www.figurecoach.com THE FIGURE COMPETITION DVD

Pictured Above: The incredible and beautiful Rebecca Thieneman winner of the Fitness Contest at the 2004 Debbie Kruck Classic. Rebecca is a multiple Figure and FItness Champion on the NPC circuit. The female Bob Paris of Figure contests she displays a rare combination of natural beauty and perfect muscle like no other. A full time student Rebecca is as smart and nice as she is gorgeous. A real champion.


Training is an individual thing. You have to find what works for you. Once you find once works--you still have to train very hard for results. For my advanced course on all aspects of training (including pre-contest specific training) visit this link. What we will focus on in this section is what to focus on to achieve the "look" that is needed to win in a figure contest.

There is a science to training. You can learn this science. For a great book a reasonable price ($16.95) order Frank Zane's new book :The Zane Body Training Manual. A real blueprint for bodybuilding and competeing. Apply all the lessons in Frank's book to your body and you will be very successful. If you need to know everything in a nutshell..here it is.

No idea how to train--at all? What to do? What exercises? Check out this web site for some great information.
Want to learn step by step how to become an advanced bodybuilder? Bill Pearl on his web site www.billpearl.com/ lays out 20 months of training. It's free and it's a wealth of valuable information. His thoughts fit in nicely with our Fee online ADVANCED TRAINING COURSE. Study them both.
Bill Pearl's 20 month course is complete with illustrations and routines (that become more and more advanced each month) that take a person from rank bodybuilding beginner to advanced training. By month 20 you are doing a classic 3 way split. I think this is an excellent online course and it's free. He teaches you 100's of exercises and How to apply them.
However let me say this about training all the time, "advanced training" does not have to mean MORE FREQUENT training. You can be very advanced and train 1 or 2x a week. It's what you put into your training, that counts, not how often you train. Training 6 days a week would burn most people out in short order.

That being said the Bill Pearl 20 month course is truly excellent and worth reading many times. His book "Key's To The Inner Universe" should be in every bodybuilder's library. Available on his site and Amazon.

BE LEAN: Of course you have to be lean. Not just a starved bag of bones. You have to have full shapely muscles. Lift to be strong and eat enough food to to not look overly dieted. Don't compete if you are fat. Stay on the diet, keep training and diet the fat off, then plan to compete.

EXERCISES YOU NEED TO DO: Weight training and aerobics. You will do both. Usually resistance training with weights 2 or more times a week to build muscle tone and aerobic training to burn fat like walking or bike riding (not aerobic classes).

Find aerobics that you like (some folks love biking, some hate it ect..) And makes sense. For many people a good investment is a gym with treadmills and or stationary bicycles. I have a stationary bike in my home and it was a good investment. Find what works for you and use it.


What is peaking?: Peaking is the culmination of (hopefully) a long build up cycle. You build up to a new level of size and strength (get in great shape), training for 8 months or more (sometimes years), then chiseling down (taking off all the extra fat) as it were, to a super lean and muscular condition. If you do it right (peaking)and don't starve all your muscles off yourself by over dieting, you should end up leaner with more muscle then ever before every time you peak yourself.

Peaking is an art. It takes practice. That is why you need to keep an eating log, to record how much food you need to achieve a certain look in a certain time frame. For example: for me 3 months of 3,300 calorie's a day, of eating super clean food every 3 hours and doing aerobics 2 times a day will take off my body about 12 pounds of pure fat. Knowing this for a fact, I can make plans on when I should start dieting for a certain date (contest) sometime down the road.

There is lean then there is super lean--tissue paper skin with no body fat at all. A true peak is an extreme temporary condition where you are at your physical best with super low body fat. This means training a little more often and really going for it--in terms of effort and intensity. Most athletes peak their strength (for the year) and increase their volume of training about a month or so before they compete and carry that level of performance all the way into the contest.

Can you be lean all year round? Yes, you can, but it's hard and not advised to live on a peak diet for more than a few months. It's hard to recover properly and grow stronger when you live on a very low fat fat and low calorie diet. To get strong--you need an off season--you need to eat, rest, and recover. There is no need to get fat, but you should not try to live at a "peak". It often leads to burn out and lowers your energy levels and often leads to injury.

