My Best Conditioning Yet

Won several overalls attained my natural pro card

By: Cathy Vail, IFPA Natural Pro Womens Bodybuilder
Magazine 15 #1

Weightlifting has been a part of my life for more than 20 years, but not competition. I was always afraid of the DIET. Then about five years ago a friend and I attended a local competition. A few months later, I entered my first bodybuilding competition. Since that time I’ve won several overalls and attained my natural pro card in two organizations. My first pro competition was in the WNBF. I now compete in the IFPA organization as a natural pro. I placed 2nd in both my pro competitions this year, the Show Me Pro and the IFPA International. This year I achieved my best conditioning ever and I’d like to outline how I did it.

Cathy Vail double bicep

Contest Diet

I began my 12 week diet at 1500 calories (about 500 below maintenance) with a macro breakdown of 40% protein / 40% carb / 20% fat (that’s about 150 grams each of protein and carbs). At 8 weeks out I reduced carbs by 25 grams (45/35/20); at 4 weeks out reduced carbs by 25 grams (50/30/20); at 2 weeks out reduced carbs 25 grams and upped protein 25 grams (~55/20/25); NO manipulation of sodium, water, or carbs during peak week – everything stayed the same as it had been.

Here are the foods I ate. I varied the amounts of protein and carbs based on my goal macros (see above).


UMP and Muscel Provider shakes before and after workouts

Pre-Workout: 6 Muscle Synergy, 3 Scoops Glutamine Select (throughout workout, also)

Post-Workout: 3 Density

Quadracarn: 3 tablets 3 times daily (9 total per day) 6 weeks out from show

Upon waking: 3 Density, 2 Lean Out, 6 GH Factor (1 Energy Reserve and 3 7-Keto closer to the show)

Breakfast: multi-vitamin, 2 Lean Out, (1 Energy Reserve), magnesium, calcium, EFA Gold, Joint Care, Ultra-C

Afternoon: multi-vitamin, EFA Gold, Joint Care, 3 7-Keto

Bedtime: 6 GH Factor, 6 Synergy

* All meals: 2 Lean Out and 1 Energy Reserve

My supplementation focused on preserving as much muscle as possible while leaning down. And, it worked!!! In the past, I had lost about 5 pounds of lean mass along with strength during contest prep. What a great feeling I had this year! I was holding on to my muscle, getting leaner, and still getting stronger during m contest prep.

Cardio Schedule

(Not a fan of cardio, so there is no favorite!)

LISS: 30-45 minutes of light intensity steady-state (easy walks or easy elliptical), 1-2 times a day, on empty stomach.

*I started with shorter sessions once a day further out from the show, then increased time and eventually added a second session as show got closer

HIIT: 20 minutes of high intensity interval training (sprints, elliptical, straddle hops on box), 2 times a week, warm-up then 15 second work intervals alternated with 45 second rest intervals.

Phase 2 Training plan

My husband and I followed the Phase 2 Training plan from Beverly’s Contest Prep Manual (pg 39). Day 1 was supersets of chest and back. Day 2 was supersets of legs. Day 3 was shoulders and supersets of biceps and triceps. Rep ranges varied from about 7 to 12 reps, and sets varied from 3 to 5 sets. We kept the weight as heavy as possible throughout the prep. I gained strength during my entire leaning phase.

Presentation Tips

Practice posing and holding each pose. Over and over and over again. Pay special attention to your transitions, make them smooth. Formulate a posing practice plan just like you have made a workout plan, and then follow it to the letter. Smile and have fun at the contest!

Prep Experience

This was the best and easiest preparation for a show that I’ve had to date. My husband, Corey, deserves a huge part of the credit. We tried some different approaches to diet, supplementation and training, and it really paid off.

Bodybuilding is currently a fun hobby in my life. I make sure that it fits into my life but does not consume it. Still, I look forward to seeing what I can accomplish with my physique in the years to come. If you have any questions you can email me at

Cathy Vail At A Glance
Age: 38
Occupation and Education: BS in Elementary Education; Teacher of K, 1st and 2nd grades for 7 years; currently a Certified Personal Trainer, class instructor, and nutrition counselor at Gold’s Gym in Bloomington, IL
Family: husband, Corey; daughter, Madison (9); and Oreo (5) our cat
Current Residence: Bloomington, IL
Height: about 5’8”
Off Season Weight: 145-150; contest weight: about 134
Favorite BB Meal: morning oatmeal with vanilla Muscle Provider or UMP; or Chocolate UMP Brownie Oat Pancakes (½ c dry oats, 1 scoop chocolate UMP, baking powder, water: mix all together and cook as pancakes on a griddle; refrigerate until needed)
Favorite Supps: UMP (Ultimate Muscle Protein), MP (Muscle Provider), Lean Out, Glutamine Select, Ultra 40 Recommended Supps for a 1st time user: UMP, MP, Glutamine Select
In your CD player: anything from Miley Cyrus (come on, I have a 9 year-old daughter!!!) to Seether to Marilyn Manson
Most Inspiring Book: The Love Dare
Hobby or interests: Walt Disney World, Disneyland, friends, family, tennis

Volume 15 #1

» Supplement Profiling
Craft a personalized supplement strategy Beverly has outlined four types of individuals

» Brian Wiefering
The "WieFit Experience"

» Sara Schumann
14 Figure Shows & Still Learning

» Nick Papania
How I Prepared For My First Bodybuilding Contest

» Jenna Dunham
Tragedy into Triumph 2009 NPC Kentucky Muscle

» Jay Isenhar
From Soccer Player to Pro-Bodybuilder


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