ABFITT Talks With Rising Local NPC Athlete Allegra Nicole....

Rising Local NPC Athlete Allegra Nicole....

Name: Allegra Nicole Labar         
Age: 24yrs
Years competing: 1
Sponsors: N/A

ABFITT: You have been very busy as of lately, thank you for taking the time to talk with ABFITT. Can you give us some background information?

Allegra: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share a little bit of my story! I’m 24 years old living just outside of Philadelphia and I started my fitness journey about 2 years ago at the tail end of my college career. Today I’m an Internal Auditor and Security Analyst by day and a self-proclaimed gym junkie by night. I’ve competed for the first time in two shows this past August, and since then my fitness aspirations have been materializing before my eyes! More recently I’ve had the opportunity to travel for some photo shoot opportunities and have been selected as a semi finalist in the BodySpace Spokesmodel search on Bodybuilding.com.

ABFITT: Seems I am currently seeing you all over BodyBuilding.Com can you talk more about this?

Allegra: It’s so exciting - I’m still wrapping my head around it all! Bodybuilding.com is really where it all started for me about 2 years ago. I began my fitness journey by reading a ton of articles, watching videos, following diet plans and using workouts that I found on the site. It’s always been a great educational tool for me! I stay active on BodySpace, and more recently it seems to be paying off as I’ve been featured several times in the “We Mirin” editions and most recently as a semifinalist in the 2014 BodySpace Spokesmodel Search! I can’t explain the feeling to see my face on the website side by side with my biggest fitness inspirations. It’s truly an honor!

ABFITT: What sparked your initial interest in weight training and how did this lead to competing in figure?

Allegra: I “found fitness” during my last semester of college. I was discouraged with my physical appearance and mental state after four years of living the typical college lifestyle. My boyfriend ended up taking me to the gym one day to teach me how to lift as a last stitch effort. I was terrified and had no idea what I was doing. I was a certified cardio-bunny up until that point, so I was a stranger to weight training and possessed very little strength and confidence in the gym. He was very patient with me and taught me all of the basics. After that work out I was hooked. I slowly started seeing results and that fueled me to keep pushing even harder! It wasn’t long before I started getting asked at the gym if I was training for a show. That’s really what sparked my initial interest in competing. The wheels started turning and I was curious what these “shows” were all about. Once I learned more about the competitive world and the sport of bodybuilding, I was determined to be a part of it. The women I saw on stage were strong, sexy, athletic, and moved with such grace. I knew I wanted to be up there doing what they were doing!

ABFITT: Talk to us about the importance of nutrition and how you dial it in when preparing to step on stage.

Allegra: Nutrition is everything. I can’t stress that enough. The gym part is easy; it’s the refrigerator that presents a challenge. I often get asked in the locker room or in between sets at the gym, “What’s your secret?” or “How do I look like you”, and “What fat burner are you taking?”. My answer isn’t always popular with most people. I put in hard work at the gym and I eat in accordance with my goals. That’s it! No short cuts or magic pills. Personally, I follow the IIFYM approach to dieting. Everyone has a different theory for dieting, and that is perfectly fine. You need to find what is realistic for you, so that you can actually sustain that diet and that lifestyle. I follow a nutritional plan that gives me the ability to eat foods that I enjoy while being structured so that I’m eating whole and nutrient dense foods 80% of the time to fit my macronutrient constraints. I’ve found a great deal of success with this methodology because it’s a realistic lifestyle for me.
               When I’m preparing for a photo-shoot or to step on stage, truthfully I don’t do anything drastic. I increase my cardio and slowly decrease my daily carbs, consequently lowering my caloric consumption. For my first two shows, I prepped for a little over 5 months. That gave me the opportunity to dial in slowly while keeping my carbs and calories relatively high.

ABFITT: What is your take on training? What has worked best for you? With so much information available to people looking to start, what the best advice you can offer?

Allegra: It can be completely overwhelming for a beginner to figure out what the best approach to training is. There are so many conflicting ideas on training. It’s confusing and easy to end up second-guessing yourself.  The best advice I can give is to find what challenges you, keep the intensity high, and don’t doubt yourself. Personally, I train on a 3 day split. A typical week looks like the following:

Day 1: Legs & Abs
Day 2: Back & Chest + 20 Min HIIT Cardio
Day 3: Shoulders, Triceps, & Biceps
Day 4: OFF
Day 5: Legs & Abs
Day 6: Back & Chest + 20 Min HIIT Cardio
Day 7: Shoulders, Triceps, & Biceps + 20 Min HIIT Cardio
When I was first starting out, I went to the gym with my workouts written down. As I became more comfortable in the gym and more in tune with my body, I stopped planning my routines ahead of time. Now, I plan which muscle groups I’m going to work out and I choose exercises based on how I feel. Additionally, I don’t follow any rep range rules. I lift heavy and with intensity whether I’m in the “off season” or 2 weeks out from a show or photo-shoot.