A peak condition is usually followed by a month or two of low level training to recover from the strain of the peaking process and heal any injuries that happened during the season. This year I took 6 weeks off after my peak (training light once a week) and many of my nagging injuries cleared up completely. Within 3 months, I was stronger and training harder than ever before. The time off, the rest and extra calories, rejuvenated me and the investment in rest paid off handsomely. I built up to a new level of performance almost immediately

This is why you need a cycling of your training over a year or 2. You build up, to a new level, then diet all the fat off and see what you have left. To read about training cycles in depth please read this book (free online).

You should not live on a "peak" schedule. You won't make progress. It's too much training and too little food (especially fats...your body needs them) to live on forever.

These are the focus areas. The parts you need and want to accentuate to help you score well.

A. Shoulders
B. Buttocks/hamstrings
C. Quads
D. Abs
E. Upper Back


A. Round, cut shoulder with a round cap to the side is a key look to develop. Lots of laterals, and shoulder press. Benching and rows and lat pulls helps this area as well.











B. A tight butt-hamstring area. Another key area. Lunges, squats, and almost anything you can think of that works your butt. Hyper extensions and reverse hyper extensions, stiff leg dead lifts, lunges, squats, one leg leg press, leg curls, 1 leg step ups, are all great, just to name a few. If your butt is a weak point it only means you have to work it harder. Twice a week butt work is suggested.
C. Quads. The front of your legs. Shapely sweeps to the side of the legs, with clean separation to the front quad muscles is what we are after. Front squats, leg press, leg extensions, and other exercises develop this area. Posing the legs helps also with separation.




D. Abs. A flat trim midsection. This is mostly about diet. Training abs daily for 10 minutes is suggested. Do stomach vacuums, crunches (all sorts) and leg raises. Practice posing the stomach daily. Flex it hard.
E. Upper back. The "v" shape and taper. Develop the high upper back muscles. Lat pulls, reverse laterals, Hammer machine high rows, and one arm rows are great for this part of the back.


2. PEAKING: For most of us this means eating ultra clean for a long time (months) and doing lots of aerobics and more frequent weight training. Training for a peak condition is all consuming and very draining. You try to be as muscular as possible with the lowest possible body fat. Training like this is different in that the goal is to harden up and cut up and not necessarily "build" up. You will find your shoulders, abs and legs will really take shape and respond with more frequent work outs.

For a peak, legs are often trained twice on a training day. Usually the first leg workout is heavier and harder than the second session of the day. Usually the second workout is lighter for more reps and often focusing on buttocks all by themselves. This double training really helps harden the gluteus and legs. If your shoulders are weak, try training them twice a day on upper body days. Make the second workout just a pump up the delts workout avoiding heavy weights.

Posing practice. As we discuss in detail in chapter 3, practicing your presentation is very important. Twice a week is the minimum.

Here is a common weekly peaking schedule.

Aerobics 30 minutes
Aerobics 30 minutes
Aerobics 30 minutes
Aerobics 30 minutes
Aerobics 30 minutes











Aerobics 30 minutes
Aerobics 30 minutes



Aerobics 30 minutes
PICTURES of how to stand when not being compared.  




All kinds of ideas on how to get the most out of your training.

10 week cycle of weight progression: TRAINING 1x a week: (this is a build up schedule).

Here is a progression schedule that may help you think about your training (how to progress).

Here is a common way to progress:

Week one: exercise x(any exercise)  do 10 reps with 100 pounds.

Week 2: exercise x do 11 reps with 100 pounds.

Week 3 exercise x do 12 reps with 101 pounds.

Week 4: exercise x do 7 reps with 110 pounds.

Week 5: exercise x do 6 reps with 112 pounds.

Week 6: exercise x do 6 reps with 115 pounds.

Week 7 exercise x do 5 reps with 118 pounds.

Week 8: exercise x do 5 reps with 120 pounds.

Week 9: exercise x do 5 reps with 121 pounds.

Week 10: exercise x do 5 reps with 121 pounds.

Week 11: exercise x do 12  reps with 105 pounds.

Week 12: exercise x do 11 reps with 110 pounds.


Competing is just a goal to use as a CARROT to get in shape. The goal is not to compete but to be great (as you can be). We use contests to help us FOCUS. IF you come in dead last as many beautiful people do..don't worry..you are still beautiful!

