Kathryn Darnell - Physique Competitor

Kathryn: I have been working out and most of my life. I came out of the womb kicking, running and ready for a competition. I grew up playing sports with the boys and excelled at soccer and track. As a child I was self-conscious about my extremely muscular legs. This body image issue was perpetuated when I attended a private High School and had to wear a skirt every day. I would never wear shorts or a skirt if I did not have to until I found bodybuilding. About 8 years ago I decided I wanted to be extremely skinny and I worked out every day and got down under 100lbs. About two years later I wanted to reinvent myself and changed my eating and my training style to build muscle and become strong again.

A little over a year ago I was working out and this sweet girl Jazzy that is not my best friend and Matron of Honor in my wedding came up to me and asked if I competed and what supplements I took to get so big. I laughed and told her no I did not compete but people always asked me. At that time I was about 170lbs and in a size 2 pants. A few weeks later I asked her if she could help me get a coach and it all began. My first season I had three coaches and the first two were clueless about what I needed to become a competitor. Their diets starved me and I was doing enough cardio that I thought I could run a marathon. During this process I lost 40lbs and took second place at the Great Lakes Championship. Shortly after I found a new coach and worked with him for peak week and took first at the Ohio State Championships. I then went into a short off season to try to build some of the muscle I lost during my cut back.

My off season diet takes my prep diet and slowly reverses it to about 2500-3000 calories. It is very important to me that I stay learn, about 15% body fat during my off season and do not rebound after my show. I want bodybuilding to help me grow as a person and not perpetuate body image issues because of a massive gaining of fat. My off seasons diet is very similar to my prep diet except a lot more of everything. I also add in fruit and an extra clean cheat every week. During both on and off season I eat clean and follow a 7 meal a day plan. Carbs are highest around my workout and fats and protein are evenly spaced thought the day. I have a coach, IFBB Pro Walter Martin who writes all my diets. During my building season he writes me a diet and I occasionally sub foods to better fit my day or likes. I have a solid understanding of since and how food can be used to assist with building muscle or cutting fat. I do not consider subbing clean foods as cheating and it also helps we feel “normal” during my off season.

I have not had a diet actually fail, I have had a prep that was not long enough for the amount of fat I had to loose without compromising a mass amount of muscle. What works for me during prep is to slowly lower carbs and fats during a 20 week cut. This allows me to loose about 1lb a week without compromising the muscle I have worked hard to grow. This past prep I did a no fats diet to help take fat out of my skin and lean out my legs. It was difficult and took more mental strength then

I thought I had. But I did it and it worked! I caution competitors to make sure they or their coach has a sold understanding of the body and what it needs before doing an extreme diet like no fats. I take a 1000 calorie cheat meal once a week during my on and off season. There were a few weeks that I struggled sticking to this 1000 calorie limit and had to be honest with myself and my coach. He was very supportive and started telling me when to take a cheat and what to eat. He normally gave me chicken and broccoli from a Chinese restaurant with 2 cups of white rice.

NO, I repeat NO supplements give you quick results! Believe me I have tried and I have asked, who does not want a quick fix? What I came to learn is there is no such thing as a quick fit in bodybuilding; it is a marathon not a sprint. You must have the physical and mental endurance to withstand a long prep or your body will not be tight enough or conditioned enough to step on stage. With that being said, I do use supplements. I drink BCAAs during fasted cardio and with my night shake. I drink glutamine after my training and at night before bed. I also take a multivitamin, fish oil, glucosamine, and L-carnitine. I recently found out that my constant fatigue was caused by my inability to absorb iron so I am now taking an iron supplement. My coach only requires that I take a multi and fish oil. His diets have everything you need to build muscle but I choose to add a few things to fit my style. It's all about balance and what works for you, just because it works for me does not mean it will work for you.

During my off season I train 6 days a week and get a higher calorie diet. My days are split as follows; Back and bis, chest and tris, Quads and abs, Shoulders and abs, arms, and my 6th day I typically so a pull day focusing on my lats but have been changing it up to whatever I think needs work that week. I still do cardio, just a lot less then prep. I typically do about 5 days a week during my off season. During prep the amount changes based on what my coach feels I need. Diet is more important than the training itself. Diet is used as tool for what I need, either to build muscle or to loose fat and preserve muscle.

The last contest I did was the Northcoast Championships at Kent State University. I took 2nd place in the woman’s physique division. I was initially disappointed with a 2nd place win until I reflected and realized that I brought the best package I could. I accomplished every goal I set out for that show so I could not ask for more. The only thing I did not like was that Woman's Physique was last during pre-judging and finals. I am impatient and hate waiting, I wish I was the first person one stage! This show was well organized and I plan on doing it again next year in both Woman's Physique and Figure.

I am small for physique but cannot give it up and switch to figure because I love the poses and routine. During this show I truly learned how amazing the bodybuilding community is. There were rival coaches helping other athletes. Competitor that were battling for the same trophy helping each other with hair and makeup. I overheard a fellow competitor in my division upset because her earning broke and her husband could not fix it, she was very upset and did not know what to do. I ran over to her with a bag full or earnings and I told her I bring many pairs for this reason and that I could not decide which to wear. This is what the sport is about and that is why I love it. You are able to see women in a different light. They are no longer catty and gossipy, they are supportive and always willing to help a fellow competitor.

I plan on building as much muscle as possible in my off season while staying fairly lean. I then plan on going back to Kent next year and bring a bigger better Katy!

I can be contacted on FB, Katy Eileen
Instagram KDdiesel7
email: ked303@aol.com

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Kathryn Darnell

Kathryn Darnell