Ginna Cortese - Physique Competitor

I have been into fitness my whole life. I use to dream about being on stage competing, but never had the confidence in myself. I have worked in the medical field for over 20 years; and when my husband received orders to move to Europe for his job, I quit my job to move with him. Living in a small military community the jobs were not there for me; so I decided to go back to school for my Bachelorís Degree, and it was then that I decided to train hard to compete. At that time, I figured I could be on stage, not know anyone or the language, and even if I came in last I would still be happy to have fulfilled a dream. I won my first 3 competitions, and was amazed at how much fun it was. It was then that I realized I could do better and push myself to do more.

Diet and Training

I love pasta, and with my husband being Italian it is hard not to indulge in homemade pasta sauce. Off-season I tend to eat a healthy diet. I stay away from fast food, candy, and fried food. I will eat pasta on occasion, but I donít really crave chips, French-fries, candy or cakes. My biggest weakness is jiffy peanut butter. I think I could live off Jiffy peanut butter. So on my off-season I will eat more Jiffy, and homemade pasta sauce than any other time. Jiffy peanut butter is healthy; however, I have a tendency to over indulge.

For my Pre-contest meals, I use a carb cycle; it works the best. The first show I did, my husband and I were just guessing, and looking up everything we could on nutrition. I am 5 foot 2 inches and I had to weigh in at 110 pounds, while keeping muscle mass. I found this to be very difficult with the diet I was using at the time.

The first few shows, I found diets on the internet for women competitors. There are so many out there, and I learned that not all diets work the same. The problem I had with the diets, some contained food items that I couldnít get in Germany. The diet plans in most womenís magazines, are not set up for competing. I went to a Nutritionist, and had a specific meal plan set up just for competition. With each show, I learned that you have to change things up with the diet, and the workout plan. Over the last two years, I have figured out that a carb cycle works the best for me. I gain more muscle, never get hungry, I lose weight, and have the energy to be on stage.

I train muscle groups, and do cardio 6 days a week. I eat about 5-6 times a day. I start my morning with grilled chicken and 6 egg whites. Then I hit the gym. I am currently working on my Masterís, so when Iím not in the gym or eating, I am doing school work.

Day 1: Biceps: Barbell curls standing 12/10/8/6 reps decline pushups 4x25
Dumbbell curls rotation 12/10/8/6 reps
Hammer curls Rope 12/10/8/6
Concentration curls 4 sets /drop sets.
Triceps: Seated triceps extension drop sets high wt. to low wt. 10/12/14
Skull crushers/chest press 4 sets of 10

Rope pull down single arm with just the cable 4 sets / drop sets

Day 2: Legs: Leg press 3 sets 35/30/25 Squat 35/30/25 Leg extension 35/30/25 Leg Curl 35/30/25 Dead lift 25/20/15

Day 3: Cardio / crunches
I do cardio and crunches every day; because I truly love it, but on day 3 that is all I do.

Day 4: Chest: Incline Bench Press (bar) 15/12/10/8 increase wt. with each set
Dumbbell fly bench 30% incline 15/12/10/8
Cable crossover 15/12/10/8
Cheat press free wts. 15/12/10/8

Day 5: Back: Wide grip pull down 12/10/8/6
Close grip pull down 12/10/8/6
Seated row 12/10/8/6
Hyperextensions with wt. 12/10/8/6
Bent-over Lateral Raise 3 x 15/20
Upright row (smith machine) 3 x 15/20

Day 6: Shoulders/ legs: Shoulder press (smith machine) 12/10/8/6
Side Lateral raise dumbbell 12/10/8/6
Front barbell lift 12/10/8/6
Pull ups wide / close grip 12/10/8/6
Legs: Lunges 3x 25 steps
Leg adductors/abductors 3 x 30
Standing calf raises to burn out
Cardio interval running

Day 7: Rest

I do cardio and abs 6 days a week. I change things up every 3-4 weeks to make my body work harder.

On Stage

Self-confidence: This was the hardest thing for me to do. I use to dream of competing; however, I never thought I could be on stage. I have no dancing skills, and had no idea how to put a routine together. I was very fortunate though, I am married to the most amazing and supporting man. I knew a few women that had great dance moves, and they were able to help me put a routine together. My husband would leave work at lunch every day, meet me at the gym, and we would practice my posing and my routine. We practiced for weeks until I had it memorized. I was living in Germany at the time, and I just kept telling myself if I got on stage and I was really bad, I didnít know anyone so it didnít matter. Funny thing is, I just kept winning, and ended up going to the German Nationalís two years in a row, and I was in Flex magazine. So I didnít do so bad after all.

I am new to NPC here in the US. My last 7 competitions were in Germany with IFBB. I was nervous and not sure if competing in New York with NPC would be the same. Check-in was very easy, and I was surprised there was no weight limit. Prejudging was easy and went great. I have to say that over all I have had a wonderful experience in both German competitions and here in the US. I have had the opportunity to meet some of the most amazing people and competitors. This has been an overwhelming experience for me.

I am currently in training and looking to compete this spring. I will be moving to Texas in June and looking for competitions near Fort Bliss. I am currently working on my Masterís in Nutrition and Human Performance. I am also the grandmother of 8 and love spending time with my family. Between school, my gym workouts and family, I stay very active.

My professional FaceBook page is Ms Ginna. Please look me up and like my page.

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