Thursday, March 10, 2011

You Asked It with Beth Polisson

As you know by now, You Asked It is a chance to change things up. Instead of me asking the questions, it allows you to ask them to a competitor. This one is with figure competitor Beth Polisson. As expected Beth gave great answers to your questions.

Q: What made you want to compete?
A: I have been an athlete all my life - soccer, basketball, softball - I played all 3 all the way through college, and I had absolutely 0 outlet for my competitive energy once I graduated. Competing provided me with an outlet for both training AND for my competitive nature.

Q: Are there are competitors you look up to?
A: Erin Stern, for sure, both in terms of her physique and her disposition and her view on the sport. I always hear/see people's Facebook pages that say, "Hungry, tired, 3 weeks out - miserable." Why?? No one is holding a gun to our heads. We do this because we want to, and as soon as you don't want to - STOP! Once the fun comes out of it you have to stop. I recently decided to take a bit of time off before my next show because of this. I was getting stressed about food, and didn't feel like myself, so I decided to pull back. I will compete again, but when I'm good and ready. I have a full-time job, a dog, great friends, an amazing boyfriend, and I want to take some time to reconnect with all of that, as well as with myself. It's so important to not let this stuff define you. Erin seems to have found that perfect balance between competition life and real life.

Kayde Puckett is another one up to whom I look. She lives about 15 minutes away from me, and I've gotten to know her quite well within the last year. She is incredibly grounded, absolutely hysterical, and very genuine. She's become a great friend, and she's been able to offer me some great advice within the last year or so that has really helped me. I admire her for her dedication to her fitness routines and her training, and also for being a woman of very strong morals and standards.

Q: Is the physique division something that interests you?
A: I am not sure that I'd be able to gain the mass in my upper body that would be necessary to compete in physique - at least not in a drug-free way, haha! I have been, and always will be a drug-free competitor. My legs have a mind of their own, and would definitely support it, but upper body-wise - no way.

Q: What is your usual training split and why do you do it that way?
A: I have 4 days on, 3 days off right now, with 2 days of interval sprints to help with a little fat loss. I have a heavy back/shoulders day twice a week, and 2 leg days/wk, one with a quad focus, one with a ham/glute focus. I am trying to add as much mass to my shoulders and back as possible right now, so we've really been focusing on my upper body.

Q: With all the protein shakes and powders, are there any you find to work best for you?
A: I use Optimum Nutrition 100% gold standard whey, because I like the flavors the best. Coffee is by far my favorite flavor to drink alone, and I bake with the cake batter flavor. My pancakes wouldn't be the same without it! Other than protein powder, the only other supps I take are fish oil (I buy whatever's on sale at the grocery store), a multi-vitamin (women's 1-a-day), and calcium. I'm not a supplement girl - never have been, never will be. I simply don't believe in them. I know tons of people will probably disagree with that, but I'm a science gal, and there's simply not enough science to support the claims, nor are they regulated by the FDA. Since I work on drug trials, I know what is involved in studying and approving a drug for use, and supplements are not held to the same standard. There isn't enough evidence, in my opinion, to show significant, measurable advantages of taking supplements. May there be minor changes? Sure. But that's not enough hard "proof" for me to want to put 30 pills a day into my body. I have to live my life after I compete - I'd rather not pollute it at such a young age. The body is a magnificent machine - it makes what it needs naturally. Creatine is a great example of this. You get enough creatine in meat that you really don't need to supplement with it. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Again, just my opinion.

Q: Whats the best way to decide what show to do? I want to compete soon, and don't know which show I should look to do?
A: I think it all depends on where your physique is. Would you have to resort to drastic measures (ie tons of cardio and calorie restriction) to get you there? If so, it's NOT WORTH IT to destroy your body for 1 show. Shows will always be there - don't rush it, don't force it. The body should be coaxed, not forced. For my very 1st show, I gave myself about 8 months of heavy, heavy lifting before I started my 8 week taper. So almost 10 months after I started lifting heavy did I compete. Muscle maturity is something that's gained over YEARS - not months. At least naturally, it is. Take your time - slow and steady wins the race.

We need to always focus on our health first. I think that's the first thing competitors lose sight of. They have a show set in their minds, they do whatever it takes to get there (steroids/supplements, 2-3hrs of cardio/day, 800 cals/day), and then they are shocked and horrified when they gain 20lbs post show. Take a step back, take a deep breath, and be realistic with which shows you choose. Take your time, do it right, stay healthy.