ABFITT: Let’s talk about your competition history. Tell us about it and what if any one show stands out the most, for better or worse?

 Allegra: My competition history is actually very brief! I’ve only competed in two shows, both of which were in August of 2013. I competed at the NPC Muscle Beach Championship where I won 1st place Novice, 1st place Figure Class A, and Overall Figure. Next I competed at the NPC PA State and PA Classic show where I won 1st place Figure Class A and Overall Figure in the PA State division.
               My first show will always stand out to me. I was so nervous and I was shaking like a leaf on stage! I prepared for so long, but nothing prepares you for that rush of adrenaline the first time you step foot on stage! Its an amazing feeling – and so addictive!
              I have yet to have a negative experience at a show. From the first moment I’ve stepped on stage, I fell in love with the sport! I’m always so taken back by how friendly and supportive everyone is back stage. Even though it is a competition, I’ve always experienced a strong sense of respect and support between the competitors!

ABFITT: So what’s next?

Allegra: At the moment, I’m currently in the running for Bodybuilding.com’s 2014 BodySpace Spokesmodel Search. It’s an honor and I’m thrilled to death to even be considered! The male and female winners will become a Team Bodybuilding.com Athlete, which would undoubtedly change the path of my fitness journey. Cross all of your fingers and toes, and wish me luck!
               As far as competing, right now I’m focused on making improvements for next year. There is always room to improve and build a better you! I plan on competing in a few national shows in 2014 in an attempt to secure an IFBB Figure Pro Card. That’s the goal! I don’t want to just compete for the sake of competing. I want to make sure I’m bring the best possible package to the stage so I’m not sure as to how many times I’ll be stepping on stage in 2014. One of my first stops with likely be Team Universe in July. 
How can ABFITT readers continue to track your progress and continue to follow you?

Allegra: I share my fitness journey on a daily basis through Instagram on @Allegra_Labar and on my Facebook page www.facebook.com/Allegranicolefitness . I post my workout videos, progress, personal


ASK HOPE....NPC Athlete Hope Taylor Answers ABFITT Reader Questions.

ASK HOPE....NPC Athlete Hope Taylor Answers Your Questions

1) Gale, Charleston South Carolina - Hope I was so inspired after reading your interview with ABFITT. What a whirlwind of accomplishment in such short period of time. How as a mother did you find the time to plan, focus and complete multiple contests?

Hi Gale! Thank you so very much for your kind words. You actually hit the nail on the head while asking your question. In efforts to accomplish 4 contests in five months a lot of planning and focus was involved.
I started my preparation for these shows in January about 20 weeks out. It gave me plenty of time to see how my body responded to certain training techniques and diet regiments. I worked with two coaches that kept me on track with the planning at that stage of the game and then continued on with what they taught me until the close of the season.
I tend to thrive with challenges and structure. I believe it energizes me to stay on track when I’m feeling great about my goals and the positivity that I saw both physically, but even more spiritually. It helped me to be an even more balanced mother, professional and athlete to push myself in this sort of way.
I completed my morning workout and cooking before my daughter even opened her eyes for the day. I got very creative with the time we shared outside of my career and gym obligations. I allowed her to pick special activities and trips we could do as rewards for time away a few nights a week at the gym and I usually worked out Saturday and Sunday since we had the majority of our day together. She never complained once and was a huge help with my prep. I encouraged her to be apart of it and at the very end we went out to eat at her favorite restaurants! She LOVED being an instrumental part of my prep, watching me compete and the fact that she could call her mommy a 3 time Bikini Champion! 

2) Anthony, Salt Lake City Utah - Any thought to tying for an IFBB pro card or competing on the WBFF stage? 

Hi Anthony! Sure, the thought of competing on a national stage has been a serious consideration for 2014. Although, I won’t compete in a national show unless I am confident I will place. I try to be extremely realistic with myself and my ability in the sport. I don’t want to waste my time, money or put my body through the stress of contest prep without a successful plan to win.
I’m still learning how my body responds to training and diet. Another tricky thing to learn is how to dry out for a show. I have it down to a science now, but that’s only because I’ve been through the process a few times and found what worked best for me.
I’m in the building phase of prepping for 2014 shows. My first show will be a very big one in May. Depending how I feel then I will map out the rest of the year.

3) Bonny, Dallas Texas - Hope can you describe a day of contest prep nutrition compared to your off season eating. Best wishes with your future plans.

