From Bookworm to Bikini: Week Three

By Caroline Gick

I use the Shockwave protocol because it lets me maintain and add muscle at the same time as I’m stripping off body fat. It’s the perfect plan for getting ready for competition. In fact, I’ve adopted Shockwave for my regular training, and not just for contest prep.

What has Shockwave done for me? First, I’ve been able to preserve my strength and leanness year-round. This means I don’t have to go through any bulking or cutting phases before photo shoots or competitions.

Next, Shockwave is flexible. This means I can tailor my training sessions to be as effective as possible while taking into account how I feel on any given day. This is kind of a new concept if you’re not used to it—but it’s also taken the fear out of backing off slightly or changing my routine. When I have to do either of these things, I’m not afraid of losing momentum or not making progress while I’m using Shockwave. This is especially important during contest prep, when diet and energy levels can change daily.

At this point in my prep, I’m lifting heavy four days per week using Shockwave. I do one or two days of glute, core, and ab work, and I have one active rest day—which means I try to get in a 60 minute walk on the treadmill or a brisk 3-5 mile walk outside. I do at least two 30 minute High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) sessions on the stationary bike every week, and I walk for 30 minutes after every lifting session.

Here’s what my training split looks like right now:

Sunday: Glutes, abs, core, HIIT
Monday: Deadlift
Tuesday: Active rest day (as described above)
Wednesday: Legs
Thursday: Shoulders, biceps, triceps
Friday: Glutes, abs, HIIT
Saturday: Back, chest

Lifting Sessions

Each lifting session is a combination of a few ELECT (Eccentric-Loading Explosive Contraction) and standard movements, and PSR (Partitioned Set Ramping) and regular sets. For example, Saturday (back/chest) looks like this (WU = warm-up and STND = standard):

The Workout


My goal is always to perform all exercises as presented in my plan, with equivalent or increased weight each week. If I feel fatigued, or if, for some other reason, I’m not able to get through an entire workout, I concentrate on completing the ELECT movements—and I’ll do as many auxiliary or standard exercises as possible. The absolute minimum, however, is to get through the ELECT exercises.

Here’s a look at the progression of my back since I started training with Shockwave:


From left to right:

July 2010: before any training
September 2010: first show
November 2011: after spending a full year focused on building my back.
February 2013: after 15 months of using Shockwave, but not consistently and not with great focus.

I’m very happy with my shoulders and somewhat happy with my back, although I’m missing some of the width I’d put on in 2011. I’m working on adding what I can before this next show. The plan above is what I’m doing today. In a couple of weeks, I’ll change this, depending on where I am at that point and what I think needs additional work. I do this with all body parts, and I’ll share with you how and why I’m changing things as I go.


This isn’t written on the plan, but the first thing I do when I get to the gym every morning, per Kiefer’s instructions, is walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes at a 3.0-3.3 pace. I get up very early most mornings (around 4 AM), and my drive to the gym is only about three minutes, so this is the perfect time to finish my pre-workout coffee before I hit the weight room.

I’ve also been taking more time to stretch between my walk and my lifting. My lower back and hips are super tight at the moment, and even when I take the time to stretch, this tightness has been affecting my range of motion on back and leg days. This has hampered my ability to add weight to my deadlifts and squats. I’ve been taking 10-15 minutes to stretch after these sessions, too. I’m planning to add Pilates into the mix this week, because this has helped me out a lot with back strength and flexibility in the past.


I walk for 30 minutes at level 3.0-3.3 after every lifting session. This is when I’ll have my post-workout shake and a banana. I have two scheduled HIIT sessions on the bike each week for a total of 60 minutes of intense cardio, but I’ll be adding one or two sessions this week—and possibly next week—because I have a little bit of extra fat burning to do to get where I want to be at this point.

I also walk as much as possible as a general rule, and got in a 60 minute treadmill walk on my active rest day this week. I’m lucky to live close—but not too close—to the grocery store, farmer’s market, and coffee shops in my neighborhood, so I tend to get a lot of walking in on the weekends, as well as intentional three mile walks around a lake near my apartment.  

As an aside, I’m pushing myself to do wide-grip pull-ups again, and I’m psyched! No, I can’t do many, but I’m working on it. I had to stop because of a surgical procedure 18 months ago, and I hadn’t done any until a few days ago. When I started, I could only do one, but now I’m up to three, and building from there. I’ll walk over to the bar and do them between exercises. I can’t wait to see how many I can snap off by the time this training is over. I really love doing pull-ups. They’re a fantastic exercise for the back, and they make me feel like a total badass—at least when I can do more than three at once. I’ll get there.

Have a great week, everyone!