I met Kristen at the gym I workout in, Lifetime Fitness in Johns Creek, GA. My old trainer pointed her out to me telling me she competes in national level competitions. I was intrigued since then. I had a few training sessions with her and was so impressed with eh way she pushed me and kept the training sessions fun yet functional. My travel schedule didn’t allow me to have a proper routine with her but my curiosity increased on how she works all day and finds time to compete in national level competitions and how she pushes herself to do her best time after time. I was so thrilled when she readily agreed to do the interview for my blog! Please be super inspired like me of Kristen’s journey and advice on fitness:
- What motivated you to take part in the national level competitions and how have you progressed over the years?
I grew up in a very athletic family and that has always been a way of life since I can remember. Over the years I’ve done just about every sport, but have been drawn to endurance sports for the last 17 years, specifically running until an injury at 31. I started cycling since the run injury needed 6 months lay off to heal. My brother and father do triathlon and encouraged me to pick up the sport since I was cycling and soon would be running again. My first year competing I was 32 and did very well on a regional level so I hired a coach after my first year and I’ve seen nothing but progress over the past 7 years. As a fitness professional I understand the importance of having a smart progression plan. Even moreso a knowledgable coach who can see things you as an athlete cannot or will not. I also love the idea of having to perfect 3 sports. I’m never bored and LOVE the challenge each training session brings.
2. What specifically goes behind training for the different competitions? Specifically, what changes in your diet (example plan?), training regimen and how you handle doing this around daily lifestyles (does this change during training periods?)
The difference between someone who is just getting in shape for general fitness versus a competative athlete is quite different. Our annual training plan is based on when we peak for our “A” race(s). usually you can be in top form about 1-2 times a year. Doesn’t mean you cannot perform well in other races, but to be in peak shape, the training plan is quite intense and there’s a lot of volume, especially the longer the distance. First and foremost, I eat from the ground 90% of the time. I do enjoy chocolate and my wine, but I keep it in moderation. My nutrition cycles around my training regiem. At the end of the day, it’s important to be metabolically efficient and organic in my approach to food. Metabolic Efficiency is paramount for anyone who is looking to improve the way their body functions, competative or not.
As I stated earlier, I am a fitness professional so I am on my feet a lot during the day. Finding a coach who understood my lifestyle was huge because your training is only going to be benefitial if you recover properly from it. Finding that balance between work, training, and performing to my abilities took a few years and several coaches till I found what worked. Most weeks I’m training 8-10 hours a week, but when I start building towards my “A” race, it can increase to upwards of 13-15 hours a week. And the intensity also increases. The only change I make to my diet is I add more food as the duration, volume, and intensity goes up to make sure I’m not starving my body.
3. Once you have seen your ranking in a particular race, how do you change your training plans to place higher in the next set of competitions?
I don’t know my final rankings until the season is over. I don’t really focus on that as the end goal because that can really take away from the reason I got into this sport to begin with; to have fun. My main focus each race is to do the best I can. If I get a personal record and I place 20th, I’m stoked. My moto going into every race is this: You are already in a world of pain so dig deeper into the well and goin after a reward.
4. How does one start from a novice to even begin thinking of doing a trialthon and/or a national level race?
Anyone can do a triathlon. I think there is a misconception about the sport since most media coverage only shows Ironman which is the longest distance. But a sprint distance takes around 60-90 minutes. My recommendation is to hire a coach. Get a good training plan set and then you can work on your weaknesses should you find yourself wanting to grow into the sport. And age isn’t a limiter. My father is 66 and does them.
5. What kind of strength training do you do to keep stamina and strength for these races?
This is an excellent question that I think a lot of endurance athletes don’t take serious enough. It plays a big part. In endurance sports, you are doing 1000’s of repetitions so it’s very important the the core and stabilizing muscles are strong and flexibilty good. Without that, you run a higher risk of injury. Each year I’ve tried different forms of strength training to see how my body responds. This year, I found that a mix of pilates, yoga, and weights worked magic. Beyond that I would say the resistance training I have in my cardio workouts preps me for the type of race I do. So, for instance, if it’s a hilly bike course, I might add in lower gearing workouts or go ride hilly courses to build my leg strength.
6. You are one of the best personal trainers keeping your clients engaged with different exercises to build strength and lose weight or gain muscle. What are your top favorite routines that are different from the norm of going into a gym and just lifting weights?
Thank you, that’s very kind of you to say. I don’t necessarily have a favorite per say. I follow NASM guidelines for progression, but it’s all based on the body I’m working with. I am very passionate about what I do so I like the challenge of working with all ages, genders, special needs, people with past/present injuries, etc. If the person is motivated, I’m going to do my part as a professional to help them reach their goals. And when that happens, help them identify new goals to keep them going.
7.What is the next goal for you? Olympics?
The next goal is prepping for Age Group Worlds for 2017. I am also really considering doing Off Road Triathlon next season. I’ll keep doing this sport until I loose interest. I hope that never happens, but if it does, you’ll still see me somewhere in the fitness relm.
Part 1/2: The Science of Training: Celebrity Trainer Santhosh educates on the science of building mucsles and how he keeps South India’s superstar in shape
1. Tell us how you got into training? What pushed you to do it as a profession?
My journey into the fitness world started from childhood and still continues at a good pace. I always loved everything related to sports, was an athlete and learned martial arts. My ambition was to become an Indian navy officer. I went to the Navy when I was 17 years old, but unfortunately I wasn’t selected because of color blindness. After that, I turned my career into fitness field! I did three major certifications related to fitness and I’m about to finish my sports nutrition course.
2. Give a detailed sample example for the following: a common man or woman have a busy life and don’t have 2/3 hours a day to workout. Some times eat on the go. Might work long hours. What sample weekly workout and diet chart would you recommended in general (even tho everyone is different )
Let me start this question with one of the most famous transformation specialist Kris Gethin’s quotes:
“I’m sick of hearing “I’ve a harder job, I work longer hours, I don’t have time, I don’t have the money for a trainer, my genetics are sh#t, I’ve pain when I train“
Shut up already! I’ve seen taxi drivers, lawyers, mother of 5 with 3 jobs, actors who work 16-hours days with no weekends, builders who have to climbs ladders for days to accomplish amazing body transformations
Why? because they wanted it. On the other hand I’ve seen others with easy jobs, all the money in the world, no family commitments, amazing genetics and access to the best gyms and looks the same year after year. Why? Because they make excuses day-in, day-out! If your are one of those people, either harden the f#ck up or get another past time.”
Let me make this clear: you don’t need all those happy hours, all those fancy ‘fitness studios’ packed with “entertainment” equipments like a bosu ball, swiss balls or colored dumbbells. You may put hours of “hard work” into training but it does not count if not done correctly.
If you have a strong mindset about what you want to be then its not a big thing to bring your fitness to the next level! I’m talking about the strong mindset! When you say ‘No I don’t have time to workout. My days are harder than you think!’ I would reply “shut the f#ck up!” There is always a way to train, to rise above, to conquer and crush obstacles. You will see big changes in your success when you have the right the mindset! Your body can achieve whatever your mind says!
OK! Let’s talk about that hour in your day. Look at that hour like this:
I have seen many guys coming to the gym and posting on social media, texting, talking to the guy next to him, taking selfies and those guys are wasting that one hour in the gym. It does not count.
So lets consider an intermediate client with no injuries.
Monday: upper body
Tuesday: lower body
Thursday: chest & back
Friday: shoulders arms & calves
OR if you have time issues with your job and want to maintain your current fitness level or want to lose some extra fat, Then try this
Monday: Upper body
Tuesday: HIIT cardio*
Wednesday: lower body
Thursday: moderate intensity cardio**
Friday: Full body
(*For example; Try 30sec intervals of fast cycle sprint @resistance 10 with >120RPM. Be cautious about your health conditions. Consult a doctor before you attempt HIIT
** Example; Incline walking on treadmill @your 55% – 75% MHR
I’m strictly against a diet plan that consist of only specific foods in a specific time intervals. That’s an old fashion theory and its not healthy. Eating the same foods everyday will make you nutrient deficient. Your diet somewhat should be flexible and it must comes with lots of healthy options rather than a “chicken and broccoli only” type diet. But it doesn’t mean eating crappy foods along with good food options.
