Ruth Saunders - BCABBA Overall Physique Champion

I have been training in the gym since I was 17years old, so 20years now. I have always been very active and played sports through high school, including wrestling. I wanted to gain strength and idolized Monica Brant. I thought it was amazing you could turn your physique into something so amazingly strong yet still feminine. I started buying oxygen and muscle/fitness magazines and teaching myself workouts. I read anything I could get my hands on. 10years ago I got into mixed martial arts and started competing in submission fighting. I won the western Canadians and a few other competitions that qualified me to join and represent Team Canada in Austria at the World Martial Arts Championships. Sadly, I broke my leg 4 weeks out of competition. I was determined to still go so I kept training, modified, but it rebroke a week later, and there was no way I could compete much less travel. I took some time and rehabilitated…and decided while I was healing, I may as well focus on a competition and set myself a goal. I am not one to train just for the fun of it.

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I love a challenge and set myself goals to keep me accountable. My first show was in 2014, I competed in Figure and qualified for the Provincials. I have a larger physique from my martial arts background, so I had to decide if I wanted to scale back my training so I would not be too big for figure, or switch to physique and train full out. Easy decision for me, I made the switch. I took two years building some size and focusing on bringing up my weaker areas which were my shoulders and quads. I recently competed at the Popeyes Fall Classic and placed first in both classes (open and masters), was also picked as overall winner , allowing me a lifetime buy to provincials....and I also won best poser. All my hard work paid off. I am now focusing on provincials and nationals for 2017.

My off season diet is about 2500 calories, with lots of carbs /protein and fats , to allow fuel to feed my muscles and prevent catabolizing from intense training. My pre contest has a emphasis on carb cycling, which worked wonders for dropping weight in a steady and sustained way, every week. I average about 1650 calories, 150grams carbs, 50fats, up to 3 weeks out when I cut these down significantly.

I would say consistent, dedication to staying within macros, allows lots of room for flexibility. I eat 6 smaller meals a day with a carb load in the morning and pre/post workout. Fats and protein at night. There are so many ways to be creative with the no sugar, no calorie options the supplement stores offer. I get everything from Popeyes’ Supplements, I have been loyal there for 13 years now. I have learned to make foods that I am excited to eat, and don’t get tired of so it keeps my drive going and spirits high.

A photo posted by ruth saunders (@ruthsaunders1981) on

I have to say that I have been very fortunate with my coaches that we have been successful with my diet plans. My first show was a challenge since we did not incorporate carb cycling to shock the body, and had to rely on diminishing calories and fats to a point that I was barely able to function. It was very tough….and this prep was night and day different. I have learned the value in carb cycling and experimenting with how my body responds to different cycles, and cheat days.

I work on a rotation for lifting so that I always keeping my body guessing on what is next. I will do one week of heavy lifting, one with higher reps, and a week 3 or crazy drops/rest pause/supersets etc. to really shock my body! I do no cardio until 15weeks out. This way my body is not used to cardio and will respond better. I do stair sprints, and steady state on the treadmill at a 15incline and 4speed. It is a killer.

I always ensure I have carbs within 30mins of a workout so that I have fuel to push me through. Post workout, I ensure I have a protein shake with glutamine and dextrose immediately after, to hit the glycogen stores. I am firm believer of fasted cardio in the morning…I always hit the cardio on an empty stomach.

I have a background in modeling and competing so the nerves I have had experience with in calming but they are definitely always there. My nerves mainly come from the high expectation I have for myself to do my best and win. I am very hard on myself and expect a lot. I find having a quiet space preshow to focus, zen, and consistently run through what I need to do. I find it really helps get me mentally where I need to be. I bring headphones and focus on getting myself in the zone. I don’t want to get distracted by the other athletes or feed into the stress and anxiety….rather focus on calming and quieting my mind.

Recent show: Athlete check in went well although I had to switch to my backup suit since my contest suit did not end up covering enough of my backside. This turned out to be a blessing since my backup was stunning on, but off, did not look like it would be a good fit. Prejudging was nerve wracking but I focused on every turn and transition and just treated it as though I was doing just another regular practice with my coach one on one at the gym. Finals were surreal, I accomplished my goals and then some of winning every category, winning the overall title and best poser. I am still floating from that high, as it was only 2weeks ago. I could not be more happy with my success. I went out, I had fun, and I just brought the best package and smile I could bring. I went in knowing that regardless of the outcome, I will be proud of the fact I could not have possibly trained any harder for this.

I am currently prepping for the BC Provincials with the goal of qualifying for Nationals three weeks later. I am also training for some submission fights. I would love to do some fitness modelling or even stunt doubling.

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