Wendy Concannon - Bikini Competitor

I have always been into fitness and enjoyed being active. Back in 2014 I joined Lifestyle Fitness Hartlepool. I joined with the intention of making myself stronger, gaining muscle and losing body fat. At 5ft 7 and 9.5 stone, size 12 clothes I never considered myself overweight but I knew I could be leaner, stronger and healthier, so I knew that lifting weights was way to do this.

I had been lifting for just over a year when I started training under the guidance of one of the PTs there. After a couple of months we were talking about how he had another client who was about to embark on comp prep for Pure Elite and I was very interested. He suggested that I should compete, that I've got the shape for bikini, that I display the commitment and work ethic to do well. I gave it some thought, I did love lifting and I would love to achieve that ‘stage ready’ look. But could I get on stage and pose? I wasn’t sure. So initially I thought about doing a mock prep but not competing. Then after talks with my family, I decided why do all that work and not get up on stage? It just didn’t make sense. So in April of 2016 I decided to register with UKUP to compete in the York Qualifiers in the Ultimate Physiques Ultimate Master Bikini (for the over 35s).

First place!!!!!!!!

A photo posted by Wendy (@wendybikiniathlete) on

So that was it, there was no going back, at 43 I would be ticking an item off by ‘bucket list’ (being on stage), but I was to be doing it in a bikini!

My prep with my coach began in June 6th in readiness for competing on 24th September. 16 weeks of prep, training hard and clean eating – no cheat meals, no nights out... even with my summer holidays coming up.

My first four weeks of prep were tough. Mainly due to diet. I was lifting weights five days a week for an hour a day with my coach, then I would train a sixth day by myself. But I was struggling through every session due to my diet being Ketogenic. I was struggling to increase the weights I was lifting and during this time I lost just 4lbs of weight but my coach was expecting me to have lost more, therefore I couldn’t add in any carbs.

It was at this point I decided to quit training with my coach but not for this reason. ….training everyday with him in the gym was just too expensive. Luckily for me my nephew who has been lifting weights and competing in strong man competitions for many years had qualified as a coach and took me on as a client. There was no charge for him coaching me and because I am self-motivated, committed and experienced in lifting weights, he coached me online.

He reviewed my diet and quickly got me back onto eating carbs. He produced a carb cycling diet for me, consisting of high, medium and low carbs days. I could even eat out for special occasions such as my friends 40th Birthday – I just planned to have Salmon and Salad at the restaurant, ensuring I had consumed my carbs earlier in the day. This was incredible, my strength and energy returned and my body fat started to drop and my weight was decreasing. I followed carb cycling throughout prep, then when my weight loss started to slow as I edged closer to competition day, we flexed it to High, low for a couple of weeks then High, low, low. I really enjoyed carb cycling it stopped me from craving, it powered my workouts that were getting heavier, tougher and longer. I hit my stage weight in peak week and was really pleased with the package I brought to the stage in my first comp. Now I'm in my first ‘off-season’ I am currently not carb cycling but eating high carbs daily in order to grow and improve my package for next season. As this was my first competing season, I haven’t tried any other diet plans. However I can safely say that Keto didn’t work for me.

A photo posted by Wendy (@wendybikiniathlete) on

From week six into my 12 week prep, I started practicing my T-walks and mandatory poses. At first I practiced in the ‘ladies only’ room at the gym so I could see in the mirrors how I looked, whether I was getting the poses right. I had spent time watching posing videos and tutorials on YouTube to get an idea of what was expected. From there I progressed into practicing in the studio with my one of my daughters recording it on my phone. This allowed me to focus on how the pose felt and it meant I wasn’t looking at my image in the mirror but instead I was visualising looking out into an audience. At this point I had also transitioned from practicing in trainers to my stage heels. I used the sassiest Diva music to help me strut my stuff which boosted my confidence. As a qualified fitness instructor I am not shy in being in front of a crowd and performing but I knew I had to be ultra-confident in completing my T-walk and poses and make it look as natural and flowing as possible.

Beyond this I began just practicing my walk and poses in between my sets when working out. I had to get used to just doing it in front of strangers and not care what the other gym users thought. This really helps loads and stops you from feeling self-conscious, plus it makes good use of your rest time inbetween sets. I was lucky in that UKUP also provided a posing bootcamp which I attended and of course I got the opportunity to meet other competitors and the judges. I really recommend going to boot camp to practice, meeting other competitors really helps you feel part of the team and you then have people to catch up with on comp day. If they have competed before, they kindly take you under their wing and guide you through what to expect on comp day. Ultimately your confidence comes from knowing you’ve worked hard on your package, you’ve trained hard, eaten clean, made loads of sacrifices and so you think hell why not? I’m proud of what I’ve achieved – let's do this!

