Chandler Vecchione - Physique Competitor

I got into lifting about 4 years ago after switching over from high school sports and my own form of recreational fitness. I lifted for about a year and half and was approached by several people in the gym who asked me if I was a competitor, based off of my physique and how seriously I took my gym time. At first I had no idea what they were talking about, but after having several conversation with people I agreed to go to a show as a spectator. The show was an IFBB Pro women physique show, and the second that I saw those women come onto the stage and perform their routines with such confidence, grace, and beauty. I immediately fell in love with the sport and new it was what I wanted to do.

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Nutrition and Training

The biggest change from off-season to contest prep is the amount of calories. During offseason I normally eat 3000-3500 daily with two cheat meals a week (sometimes more). While during contest prep I can go as low as 1400 calories with no cheat meals the whole prep. My macronutrient breakdown in the offseason is always high protein, high carbs, and moderate fat. Carbs and protein are most important for protein synthesis and while I'm still getting my essential fats I try not to go too overboard to where the excess could be stored. During contest prep I normally do a form of a keto diet, which is high fat, high protein, and very low carbs. I may receive a carb up once a week or every 2-3 weeks depending on my body's response. The carb up could contain sweet potato and oats, or it could be a burger and fries. This really depends on how I react to each of them. Your body can change each prep, so you have to pay attention to everything that is happening and know how to remedy and improve every situation. You can never have a full set plan for prep, it's very week to week and day to day.

I have always done a very low carb restricted diet for my preps. I was very in tune with my body before I started competing and I knew that I was more sensitive to carbs than I was fat. The only instance that I was unhappy with my contest diet was my second show where I was trying to come in fuller on stage and ate too many carbs and spilt over and looked watery on stage. I lost all definition in my legs. Besides that I have always been very happy with my show prep diets, I have a good coach helping me as well.

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I train very high volume but also as heavy as I can. I have been told that my training is very intense by multiple people. I lift for normally 1-2 hours a day depending on the muscle group and cardio can change depending on how close I get to the show. In offseason I do not do cardio at all, I'm not a huge fan of sitting on a cardio machine. If there is anything I like doing cardio wise it would be sprints out in the parking lot. Gym cardio kills me, even though I do it everyday. The closer I get to a show I will start doing my cardio fasted as opposed to just post-workout. The leaner you get the more you have to start adding other strategies to burn body fat, so fasted cardio is usually saved till the last half of prep.

On stage

I have been a performer and athlete my whole life, so being in front of crowds was something I was never scared to do. Bodybuilding is where I feel that I belong in this world, not just because of my physique but because of my mindset, love for the lifestyle, and the people. Stepping on stage for my first time was the moment where I was able to show my hard work to people that appreciated it. I was teased alot growing up for being a Tomboy, they even called me Man-dler. Although the jokes were meant to be lighthearted it was something that effected my view of myself, and it wasn't until I was submerged into this community that I realized the things I thought weren't feminine about myself (big quads, broad shoulders .etc) were actually strengths in the sport. So when I was finally able to step on stage, it was the only place where I knew the physique I had would be appreciated and not mocked. That made me more excited than anything, as well as the place where I feel I fit in.

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The feeling of show day is one that is hard to explain for people who have never experienced it. The smell of the tan, the feeling of exhaustion from months of dieting, all combined with the excitement of getting on stage. Athlete check ins are always fun, you get an eye on who else is competing and everyone is talking about food there going to eat after the show haha. Prejudging is when I always get the most nervous, standing behind that curtain waiting for your name to be called is exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. I always get a slight sense that I'm going to throw up, but the second I break that curtain and those lights hit me. That feeling is indescribable, it's a true "high". After pre-judging I'm always excited to get back on stage for finals, I could never be on stage long enough haha. My first show when I won an overall sword, I was speechless. You hear your heart in your ears and you wonder if they really just called your number... It took me a second to realize that it was me who had won. I couldn't hold back the tears in that moment and started balling on stage. So much goes into a well executed prep, and in that moment I felt it all hit me at once. It was the moment I realized that if I truly dedicated myself to a cause, there was nothing that I couldn't do.

Life as an athlete

Being an athlete is my whole life, some may think that is excessive but if you truly want to be a top athlete in any sport you have to dedicate your life to it. I work in a supplement store where I talk about bodybuilding all day, I am currently in school getting a degree in Nutrition so I may apply it to bodybuilding, I also train people (lifestyle and competition prep) as well as compete myself. My schedule is rough and can get very tough at times, especially when you have to wake up at 4am to do cardio before class, than straight from class to work and finally to the gym again at 8 30 at night. Those days are the hardest when your food and energy gets low. I recently moved in with my boyfriend, who is also a bodybuilder, just around the corner from our gym. Everything we do is centered around this sport, there are no sacrifices for us because this is something we love to do. This is both of our passions and my loved ones in my life understand and support that as well.

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Future plans

I am currently 4.5 weeks out from the NPC Cal state and 14 weeks out from the NPC USAS. As time goes on, I plan on competing in the pro ranks and eventually making my way to the Olympia stage. I'm sure there are tons of girls/guys that say this as well, and the difference between us all is the people who don't give up are the ones who will make it. The IFBB is filled with amazing athletes who dedicate their lives to this sport, and the hardest working genetic elite always make their way to the top. I have very big goals in mind and I have no shame in saying that I will work my butt of until I achieve them. How long will it take? I have no idea, but time doesn't matter to me. I am currently 21 years old and have found a sport/career that I truly love. When you love what you're doing, it doesn't matter how long it takes. What matters is that you don't give up. You can't achieve a goal or dream without first believing that you can, regardless of the adversity you may face.

Contact info:
Instagram: @chandlervecchione

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