Category Archives: figure diet

Gain Muscle while Losing Fat… Yeah right!

muscle_fatOne of the biggest misconceptions in physique sports is that it’s possible to build muscle and lose body fat at the same time. Sorry to go against all of the ‘experts’ out there, but this is impossible to do! Whether it’s a trainer telling a client, someone selling a book or someone repeating what they heard another person say, it’s just not possible.

Basically in order to lose weight you need to take in LESS calories than your body needs to maintain it’s current weight. The exact opposite is true of someone trying to gain muscle/weight: you need to take in MORE calories than your body needs to maintain it’s current weight.

Can’t count the number of time I’ve read something online about someone losing body fat and gaining muscle at the same time….. STOP please! This sport is filled with nonsense – from competitors believing that if they aren’t champion material by the beginning of the final week before a show, that there are some secret prep-week tricks that will get them into championship condition by show… uhhh No! Or the 110lb figure competitor who thinks dehydration will make her look leaner before a show – in actuality she will become a 105lb figure competitor who will look flat onstage because she just sucked the water out of her muscles! ….I could go on for hours!

Back to muscle building and fat loss: I just don’t understand why this simple concept is not more easily understood among those in this field. Sometimes you just have to tell the truth to clients/competitors: “No you will not be gaining any muscle while losing body fat, what you can do is maintain your existing muscle as you lose body fat by doing resistance exercises.” it may not be what a client or competitor wants to hear, but it’s the truth, and you should never lie just to attract or keep clients.

Steroids in Figure Competition

Steroids in figure

Steroids and the figure competitor

Over the past 12 months this issue has repeatedly been raised among newer competitors I meet. Figure competitors often want to know if they need to take steroids to compete in shows that are not drug tested. The answer is no. Many drug free figure competitors compete and are champions at every level. Do steroids give a figure competitor an advantage? If their goal is to gain muscle and lose body fat (depending on what steroids they take) then they absolutely will make it easier for a woman to achieve both of these objectives… but any competitor can gain muscle and lose enough body fat to compete, with time and hard work. Besides,  when it comes to figure competition, you don’t need a ton of muscle to do well.

I just had two competitors compete and do very well in the Arnold Classic both are drug-free and one made top 10. Where there bigger more muscular competitors there? Of course there were – but figure is about more than just size, so my competitors never really worry about whether a show is tested or not – I just tell them to go in to competition in their best possible shape.

Although steroids can accelerate muscle growth, larger muscle may not be what the competitor needs. I’ve seen competitors change their physique so much that they began to do worse in figure competitions and had to switch to bodybuilding or one of the newer fitness/physique body categories that require competitors to carry more muscle. So competitor’s need to take that into consideration when deciding whether or not to take steroids.

I tell competitors who are worried because they think a certain competitor is on steroids or because a show is not drug tested, that their goal should be to bring the best possible package to the stage. Muscle size is only a part of winning a figure competition…  symmetry, stage presence  and proper conditioning are much more important. Just look at the top figure competitors in the world… they range from hard/more muscular to softer/less muscular. It’s the total package the judges are looking for. Therefore you should never let what anyone else does discourage you from competing.

For a guide on building muscle check this out:

The Best Glute Exercises

The number 1 question I get is: “How do I build great glutes?”

I see so many magazine articles, online workouts and totally ridiculous infomercials showing how you should target the glutes. Most people know that most infomercials are nonsense but the magazine and online articles carry a lot more weight with women. The problem is that many of  these ‘glute’ workouts/programs that I see is will build bigger quads and have little effect on your glutes. Understanding why this happens is the important so that you can avoid it… and target the glutes instead of the quads.

The Most Effective Glute Exercises

The Most Effective Glute Exercises

Everyone wants great glutes, but the location of them makes it very difficult to target them. Muscles like the biceps are very easy to target. You could do just one exercise like dumbbell bicep curls 3 x week and build nice biceps. You could even do them seated… it really wouldn’t matter. The glutes are a much different story. Because of their location/attachments, the glutes are hard to target without building the quads just as much. Good glute exercises such as lunges involve a lot of quads also. I see the magazine articles with these ‘glute’ workouts that, in actuality, will build bigger quads, than glutes.


What I’ve done is developed a system for training glutes that minimizes the quad involvement in these exercises. Don’t get me wrong, the quads still have to work… but the balance is shifted so that the glutes get more of the benefit. This is KEY when trying to target the glutes!

I use a technique called Pre-Exhaustion to make the glutes ‘temporarily’ weaker than the quads. When trained in this ‘weakend’  state, the glutes will have to work much harder. The goal is to target the deeper muscle fibers of the glutes which normally are not worked hard, because the quads dominate the exercise. This may sound a bit confusing… but trust me, IT  WORKS very well!

If you want to try this technique out. I have a killer glute workout program:

Can I Train for Figure at Home?

A lot of competitors think they need the latest high tech equipment or training philsophy to get ready for a show. I’ve always gone low-tech when I train clients. I use to work in large gyms with hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment…. but I would only need a corner of the gym, a few dumbells, a bench, a bosu ball and a few other low-tech pieces of equipment. My clients ALWAYS got the best results! This is why I developed my diets and training program… to dispell all of the misinformation out there about training, diet, and exactly what it takes to get ready for a figure show. I also realized that most of your training will be done on you own, without a trainer looking over you shoulder (if you’re lucky enough to get a knowledgeable trainer)

The other day when I returned home from a competition, I received the following email from a Julie Valencia who used by online program to get ready for her first show in Toronto Canada. She prepared in her house without fancy equpiment or a trainer. She proves that determination goes a lot further than the latest piece of exercise equipment or DVD fad workout.

“Hi Terry, 
   I just want to thank you for the training and diet program.  As you can see from the attached – I kicked ass today.  I won the IDFA      (International Drug Free Association) Transformation Challenge Award, Novice Figure Short Award and the  overall Novice Figure Award.
I stood by your plans and never gave into the negativity nor the other suggestions – I never gave up.  It definitely was one of the most challenging journeys to date (with two kids on my own)…but I managed. I did it!! All at home with a few dumbbells, a barbell and my own body. “

Then I received the following email a few days later…..

“Hi Terry, :)
    I want it to be known that I did not use one piece of gym equipment throughout the whole process and that I trained at home in a 8×11 room (except for dumbbells and a barbell).  :) 
It was a frustrating process until I found your program…being a single mother …all I could think about were my kids throughout this whole process and how this would shape my business… (
thanks, terry” 

The most important factors in training for a show are hard work, the proper diet and smart training. Don’t get caught up in the newest piece of gym equipment, cardio machine or new fangled exercise DVD that promises to burn 3x as many calories as the last exercise craze. Just focus on the proper training and diet and you will always give yourself a chance to win!   …terry stokes

Shut up… and become a Champion!

NPC North American

Terry Stokes and Brittany Murchie and NPC Figure Nationals

Congratulations Brittany Murchie for doing an awesome job at the NPC Nationals (North american Championships) this past weekend. Introduced to me by a pro competitor I also trained, the first thing Brittany said to me was: “I will do whatever you tell me to do, I want to go as far as I can.”  Then she preceded to train with me for the next hour. She didn’t say one word during that workout …and she trained her butt off. I knew then that she had the mentality and work ethic to do this.

The goal with Brittany, as with all competitors, was to get better with every competition, which is what she did. She qualified for the nationals after winning the overall title in the NPC Rochester Bodybuilding and Figure Championships.

On my way home I started thinking of what it takes to be successful in figure competition. What do competitors that do well all have in common. You see, on the outside, Brittany looks like the type of competitor who is naturally in shape… not having to work too hard. She never says a whole lot, doesn’t asks questions just to hear herself talk… she makes it look easy. Then I started to think about Laurie who is doing NPC Nationals in 3 months. Everytbody thinks it’s easy for her to get in excellent condition… she never says a whole lot… she trains hard, says little, she sort of makes it look easy! Hmmm…. seems like a pattern.

Then I thought about all my competitors who have repeatedly done well, often against great odds, doubters and haters… and they all had the same quality – they all make it look easy! But… I know the truth!

I know that they struggle like everyone else, I know the doubts they have… I know when they want to quit sometimes after a day of ‘not so clean eating’  –  what I realize is the difference with winners is their ability to focus, to keep setbacks in perspective and bounce back quickly. How easy it is for too many competitors to get distracted during contest prep when things get hard. They concern themselves with things totally irrelevant to their success onstage, they start to listen to everyone who wants to give them advice… they find excuses not to push harder during workouts, or for not following the diet strictly. To become a champion, it’s important not to let irrelevant things distract you. Not to get caught up in the B.S. that often comes with competing.

