Justine Albert - Figure Competitor

Justine Albert- IFPA Pro and NPC Figure Competitor

Justine: I have been obsessed with weight lifting ever since I can remember. I began training lightly at age 12 and by the time I was 16 the weight room was my second home. Athletics was always a big part of my life, I have had 23 years of dance training in ballet, tap, jazz, modern, contemporary, pointe and hip hop. I also participated in track and field for 3 years in high school and 4 years in college at Seton Hill University, becoming the first track athlete to place in conference championships with third place in the heptathlon in 2007. Weight training benefited by other sports and gave me an advantage over other athletes who did not have a lot of experience with strength training. It especially benefited me as a dancer, believe it or not! It wasn’t until 2 years ago, however that I decided to make the necessary diet changes to lose weight and compete. Although I never ate unhealthy, I just ate way too much! Being so active gave me a huge appetite! I studied nutrition for 3 years of college, before finishing with a degree in dance, so I had a great background of knowledge to make the necessary diet changes. It was then that I decided to begin competing! Finding time to train was never an issue for me because it has always been part of my life! I own a dance studio with 260 students enrolled and a personal training business too, so my job revolves around training, whether it's training myself or helping others with their goals!

I honestly do not change my diet much from competition season! I feel so much better and get more out of my training when I fuel my body with healthy food all the time! The biggest change is obviously the amount of “cheat” meals I allow myself. During the competing season, I do one cheat meal a week. In the off-season, I do 3-4 small “cheats” a week and also allow myself to have one beer a day!! I look forward to relaxing with my beer at the end of a long work day! I do a small amount of carb-cycling close to shows but do not cut carbs completely. I am too active and will burn through all my muscle if I did that.

I eat between 2300-2700 calories per day, depending on my level of activity and how much I will be actively instructing in my dance and fitness classes. During the competing season I will drop that down to 2000-2300 to allow myself to lean out enough. I eat 6 to 9 meals per day. Each meal has between 350-420 calories, with my earlier meals being larger and later meals being lighter. Carbohydrate count is between 200-280 grams, protein always around 160-170 grams and fat between 40-60 grams. If I go higher in carbs, I cut back on the fat. If I go higher in fat, I cut back with the carbs. That is the trick to staying lean but also being able to build muscle in the off-season! The only foods I truly stay away from completely (except for cheat meals!) is dairy, pasta, bread, liquid calories, butter, dressings, condiments with calories (basically I only use mustard and hot sauce!) and obviously junk food of any kinds! My main carb sources are yams, oatmeal, cereals with less than 4 grams sugar, fruit, veggies, brown rice and a very small amount of greek yogurt. My protein sources are eggs, chicken, turkey, fish, deer and very lean beef. My fat sources mainly consist of nuts, almond butter, and flax seed. My favorite cheat meal is chicken wings! I can put down more than most grown men!

The complete carb cutting really didn’t work for me!! I am too active, and I ended up burning less calories because I was so exhausted from having no carbs! I couldn’t keep up my normal activity level and I really think it slowed down my metabolism. My body reacts better to cutting out fat and keeping carbs at a moderate level.

I do not use any weight loss supplements even in contest prep. It makes me really proud when I can get that lean just by proper diet and exercise! I am able to get to 5% body fat with no fat burners! No weight loss substances here! Overtime, they can really mess up your body’s metabolism!

I train very different than a lot of competitors because I also compete in power lifting! My husband and I recently joined a team and we are really enjoying training together! I have to balance the work I do for hypertrophy and definition that is needed to compete in figure, but also get in the speed and strength work for power. Overtraining can be a problem so I really have to be sure I am not doing too much! I train for powerlifting 3 days a week. The rest of my weekly work outs are based on slow, controlled hypertrophy work. I used to train 6 or 7 days a week, but found I was truly over training so I try to rest at least two days! My hypertrophy work outs consist of 4-5 exercises per muscle group and I usually train within 8 to 12 reps. However, it is always good to mix things up because your body stops responding to the repetitive work outs. So every once in a while I’ll change things up and do a higher rep work out like 2 sets of 30, but still keep the weight reasonably high. It's amazing how many reps you can do with a weight you never expected, especially if you give your body time to grow and heal properly! One of our power lifting work outs consist of 2 sets of 30 on incline dumbbell press. I never thought I’d be doing 30 reps with 50 pound dumbbells in each hand! But I sure am and it feels amazing after!!

My plans for the future are to branch out even more into the world of physique competitions and get my name out there! I would love to get into magazines and hopefully get sponsored someday! With the size I am putting on as a power lifter I would really like to move into the physique category in the future. Many people have asked how I will balance being a power lifter and doing physique competitions but I feel that each one has their benefits with helping me become a better athlete all around! As long as I don’t over train and continue to eat properly, I will excel in both sports!

My main goal is to be a positive role model and inspiration for other who want to make health and fitness a part of their lives. I was not naturally gifted, I had to work for every ounce of muscle that is on my body and I know the time and dedication it takes to build that! It makes me so proud when my clients and students reach their goals and being a part of that is so rewarding to me! Their happiness and success is also a huge motivating factor for my own training!! I love to pass on the passion I have for fitness to everyone around me!

I train clients one-on-one, I run a Boot Camp program, write individualized diet plans, contest prep diets and contest routines. For information on any of my programs contact me at 724-882-7347 or email jdbyjustinealbert@yahoo.com.

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