About-Muscle talk with IDFA pro bodybuilder Carla Hampshire. In this interview she talks about her training plan, her approach to diet and how she stays motivated to achieve her goals.
Could You Tell Us A Bit About Yourself And How You Got Involved In Fitness?
I come from a dance background – classical ballet. This was my passion during my youth. I lived it, breathed it, and dreamed of it. There is something very graceful about ballet but at the same time, it requires great strength and an enormous amount of discipline. This appealed to me tremendously, even as a young child.
Bodybuilding wouldn’t come till many years later and it happened quite by chance. I had never been in a gym before, but here I was, just before Christmas of 1997, to purchase a gym membership as a gift for my husband. I had no idea that what I would experience there that day would have the power to change my life. As the trainer pushed open the double doors to take me for a tour of the facilities, an overwhelming feeling came over me. I knew I HAD to be part of this place. Everything about it appealed to me – from the sound of metal clanging in the free weights corner, to the whirring of the stationary bikes. I was mesmerized. Although unsure of what this would entail, I knew one thing for certain – BODYBUILDING HAD FOUND ME!
Right from day one I was assigned a trainer. He recognized that I was hungry for this sport and he fed me. He gave me the best advice – to read everything the library had to offer on bodybuilding and nutrition. Day and night I read. I needed to know all about this new-found passion. I still remember the first book I read – Pro-style Bodybuilding by Tom Platz. I was captivated by the bodybuilding lifestyle. The more I learned, the more my strength grew. I became extremely strong, not really being aware that I was. Scientists say that bumblebees should not be able to fly – that they are aerodynamically incompatible with flight. Unfortunately, no one seems to have told the bumblebees this as they still fly around unaware of that fact. Just like the bumblebees, no one had given me limitations, and I continued to soar. I lived, breathed and dreamed of bodybuilding.
Fast forward 9 years to the beginning of 2007. I was issued a challenge from a trainer at the gym to follow along with him as he prepared for a bodybuilding competition. I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to sample the whole competition preparation scenario without having to go on stage. I was far too shy for that. After all, I thought to myself, what would my husband think of his wife on stage wearing that tiny posing suit? What would my 6 children think of their Mom? After all, I was also a grandmother, how could I even entertain that thought! This is what was going through my mind. So I began my 12 week journey comfortable in the fact that at the end, I would have experienced all that a bodybuilder goes through minus the stage part. I was in!
I would never in a million years have thought that by June of that year, I would be standing on a bodybuilding stage for the very first time – and loving it! I was a bodybuilder. At 46 years of age, I WAS A COMPETITIVE BODYBUILDER!
Before I dove into this decision, though, I had to pray about it to make sure this was the right direction for me. I knew that my decision would ultimately have an impact on my family and I needed to know. The decision was made. Thirteen competitions later (3 of those professional ones) – 13 trophies on display – many new friends from around the world and countless memories, I feel assured, once again, that I have made the right decision. I feel very blessed to have accomplished a dream, a dream I thought would take me many more years of hard work and dedication. But it happened. The dream came true on October 27, 2012 at the NGA Pro World Championship in New Jersey. I placed first in the Pro Women’s Open Bodybuilding class. I am truly humbled and know that this would not have been possible without direction from above, the support of a caring husband, and the encouragement of great friends and awesome coaches.
What Helps You Stay Motivated?
I keep a training log. Every time I go to the gym, I attempt to better my lifts. This has a way of keeping me very motivated to improve. I also believe in surrounding myself with positive, like-minded individuals. It’s a privilege to support and motivate one another.
What Does Your Workout Look Like?
I work with a 2 week split.
Week 1 – intensity week – supersets with little rest
Tuesday: HIIT cardio, usually a spin class
Saturday: Abs and steady state cardio
Week 2 – Strength Week
power lifts (squats, presses, deadlifts) – straight sets –
longer rest periods The goal is to go as heavy as possible.
I love to see the progress this type of program brings to me.
What Sort Of Rep Range Do You Use?
I do a lot of warm up sets – 20/15/12/10/8 reps before I get to a couple sets of 5 reps then attempt 1 or 2 reps. I gradually increase the weights during the warm up sets to make sure that the muscles are ready for the heavier lifting.
Free Weights Vs Machines What Do You Feel Are The Pros & Cons and Which Do You Prefer?
I have always preferred free weights. They incorporate the stabilizing muscles and I find they help me with my overall muscular and strength gains. They allow me to do a wide variety of exercises that help me work my muscles in different ways.
What Mistakes Did You Make When You First Started As A Newbie?
Thanks to my nutrition coach Dr. Joe Klemczewski, I have learned so much about preparing for a competition. I now know that dehydrating and starving the body prior to competition is not a healthy practice.
It is dangerous and will only force the body to swing the other way after competition ensuring that you gain weight at an alarming rate.
The body likes balance. By keeping things steady as you enter competition week, your body will have the energy it needs to perform at its best on stage. I will typically drink over a gallon of water on competition day and consume six well-balanced meals.
How Often Do You Perform Cardio?
I generally perform cardio 3 times a week. Depending on how I look as I approach competition, I may do extra sessions. Cardio should not be viewed solely as a tool for losing body fat. Cardiovascular exercise also keeps your heart and lungs healthy and helps distribute nutrients to where they need to be. Proper circulation is a key factor for optimum health and muscle growth.
Which Do You Prefer and Why… Steady State Cardio Or HITT Cardio?
Both forms of cardio have their benefits. I really enjoy doing sprints in the park and attending a spin class (cycling class). I balance that out with steady state cardio on other days of the week. I far prefer high intensity interval training. It utilizes both the aerobic and anaerobic systems and helps me stay athletic year-round.
