What She Said

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When women find something great, whether it’s a cute pair of sandals on sale, a hot new restaurant or a hilarious TV show, they love to share it with their girlfriends. And it’s no surprise that diet and fitness are two of the most popular topics women discuss. As helpful as your girlfriends are, wouldn’t you rather hear tips straight from the pros? We’ve asked five of today’s top female fitness and figure competitors to share their tips for staying fit and their favorite finds when it comes to nutritional supplements.

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Ava Cowan

Ava Cowan’s well-proportioned physique, vast knowledge of exercise science and background as a certified personal trainer helped her earn third at the 2011 IFBB Ms. Figure International. Having earned her IFBB pro status in November 2009, she went on to compete in five professional shows in 2010 and plans to take on the best in the world once again at the 2011 Figure Olympia this month. In 2009, Cowan became one of Gaspari Nutrition’s most highly promoted athletes. “I used Gaspari long before I was a Team Gaspari athlete,” she says.

Insider tip for losing body fat: “I am currently doing high-intensity/endurance activities focusing on burning the most calories in the least amount of time.”

Secret to success: “I never give up, no matter what.”

Training routine: “I want more energy, more stamina and quicker recovery from my intense workouts. So I stack several products from Gaspari Nutrition that will give me the edge I need to keep going and to recover from extreme workouts.”

Favorite protein supplement: “MyoFusion in milk chocolate flavor — there is no better-tasting protein with an equivalent macronutrient profile. It is low in carbs and fat, with a solid 25 grams of protein per scoop.”

Favorite stimulant: “Spirodex is by far the best supplement I have ever taken. I take two in the morning when I wake up and can blast through the day. I only take it for four weeks and cycle to Phenerox for another four weeks. If you have a ton of things to do in a day and want a product that makes you want to get things done and feel good, take Spirodex.”

Favorite preworkout: “I take SuperPump Max in fruit punch blast 30 minutes before I train. This product is a lifesaver, especially for endurance. My most productive and enjoyable cardio days are when I listen to my cranked-up house music and take a scoop of SuperPump Max.”

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Alicia Harris

Pairing brains with brawn, Alicia Harris holds a master’s degree in sports management, along with her title of second at the 2011 IFBB Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. She finished sixth at the 2010 Figure Olympia and took second at the 2010 Dallas Europa Super Show and the 2010 Dexter Jackson Classic. Harris feels grateful to be sponsored by Optimum Nutrition, a brand she believes in because she actually uses its products. “They have proteins that cater to my training regimen and to my nutrition pre-contest and post-contest,” she says.

Secret to success: “No secret ... I just work hard and try to make every experience better than the one before. It’s a life journey, and as I grow in the industry, I grow personally with the knowledge that I gain.”

Finding focus: “I have to be dedicated and balanced in all areas in addition to the physical. Being balanced in the mental and spiritual areas allows me to have the focus I need to do things I need to do.”

Training routine: “My personal training routine involves cardio and working on one muscle group a day. Recently, I have been doing more multi-joint movements and full-body workouts to focus on the specific goals that I have for my body for the stage.”

Favorite multivitamin: “Opti-Women Women’s Multiples are a must because I don’t always get the nutrients I need from the food that I eat.”

Favorite protein: “I use 100% Whey Gold Standard in double chocolate after my workout and as one of my six meals a day.”

Favorite late-night snack: “If I am up late and don’t want to eat an additional meal, Optimum’s 100% Casein Gold Standard in chocolate peanut butter is the greatest because I can make it taste like ice cream when blended with ice, water and some banana.”

Favorite recovery: “I swear by Essential Amino Energy. It helps with my early-morning workouts when I need the energy, and the aminos are super helpful for workout recovery.”

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Erin Stern

Winner of the 2010 Figure Olympia, Erin Stern also took first at the 2011 IFBB New Zealand Pro Figure and the 2011 IFBB Australian Pro Grand Prix XI. “I have been using Dymatize products since 2003, so I was excited to have the opportunity to help promote them,” says Stern, a member of the Elite Team of Team Dymatize. “I believe in their products because they help me recover faster and help me stay lean.”

Secret to success: “Perseverance. I choose a goal, write it down and pursue it relentlessly until I achieve it.”

Training routine: “I train like an athlete, using sprints, plyometrics and powerlifting. I also use traditional bodybuilding exercises to help shape my physique for the stage.”

Favorite protein: “Elite Gourmet protein makes a great postworkout shake and is also perfect for getting in protein between meals.”

Favorite recovery: “I drink Elite Recoup in lemonade throughout the day, four scoops in a gallon jug of water. It helps with recovery and also helps me work out longer.”

Favorite fat: “CLA helps me stay lean and also helps me get enough good fats in my diet.”

Favorite fat burner: “Carnitine helps keep my metabolism revved, especially when I’m getting ready for a show.”

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Monica Brant

Since she first appeared on the scene in 1995, certified master trainer and nutrition coach Monica Brant has made her mark — she was the 1998 IFBB Fitness Olympia champion and the 2010 WBFF Pro Figure world champion. When asked about her sponsorship from BNRG, she says: “I believe in their products, as I have literally felt and seen the power of Proto Whey and will never go back to anything else.”

Secret to success: “I truly love what I do.”

Training routine: “My one-week training and cardio program includes a back day, shoulder day, leg day, track/plyometric workout and cardio where I run in the hills by my home or use the treadmill at the gym.”

Favorite protein: “I take BNRG Proto Whey first thing out of bed each morning and immediately after workouts for increased metabolism and muscle recovery. My favorite blend is two scoops vanilla and one mocha.”

Favorite bars: “Power Crunch bars are irresistible. The wild berry crème and vanilla crème satisfy my sweet tooth, provide me with a quick snack in between meals and are great for traveling.”

Favorite immune booster: “I take glutamine on an empty stomach in between meals and before training three to four times daily. It boosts my immune system and assists with muscle recovery.”

Favorite chocolate treat: “The Power Crunch Choklat bar is so good. Milk or dark, it doesn’t matter. I take it anytime I need chocolate because it satisfies my craving and provides 10 grams of protein.”