Comp prep is hard. The training is intense. My plan involved lifting weights for at least an hour a day for 6 days a week during weeks 1-6. From week 6 onwards I my coach added in daily cardio of 30 mins on the stairmaster plus an abs workout, plus posing practice. I would find myself in the gym for about two hours + a day. I would sometimes train for 10 days in a row before taking a rest day. I didn’t want to rest every 7 days, I wanted to take the rest when I felt I needed it. Training and diet go hand in hand. Training hard and not following your nutrition plan won't give you the results you want. Equally eating clean but not pushing yourself during every workout won't give you a stage ready physique. Training and diet for comp prep come as a pair and they are equally important. I did supplement my diet with high quality Protein shakes, BCAA’s Omega 369, Vit C and ZMA’s. But that is it - they are supplements – they are not the pure focus of your diet plan – they enhance it.

I don't play by the rules! I'm not waiting for flashback Friday or transformation Tuesday ?? this is simply my progress pic! Top image is April this year and the bottom pic is this week. 7 months to grow me some #girlguns #gunshow #biceps #womenwholift #musclegirl ???????? rather proud of my progress! Let there be so much more! #progress #grow #strong #gains #muscle #girlgains

A photo posted by Wendy (@wendybikiniathlete) on

Since my first comp with UKUP in September, where I qualified (by placing 5th) for the Finals where I placed 4th, I’ve also competed with IBFA York where I placed third and then I competed in my home town In Mr and Miss British Isles bikini open where I placed 1st!

Back in September 24th I arrived at York University Central hall for my first comp at aprox 10am. I had my hair and make up done before leaving home and so I quickly and easily checked in, collected my contestant number (140) and made my way into the theatre where the athletes meeting was to take place. Here the judges explain the run through, tell you were changing rooms are, give you the opportunity to ask questions etc. This was fab because it allowed me to meet up with the athletes I had met at Bootcamp and made me feel at ease. The meeting lasted about twenty minutes then we headed off to the changing rooms. There is not an awful lot of space in the venues but all the other athletes are super friendly and supportive towards one another, helping out others with whatever is needed, sewing up a snapped bikini strap, sharing snacks, loaning out bikini bite, helping with hair, make-up and eye lash application and sharing mirror space. The tanning company is onsite to top up your tan and add that all important glaze before you hit the stage. The time goes by quite quickly. My category was not scheduled to be on stage until about 3pm but between tan touch ups, make up touch ups, last minute posing practice, pumping up and eating and drinking at scheduled times, the hours just fly by and before I knew it I was back stage super excited to strut my stuff!

All of the athletes I met at UKUP that day were incredible. Amazing physiques and just so friendly. As we lined up backstage, I wished all my other category athletes good luck. I really thought I'd be super nervous, but I was just too excited, I couldn’t wait to show the audience and my family who had come to watch what I had been working on the past 16 weeks. I felt amazing walking out there under the heat of the stage lights, my family shouting and cheering me on, the music pumping...it was incredible. Once my T walk was complete I waited at the back of the stage with the other girls before we were called forward for a pose down. It was time then to leave the stage. That was it! 16 weeks of prep for less than 10 minutes on stage, all I could do now was wait.

Back stage now I could relax and go out and watch the rest of the show until it was time to head back out for placing. Of course I really wanted to place . . . I really wanted to go to finals but at this point I was just so proud of achieving the physique I had and walking out there in a bikini in front of a large audience. There were 6 girls in my category. The top five get placed. Back out on stage we lined up and each received a competitor medal. The judges then read out my name placing me 5th and presenting me with another medal and an invite to finals 7 weeks later. I was overwhelmed to have placed in my first competition and it was at that very point I decided to compete again before the finals.

Two weeks #postcomp a little softer but I'm still happy with what I see. Haven't weighed myself since comp day... not concerned about my weight. Diet is 85% bang on! Occasional treats but working hard n lifting heavy! I'm proud of what I've achieved in my first season of competing! At 43 I'm pleased with how my body has responded to the work I've put in! Being trained, coached and guided by my coach @andysmilescoaching ???? to always bring my best package to the stage! We are a great team! He knows his stuff! Im proud to call him my coach and nephew! #bikiniathlete #bikinimasters #thisis43 #postcomp #ukup #ibfa #nabba #pca #pureelite I'm really enjoying my #improvementseason and can't wait to rock the stage next year! 2017....., you are mine! ????????

A photo posted by Wendy (@wendybikiniathlete) on

After stepping off stage and eating pizza and cake provided by the federation, I put in place my plans for my competitions I wanted to do before the UKUP finals. I received my feedback from the judges, worked hard to improve and then in the finals I placed fourth. The judges could see I had improved my package based on my previous feedback which was good to know. I've now received my finals feedback and am in the process of building an even better package for my next season which kicks off with Pure Elite on April 1st 2017. I have my season 2 fully planned out. It will be a tough year but I want to experience competing in other federations as well as UKUP. So next year starts with Pure Elite, then NABBA on April 29th, PCA finals (which I qualified for during IBFA York), BodyPower Model Search Finals, UKUP at BodyPower, IBFA in September then UKUP Northern qualifiers. Whilst competing I will be training as a PT, training as a nutritionist, complete my ACA course with Phil Learney and hopefully train two clients for bikini competitions, all whilst working full time. 2017 is going to be a wild and busy, because I am doing what I love. Bring on 2017 – I can't wait.

Follow Wendy:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wendybikiniathlete
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wendy.concannon.5

Competition Prep e-Books