BOOKS TO READ TO HELP YOU LOOK GREAT: "Ripped 2" by Clarence Bass. "Beyond Brawn" by Stuart McRobert. Sly Moves by Sly Stallone. Read these books over and over and brainwash yourself into eating and living clean and lean. I read "Ripped 2" every week I am dieting. It keeps me on track.

A READER ASKS THE RIGHT QUESTIONS: " Dan how come I look better after a show?"
You are so right about looking better off a contest..one day..you look great.. After a diet you have lost a lot of muscle..usually you enter a show all depleted and thin..... After the diet..when you begin to to train without aerobics and eat again..you grow all your muscles back. You look better with all your muscles back. Fullness is the thing we are talking about.

If you eat lousy food this will happen a day or two after the show (you look really full and stilll cut) but after a about 36 hours you smooth out for good.
However for others who stay lean after the show and continue to eat clean for several months and quit aerobics..and even eat more (more clean food than on the diet) will reach the highest level of bodybuilding..the metabolic rebound..of muscle...

Hitting the real peak:

If you stay lean, you will look bigger as you stretch back out (muscle fullness returns)...in a few weeks after the show..you hit a new peak..usually not as ripped but very muscular and full. This is common. If you are smart you peak..say in July..then spend several months building back up to say October..to be at your true best . Since July I have not done an aerobic..lost another 1/2 off my waist..and my arms that withered to 14 on the diet..are now 16.5 inches. The difference in how I look is amazing. The secret is staying lean..after the diet is over.. Peaking means different things. For us lets not define it as getting all depleted..let's define it as personal best. Spend x months getting small and ripped (lots of aerobics, hard diet..)..then spend X months eating clean BUT MORE FOOD..and building up all that lost muscle (using muscle memory..what you once had you can get back in weeks)..You end up better than ever.. I would not touch an aerobic if I did not need it. If you are already lean..don't do them or do very light..(very)..better to just not eat alot of carbs.. And if you are NOT training with BANDS YOU SHOULD BE..Especialy legs. I won't give up on you. The damn bands will harden and cut you up like nothing else. I swear it. If you do not believe me I have a Mr. Olympia, A Mr. America, the 2005 Nationals Figure Champion (yes my good friend) who all SWEAR BY BANDS. Call Frank Zane. He will tell you. Please use them. They work. a few weeks on bands and you will thank me.

HOW TO ADD small weights to the weight stacks:
---I use the clip weight collars (the things that lock the weights on a bar from Wal Mart that cost $1 ) to add 1 or 2 or 4 pounds to a bar (I use 4 of them).

---Or you can buy magnetic weights that magnetize to the stack (they come in 1lb, 2lb and 1/2 sizes. ----You can use weight stack attachments (expensive) made to add weights to weight stack.

--------You can but a bean bag (old sock) filled with 1 lb of washers (metal washers from the hardware store) on the top of the stack.

----THis is crazy but shoes weigh about 1 or 2 pounds...if I don't have weights with me I use a shoelace and tie my shoe to the stack. This adds about 1.5 pounds.

TRAINING ONE DAY A WEEK: How to make it count:

Now here is something to consider. You may split up your routine and do it all day...

Like this: 9am leg press, leg curl, squats, calves go home rest and eat.
1PM Bench machine , dead lift, lat pulls, rows, press, Reverse laterals --back delts db flyes go home rest and eat. 6pm Bands or weights again
Bands: Arms and back and legs again (at home). or if you are not doing bands just go to the gym and do: curls, triceps extent ions, laterals, Front laterals, leg extensions, lunges, ball hamstring contractions.

Because you are so rested between each session you can really give it your all. This is not an excuse to over train..in fact the opposite ...doing 1/4 of the normal volume at each workout NEVER RUNS YOU DOWN. You are fresh and strong for each exercise. Yes you can work out once and get it all done--but at some point to increase performance you will have to break it up. When I dip heavy ..I don't do anything else. I do 4 sets (warm up, warm up, warm up, then do a heavy one) and leave the gym for 2 hours. It allows me to MAX every lift I do. Like walking lunges (2 football fields with DBs)...I am so whipped from them I do them alone. If I was to do anything else after this..my performance would suffer. (I can't do leg press hard cause I am fried from the lunges).


