Christine is one amazingly strong teenager. Inside the gym she deep squats 195 pounds for 5 reps, deadlifts over 235 pounds, and benches 95 pounds for 6 reps. Outside of the gym, she overcame eating disorders including binge eating and anorexia. In a span of a couple of years, Christine Beauchamp fell in love with lifting and regained her health. She is currently training for her first figure competition, the UFE Showdown on June 5th. Christine also plans on trying her hand at powerlifting.
Muscle & Strength: Tell me about your background. Were you always athletic, and how did you get involved with strength training and bodybuilding?
Christine Beauchamp: I always liked to play things like soccer and ride bikes when I was a kid, but as far as actually being involved with bodybuilding, I wasn't even close to interested. I actually hated the idea of bodybuilders, and thought they looked disgusting. A couple years later I gained a lot of weight, and was teased a lot by family and friends. I hated that, so I eventually turned to cardio and eating disorders, because it was the only thing I knew about getting "thin". Though I hadn't told my parents, I went from binge eating, to bulimia, to anorexia.
I had the most horrible body image. It was then that I found I needed a change, since I had developed so many health problems, so I stumbled on a couple fitness websites and got help from a couple knowledgeable people who put me on the right track to being healthy. That was when I really got hooked on weight training, bodybuilding, and powerlifting. This was in December 2008. I hadn't 100% recovered until late June 2009. And now that I've moved on from all that, I'm ready to embrace bodybuilding and strength training as my new lifestyle.
Muscle & Strength: You have made such incredible progress, both with your physique and with strength gains, in such a short period of time. Give us some of your current lifting stats, and tell us exactly how you trained to get such great results. What were your secrets? And what did you learn about training to make such great progress?
Christine Beauchamp: Well a couple weeks back I made a PR on my deadlift, 235 lbs for 2 reps. My best squat (before I began contest prep) was 195 for 5 reps. Being on a calorie deficit, I've had to lighten my loads a bit to avoid injury, though in my powerlifting off-season I'm hoping to increase those number substantially!
I always use a very basic approach to training. Before deciding that I wanted to go on an official strength routine, I always just went in the gym, made sure my form was correct, and lifted as heavy as I could. I kept my reps in the 5-8 range for most exercises, throwing in a couple more or a couple less, depending on the day, what I was doing, and how I was feeling.
I find that there are no secrets to weight training. All the answers, and everything you need to know is right at your fingertips - whether you want to take the leap and give it a try is up to you. A lot of guys want to squat 500 lbs, but no one wants to get under the heavy bar. A lot of girls might want to look like a fitness or figure model, but none of them want to diet for 16 weeks and work their ass off to get that perfect conditioning. It all comes down to what you're willing to put your body and mind through. It's no secret, some people are just scared!
The best thing I've learned about training so far, is to give everything into your lifts, to train safe, and leave your ego at the door. You might FEEL like you can deadlift 450 lbs. one day, but if you have to hitch it and bend your body into ungodly positions just to grunt it up there, well, maybe you have to take things a bit slower, and lighten up the load. I'm very big on proper form, and if you're not taking your health into account and just throwing weights up for the sake of it, you're going to find yourself getting injured really fast. There is plenty of time for you to progress safely, as long as you are patient and give your body time to adjust.
Muscle & Strength: How have you changed internally/mentally/emotionally in the last couple years since "falling in love with the iron"?
Christine Beauchamp: I have a lot more willpower. A lot more focus, and determination for things. I've had my ups and downs emotionally, but overall it's had a very positive impact on me, since I've become so much more confident with my appearance, and my capabilities. Mentally I'm stronger, and since being involved with strength training, I've come to find that the mind is such an important aspect of it. It's your mind that tells you to work past pain barriers, or to work on doing something that you might not necessarily want to. And once you learn how to train your mind, in a sense, things in your life that you may have thought you weren't capable of become so much more doable.
Muscle & Strength: I want to put you on the spot for specific advice. Readers will be amazed by what you've accomplished. What specific training, cardio and diet advice do you have for someone who wants to be like you and tone up, lose fat and get stronger? What specifically can they do over the next year to make great progress and change?
Christine Beauchamp: It's hard to answer for cardio directly, since many things come into factor such as body type, metabolism, training experience, and body fat levels to determine how much cardio one needs to lose weight. I think that some cardio is definitely important, but losing fat really comes down to your diet, and weight training. That being said though, I'm a big fan of higher intensity cardio done in intervals (HIIT) a couple times per week. It's great for the heart, your conditioning, it torches fat, and it can really be done just about anywhere. It's also not as long or as tedious as your normal steady-state cardio, so you can be done with a session in a good 12-15 minutes - that isn't to say it's easy, though!
