Laura Carolan - IFBB Pro Bodybuilder, Toronto Pro Champion

Initially, I got into lifting weights as an activity to lose weight and firm up. This was around 1984, not many women in the weight room in those days. So back in Thunder Bay in 1984, a bodybuilder was born! Almost from the start I was addicted to weight training. Then once I attended a local show in 1985, I knew I would be on stage one day. Competing first in 1989, I had my pro card by 1992 by winning the heavyweights class and overall title at the Canadian Nationals Championships.

About a year ago, I planned on attending the IFBB Tampa Pro and knew I needed the edge of having guidance from a knowledgeable coach. It was no brainer for me to approach Darren Mehling of Freak Fitness to ask if he could coach me. Freak Fitness has an excellent track record which speaks for itself. After sharing information as to my individual needs, Darren designed a personalized diet for me. The basic foundation being high protein and moderate carbs and fats. The diet gets tighter as the show date approaches based on physical assessment. The diet that works best for me, and probably most people is very basic with moderate and progressive changes. Nothing radical or fancy. We don't count calories, but all food is measured and weighed so adjustments are precise.

In the past, I have tried a fat loading process during the last week leading up to a show but that failed to enhance my look on show day. I have found the best philosophy in my opinion, is the less change the better, if it's working, why do something radically different?

The specific components of my training program are based around cardio workouts at 70-80% of my max heart rate, and a weight training program designed by my coach which addresses my specific needs, ie focus put on lagging muscle groups. My weight training program is altered every 4 weeks to avoid plateaus via adaptation. Emphasis is put on fast paced workouts with little rest between sets. The best way to feel confident on stage is to be prepared. Posing practice is an absolute must! It doesn't matter how long you've been at the sport, a polished look and competency in showing off your physique to its best advantage will definitely shine through as confidence. I'm always aware of the fact that I'm providing entertainment for the audience, as well as being judged by the panel of judges.

As a bodybuilder who has had two distinct careers (I took 17yrs off of competing between 1995 and 2012), things are quite different than they used to be. With so many divisions being presented at each show, backstage is a hurried and very busy place. With the fbb division being taken out of the Arnold Classic and the Olympia, the females I have met at shows are friendlier, and more interactive with each other. We all feel that we need to save our sport and there's a sense of cohesiveness. I've always felt like it's an opportunity to bond with other women who I have this commonality with. Although there are still women who criticize each other's physiques in a negative way, it's far less prominent.

Since winning the IFBB Toronto Pro this year (2016), I have qualified for the Rising Phoenix on September 10 in Scottsdale, Arizona. This is the world championships where the best in the sport compete. Iris Kyle, 8 time Ms. Olympia is making her comeback this year, the rest of the lineup so far is very high quality. I'm very honoured and stoked to join these women on stage this year!

A photo posted by Laura Carolan (@lcarolan1) on

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Laura Carolan

Laura Carolan