From Bookworm to Bikini: Week Four

By Caroline Gick

Last week I presented a general overview of the type of Shockwave Protocol training I do, showing you what my weekly training split looks like. This week, I want to get into some specifics when it comes to my actual training days. I’ve always felt as though workout diaries and training articles are kind of useless when you can’t see the weights people are working with, so I want to put my money where my mouth is and show you what I’m really doing.

I have to admit that I feel pretty vulnerable here. I’ve never actually shared with anyone how much weight I use with the exercises I do, primarily because I don’t think it’s a lot of weight compared to other women I know. I’m also sensitive to the fact that I’m not as strong as I was at the end of my last contest prep. Looking back at my training journals, I’m closer to where I started during that prep, as opposed to where I finished.

Instead of keeping it going and continuing the momentum I had at that point, I backed off quite a bit over the past 15 months—so much so that I feel a little bit like I’m starting over. That’s okay, though. I’d rather focus on where I am now and how I can improve, rather than worrying about what ground I’ve lost and how I compare with everyone else.

Sometimes I wonder whether I could and would do more if I trained with a partner—someone to motivate me and keep me accountable for adding weight each week to make gains. There are a couple of problems with this, though. First off, it would be very hard for me to find someone to train with at 4 AM every morning. I also prefer to train alone. As a figure competitor, I train for muscular development and aesthetics rather than pure strength, so that’s something I have to factor in, as well.

Heavier weights help my development, but my goal is not necessarily to be able to lift more every week just for the sake of being able to lift more. I try to increase the weights I’m using each week, but there may be a few weeks where I hold steady at a given weight before I try to move up. I write out my weekly plan on Sunday nights, and review what I did over the past weeks to figure out an appropriate starting weight for each exercise. I make notes every day about whether I felt strong or weak, and I use this to help assess my starting points for the coming week.

When I make this plan, I write a selected weight in the spot for the first rep of each exercise, but I try to remain flexible with this. I’ve found that if I walk into the gym thinking I can lift a certain weight, that’s the weight I can lift. If I walk in with an open mind, however, I can go heavier. I was the same way when I was a runner. If I set out to run ten miles, I’d run ten strong miles and feel completely spent. If I went out to run ten, five felt like it was a joke. As a result, I try not to put limits on myself, but I use the previous week as a guideline.

Running the Numbers

Here’s a look at an upper body day and a lower body day—along with my stats from this past week. As I mentioned in last week’s post, my lower back and hips have been very tight. This has been giving me a lot of trouble, so I had to back off my regular weight by about 20 percent on leg day. The numbers here reflect that lowered weight.






The stretching I’ve done has been helping, and my deadlifts and leg day were stronger than they’ve been in weeks, despite the lowered percentages. I still held back on my leg presses, but I feel like I’m getting back on track with everything else. I’ve also continued to work on my pull-ups every day. I usually get in sets between other exercises, depending on the day, and now I’m up to five for each set. I’m totally loving them, and so is my back!

I’ve also seen some pretty big improvements in my measurements/stats over the past two weeks:

Weight: 134 (down 4 pounds)
Hips: 36” (down 1”)
Waist: 26 ½” (down 1 ½”)
Legs: 21” (down 1”)
Arms: 11” (same)


Here’s what I’m looking like these days. I’m not putting my legs in these pictures, because I don’t feel like they’re ready for primetime yet. They’re my biggest challenge, and they’re the slowest to come in, but I’m seeing and feeling improvements, so I’ll be ready soon. Nine weeks to go!