Susan Rebello - Physique Competitor

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Susan: I have always been fascinated by bodybuilding. As a child I ate spinach only because I thought Iíd grow muscles like Popeye. And as a teen Iíd watch Cory Eversonís show on ESPN called BodyShaping. I had no idea who she was. No clue that she was Ms. Olympia many times over. I just knew that I wanted muscles like her! In August 2007, I was backstage at our local bodybuilding show, warming up for a martial arts demonstration that our dojo was going to do at intermission. One of my friends said to me ďThat could be you next year.Ē And it was. August 2008 I stepped on stage for the first time competing as a lightweight bodybuilder representing Seaview Gym (Bermuda). I was only supposed to do it the one time. But eight years later I now have sixteen local and overseas competitions under my belt, including five Bermuda National titles and one gold medal, one silver, and two bronzes at the Central American and Caribbean Championships.

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My off season/muscle building diet is pretty much whole foods, lean protein, veggies, complex carbs, supplemented with whey protein powder. And occasionally Iíll have some ďjunk food.Ē At about 20 weeks out from a competition Iíll start cutting out the junk and ease myself mentally into contest prep nutrition. So that by 12 weeks out Iím pretty much in full on contest diet mode. Interspersed in those 12 weeks are cheat meals, depending on how my body is changing in terms of dropping body fat.

Because I am petite, at 5í-1Ē I have to be on point with my diet. I have no wiggle room to go over my calorie intake when I am cutting for a contest. And I have to do cardio. Some people by virtue of their amount of lean muscle mass and their daily activity level can get away with much less cardio, but I am not one of those people. And since I compete in physique, I have to be leaner than other categories.

I have always tried to keep my nutrition simple. Whole foods, lean protein, complex carbs. The occasions when I was not in my absolute best shape happened simply because I was either overeating or not doing enough cardio or both. One of the things that people need to keep in the forefront of their minds when and if they are getting into bodybuilding and especially, competing, is that this is an athletic pursuit. We are athletes. Athletes have to train AND eat a certain way to achieve their goals. But each person is different and should have a nutrition plan tailored to them specifically. Just recently, one of the guys at our gym, was told by his trainer to eat a pizza after prejudging because he needed to fill out some more for the finals that night. That would never be me.

Because of an injury I am a bit limited in the kind of HIIT I can do. So no more sprinting for me, which is a major drag because it helped to get me really lean and took up less time than doing steady state cardio. Basically, I lift four times a week doing a body part split. But each week is slightly different as my trainer, Ross Caesar, likes to change it up a little bit each week. Then after lifting I do some LISS for about 30 minutes. I try to always have food prepped and with me every day, especially during a contest prep. Because when youíre hungry and donít have food ready, you will likely eat something off plan. My pre and post workout meals have carbs for fueling and recovery. I also tend to eat more on leg days and back days.

A photo posted by Susan Rebello (@susan_rebello) on

In order to feel confident on stage you have to believe that you look your best and you must be well prepared in your posing. You have to be lean enough and do lots and lots of posing practice. I can be seen posing in the gym to any kind of music thatís playing. You have to be comfortable on stage and practicing in front of everyone in the gym is one way to work on your confidence. After a while you donít even notice if people are watching you.

One of my favourite competitions is the Central American and Caribbean Championships. Over the years I have met and befriended a few competitors and it is always nice to see them again when the Championships roll around. Seeing their progress is exciting for me and renewing our friendly rivalries is quite entertaining.

As far as long term plans, I would like to compete at another Arnold Amateur in Columbus, Ohio. Or possibly an Olympia Amateur.


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