Hi Bonny! Sure, absolutely and thank you for your well wishes. I love the support. Well on a typical day right now I still eat relatively clean. It’s the same diet with less focus on cutting to lean out. I enjoy 4 egg whites with one whole egg and 1 cup of oats for breakfast. Usually a protein shake in about 2-3 hrs. I have 4-6oz of turkey burger, 1/2 cup brown rice and a green veggie for lunch. A snack a few hours after will usually consist of natural peanut butter on unsalted rice cakes or 15 almonds in efforts to consume my healthy fats. Then I’ll have another shake. Dinner usually consists of the 4-6oz of protein and smaller portion of complex carbohydrates. During contest prep I will measure more precisely. I cut out the whole egg and go down to ¼ cups of oats with breakfast. Where you see my lunch and dinner I will eat only 3-4oz of protein and alternate with fish. Where you see shakes I won’t drink them any more at about 12 weeks out and replace them with 3-4 oz of protein and small portion of complex carbohydrate. I regularly aim to drink a gallon of water each day.

4) Carmen, Newark New Jersey - Loved your interview, I was very curious how your friends & family and even coworkers feel about your contests and getting in such great shape.

Hi Carmen! Great question you have for me. Truthfully, it hasn’t always been easy. I think with any change in lifestyle there are critics from both ends of the spectrum. I think at the beginning of my journey a lot of my friends, family and coworkers where questioning what I was doing and how it was going to impact our connection. I didn’t really talk much about it as I was learning and didn’t feel I even knew enough to talk about it early on.
Your question is so simple, but there has been such a wide variety of reactions from so many people in my life that it’s difficult to answer specifically. What I try to focus on is the positivity it’s brought to my life and the quality of friendships, family and coworkers. I am so incredibly thankful to those that support me and love me unconditionally. Those are the people I will always make time for and help in anyway I can. I don’t give much thought to those that don’t respect my level of participation in the sport or the discipline I have to diet and train as I do. I understand what makes me the best I can be may not work for the next person.

5) Emily, Tempe Arizona - What advice can you offer to someone on the fence about doing a NPC bikini contest? Do I find a trainer or should I attempt it on my own by reading and doing research? I am excited but scared. Thanks.

Hi Emily! I remember the day someone suggested I compete. I thought how amazing it would be, but I had no clue how to get to the stage. Then I sat down and wrote out everything I felt I needed to answer for myself. What are my limitations? How can I change them? What are the tools I need to get there?
It was coupled with exactly your second question. I did as MUCH research as I could on my own and even to this day I still learn. Confidence comes with understanding and with different stages along your journey. It’s a completely natural feeling to feel the way you do.
In my opinion, you should work with a trainer and one that has a focus on contest prep. I worked with TEAM Edge out of California after learning how serious metabolic damage can be and how important it is to find a trainer that cares more about you than just taking your money. They were extremely insightful on the process, diet, training and posing mandatories. I even purchased my suit from them. Not only do you become their client, but you become part of their family which has grown so much over the last few years. My teammates have been extremely helpful and instrumental to my successes as well.

Check out Hope Taylor's video by clicking link above 
Follow Hope @  instagram is fitlife4hope

 Thank you ABFITT for the opportunity to connect with some of your loyal readers about my journey. The interest that they have shown is truly remarkable and inspires me to stay the course!
Photo credit: Mycontestpix.com


 Shape! Sculpt! Shred! Surpass Your Best With The Super Seven!

Squats. Squats are the king of all muscle and strength building exercises. No workout should be without deep squats. They are performed with a barbell, generally in a squat rack. Squats not only build massive legs and a great ass, but also stress most of the upper body. They are like a hormonal nuclear bomb – destroying the entire body, forcing it to get bigger and stronger with ever rep.

Deadlifts. Second only to squats in effectiveness (and a very close second at that), deadlifts are another manmaker that will pack on slabs of muscle mass while helping you become as strong as a bear. Like squats, deadlifts are a barbell only exercise.

Dips. Dips are often called the upper body squat, and for good reason. Dips work the shoulders, chest and triceps very hard, and are a great overall exercises for building a beefy upper body. Dips should be performed at a parallel bar dipping station.

Pull Ups. It seems that even the strongest and most fit lifters can barely squeak out more than a few pull ups. The pull up is an excellent exercise for building the back and biceps, and should be used instead of inferior exercises such as the lat pull down when possible.

Bench Press. The bench press is an upper body staple. There are several highly effective variations including the flat bench barbell press, flat bench dumbbell bench press, incline bench barbell press and incline dumbbell bench press.

Overhead Press. As with the bench press, there are numerous quality variations of the overhead press that can be used. Nearly all seated and standing dumbbell and barbell overhead presses are solid choices. You may also use the Arnold dumbbell press, and behind the neck overhead presses. Another popular press variation is the standing push press.

Rows. Both barbell and dumbbell rows are tremendous upper back exercises. Old school barbell T-bar rows are also a solid choice. While cable and machine lifts are generally sub-par, seated cable rows can be very challenging and effective. GW & Ashley Horner