My Weekly Update – 4 weeks out!

Wow, only  a month left – where does time go? Let’s see how I’ve done this week.


I think I’ve finally adjusted to the new training schedule and added cardio. There is a lot more focus on squeezing and activating the right muscles to get that definition. I do 15 mins steady cardio post-workout on most days and a 40 mins session on the weekend.

I don’t spend as much time on stretching and posing practice as I did during the last comp prep, however I do feel better and more confident this time. Of course there is always room for improvement, so I do practice posing about 4 times a week.



I still do get to enjoy carbs (rice & sweet potatoes) after, and sometimes before, my workouts! Definitely helps to keep me sane 🙂 That + coffee. Yep, that is the secret that is keeping me going with the current diet & work schedule – 2 cups of coffee a day on average.

I have spaced my 5 meals a day a bit to compensate for my working hours + evening TV time 😀 and some coffee in between usually does the trick.


Lifestyle / Mindset

Luckily, this week has been fairly easy at work and I have been able to stick to a 9.30ish – 6.30pm-ish schedule. Despite that, I am still relying on melatonin to get some decent sleep. Perhaps I have developed some kind of fear of not falling asleep as discussed in this article from PsychCentral.

I do get about 6 hours a night (on a good night), which is less than the 7-8 hours I used to get before my last competition. However, that came at the expense of my social life (which was limited exclusively to the weekend). This time around, I am spending more time socializing or doing other hobbies such as reading & watching TV.

In the end we all get the same 24 hours, what we do with them is up to us. Here’s a typical working day in my life:

  • 1 hr in bed… waking up, stretching, having my first meal & getting ready for the gym 🙂
  • 1.5 hrs in the gym
  • 1.5 hrs commuting
  • 9 – 10 hrs in the office
  • 2 -3  hrs rest & recreation (reading, working on the blog, catching up with friends & family, lazing in bed 😀 etc.)
  • 1 hr house chores / prep for the next day or for the gym
  • 7 hrs in bed (although falling asleep can take me more than 1 hr sometimes)

Seems like a lot of time when you put it on paper no? You can always find some time for your personal goals 😉


Exercise of the week: Sled drag

Sled dragging is a great strength and conditioning exercise with many benefits. As there is less muscular tension and reduced joint loading, there is much less risk of injury and muscle damage & soreness. This also makes it a good lower-body rehabilitation exercise for those recovering from knee, ankle or hip injuries. 

Doing sled drags can help strengthen weak areas such as the hamstrings, hips and glutes and improve squat and deadlift performance. It can also improve one’s flexilibility and mobility due to the nature of the movement.

I love using the sled as a part of the workouts. It’s great for developing power, strength, muscle size, or conditioning. I call it enjoyable pain. The beauty of it is that it is so versatile. – Adrianna McDonald, PT

You can pull forward, backward, sideways, high or low. If the sled is light you can sprint as hard as you can to build acceleration and speed (and feel your muscles burning!). If it is heavy  you will increase your muscular endurance and lower body strength.

The forward drag is great for posterior development (hamstrings and glutes). It’s good to have the strap placed around the abdominal or the hip area. Use big steps to pull the sled along. 

The backward drag really works the quads, especially in a squatting position (see video below) and hip flexors. 

Both these types are used in Miranda’s leg workout as the last exercise (a finisher). Doing an intense exercise or two for about 5-10 minutes at the end of a sound strength training workout is perfect since your energy stores are low. A good finisher will help produce great fat loss since it places a great demand for energy. As your glycogen levels are low, body fat will be used to provide energy at this point in the workout.


Exercise of the week: Underhand Grip Lat Pulldown

There’s pretty much no workout without a lat pull down variation. You can change your grip and angle and there are many bars you can choose from.

In the video below,  Miranda is doing the supinated ( underhand grip) straight bar variation, which allows her to involve more of the biceps. Usually it’s performed with a close grip but I find it easier on the wrists with a wider grip.

Your form & technique are essential to be able to isolate the muscle you are trying to work on and to properly stimulate it. Use the wrong technique and you will end up using your traps, rhomboids or lower back See-no-evil monkey

The results of this exercise may vary from person to person – it may give your back a wider look or add thickness to your muscles.

A key aspect for this lift is to go for a slightly lower weight and ensure a fully contracted lat muscle by using a controlled movement.

A few points to keep in mind when performing this exercise:
* Adjust the seat to fit under the pad
* Sit up straight
* Grab the bar palms down wider than shoulder width and engage your lats
* Traps and and shoulders down and blades together
* Chest slightly lifted
* Drive the elbows down pulling the weight slowly towards your clavicle
* Squeeze the lats harder at the bottom end of the movement
* And release slowly (keeping tension in the lats)
* Breathe out on exertion (pull down) and in on release ( way up)

Fitness, Motivation

Learning How to Pose for a Fitness Comp

An important and often overlooked aspect of getting ready for a bikini fitness competition is posing.

Although it sounds simple enough, learning how to walk & pose in a way that best showcases your body is an art. There are so many things to think about when on stage – are you smiling? Are your shoulders rolled back and chest open? Is your tummy in and butt out? Are you walking with straight legs and swaying your hips? Are your arms flowing like a dancer’s or are they stiff and rigid?

And of course above all else can you balance and transition between the poses smoothly? Is your personality and confidence showing?

Keeping all of the above in mind whilst at the same time trying to grab the judges’ attention and making them see your body at its best is no easy task!

Here’s my progress from my first posing practice a few months ago up to yesterday’s group posing session with Adrianna (more on that below):

Lesson 1


Lesson 7

Thanks to my posing coaches Roberta & Adrianna for taking me from clumsy to confident!


As you can see quite a bit has changed – starting with my confidence! None of this would have been possible without the posing coaching and the effort I put in at home.

If you are considering or are already preparing for a competition it is important to spend a few minutes at least 5 days a week working on your stage poses and walk. And you better start early!

Typically I would spend 20-30 mins in the mornings before my workouts doing some stretching and posing. Stretching the muscles is important as it will help you with the posing – I typically focus on the hamstrings and back as most of the poses involve a twist of the body.

I then do a few exercises with my stage heels to loosen up my hips and improve my balance. This is finally followed by practising the whole stage routine a few times in front of the mirrors and a few times without mirrors (yup… there will be no mirrors on stage!).

There’s still a lot of work to be done as I continue to improve my pose transitions and arm movements with 11 weeks to go :O !

So here are the top 3 tips I have learned along the way to help you with posing:

  1. Find comfortable shoes which fit the purpose (remember the stage may be slippery) and practice daily (or at least 5 times a week) in your stage heels to wear them in and gain confidence;
  2. Stretch daily – it is important to stretch your hamstrings and calves in order to elongate the leg muscles when walking in heels and also work on improving flexibility of the back to help with poses which require twisting;
  3. Watch videos online of previous competitions – notice how the contestants enter and exit the stage, how they pose and make eye contact with the judges and how they transition between poses including arm movements. You will quickly learn what looks good and what doesn’t!
8th Jan – First group posing session with my coach and some lovely ladies!

If you are based in Dubai and need help with your posing practice, join Adrianna and the team for weekly group sessions here.