Q: Shoulders seem extra important for a Figure competitor. Whats a typical shoulder workout for you?
A: I am obsessed with working shoulders. My current shoulder routine is mixed in with back, and a smidge of chest, so here's what 1 of my 2 days looks like:
Flat DB chest press / rack pulls (I love rack pulls - phenomenal for back thickness)
Seated 1-arm DB press / standing 1-arm DB rows
1-arm leaning laterals / seated cable pullovers

The basics are key for shoulders - overhead/military press, lateral raises, front raises, upright rows. And throw in some bentover laterals for rear delts, just for good measure.

Q: How many days a week do you train abs?
A: 0. Abs are made in the kitchen. I don't ever train abs.

Q: On a tight budget I cant afford all the different supplements. Which ones do you think are crucial or most important?
A: None, really - I take fish oil just because I'm on a low fat diet. For women, I think calcium is VERY important, especially if you're under 30. Think about your long-term health here, ladies. You're going to stop competing at some point, so...........then what? You need to make sure you keep your bones strong, especially if your diet lacks dairy, which most of ours does because it's considered a carb.

Q: Cables or free weights? Which do you find to work better?
A: Free weights. I get better range of motion when using free weights, and I can make ANYTHING more metabolic when using free weights. That's not to say that you can't with cables, but I find it's easier since you can move them with greater ROM than you can with cables.

Q: I see photos of you and it appears you don't bulk up like a lot of people. Is that fair to say? And if so, why do you choose not not bulk up so much?
A: Personally, I feel very fluffy in this off-season! I've gained about 15lbs in a year! But, I also think a lot of people don't prep right. They use the off season as an excuse to eat their faces off - I don't. I stay disciplined. I also think there's a way to "bulk up" that enables you to gain lean mass instead of ass mass. I don't think it's necessary to be 20-30lbs above contest weight in the off season in order to put on muscle. That's bogus.

Q: Does judging in the sport ever frustrate you?
A: Yes. It's inconsistent, at best. But all you can do is bring your best physique to the stage every time. That is the ONLY thing that you control.

Q: On another site I saw the owner of this blog say something like "I always love to have you on the blog"..... that's not an exact quote. Do you find being on something read by people like that to be of any major benefit?
A: I think exposure has its benefits - name recognition can be pretty big in this industry. But, personally, I like the connections I've made through things like this. It's great to be surrounded by like-minded people, and I've made some awesome friends this year. Friends that I'll have forever.

Q: I am told drink a gallon of water a day. Why is that important?
A: I drink about the same - 4L a day. Muscles need water, especially when we're working out like we do. Personally? I think I look better, and I FEEL better when I've had a gallon or more a day. My clothes fit better, my skin looks better, etc. Water also helps to regulate weight fluctuations. The more you drink, the less you'll find the scale fluctuating.

Q: Pro card or top fitness model, which would you prefer?
A: Top fitness model, for me. I really have enjoyed the shoots I've done and would love to pursue that outlet as opposed to a pro card. I think it's important to show other women that muscles CAN be beautiful, feminine, and sexy. There are so many misconceptions about women with muscle, and beautiful photographs, I think, can help to change those misconceptions.

Q: On days you don't feel like training, what motivates you to do it anyway?
A: Some other girl out there is not taking a day off. And I'll be damned if I let her look better than I do on stage.

Q: What are some of your favorite cardio sources?
A: I love intervals - short, sweet, to the point. I have a fantastic hybrid interval that I do on the stepmill, and I also do 60/60 sprints on the treadmill with the pace set to 10.0 or higher. DEATH! But done in 20 minutes. That's what I'm talking about. Steady state is for the birds.

Q: What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?
A: Placing top 5 at my first national show. That prep was especially hard on me, so that was a nice reward. The year-round accomplishments, however, I think can mean a little more. I don't think people understand how hard we work when we're NOT competing. Every day in the gym, every set, every rep - THAT'S what it's all about for me. I've put on 10-15lbs in 2 years, and that has been hard-earned. I haven't cheated on my diet, I haven't missed a workout, and I've given up several aspects of my social life. Those sacrifices and that dedication are the biggest accomplishment. I don't do this for the $40 trophy or the "fame." I do this for ME and for those who follow along with my progress.

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