mock show at my gym with members as the “judges and audience”. Now, what I do is a lot of “self-talk” before I go on stage. It’s me against me – no one else. I have a right to be there just like every other competitor, and remind myself that I have worked very hard to improve my physique and presentation – just like very woman up there.
My training doesn’t really change much from off season to competition prep. The only thing that really changes is the amount of cardio I do. During competition prep, I tend to do more cardio and HIIT. Cardio in the morning and HIIT in the evening. During off season I lift heavier but usually have less reps and definitely less cardio. My diet only changes in that I have more food during off season (and less cardio/hiit). I created a class called HIIT Hop a few years ago. I teach that 3 to 4 times a week during off season and during prep. I do not teach it the week before a competition.
I recently competed in two competitions which were a week apart: The Kentucky Muscle in Louisville, Kentucky and the Elite Muscle Classic in Greensboro, NC. This was the first time I could compete in Figure Masters 50. Competing this year was a challenge on so many levels. I took one entire year to bulk to try to gain as much size as I could. This was mentally challenging for me as I’ve always been very small and thin. Entering these competitions this year was a challenge because I was coming in with an entirely different physique than I’ve ever had since competing. I had gained 7-8 lbs of muscle in the year I took to bulk. Mentally, it was a struggle to wrap my head around the fact that I was bigger but not “fat”. I was completely taken by surprise when I placed 1st at both the Kentucky Muscle and the Elite Muscle Classic. It was absolutely the last thing I expected. I had always been fortunate that I had placed in the top 5 at every competition (except one) that I had done, but I had never placed 1st. So, to have 2 back to back 1st place wins was very emotional, exhilarating and exciting. I had so much fun at both competitions. The Elite Muscle Classic was the friendliest, most organized, well run competition I’ve ever done – and they treated all of the competitors like family. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
My future plans are to do Nationals in Pittsburgh in August of 2017. I had vowed that I would not do Nationals until I had some wins. Just placing in the top 5 was not enough for me to enter Nationals. We’ll see what happens. Also, I received the US trademark for my class HIIT Hop and now I’m in the process of working out the details to market the class.
I can be found at the following:
An example of HIIT Hop: