Savanna Kemper - Bikini Competitor

Savanna: My sophomore year of high school was when I first began lifting weights and becoming interested in the fitness world. I have always been athletic, participating in many different sports such as horseback riding, basketball, and cross country; however, I never found true passion in a sport until I began weightlifting. My senior year of high school is when the first interest in competing arose. I was a personal trainer at Anytime Fitness and approached my boss about it, who was a prep coach at the time, and expressed my interest. I started prepping for an SNBF Figure Show (keep in mind I had no idea what I was doing when it came to prep and had never been to a show). I underestimated how much knowledge and work it required to successfully prep for a show, and quickly decided to put prep on the backburner and instead further my knowledge about fitness in general.

It wasn't until I moved to Athens that the want to compete came back into fruition. At this point I had gained a strong knowledge base and was in the best shape I had ever been in. I had two trainers approach me about training with them and potentially competing. It took me a few months to finally decide that this is what wanted to do. I immediately approached a trainer at my gym, Trey Johnson, and explained my interest in competing in an NPC Bikini Show. We decided on a show and my prep began. Unfortunately, I got very sick 5 weeks before my set show date and had to postpone it. Over the course of my break, I had a realization that I needed a change of pace and found a new coach at a new gym I had visited frequently called Iron Beast.

From there I worked with Justin Smith who was a competitor himself. Unfortunately, as my luck would have it, things did not work out with him and I completed this prep on my own with the help of another competitor and friend, Zach Hudson. We decided on a new show date that we would both compete in, and began official prep 10 weeks out. Come 4 weeks out, I once more became sick, but this time I was too determined to miss my set show date and pushed through.

One thing I stress to people is that everyone's body is different. What works for one person does not work for the other. Our bodies react differently to a variety of diets. I would be lying if I said I had an easy journey when it came to determining what worked best for my diet. I told myself from day one that my first show was one big experiment. It's not easy nor quick to figure out what your body likes and reacts to the best. After trying different carb amounts, fat amounts, etc.. I came to the conclusion that my body does the best on Ketosis when cutting. My stomach is VERY sensitive to really anything but proteins and veggies (sigh), so I unfortunately had to part ways with carbs.

I had learned about Ketosis in my nutrition class at UGA and immediately decided to give it a try and experiment with the higher fat, no carb diet. To make a long story short, I discovered that, when cutting, Ketosis is my go to. Now that my first show is behind me, I am slowly reintroducing carbs back, bulking up a tiny bit in order to gain some more mass in my glutes and hamstrings, and will return to Ketosis approximately 12 weeks out from my next determined show mid fall. My meal plans are very structured. With the sweet tooth I was blessed with, cheat meals are scarce and flexible dieting is not an option. I prefer to eat the same thing every day with variations in protein in order for me to be able to steer away from the possibility of cheating and staying on track. The more laid out it is for me, the more likely I am to follow it.

As far as failing diet plans, it is hard for me to say which have failed me and which work the best. Again, my first show was strictly an experiment. Figuring out what works best with your body is a long process. I plan on trying a different approach for this off season (higher carb) and will base my 12 week cut off of how my body reacts to the carbs I am reintroducing. There is always something new to learn about nutrition, dieting, and the way your body works with foods.

A video posted by Savanna Kemper (@savannakemper) on

I've got to say, showing my bare ass to a massive room full of strangers was not something I felt I would never be capable of doing. I would consider myself decently modest, so the thought of strutting my booty across a stage in an itty bitty bikini was absolutely frightening. I've always followed many "fitspo" instagram pages and have always questioned how all of these girls gained so much confidence and were able to share their artsy bodies with the world. I'll tell you exactly how now that I know. As bodybuilders, we work our asses off, literally and figuratively. The behind the scenes work is not pretty. Prepping for a competition is essentially a second job and requires all of your time. After putting in all of this hard work and realizing what it takes, you're damn right I want to show off my body, even if it is to some random stranger.

We work hard as hell for our physiques and our bodies are what we have to show for it. That being said, after it was all said and done and my body was transformed, I believe the confidence just appears. All my modest-self wanted to do was walk on that stage and show everyone how proud I am of myself as well as the other girls competing with me. Though this sport is very vein, it is also very self-aware. I believe we gain the right to want to flaunt off ourselves. SO yes, once I transformed my body, my own personal canvas, into what I had worked so hard to get, the confidence just appeared. I want everyone to experience the amount of confidence, joy, and self awareness that I experienced on show day. Once you gain it, it's hard to lose and from there on your self esteem just elevates more and more.

As far as my training regimen goes. I train 5-6 days a week depending on my work load that week. I gain muscle on my upper body VERY easily so I only hit arms and shoulders once a week. Off season I will lift heavier but when I am in prep, I make sure to keep my rep range anywhere from 15 to failure and my rest times minimal. I typically superset agonist muscles with antagonist muscles (a bicep with a tricep) which wears you out!! As far as legs go, I train them 3 times a week. Mondays and Fridays are my heavy days, one day focusing on quads and the other on hamstrings and glutes. Wednesdays I make sure to incorporate HIIT and plyometrics.
On my remaining days, I hit chest and back separately. I do cardio 6x a week, the majority of which is fasted. I typically wake up around 6 and somehow drag my butt to the gym to do 30 minutes of fasted cardio on the stairmaster. When I have carbs in my diet I typically eat them pre and post workout in order to obtain maximal energy for my workout and maximal recovery. I always try new things in order to avoid burnout at all costs. I incorporate anything from boxing and mitt work to powerlifting and calisthenics. I'm hungry for new knowledge daily and am constantly researching new workouts/stretches to incorporate in my daily regimens.

My first competition was June 25th in New Orleans, Louisiana. I had been to shows before but had no idea what to expect once I was behind stage about to strut my stuff. I can honestly say walking on stage was one of the best feelings I have ever experienced. I had heard that people either love or hate the stage and I LOVED IT! The fact that I got on stage in the first place is a huge accomplishment in my eyes. I had a massive support system there with me which made the whole experience that much better. I was so eager and excited the entire trip! Friday night, we got our first coat of spray tan and that was when everything hit me; everything became so real. When I went to shows to watch, I was always admirable of the athletes and wanted to be in their shoes. Needless to say, it was a dream to be on the other side of the curtain and was everything I could have ever imagined. So Saturday rolled around and Zach and I were up at 4 AM to carb up and prepare ourselves mentally. Prejudging started at 9 and I was scared shitless. I remember being backstage about to walk and wanting to throw up.

My first time on stage wasn’t pretty, but I definitely made up for it in the night show where I took second in Novice. The competition was stiff and everyone looked jaw-droppingly gorgeous. I placed 6th in overall and top 5 got metals… close but no cigar! Although I wanted to place in the overall, I knew going into this that I could not get upset with the outcome. After all, it was my first show. I did my best and had SO much fun with it. I spoke with the judges and got feedback to improve myself for my next show in October. Until then, I will be focusing on growing and dicing up my glutes and hamstrings; the judge said my upper body conditioning was flawless. I am so excited and eager to see my next package I bring come October!

This is only the beginning of my fitness career. I know that the future holds great plans for me and I cannot wait to see where I end up. Fitness and competing is not just a fad for me, it’s a lifestyle. I plan on getting that national qualification by the end of this year and competing in nationals come 2017. That pro card is the ultimate goal! I hope to influence and motivate other people that stand in the shoes I was once in, as well. This industry is growing and growing, so I am just going to bust my butt on a daily basis and sit back to see what comes my way!

I never ever thought I would be the person to have a transformation picture. But looking through old pictures and comparing them to now, I can finally see my own progress and it feels amazing!!! I don't even remember that version of me on the left ?? the left was a summer full of drinking and lord knows what munchies came along with it. Now I'm a week out from my first bodybuilding competition with many more to come! Happy to say I've finally found something I'm good at; I've found my niche! Happy Sunday ?? #6daysout #npcbikini #bodybuilder #girlsthatlift #progress #fit #fitnessjourney

A photo posted by Savanna Kemper (@savannakemper) on


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