Ashley Barry, 24 Occupational Therapy Assistant at Golden Age Nursing Home
Family: Son-Camden Murphy (4) This is my first year to compete as an NPC Figure Competitor in Mississippi and Louisiana. In March 2014, I started working out while working towards my college degree. The gym was my “stress reliever.” This year, I made the decision to compete as a fitness competitor, which has been my goal for a long time. My weekly routine consists of fasted cardio in the mornings 5 days a week where I run 3-4 miles, do a HIIT circuit workout, or do mixed interval workouts. My weight training in the evening targets different muscle groups. To finish off my afternoon workout, I use evening cardio as a burnout by doing 20-30 min on the stair climber, row machine, elliptical, or treadmill. My diet consists of 6-7 meals per day. During competition prep, I eat moderate-low carbohydrates, higher protein, and moderate-low fats. My offseason diet consists of moderate-high carbohydrates (with a couple cheat meals depending on the body parts that need to grow for better symmetry) and higher protein, and moderate-low fats.
“Push through and never give up!” The most underrated exercise is the hip thrust. People seem to shy away from it due to the awkward appearance of the movement, but this is one of the best exercises to target glutes and enhance performance for deadlifts and squats. The body part that gets neglected is the hamstrings. Squats, deadlifts, and lunges hit them indirectly but not enough. An imbalance in lower extremity muscle groups, such as big quads and weak hamstrings, can cause an unequal pull on the joint, which could result in a knee injury. My favorite workout move is squats. It’s a full body workout that builds overall strength and decreases the risk of injury when using proper body mechanics. The thing that keeps me motivated is the added accountability of a figure competition. You perform better when you know that other people hold you to a higher standard. My advice for beginners is: DO NOT be afraid to ask questions. Simply knowing how to use equipment correctly can go a long way in improving your confidence in the gym. Make the gym a habit in order to see positive changes in your mind and body. Some days the last thing you want to do is hit the gym, but these days are the most important. The biggest challenge I had to face after deciding to compete is learning that diet and exercise are 100% a mental battle. Food is definitely my biggest weakness, and discipline with a diet has never been a priority for me until I had a competition holding me accountable.
The food I craved during my competition prep was peanut butter and Oreos!
Compiled by Amy Goode Photo by Tindall Stephens