Susanne Niederhauser Interview

Susanne Niederhauser is a professional IFBB female bodybuilder from Wels, Austria. Niederhauser began bodybuilding when she was 17 years old, and has competed as a professional since 2002. Her formidable determination led to her gaining a reputation as one of the most successful female bodybuilders.
A meeting with a Muscle Queen.

Author: Jonathan.L - owner Models Observer
November 2007

* Susanne, you're building muscles for 20 years! When you were 17 years of age, what made you start weightlifting and bodybuilding?

Susanne Niederhauser: Actually I wanted to do some kind of sport because I felt bored at home after work. And I thought I could do something positive for my body. So my brother and I entered a gym. I saw muscle magazines with photographs of Cory Everson, Anja Langer and Marjo Selin and I really liked their look. I didn't fear muscles like most women. On the contrary I thought being muscular looked much better than being too thin or even fat. So I started to train with heavier weights. I met my boyfriend there and he knew a lot about bodybuilding. He was a competitor at that time. And when I watched the first competition I knew I wanted to do the same some day.

* How was the beginning for you in bodybuilding? Did you build muscles fast or it took some time to know what your body and muscles needed?

Susanne Niederhauser: My beginning was slow - but I didn't take it too seriously. I wanted to gain some muscles but didn't train and eat properly.

I trained for about 6 years before I competed the first time. I could have made it earlier but it wasn't a necessary goal. And of course it took some time until I knew how to train and eat in the best way.

* In your opinion, what is the main difference between the Amateur and Pro bodybuilding?

Susanne Niederhauser: I really enjoyed being an amateur bodybuilder and competing at the world championships and world games. It was nice to travel in a group and I met lots of nice people there and made some good friendships. But to become a Pro bodybuilder was more challenge sportwise. The Pro bodybuilding competitors are the best of the best and competing against them was somehow my real goal.

* One of the highlights of your bodybuilding career was placing 7th in 2002 Miss Olympia competition. How did you feel there, in the most prestigious bodybuilding competition? And what do you think about your placing?

Susanne Niederhauser: A highlight was to compete at the Miss Olympia - not so the placing. There were only 7 girls in my weight class but for me it was a nice experience anyway. As I knew before I couldn't make it to the top 3 I competed there without any pressure. I knew I was in one of my best shapes ever and so I could enjoy the competition from the beginning to the end. One of the things I really love to remember was the time when I got out on stage at the finals. There was so much audience and before I went out I wondered that I'm not nervous and feared that all the nervousness would get out on stage. But it didn't. Surprisingly I wasn't nervous at all. I really enjoyed doing my posing routine and showing them what was for me, perfect bodybuilding.

* How much time did you need for getting the excellent shape and muscle mass that you showed on the Olympia stage? Could you describe your preparations, and how did your week and your day before the competition look like in terms of training, weight gain diet, free time and social life?

Susanne Niederhauser: It usually takes me 20 weeks to get in a real good shape. That's means 20 weeks of diet. Of course the mass I gained within the years of training. I reduce fat completely and try to eat much protein and little carbs. I drink about 4 litres water and train 4 to 5 times a week.
The week before a competition is completely different than the weeks before. In the weeks before I get up, do 30 minutes of cardio, then go to work and after work I do my training. When I get home I prepare the food for the evening and the next day. For my friends and family I don't have so much time - especially in the last weeks. The very last week is different. I train usually Saturday, Sunday and Monday. On Tuesday I've to fly the long way from Austria to USA. The first thing I do after the check-in in the hotel is to look for a supermarket. It's very important to eat the right food through the last days. And then I try to relax a lot. I don't need to train the last days.

* In what kind of training environment are you most comfortable?

Susanne Niederhauser: I like to train in the gym. I Wouldn't enjoy it really at home. I want people around me. I like it if the gym is busy and if there are people surrounding me training seriously too. I train with my boyfriend Wolfgang. We are a really good team and until last year I even had 2 training partners - my brother (we trained together right from the start) and my boyfriend.
I prefer free weights over machines, but as I change my routine pretty often I do both.

* What motivates you to train so hard?

Susanne Niederhauser: I love bodybuilding. I love the look I get through it. It's my life. And I need goals to keep my motivation. Whenever I finish a competition I start to work towards the next one. That doesn't mean I train and diet hard all my life. I know to enjoy life in my off-season. And this mix of serious preparation and taking it easy in off-seasons is keeping me on track.

* How would you describe your nature or temperament?

Susanne Niederhauser: I think I'm an easy-going person. Very quiet but at the right time I can be a chatterbox too. I know what I want and work for that. I'm faithful, honest, I love to laugh and I'm optimistic. When I do something I try to do it in the best way I can.

* What do you have to sacrifice in life in order to reach the summit of strength and fitness, and to be such a successful athlete? Who helped you during this long process?

Susanne Niederhauser: I don't think I have sacrificed much. Well... maybe I miss sometimes good chocolate, sweets or other stuff. But in the end I can say I'm able to enjoy food after a diet more than other people do. My boyfriend Wolfgang isn't only my big love. He also is my pal and training partner. Without him I wouldn't do all that. I always say that an athlete can be only successful if he/she is with the right partner. It's important to have an active, positive and busy social life.

* How strong are you in daily life? What are you able to do with your muscles, that we, as ordinary people, can't do?

Susanne Niederhauser: Well.. I'm able to do squats with 110 kg if I need to but I don't think that's an advantage in my normal life.

* Before our interview, you mentioned that next year you plan to compete in Figure. You are one of the best female bodybuilders in the world, and this is a significant change for you. Why do you want to switch from Bodybuilding to Figure?

Susanne Niederhauser: I competed in bodybuilding for over 10 years and for myself it's a nice change and new challenge to bring my body into a figure shape. Although I have to say that I don't agree with the way female bodybuilding is going. To keep up at the top level I'd have to look a way I just don't want to.

* How will the transition from Bodybuilding to Figure will change your training, nutrition and lifestyle? And, do you believe it will be easy for you to compete in figure?

Susanne Niederhauser: It won't change my nutrition and lifestyle. But I'm going to change my training of course. Recently I hardly train with weights but have increased my cardio workouts. I'll watch the changes and adjust the training on the way as it's necessary.

* I see you like cats... Do you have one?

Susanne Niederhauser: I grew up with cats. My parents always had one or 2. I don't have one right now but I'm going to get one from the animal shelter soon.

* What do you like to do in your free time in Wels, Austria?

Susanne Niederhauser: Well... we have been building our own house for the last 3 years and have been living there since January. There's still lots to do and that's the way I have been spending my free time recently. Beside that I love to go out with friends, go to the movies or to read a good book. I think gardening will become another nice hobby for me.

* Where so you see yourself in 5 years?

Susanne Niederhauser: Mmhh - that's a tough question. I can't tell you. I'm a person who never plans too long in the future. If I decide that the Figure class is the right thing for me I'll stay there. If I don't like it I could change to bodybuilding again. I'd also like to have a baby. But whatever I do - my goal is to be happy.

Susanne's site :

Competition Prep e-Books