The Life of a Gluten-free Bodybuilder – Part I

February 10, 2012

The Life of a Gluten-free Bodybuilder – Part I

Susan Maloney

Susan takes us on her personal journey to becoming a bodybuilder.

Hello all fellow gluten-free bloggers! After my last blog, I was asked to share a bit about the sport of natural drug-free bodybuilding. I’m going to dedicate this entry, the first in a series of posts, to my weight lifting routine, diet and cardio training – essentially the “day in the life” of a lightweight Pro bodybuilder.

I was actually veryexcited to do so, given that there is a myriad of misconceptions and gross misunderstandings about ‘bodybuilding’ in general. To begin, let me just say that my opinion is that anyone who lifts weights for the purpose of reshaping their body is in fact ‘bodybuilding.’ For me, this practice does not encompass the use of performance enhancing drugs, but simply a desire challenge myself mentally and physically through hard work and exercise!

Truly, most of my ‘bodybuilding’ happens 1 hour a day at the gym. I do it combination with cardio and clean eating year round. That’s it!

My journey began at a point in my life where I had gained 12-15 lbs. and was really struggling to take it off. I had become so busy working two jobs, parenting and finishing my doctorate – I essentially stopped working out!

I heard about a national level drug-free bodybuilder in my town who owned a personal training studio, so I called him up. My life changed incredibly from that day forward.

I found that I really enjoyed the physical and mental challenge of lifting weights. I view my time at the gym as a metaphor for life. If you choose to take on opportunities and challenges at the gym through persistence and by overcoming discomfort, you can harness that same mental strength and determination to face the many day-to-day struggles and stressors that we face in all areas of life.

After a few months, I started seeing big changes in my body that I had never achieved through running, aerobics, or any other cardiovascular activities and sports I had engaged in. This energized and thrilled me, so much so that in May 2008 I decided to compete in my first amateur bodybuilding show in Pittsburgh, PA. I have since earned my Pro card through the International Fitness & Physique Association (IFPA) and been competing in one or two shows annually.

A snapshot of my day looks like this: Up at 3:35 a.m., and off to the gym to lift at 5 a.m. I typically lift 5 days per week with each day covering a different body part.

  • Monday-Maximum HIT cardio
  • Tuesday-Chest
  • Wednesday-Back
  • Thursday-Shoulders and calves
  • Friday-Maximum HIT cardio
  • Saturday-Arms
  • Sunday-Legs

In addition to my lifting, I will also head back to the gym for at least three maximum High Intensity Interval Training (HIT) cardio sessions on the recumbent bike each week. This involves 16 minutes of all out cycling, as hard and fast as I can pedal. I cannot possibly talk to anyone, only focus on breathing, which is actually more like gasping! I’ve found that has been the absolute best way to get lean and lose body fat. For me, it is far superior than a 30 minutes plus workout on an elliptical or stairmaster.

I’ve recently tried to step up the number of cardio sessions I do each week to five so I can stay lean for the shows. Since I am going through menopause (which I suspect is related to going undiagnosed with celiac for so long), I find that I have to work a lot harder these days!

The rest happens by eating clean and, as show day nears, practicing posing for up to 30-45 minutes daily.

I hope you have enjoyed post and learned a bit about the average day in the life of a bodybuilder. For my next entry, I’ll give you an inside look at a Pro bodybuilding competition! Please send your questions and comments along for others to read and share as well. [Submit questions to [email protected] with “Question for Susan” in the Subject line.]