Samantha Smitchko - IFBB Figure Pro
Samantha: I was always interested and familiar with weight lifting since my mom was a bodybuilder. I grew up watching her weight train in our home gym. Despite this fact, I never partook in any physical activity until I went to college. The summer before my very first semester, I told myself I was going to get in shape. Sure enough I started going to the gym every day and lost close to 20lbs my first semester.
After about two years into weight training, I met a girl named Maura at the gym. She had done bikini shows and she told me I should do one. At first I completely brushed it off and knew I could NEVER do it. I just didnít have the ďbody typeĒ. But after some thought and a little pushing on her part, I decided to compete in a local bikini show. Two years later, I won overall figure champion at NPC Nationals in 2014 and earned my pro card!
During contest prep, I cut back on carbohydrate intake and avoid veggies higher in sugar such as peppers, onions, and tomatoes. I also follow a ďcarb cyclingĒ approach during contest prep which means I have a series of high, medium, and low carb days that I rotate through. I have found carb cycling is the most effective form of fat loss for competition prep.
In the off season, I follow a set amount of daily macros and up my calories to a little above maintenance level. Eating a surplus of calories is the only way I gain muscle and make strength gains.
During my first prep, I had a coach that told me I shouldnít ever need to go below 1300 calories while dieting. So I was given a set amount of macros to hit every day and my calories were held at 1300 calories. This was not effective for me because in order for me to get obtain the leanness required for the stage, I need to consume a diet very low in calories; especially during the last few weeks. During my next prep, I did my own diet and just slowly lowered calories week after week. This was much more effective, but still didnít get me as lean as I needed to be. It wasnít until I met my current coach, Shelby Starnes, that I really started to get lean enough. He usually has me follow some sort of carb cycling approach as I mentioned previously. This has been the best approach thus far.
I strength train 5 days a week:
No matter what time of year it is, I always lift as hard and heavy as possible. I always push myself as hard as I can. I keep my rep ranges between 6-12 for each exercise.
In the off season Iíll do 2 or 3 sessions of cardio per week. This could be a distance run or high intensity intervals and I either perform this in the morning or in the evening. During prep, I do cardio fasted every morning for 20 minutes of high intensity. The amount of time gradually increases closer to show time!
I always want to make sure my diet is complimenting my training. I try to consume around 130g of protein per day, I keep fat low and carbs higher. This is my off season setup. I do this because the point of off season is to make gains, so eating the right amount of protein and carbs is essential to making this happen! On days where I do cardio, I up my calories a little bit to help my body recover. Itís imperative to balance diet and training because it takes both to make progress.
I have always made a conscious effort in life to not let what people think bother me. So when I get on stage, I mean, I care what the judges think, but I donít let how I place bother me. This is how Iím able to have confidence on stage. I know that the package I bring to the stage is my best for that show, and thatís all that matters to me. I am proud of the work I put into my physique, and I feel good about putting it up on stage!
Iím not sure if itís because Iím tired and weak or what, but I get very emotional the days before/day of my competition. I was sitting at check ins at the San Antonio pro on August 12, and I felt an overwhelming feeling of gratefulness. That is the only way to really describe what I felt. I was just so grateful that I had the opportunity to be included among the most elite athletes in the industry- the IFBB. I never dreamt Iíd be among them and it still to this day feels very surreal to me.
My major goal in my competing career is to make it to the Olympia stage. That would be the highest honor imaginable and it is something I will always strive for. I also hope to continue helping people with their diet and training programs because I genuinely enjoy helping people on their fitness journeys. I have also been working hard on a 3 part eBook series on dieting and training. Each book in the series will be dedicated to different levels of fitness from beginner to experienced. I am very excited to share it with the world!