Lauren Culp - Figure Competitor

I started competing when I was 16. Before hand, I was a highly competitive gymnast on the road to college scholarships. I had a career ending injury during one of my tumbling passes. I tore the most in my right elbow, and it has never been the same. I could no longer handle any movement with impact to that arm. Gymnastics was sadly over. Something I had dedicated my entire life to was gone in an instant. I started going to the gym to fill the void because I now had 40 hours of free time I never had before. I started making progress, and people took notice. I remember a man came up to me and said, "You have made so much progress in so little time. You're such a hard little worker. Have you ever thought about competing?" I have no idea who this man was, so I cannot even thank him. But this man, changed my life. I was in such a dark place in my life juggling some very hard things from my past, but bodybuilding was my beacon in the night.

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I am what you call a "hard-gainer." I require a lot of food for both off season and pre-contest. Off-season I consume 3000-4000 calories. That breaks down to 230g protein, 500-700g carbs, and 65g of fat. It seems insane, but I have built my metabolism up so well that my body needs the food to sustain my mass. Pre-contest my calories will hardly ever drop below 1600. I typically drop my carbs by 25-50g each week to prep. I cut carbs maybe two weeks out for about 8 days, and then to carb up I pretty much eat every grain of rice found on the continent. The most effective diet to gain muscle to me is high carb low fat, but mostly just EATTT! The most effective diet to lose fat is to gradually reduce carbs, and maybe throw in cardio here and there.

I did a keto prep once, and I will say, it was the most miserable period of my life. I felt like death slapped me in the face every morning. It provided me with very low energy, my mind was foggy, and my muscles were flat all the time.

I was a gymnast, so I was used to the stage. However, bodybuilding was on a completely different level. I really had to accept myself for the way I was created, and learn to love my body in all stages. The quote I repeated and continue to repeat reminds me that I am capable. "You deserve the love you so freely give to others." This has truly made an impact in my life. It reminds me that though I am flawed, I am worthy. We all are.

Off-season, I only do cardio once a week. Pre-contest, I do cardio 4 times a week. I prefer HIIT over steady state because I get bored. For HIIT, I typically do circuit training. Example: 20 deadlifts, 15 hanging leg raises, 30 push-ups. I balance training and diet by planning out my week ahead of time. I typically meal prep on Mondays, and do cardio fasted. This way I can balance school, work, training, and diet. It's all about time management, but once you break it down, it does not seem so overwhelming.

I am a stresser. At my last competition, I had a tan before the athlete meeting. I planned it out so I would have enough time to get ready before the meeting to relax before pre-judging. The tan turned out taking 70 minutes because it was not soaking into my skin. I was rushed to get ready and was late to the meeting. I was freaking out, and I know my cortisol was through the roof. Thankfully I had my friends and supporters with me to keep my spirits up. Pre-judging went smoothly, but I was watery. By the time the night show hit, I had calmed myself down. At the end of the day, whatever happens, happens. Bodybuilding is a marathon not a sprint. One show is not the end of it all. I did not place how I wanted, but does that mean you give up? NO! I am getting back out there this upcoming year, and I am taking my rightful spot on stage.

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Being an athlete, impacts my whole life. I have learned very valuable lessons from training. I learned about discipline, work ethic, ambition, dedication, proficiency, and so much more. I believe fitness is a catalyst for positive change in every aspect of life. There is no way to hate life when you enjoy every moment of it.

I am in school now to be a Chiropractor. I would also like to get my IFBB pro card. I am only 19, so I know I have an entire life to achieve this. I do online coaching now for health and wellness clientele, but some day, I would like to prep clients for shows. I have always been a dreamer, and I cannot wait to turn it into a reality.


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