What Are Your Personal Thoughts On Fasted Cardio?
I know that it’s a popular practice. Since my goals are to retain muscle gains while leaning out, I shy away from fasted cardio as it can be quite catabolic.
What Does Your Diet Look Like?
Nutrition is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. It should never be tedious, or restrictive. There is so much variety in food. It is easy to still stick to your macronutrients for the day and make your food appealing.
I know it’s all too easy to eat the same thing day in and day out. But that leaves you craving things you shouldn’t have and then when your cheat meal day arrives you may tend to go overboard.
My protein and fat intake remains the same year-round. The only thing that changes is the carbs. I will begin carb cycling a few weeks prior to competition. This helps me get lean for the stage. I have been successful with this type of program and have never felt deprived.
Since I train after breakfast, this is a very important meal for me.
Breakfast: 4 egg whites, 1 egg, ½ cup oats, fruit
Post workout meal: 20 grams of protein and fruit (brown rice/hemp protein combination)
I choose from a wide variety of healthy foods for the next 4 meals of the day.
Protein: chicken, turkey, sole, salmon, eggs, bison, lean beef, brown rice protein, hemp seed protein, dairy-free yogourt and cheese, almond milk
Carbs: brown rice, quinoa, yams, squash, beans, legumes, sprouted grain bread, oats, and a wide array of fruits and vegetables (I love my veggies)
Fats: avocado, nut butters, flax seed oil, nuts, seeds, fish oil, coconut oil
Do You Bulk and Cut Or Do You Stay Lean For The Whole Year Round?
I prefer to stay on the lean side of things. I have bulked in the past and I’m not a big fan of it. I struggle so much to bring the weight back down that I feel it’s counter-productive to what I am trying to achieve – a lean yet muscular physique.
How Do You Deal With Cravings?
Sometimes cravings come because we are not feeding ourselves properly. To avoid cravings, I just eat more of the good food.
What Supplements Do You Use?
I keep it fairly simple:
5 grams of glutamine pre/post workout
3 grams of BCAA’s (6 capsules) pre/post workout
20 grams brown rice/hemp protein shake post workout
A whole-food vitamin and mineral supplement
What Activities and Hobbies Do You Enjoy When You Are Away From The Gym?
I love to run in the great outdoors. I have enjoyed participating in 10k runs over the summer. I am also very fond of writing. I write motivational quotes and poems as well as writing fitness articles for physique magazines.
What 3 Exercises Have Contributed The Most To Building Your Physique?
Squats, deadlifts and presses have to be the best muscle-building exercises you can do!
What Is The Most Common Training Question People Ask You The Gym?
It’s not so much a training question but they want to know how I do it all. As a wife, mother of six and grandmother of four I would have to say that my life is definitely a balancing act. There is always a lot to get done in one day.
This is why I choose to train first thing in the morning. It really sets the tone for the day and helps give me the energy I need to accomplish everything else – family life, work, my writing endeavours, my studies and so much more.
I have now been competing for six years. With the help of a very supportive husband, I am able to keep doing what I love.
What Is Your Greatest Achievement?
My greatest achievement? Raising our six children! Oh you mean in my fitness life! My most recent competition at the NGA Pro World Championship in New Jersey will always be remembered as a shining moment in my life. My whole experience that weekend made my long trip from Canada so worth it. To place first as a professional bodybuilder at a world competition left me very humbled and emotional. Bodybuilding is most certainly a team sport. No one flies solo.
What I achieved was a product of a supportive team effort; my family, my friends near and far, my coaches (Dr. Joe Klemczewski and Kori Propst from thedietdoc.com) my sponsors (the Willick family) who helped make this dream come true, are all part of what I accomplished. I’d also like to say a special thank you to the show promoter and NGA vice-chairman Anthony Boulware, for making me feel so welcome. I am truly grateful for a wonderful competitive season this past year.
What Is Your Favorite Quote?
I love writing my own quotes. I would like to share one with you.
“What you desire most in life does not happen by accident but comes to pass through constant dreaming, planning and consistent effort.”
We all have dreams in life. But you may notice that those who experience personal success are the ones who have set out a plan of action. I would encourage anyone reading this to keep the vision of your dream alive and keep taking daily steps towards achieving it. I printed a big sign which hangs above my mirror. It reads, “What am I going to do today that will take me one step closer to my dreams?”
What Do You Love About Competing?
What I love most is being under the stage lights for those few moments in time. It’s like a graduation ceremony. All the homework has been done, the exams have been written, now it’s time to walk the stage and receive your diploma. As an athlete, you have the opportunity to showcase what all those early morning gym sessions have produced. All the dedication, all the consistent effort you put into the final product is rewarded as you hear the cheers from the supportive crowd.
What Are Your Plans For The Future?
I plan on being involved in the fitness industry on and off the stage. At the moment, I am working towards a holistic nutrition diploma. You’re never too old to start something new! I would love for that to go hand-in-hand with my personal training certificate. My goal is to develop an online presence to help people meet their health and fitness goals
Who Are Your Favorite Athletes, Bodybuilders and Fitness Models?
All natural athletes who live a ‘no excuses’ fitness life. Whether they have suffered injury, whether they have past or present health concerns, whether they have a disability, whether they experience life’s struggles – they keep pushing and moving forward. These people inspire me!
If Someone Wants To Connect With You How Can You Be Contacted?
Please join me on my facebook fitness page
I hope you enjoy the articles and blogs on my fitness website
I am sincerely grateful to James from about-muscle.com for this wonderful opportunity to share my story. And to all those who continue to believe in me – THANK YOU!