I always prefer to make a lifestyle changes in my clients rather than simply educating them about diet and exercise. This way, they can find healthy ways to eat in all conditions. Remember, in my point of view, there are no foods in this world named as unhealthy but it only become unhealthy in the way you handle that food. Quantity and quality matters! The main problem with a ‘paper prescribed’ type diet is, it won’t work for a long time. Trainees would easily derail from those type of diets. In an athletic perspective it is OK because those types of diets are created under scientific evidence and for maximal performance. Even those may only last as long as the end of the season.
For example, a bodybuilder’s in-season diet may have a huge calorie deficit to cut down extra body fat. And when the post season comes they will start eating normal again.
3. Realistically how quickly can one Lose weight/fat? What are the differences in this between men and women?
Fat loss happens in each and every individual at different rates depending on their hard work and dedication towards exercise and diet. But it won’t be “quickly” as you mentioned in the question. It takes time, effort and consistency. Remember, please be patient because perfection takes time. No matter what, do not get derailed from your path that leads to your goals. There is a theoretical limit to how much fat can be released from the fat stores in a single day and this is inversely proportionate to how lean we are. If we go over this limit, we will lose muscle mass, regardless of whether we keep our protein intake high. This is very important.
Fat loss also varies according to the gender difference as far as the exercise is concerned. Men tend to use more energy from carbs during the period of exercise while women rely more on fat source for energy during the period of exercise. In other words, men burn more fat at rest and women burn more carbs at rest That’s why I recommend women must exercise! Regardless of gender differences, stress has a huge impact on human metabolism which can inhibit fat loss. For women, there will be weight variations according to their periods and hormonal changes.
I wouldn’t recommend any rapid fat loss program at all. Check any rapid fat loss program details, they don’t provide information on how you are losing weight. You know weight loss happens in these ways: Pure fat loss, lean muscle loss, dehydration. I’m dead sure that they won’t tell you which weight you are losing. Pure fat loss is the tricky part.
If you look at the science, the maximum rate of fat loss that can realistically be achieved for most people is around 1-1.8 lbs (2.5 may be 3.5lbs) of fat per “week”. There is also some special cases, If you are already lean or even average body fat level then you cannot lose fat that quickly. Because you cannot create that much of a caloric deficit without sacrificing muscle mass. So don’t do it. I’ve seen some programs claiming ” A pound a day” or “7days 7kilos” BS programs. Never ever fall for them. There is no science to support claims that extremely fast fat loss on a scale with a huuuge pound or even a kilo of fat per day is possible for anyone but extremely overweight subjects.
4. To get good Muscle definition in the upper body, what are the best exercises for shoulders biceps triceps ? Does it differ if it’s a man or woman ?
Let’s consider deltoid muscles, as I said, in your chest day its very easy to hit them because its already pre-exhausted. While doing a bench press, most of the deltoid muscles’ anterior portions work. Then for the next 2-3 sets of Dumbbell or cable front raises is enough to bring the true failure for the anterior portion. Then the medial portion of deltoids: hit them with dumbbell lateral raises or cable lateral raises. Remember not to swing while you raise your hand. Its called Cheating! Stand firm and slowly complete your reps. Cable lateral raises gives you continuous tension on each point of the Range Of Motion. At that point, the posterior portion of the deltoid. Bent over lateral raises, Inclined bench lateral raises in pronated position or standing cable face pull work well for posterior deltoids.
Next, triceps one of my favorite after legs. Remember, if you want to maximize your arm size your concentration should be more on triceps rather than biceps. Look at your upper arms it should be like this: 70% triceps and 30% biceps. Close grip bench press hits all the three heads of the triceps. other exercises include: cable push down and over head dumbbell extension are my next favorites. Hit them hard.