Samantha Herda - Physique Competitor

Hi everyone! My nameís Samantha Herda. My entire journey began when I was 18. At the time I was solely focused on losing weight. I was getting ready for boot camp for the United States Marine Corp & had a set weight number I needed to reach before shipping out. Like most beginners, I didnít do much with weights. Iíd do basic things like crunches, pull ups, & ran my butt off (like literally lol). After about 3 months of that, Iíd gotten to said weight loss goal. Iíd lost about 25 lbs. & I felt good! Long story short, I was having liver issues about half way through basic training & was sent home. After returning home, I guess you could say Iíd become depressed. I was disappointed in myself for not completing the task I had set out to complete. About a week after coming home was the Olympia expo & competition in Vegas which is a little over an hour away from where I live. My at the time boyfriend was going to go with his brother & some friends & decided to take me along just to get me out of the house.

#Tbt to the good ol' prep days. There's something about digging deep & discovering that you can work harder, push harder, & be better! Not just in fitness, but in all aspects of life. Set a goal, make a plan, throw out excuses, & get to work. #completenutritionutah #teamheugly #cnathlete #throwbackthursday

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I gave in & ended up going. The first person I came upon was Erin Stern. I remember seeing her & just being amazed at not only the muscle, but how freaking gorgeous she was. Then we got further into the expo & I came upon DLB. I remember seeing her & again just being dumb struck by how much muscle she had & how stunning she was at the exact same time. Olympia was a blast & I returned home with a new interest. My boyfriend let me start weight training alongside him & it was a blast. I loved it! Donít get me wrong, it was hard & a lot of the times Iíd get so pissed off at him for correcting me or telling me what to do, but looking forward it did pay off. I continued lifting for a couple years & my body responded very well. I avidly followed Dana & a few other WPD competitors but I always viewed it as something that I really liked, but I could personally never do. There was just no way.

So 2 years later, I am now 20 & married to my boyfriend. My coach (Shane Heugly) happened to be in town visiting some family. Iíd been following him through social media & was always astounded by the caliber of his athletes. I had a handful of friends who worked with him & were always pushing for me to compete, but again, in my head it was something that I could never do. My husband ended up chatting with Shane & basically signed me up behind my back. After heíd told me what he did, I ripped him a new one. What was he thinking?! Did he want me to make a fool out of myself?! I was pissed. But at that point heíd already signed me up so I figured Iíd do a show, shut everyone up, & check it off my bucket list.

My plan was not to compete for 6 months; however, Shane was thinking otherwise. He said there was a show in 8 weeks. If I was ready to buckle down, Iíd be ready. I remember taking it as if he were challenging me & I am someone who does not back down from a challenge. I told him I was ready. We got to work & 8 grueling weeks later, I stepped on stage & brought home a first place & an overall title. That entire prep, I never knew what to expect. Hell, I didnít know what I was doing. I just did as I was told. What I did know when I stepped off that stage, was that this was not going to be a one-time thing. I was hooked. The following year I competed at Junior Nationals where I placed 7th. This year I competed in June in order to requalify & brought home another first place & another overall title.

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Off season to pre-contest now isnít too different. I like the structure so I stick to the same foods, same frequencies, just portions differ. Obviously off season calls for more food where in prep, food is adjusted. Also, in the off season I like to give my family more time since they sacrifice a lot for me when I am in prep. So if there is a family get together or a birthday or something, Iíll allow myself to eat, in moderation of course. For myself specifically, simplicity works best. High protein moderate carb works for muscle building & then carbs are adjusted based on where I may be or need to be in my prep. I think now a days there are so many diets & everyone feels like their way is the only way & I donít seem to agree. You need to find what works for you, your body, & just stick to it. Simple as that.

For the most part, all my preps have been fairly similar. My coach has found what works for me & my body & I believe it has worked for us every time. So luckily, I donít feel like Iíve had a diet plan that has failed me or my expectations. & at the end of the day I feel like essentially you get what you put into it.

Self-confidence. Oh self-confidence. When youíre in prep, there are a lot of mind games that we create for ourselves. I think self-confidence comes with growth. My first prep, I had no idea what I was getting into but I did love what I had created. Through all the ups & downs, I feel like Iíve now gotten to a point where I love myself whether I am off season, in season, or anywhere in between. I know my value, my potential, & I have such a high respect for myself that I think the love I have for myself radiates out. This last competition I participated in I felt like I brought hands down my best presentation. I was so happy with myself that I believed that I was going to go out there & make it where the judges could not take their eyes off of me. & thatís how I approach things in everyday life as well.

My training style does not differ much off season or in season. I lift one body part a day. I push heavy weight, but still focus on the form. I tend to prefer HIIT cardio, but the deeper I get into prep, we will also have steady state sessions in there as well. I donít think itís a matter of balancing training & dieting. I think they both go hand in hand. I eat for function & performance, especially in season. Itís not about satisfaction or indulging. That is not what bodybuilding or competing is about. Itís hard, it sucks sometimes, & it definitely is not for everyone.

As I touched on a bit earlier, this last show I did was an eye-opener for me. We all train to win, but once you get to the stage, it is no longer in your control. The night before a show I always get emotional because I get overwhelmed that I was able to complete the task. Through every bump in the road, we made it & this is where it all comes together. Prejudging is always nerve wrecking, yet when Iím finally under the lights there is a sense of calm that comes over me & I know it is go time. This is what all those weeks have come down to. I cannot control if the judges are going to go for size, or conditioning, or maybe they hate my hair, but as soon as my foot hit the stage I set out to give them a presentation that they couldnít look away from. I like to look at life in the same lightóworst case scenario you fake it until you make it girl, but you do not ever stop, do not ever give up, do not ever quit.

Almost go time. ?? #goodvibesonly

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Being an athlete has had a very positive effect on my life. I feel like it has made me pursue growth in every single aspect of life. I feel like I am much more efficient with time, I know how to address high stress situations, & it's taught me how to balance & become a much more well rounded person. I also think it has made me more open minded to the differences in every single one of us. Some people may become uncomfortable with the amount of muscle I carry & they feel the need to voice their opinions in a malicious matter so that's definitely made me realize how to be more open minded, accepting, & just being a nice human being.

My current & future plans are to have an efficient & productive off season. Really focus on putting on quality size & allowing the muscle to mature. Then next year I plan on solely focusing on pro qualifier shows beginning with Junior Nationals in June & seeing where that takes me.

Thank you for listening to my story.
I can be contacted through email at or through my Instagram @Sammy_ghs.

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