-----Multiple sets do not increase results. Especially strength. The same with training too often or too hard . You simply can't get any stronger.

Warm up then do one hard progressive set (progressive means do more than before) and move on to the next exercise. DO not strain. Work hard but never to your limit. Training to your limit makes you weak. (it does this by over taxing the nerves and glands). Train hard..but not till you puke or turn purple. Super hard effort is NOT advised.

---Using my leg routine won't make your legs look like mine. Again..this is true . You will look like as YOU LOOK. Let me explain it this way. I met a guy with great arms. It turns out he does a routine of curls and triceps dips 1x a week....and he has the greatest arms EVER!!!! If I did his routine for 100 years I would not LOOK like him. There is no magic routine that will build me like him (genetics).

--tons of exercises to hit the muscles from all angles. This will cause better "shape".

All of this is false. One exercise like dips or  bench will give you about 95% of your development. How the muscle looks is genetics. Not due to your choice of exercises. FACT. You can train set for set like Cory Everson...even out lift her..but you WILL NEVER LOOK LIKE HER.

Find an exercise that does not hurt you, you like, and build up on it. Do not do exercises that hurt or make your joints scream (like DB fly's). One exercise that stimulates the entire muscle...That will build the muscle to it's full potential.

NOW Bill Pearl says just the opposite. Change your routine often ect..to hit the muscle from all "angles". again this worked for Bill...but I contend that if he had just done bench for 20 years...he would look about the same (220 and built).

The fact is..if you squat ..press, dead lift, and lat pull..and do this for 4 to 10 years progressivley..you will be about as built as you where ever going to get.

Some notes about all that. I hardly train chest and it grows just by me doing legs . I train arms and legs all the time (harder and with more effort than chest for sure) and my chest is still one of my best parts. Genetics. I put 85% of my time into my legs and they are still my weak part.

Genetics. Do they improve (legs and arms)..of course...but if I put this effort into my chest it would be 4 inches thick.

People always ask me.. gee you are so strong in the chest (I benched a work record in Jan 2005) what is your secret? There is no secret. God gave it to me. I have benched 12 times in 8 years. The 12th, time I benched, I set a world record. It's genetics. I have not benched since.

---How often do you need to train? The time of year is the key to this. For the most part...build up for 6 to 8 months and then diet and do some detail work (more frequent training) to increase your "muscularity" for 2 -4  months or so. Slightly over training give your muscles a "finished" look.

So if you are building you train less and with more focus on performance (I did walking lunges for 150 yards with 20 pounds in each hand. Today I will go 175 yards). THe goal is to increase performance in the build up phase so you actually BUILD UP! Don't lift for pump or feel or anything. Save all that for "PEAKING" Lift for performance If you did 30 sit ups last week, today you do 31. Lifting for performance is different than lifting for "feel" or a pump. A pump is not needed to get bigger and stronger. (another big falsehood). IN fact once you are pumped--the lactic acid is ll in your muscles--your performance will suffer. It's hard to run fast or do anything when you are all PUMPED up. LIft for a p ump during pre contest--the rest of the year do not worry or try to train for a pump. You can get a pump with a 2 pound DB and it won't do a damn nothing for you. Pumping does not build anything but capillaries (which is a good thing).

I have trained 1x a week for 92 weeks to prove to myself and my clients that "Beyond Brawn" by Stuart McRobert..is a book that speaks the truth. I have achieved my greatest strength and muscular bodyweight ever--do to the fact I completely recover (and thus grow stronger) between workouts. I coached many people into training 1x a week --and everyone of them is achieving great success. Not one has "gotten" weaker or smaller. IN fact JUST THE OPPOSITE.

Each one says this," I never thought this would work. Everyone I know trains every day or every other day. They tell me this would never work, but it does. I am glad I tried this."

I have a guy that started with me 22 weeks ago. He has lifted for one hour a week for 22 weeks. He has benched 275 for 3 reps and lost 45 pounds. He is stronger than he has ever been. The best part of the story..is that the fellows at his old gym that laughed at HIM---are no longer laughing.

