From Bookworm to Bikini: Week Eight

By Caroline Gick


Balance. We see and hear this word everywhere. Most times, people use it to talk about obtaining and maintaining it in their lives. They want a healthy combination of work, family, training, and everything else that goes into a productive week. I’d be lying if I told you I don’t worry about being balanced in these ways myself, but that’s not what I’m referring to today.

Instead, I want to talk about balance as it relates to the human body—in this case, symmetry. I’m now five weeks out from my show, and I’m finding myself a little bit “off kilter,” if you will, so I’m changing some things about my training to address this—with the obvious goal of achieving better balance by the time I hit the stage.

How am I out of balance?

Skip the jokes, please. I believe I’m off in several different ways. Here are my target areas and how I’m addressing them:

From Top to Bottom: Building

My goal is to have perfect symmetry between my shoulders, waist, hips, and calves. If you have broad shoulders, you need to make sure your quads are built to match. Your calves shouldn’t be too big or small for the rest of your legs, and you need a good balance between your shoulders, waist and hips. You get the idea. Getting this right is far from easy.

I need to spend the next five weeks focusing on the shape and size of my outer quads in order to create a better balance with my shoulders—the shape of which I’m happy with—and my calves, which have always been big.

I’ve just started a new training plan. This will split my leg workouts into two separate days, enabling me to spend more time on my quads. My new quad day looks like this:


From Top to Bottom: Leaning

I carry most of my body fat in my lower half. My biggest challenge has always been the idea of leaning out my legs without getting too lean in the upper body. For my last show, I focused on my lower half, and the comments I received from the judges—and the professionals I spoke to—indicated that I was too lean, too hard, and too vascular.

Nicole Wilkins—Ms. Figure International and a former Ms. Figure Olympia—told me not to come in so hard for my next show. She said to not diet as much, and that this would actually make things easier. This was obviously pretty funny, but the problem I have is that if I back off on the diet, my legs don’t come in enough. If I diet enough to get my legs where I want them, I lose my size and get hard and vascular on top. My face also gets very drawn. Ack!

The goal for this competition is to use my diet over the next few weeks, peak week, and show day to get as tight as I can down below while still maintaining size and fullness on top. I don’t know what that menu is going to look like just yet—and it changes almost daily at this point. What I do know is that it’s going to be a serious mental challenge to not get too stressed out about it. I need to trust that everything’s going to be where I want it come show day.

From Left to Right: Back Edition

I have scoliosis, and I’ve spent the past two years using chiropractic adjustments and exercise to straighten my spine and build the muscles on the left side of my back—particularly my left erector. This has worked well, and I’ve improved a lot from where I started, but I still have to work at it. I’ll continue to integrate the scoliosis routine into my training on a weekly basis to maintain balance between my right and left erectors.

In my last competition, I also learned how to adjust my posing—with my back poses—to minimize the appearance of the imbalance. Since then, however, there’s been additional improvement, so I need to pay close attention to symmetry and my posing to see whether I need to continue to make these kinds of adjustments.

Whether it’s because of the scoliosis or now simply a physical habit, I nearly always stand crookedly, with my left shoulder higher than my right. I have to make a conscious effort to lower my left shoulder when I do my front and back poses to make sure everything’s even.


From Left to Right: Front Edition

This weekend, watching myself in the mirror doing landmines—an exercise I love to hate—I noticed that my right oblique is significantly bigger and thicker than my left.


This isn’t an issue in daily life, but it’s a huge deal on stage. Is it possible to fix this in five weeks? I don’t know, but I’m going to try. I’m adding three sets of suitcase deadlifts, targeting my left oblique by holding the weight in my right hand. I’ll do these for 3×10, Partitioned Set Ramping (PSR) style, using heavy weight.

The Week Ahead

I’m excited about my new training plan. I was ready for a change, mentally and physically, and I feel a renewed sense of motivation and focus. The human body never ceases to amaze me with what it can do when you give it the right inputs with diet and training. In eight weeks, I’ve made significant improvements, and I feel like I’ll be ready for the stage.

The real crunch time is right now. The areas I need to focus on are apparent, and these last five weeks are critical. I want to bring the best possible physique to the stage—one that’s tight in all the right places, with full muscles from left to right and top to bottom. And I want to be lean, but healthy looking and not drawn.

In other words, balanced.

Have a great week, everyone.