I love it when one of these veteran competitors (who will remain un-named – but you know who you are) walks through a class and yells: “Stop talking and get to work, you have a competition to get ready for!”

Champions think in a straight line, which is why they don’t say much, they don’t complain and they only ask questions that will help them get better. Often my competitors will wonder why I don’t spend a lot of time talking about certain things, why I ignore them sometimes. I’m not trying to be a jerk. What I’m trying to convey to them is that certain topics/conversations are not going to make them any better or further their progress towards their goal… so I don’t bother talking about it.

Winners ask the question: “What do I need to do to get better?” Winners can be awol for 3 or 4 days and I don’t worry because I know that they still trained hard, they still followed their diet to the letter and they still did their cardio… I don’t have to worry.  All my winners have this trait – the ability to avoid a pleasure now (whether it’s food or just slacking off), for a greater pleasure… in a few months!

Competition Diets Destroy Metabolism

More and more I hear figure competitors complaining about how their competiton diet destroyed their metabolism. If you want to understand what really happens, just watch the video below:


What figure competitors really eat

Right after taking this picture the other night after a competition, another competitor asked me… “What do your competitors eat?” Below is a breakdown of what they eat…

Figure Diet: the competition diet is pretty basic. Lean protein, fibrous carbs (vegetables), complex carbs and good fats. The diet should be structured to change as the body gets leaner.

  1. Meat: Chicken is the food of choice 80% of the time with fish and tuna being eaten 20% of the time. Some competitors switch to fish in the weeks prior to a show to help with fat loss.
  2. Protein powder: Every competitor uses protein powder each day between, 2-4 scoops. Closer to competition, competitors will replace some of their chicken or fish meals with protein powder to keep fat loss going. You should choose a powder that taste good to you, otherwise you get tired of it real quick.
  3. Supplements: A multivitamin once a day and protein powder, that’s about it for 95% of my competitors. Creatine should only be taken in the off-season. If i find that someone is taking creatine during precontest training, I will have them stop immediately because it makes you hold water.
  4. Cheat foods: Peanut butter seems to be the big winner when it comes to cheating. Almost every competitor admits to cheating on the diet. 70% will choose peanut butter. Ice cream is enjoyed by 30% of competitors and potato chips are eaten by 40%. They say the best thing to do is make sure there is none of the ‘offending’ food in the house… otherwise it will be eaten.
  5. Compliance with the diet: 99% of competitors cheat on the diet. I know a few who I ‘think’ won’t cheat… but I can’t be 100% sure. They often try to lie about it, but i get the truth eventually. Actually cheats are harmless and can be beneficial if kept to a minimum. The brain (psychology) and body (extra energy) benefits from the extra boost a cheat can give them.
  6. Artificial sweeteners: 60% say they use some sort of artificial sugar or flavoring in their coffee (also about 80% drink coffee). These have to be eliminated the last week of a show because they can hold on to water in your body. You can lose 3 or 4 lbs just by eliminating artificial sweeteners from your diet (depending on how much you use).

I think other trainers and competitors expect me to have some secret food or supplements that I use. I don’t. The only ‘secret’ is how the diet is structured… but the foods are just basic foods.

The charts below are based on my competition diets (

(To view or download the complete map:

To view or download the complete map:

Jody and Laurie

Competitor: Kaylee Norton

Kaylee is a down to earth well-rounded competitor from Canada who followed my competition diet program – If you are interested in a well-written inspirational BodySpace profile, check it out: Here is an email she sent me:

“Since I started the program, which I have been following religiously, I have dropped over 15 lbs. My weight is at a 4 year low (since after the last time I competed) but my confidence is at a record high. I’m seeing aspects of my body I haven’t seen in YEARS (oh, 6-pack, how I’ve missed you!) The workouts are HARD, but I enjoy them, and the diet is easy! It’s simple to follow and it’s real, easy to obtain food- nothing weird on the list! I’m still 3 weeks out from competition, but felt confident enough I registered last weekend! My husband comes home today after being away for 6 weeks- I can’t wait for him to see the new me! Everyone at work is noticing and complimenting me, and so far even my parents aren’t complaining this time (they called me emaciated last time). I am SO glad I decided to order this program! I know I’ll use it for contest prep for years to come!”