2 of them have signed up with me to learn the SECRET of this man's success.

Training and them allowing time to recover (about a week) will make you strong and thus build you up if you are eating and resting.

I have yet to see it fail.

Like I said I have clients from 16 to 65..and it works on all of them.

www.hardgainer.com published a magazine for 19 years about this training method ..zillions of people train this way..it's just not mainstream. We are not dealing with a myth or an isolated incident.

How to prove it to yourself. TRAIN. Wait 5 days and lift again..are you stronger?(with the same effort can you do more--do not increase effort--just push as hard as before (85% effort)) I found that if I returned to the gym before 6 full days of rest I was unable to increase my performance .

Then train and wait 4 days, then 3, then try 6 days rest. Figure it out. Find out when you need to return to the gym to take advantage of your new strength.

Keep records. fF it turns out like everyone else you will find you can only increase your performance if you REST long enough to re-grow STRONGER . Coming back earlier you will see the proof ( you can't get stronger ). Do this experiment if you have any doubts. It's exactly how I did it.

In 10 weeks of training 1x a week I had beaten every personal record I ever had.

Previous to this I trained on a double split, 6 days a week. And for 15 years never got stronger (or bigger) but I sure got pumped! (: I did legs 36 hours a month...now I do them 2 hours a month and I am stronger than ever.

Building up is a separate event than peaking or losing fat.

The good news is now that you are lean...you can take ALL THAT ENERGY you poured into aerobics and channel it into your WEIGHT TRAINING. Stay lean and build up from here.

One more thing. I do aerobics daily or 2 x daily for about 6 months a year. Very gentle easy does it bike rides, to burn fat. If I do aerobics HARD--they thin me down (shrink my muscles) so I do them easy.

You must buy a stationary bike and put it in your home. That way you can do cardio any time you want. I see them in yard sales every weekend if you can't buy a new one. If you can buy a new one buy a magnetic one (they are dead silent). Sears sells some good ones. It's the first thing I make an athlete (client) buy. ( usually at a garage sale--and ALL of them USE THE HELL out of it). I bought mine for $5 and have used it for 4 years.

If you don't stay lean, that is up to you. I would not go back to being (fat)er...THE PLAN IS: basically up your protein to 1.5 grams for each pound you weigh, eat 100 grams for carbs a day, every third date eat 250 grams of carbs. eat clean . If all goes right and you train right you should put one some muscle and NOT get fat..again. You end up bigger and fuller. If you keep at the aerobics you might even be MORE CUT.

You can't force a peak..you just have to chase after it till you get there....so do not give up. NOw do not be offended but...This entire business of quoting body fat levels to me is a joke. I have had people tell me they are 4 % body fat and they look like crap. All that matters is how you look. Nothing else. For some reason the body fat people seem to also "hold water" and other stuff that seems like an excuse for not being fat free. I am not putting you down for it...I tested my body fat for years as well. I was a nut about it. Then one day I figured out all that mattered was how I looked . The body fat thing was just another useless thing to focus on so I cut it loose. If it gives you incentive to train that is cool--but don't make it a goal. Make your goal to LOOK GREAT. I have seen more people at (so called) 3% body fat that look lousy than I can tell you. All that matters is how you look.

Getting fat off is the opposite of building up. But once you get ripped you can (forget about fat loss) get back all your muscles in just a few weeks by eating more (like 2 dozen egg whites a day plus what you eat now). So it's like a diet with more carbs and more protein. You eat clean, just a ton more food . If you can do this--- in about 2 months after your show you will be your best ever. Your muscle's have a memory, you can use that to your advantage. Fat loss is always a costly (in terms of muscle) activity.


Minimum: I would do 1 cardio session every day for 30 min at a pulse of 115 or so. This is gentle, non tiring aerobics. (DO not do high intensity tiring aerobics!!!) 
This type of activity burns fat. You can go as far as 50 min in a session. Bike riding is more gentle than walking. But I would do both (walking and biking as my cardio). If in doubt..bike. If I was able I would do 2 cardio sessions a day on non training days. One AM, one PM.
If I was able, I might do one or even 2 cardio sessions EVEN on weight days IF I needed to lose the fat.