For your diet, you will want to eat very clean. I don't care for all the "a calorie is a calorie" nonsense. Fueling your body properly, and giving it the best quality nutrients to grow is what is most important for your overall health. Start by getting rid of all the processed stuff - sugar, sodas, refined flour, pastries, candies, packaged foods, hydrogenated oils/trans fats, etc. Start eating lean protein with every meal, getting in a moderate amount of healthy fats, a moderate amount of healthy, complex carbohydrates, and eating lots of veggies. If you want a cheat meal once per week, go ahead and have something you like - however, this is a cheat MEAL, not a whole DAY of stuffing your body with as much crap as you possibly can. These two are often confused.
With your training, it's the same for men as well as women: lift safe, and LIFT HEAVY! This is so important. Weight training is what will stimulate your body to build more lean muscle tissue, giving you a tighter and more streamlined look overall. Your strength as well as your athleticism will be increased, and you'll look and feel so much better.
Combine the 3 of these together, and you'll be well on your way to getting and maintaining a stronger, healthier, more athletic physique.
Muscle & Strength: What exercises do you feel have helped your progress the most, and why?
Christine Beauchamp: I'm a big fan of old-school movements. Squats, deadlifts, rows, and presses have done more for my muscle development and strength than anything else. Because they're compound movements and they work multiple muscles at the same time, they're just about enough to give you a really solid strength and muscle base. All other exercises are secondary, in my opinion. Though I do a variety of different exercises, I owe my biggest gains to those 4.
Muscle & Strength: You haven't competed yet. What are your plans for competing in bodybuilding, figure or powerlifting? What are your short term plans, and do you have any long term goals?
Christine Beauchamp: My long-term goals would be to compete in both powerlifting and figure. I love both, and don't see why I can't get the best of both worlds! After this figure competition, I'm going to take a good 1-2 years completely off from competing in figure, and will be doing some powerlifting meets, focusing on building up my strength and increasing muscle mass. Then I'll be doing more figure competitions, and will most likely be switching back between the two.
My short-term plans are to nail this figure competition, and to start my powerlifting template. I would like to do my first meet by next year.
Muscle & Strength: Tell us how you are training currently. What is your split, exercises and rep-set schemes? And What does your current cutting diet look like?
Christine Beauchamp: I do weights 5x per week, and cardio 5x per week:
- Monday: Legs/Sprints
- Tuesday: Chest/Triceps/SS cardio
- Wednesday: Back/Biceps/Calves
- Thursday: Sprints
- Friday: Shoulders/Calves/SS cardio
- Saturday: Sprints
- Sunday: OFF
As far as exercises go, I like to keep things switched up every workout, though I try to keep my workouts at least 75% compound/free-weight movements. I prefer free-weights to machine work. I still lift as heavy as I can, in the 6-10 rep range, though I may throw in an extra rep or two for different exercises and/or muscles. I believe that what formed the muscle, keeps the muscle! I cut down on volume slightly, to avoid any over-training since my weight training has been coupled with HIIT and a calorie deficit. I do sprint work for all my HIIT sessions these last 4.5 weeks.
My diet is quiet simple. I follow a 50p/25f/25c breakdown for my macros during the week, and will have 2 mini refeeds during the week with my macros being at 35p/20f/45c. I get most of my carb sources from veggies, with my starchy carbs centered around my workouts. On my refeed days I usually have HIIT and weights, so I will split up my carbs evenly to support both training sessions. I don't believe in magical macro pairings, I just make sure to get a healthy balance of everything in each of my meals, and to make sure I hit my daily total. The past month I stopped eating fruit and dairy, not because it'll have a bad effect on my physique, but simply because I prefer to get my carb/protein sources from more filling things, like oatmeal, veggies, and chicken breast. I eat 5 meals per day, as it's hard to split up a small amount of calories into anything more than that!
Muscle & Strength: What are the best things about being a strong and athletic teenage woman, and what are some of the most challenging and difficult things?
Christine Beauchamp: I just like the feeling of being different! I like that I'm able to do things most girls my age can't do, and that I look different from most girls my age as well. I'm healthy, whereas so many teens are unhealthy, and on the lazy side.
The difficult thing about this lifestyle, is that not everyone understands it. Not everyone understands why I eat the way I do, or care so much about my training, or don't want to drink, smoke, or party often, etc. Sometimes I miss out on things because I have a workout, or sometimes I won't eat something because it's not good for me. But all in all, the pros outweigh the cons, and it's something I've learned to live with.
Muscle & Strength: What do you feel has been your greatest accomplishment?
Christine Beauchamp: Overcoming my eating disorders, and regaining my strength and health back.
Muscle & Strength: Tell us who you are outside of the gym. What do you like to do on an off training day, what are your favorite cheat foods, and what's the best movie you've seen this year?
Christine Beauchamp: Outside the gym I'm pretty much your normal person, hah. I love playing guitar, photography, and reading. As far as cheat meals goes, anything that has to do with pasta, pastries, pizza, ribs, sushi, Mexican, Mediterranean, or Asian food, I'm all over! (I'm a carb girl).
I'm usually not a big fan of foreign movies, but I have to say, I loved City of God - definitely an interesting, sad, and very captivating movie.