Check out her BodySpace:

Getting Lean: The final 4 weeks

I always try to stress to competitors how important it is to push even harder the last 4 weeks before a figure competition. These weeks are the hardest because your body fat is low and your body is fighting to keep from losing more fat. But the pounds you lose during the final weeks can have a dramatic effect on your overall appearance… as opposed to early on when a pound or two didn’t even register when looking in the mirror.

This is the time when many competitors plateau and make very little improvement. It’s easy to just “stay the Figure Judgingcourse” …thinking that somehow you will continue to improve. This, of course, is the wrong attitude – what you must do is work harder, more often… and keep your diet tight. Having this attitude can be the difference between winning and losing – or the difference between looking like you belong onstage… or looking like you don’t.

Sometimes when a competitor complains why they can’t do this or do that, I tell them: “Get over yourself” …not to be a jerk, but the competitors you will go up against are probably training hard while you are coming up with reasons not to train. Whether it’s doing cardio before the kids get up in the morning, running on your lunch break or working out after everyone has gone to sleep – you just do what you gotta do.

When your body fat is low and you are low on carbs and energy, the diet becomes very difficult your mind starts to think:

  1. “why is this so hard?”
  2. “why am I doing this?”
  3. I have not lost a pound this week (…so shouldn’t I just quit? …or have that piece of cake?)

This is your subconscious mind trying to justify you quitting, or eating your son’s birthday cake that’s in the fridge…. or maybe participating in the office party next Friday, going out drinking with friends or any number of other temptations you will surely face …everyday! Only the strong survive in this sport.

Tips to keep you focused during the final weeks:

  1. focus on how good you will feel getting onstage in good shape win or lose. You will have done something many women have talked about ….but very few have accomplished.
  2. remember that your competition is probably training hard and not cheating
  3. refuse to make excuses: If I had a nickle for everytime I heard: “It’s harder for me because… I have kids, I’m in school or… I don’t live near a gym or… i work full time etc. etc. etc… there are a thousand excuses. It’s hard for everybody…. each person has things going on in their lives, whether its a full-time job, kids, or a spouse who is unsupportive. Just get over yourself and do it… like Jennifer (aka ‘applejack’) did below.

figure competitorfigure Posing

Why Do Men Hate Me?

figure_suit_001My name is Terry Stokes …and I am a figure coach.

- Years ago when I realized I had the ability to change women’s bodies, I decided to train someone for a figure show. She did great and came in second only to Jelena Abbou (the most sought after figure cover girl in the world). That was wonderful and all, but throughout the process her significant other had a serious issue with our training… and it only got worse!

I wanted to say: “Dude I train 7 days per week, 60 hours per week, have a waiting list of clients calling me every day… oh yea, and a 2-year old at home who I have to take to and from daycare 5 days a week. The last thing I want is you wife!” But of course I couldn’t do that. I just had to smile every time I saw him and pretend like we were buddies… even though, I know he hated every beat my heart took.

- She was shy, very shy when i started training her… and had never walked in heels before. When it was all over she had a ton of self confidence, people commented on how beautiful she was, she held her head up when she walked now – It was a true transformation. It seems like that’s what a guy would want… how silly was I? Then it hit me – as I figure_workoutwas thinking to my self about why a guy would NOT want a women who was strong, confident, and in great shape. Mental confidence + Physical strength = Power and Control! My clients had more power and control in their lives now. What I had done was shift the balance in a relationship – i made things more equal… ooops! Silly me, I was just trying to put someone in a figure show.

- I remember backstage as I was putting oil on her and guys would walk by and comment: “Wish I had your job” or “Don’t work too hard, ha ha!” If they only knew what i was thinking with her reluctant husband and her ex-military father in the audience. My biggest concern was which side of the auditorium they were seated on… so that i could stay on the other side!

- When she walked across that stage, all I could think about was that shy girl who always wore the baseball cap and walked with her head down. Where did she go… this was a beautiful woman on stage, full of confidence and not giving a damn what anyone thought because she was, as she so often said: “Doing something for me.” I knew right then that I was hooked, I had never experienced anything like this before. My life had just changed! Now if I can only find away out of this auditorium without running into her family!


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