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Charlene Harvey is the current UKBFF Women's Physique Midland champion, as well as the winner of the Female Muscle Model crown at the Pure Elite World Finals.
What inspires her training, and how does she get her body ready to compete and win?
Current weight: 72Kg
How did you get started with bodybuilding?
I joined the gym when I was 17, having been involved in just about every sport at school I needed something else to get involved in. I was naturally very strong and took to weight lifting immediately.
After a few years of weight training and 2 children, running took over, mainly for post pregnancy weight loss to begin with but I got quite hooked on the sport.
However, a few marathons later I was plagued with an ongoing hamstring injury which led me to hanging up my running shoes for good. It was time to return to the gym.
It was only two years ago a friend of mine suggested I try competing on stage. To be honest I didn’t fancy it and took some convincing, but eventually I agreed to give it a go.
I completely overhauled my diet and training and after my first competition, I was hooked!
Where does your motivation come from?
I have a few idols that I find motivating, like Dana Linn Bailey and Juliane Malacarne but I think mainly my motivation comes from my drive to succeed, my stubbornness to never give in and the results I can achieve.
What workout routine has worked best for you?
I spent years doing the standard 3-day split training regime, working in the 10-12 set range but didn’t see changes happening as I would expect.
In the past 2 years, I have changed to training one body part a day, legs at least twice a week (split into separate muscle groups), working more in the 6-8 rep range and incorporating more drop sets.
What one exercise could you not live without?
Deadlifts are my absolute favourite exercise. But for results I could not live without the good old squat. I both love and hate this exercise.
Due to poor hip flexibility, I have struggled with the squat over the years. Even stripping the weight right back to try and improve on form and depth before hitting the heavy weight again.
This really helped, as my squat weight has dramatically increased over the past 12 months, from 100kg to 140kg
I’ve also recently started using the safety bar which I have had to do to train around a lower back injury. This has helped a lot with my form and depth so I think I’ll be sticking to it from now on.
What is the body part you are most proud of, and how did you get it to that stage?
I love my biceps. They are just naturally large and round. Even my husband is jealous of them as he struggles to get his to grow. I just look at a dumbbell and mine get bigger ☺
What is your diet like?
Prepping for competition, my diet is quite typical.
Around 1600 calories per day. 200g protein, 80/100g carbs, 30g fats. Carbs only before and after training. Eat every 2 hours.
Egg whites, almonds, Lean turkey, white fish, broccoli, asparagus, berries, white rice etc.
Off season is the same diet but more! plus treats.
I also no longer drink alcohol. I’ll have the occasional glass of wine during off season but to be honest. It just makes me feel rubbish now, so I just don’t bother.
How does your training and diet evolve as you get closer to a competition?
The closer you get, the weaker and more tired you get. The weights drop and I head into higher rep ranges.
I’m careful as I know my body is under pressure due to the diet and I’m aware of trying hard to avoid injury now.
Cardio becomes important here, 30mins twice a day, morning and night with weight training somewhere in between.
Diet tweaks are needed if fat loss stalls, including the occasional high carb meal to keep the metabolism firing and brain functioning!
What’s the one food you couldn’t live without and how do you handle food cravings?
I have a strange obsession with oats!! During off season the majority of my fat gain is due to how much porridge I eat!! I love it.
I have to try and cut it out completely when I’m prepping for competition because I simply can’t have one small bowl. One bowl leads to one box ☺
Other than that, I do have a sweet tooth. I have crushed/blended ice with sugar free flavour drops (like a slush puppy), this seems to help a lot.
What supplements do you use?
I get most of my supplements from NXT Nutrition as I’m an ambassador. I use:
- Diet Whey or Beef isolate
- CLA with green tea extract
- Joint supplements (Chondroitin, glucosamine and omega 3)
- Vit C
“Last set, best set.”