Eat protein (at least 20 grams a day above bodyweight.) So if you weigh 110, eat 130 grams a day. Keep carbs between 100 and 200 grams a day. If hungry, eat protein. Eat every 2 or 3 hours. Drink water all day.
Do abs for 5 to 10 minutes--daily--- till 3 days before the show. I know it's impossible but an afternoon NAP would help you 100%. Try to get a deep massage at least 1x a month. Extra sleep works like a drug. Sleep as much as you can. I sleep like a workout (I make time for it).

Have you ever trained intensely with bands? You can train at home with them and get the workout of your life. They tighten up anyone (increase muscularity). There are literally 100's of exercises you can do with them and again it is DEAD SILENT (like the magnetic bike). Training with heavy bands is as hard as super heavy weights and smoother than the smoothest pulley. And it works your core as you have to tighten your core to perform a rep of any exercise. Imagine tightening your abs for an hour....that is what is just one thing it does well. It's awesome for delts, back, abs and arms. Great for legs -- you can do tons of stuff with them (100's of moves) from squats, to leg curls. lunges, adductor, abductor, lunges and so forth. ANd the contraction really is intense.

I do half of my training with bands and it works. I love it. They have been around since 1820 and are a very valid form of progressive resistance. They are a tool to get cut with. They build intense cuts and separation in the muscles unlike a weight can produce. Anyone I have ever turned bands onto has thanked me and after using them bought a pair. It is an unreal workout. And they really work. It's not a toy, or pump tool..it's real..muscle building stuff and it makes your muscles look like carved steel. You must try them.  

HERE is a complete STRENGTH BAND workout program with pictures.

I use this set www.bodylastics.com , but any bands will do. Just lift progressively (gradually use heavier and heavier bands over time). If you don't train with them now you will love it. Many famous bodybuilders, ones known for their "tightness" use bands in secret. Ironwoody  (available on Amazon) makes bands that go to 100's of pounds!! (people use them for dead lifts, squats, bench etc.). http://www.leeapperson.com/bookone/page10intensity.html Read this one web page for peaking ideas. Keep training--you can do it.

Q: I CAN'T GET IT ALL DONE IN ONE DAY: I want to build up and I am trying to get it all done in one day as you suggest. I just have too much to do. How should I set up my training? I do 4 exercises for biceps and 4 for triceps..that takes an hour right there! With warm ups sets (16) and working sets (8) that is 24 sets just on arms!

A: You are doing way too many exercises. Do 12 to 20 working sets for the entire body ...total.

That 12 to 20---does not include the effortless warm up sets (at least one or two for each exercise). The warm up sets are non taxing. They are warm ups. Once you are HOT..you can warm up much less (do less warm up sets once you are hot)  when  I am hot I do just one or two warm ups then go for it on my hard set.

Here is a routine that works:
chest- bench, machine dip..( 2 working sets (one for each exercise), 4 total warm up sets) 12 minutes

back -lat pull, rows, hyper extentions ( 3 working sets, (one for each exercise 3 total warm up sets) 12 minutes

delts -press, laterals, reverse laterals (3 working sets, (one for each exercise 3 warm up sets) 12 minutes

arms -biceps, curls, Triceps Tricep extensions: ( 2 working sets, (one for each exercise) 2 total warm up sets) 6 minutes

legs , Squats,leg curls, leg press, lunges, calves. ( 5 to 9 working sets , (one for each exercise) 2 working sets on each exercise except lunges, 9 warm up sets total)  45 minutes.

So lets do some totals...15 to 19 total hard sets (where you go for it). 21 warm up sets. 40 minutes of actual lifting.

With rest between sets this is a 2 hour workout.

I like to break it up (my workout day) into at least 2 parts. Maybe more. Do back and chest rest 2 hours, do legs, rest 2 hours, do arms and delts.

A simple split is: Am upper, Pm lower body. Or I will do my entire weight routine (2 hours) in the am.... then do bands at night.

Bands. When do we work them in? I do them later that day, or the next day, or at the end of the routine (I will do 1 set of each band exercise for the muscle I am working).  Also I do bands for arms and lateral exercises (and don't use weights on them). What? you do bands the next day?? Isn't that training on an off day? Yes it is.




©2005 Dan Burke all rights reserved
the Figure Competition Prep Guide