Interview with Figure Athlete, Maria Scotland

EK: Hey Maria, Thank you for taking the time to speak with us.

MS: Hey guys. Thank you for your interest in me and for asking me to speak to you!

EK: Why don’t you start us off by saying a little about yourself and your achievements in figure to date.

 MS:  This is my first year back in the gym after a very long spell (5 years or more) of no exercise and my first time ever competing. On the 5th June 2011 I competed in FAME UK and then I joined the UKBFF. I am FAME UK Figure champion 2011 and runner up Muscle Model. I am also UKBFF Kent Klassic bodyfitness champion 2011 and UKBFF British champion 2011 (6th place). In addition I am a Gaspari 2012 calender girl (Miss October) and I had a 2 page spread in Muscle and Fitness in October 2011.

 EK: That’s a pretty impressive start to career! FAME champion and 6th in your first UKBFF championships. On that note, what was your reaction to your placing?

 MS: I aimed higher than 6th place. I am hard on myself and didn’t see it as overly impressive: with less stage fright and more fluid posing I could have placed higher – next year!

EK: What is the focus now?

MS: I relaxed  over the Christmas holidays in terms of diet only. For me training and pushing myself to failure each training day is now a way of life and one I love. My focus is on a micro-level increasing my lifts each week and on a macro-level being better and more fabulous for the European Arnold next year followed by the Brits 2012.

EK: Awesome stuff the European Arnold should be an awesome experience, best of luck. It’s fair to say you have reached a high level in terms of your physique and contest placings. What help have you had along the way in terms of coaching and contest prep?

MS: I’ve had the same trainer at Virgin Active all season and he’s taken care of my coaching all year. As far as contest preparation I went to the FAME Bootcamps in the run up to FAME UK where Angie Weston and Audrey Kaipio gave guidance on posing and the model’s walk. In the run up to the UKBFF British finals I went to Panther’s gym to see Helen O’Reilly for posing practice. Since the Brits I’ve been training with Jordan Peters and he’s reshaped my training programme and diet with a keen eye on achieving higher placing at next year’s Brits and the European Arnold.

Okay, let’s take it back to the very beginning. How did you first hear about and get involved in figure competitions?

MS: I read about FAME UK in Ultrafit magazine. After the competition and my win I heard one of the other figure competitors talking about the UKBFF and said the best of the best competed with that federation – that was the obvious next place for me to compete!

EK: What do you enjoy most about competing in figure?

MS: Pushing myself to my limit and the camaraderie amongst bodybuilers: men and women.

EK: What do you consider to be your strongest aspects as a competitor?

 MS: I am drug free.

EK: Strong from you! Are there any particular areas of your physique that you are currently working on?

MS: My weaknesses. My back is my strongest and best feature. Additionally from the front my physique is pretty strong: I have good shoulders, biceps, chest, abs and quads. However from behind and below my back I have weaknesses in my hamstrings, glutes and calfs. By my next competition I shall be balanced and have a better physique.

EK: Furthering on the previous question; what is your current training split?

MS: Monday is chest, compound tricep work and abs, Tuesday is lower back, Wednesdays are shoulders, Friday is upper back work (lats) and Saturday is legs and calfs. I rest (or do cardio) Thursdays and Sundays.

EK: Unfortunately many females out they fail to realize the benefits of weight training for health and aesthetics. You go a long way to disprove the unfair dogma surrounding weightlifting in women.  What do you have to say on the matter?

 MS: It’s not a dogma that is likely to disappear I fear. If I had a pound for every time a female told me she admired my physique but didn’t want to lift weights “because she didn’t want to look like Schwarznegger” I would be able to retire a wealthy woman right now! It makes my heart sink each and every time and arguing the case for weightlifting has proven useless as it falls on deaf ears. Women prefer cardio – endless treadmill action or dance classes. How they cannot put the fact they admire my physique together with the fact I lift, and therefore so should they to look like me, is beyond me. However slowly slowly maybe the message will sink in.

EK: Frustrating indeed! It just takes a few to realize the benefits and tide could turn on the matter. We are pushing for that day! For those who are willing to ‘convert’ to the iron side, what would you recommend as a good starting program for any female ‘trainee to be’ who wants to get into good shape?

 MS: I would recommend using a trainer to learn good technique and establish a routine. Even a couple of weeks is enough. Read everything – there are brilliant informative magazines (Flex, Muscle and Fitness, Muscular Development etc) and websites out there that are a font of knowledge for the would be trainee and essential for learning the basic. Then put your heart into training and make it a passion in your life – soon you will carve the figure you desire.

EK: Sound words. Okay onto nutrition. What would an average off season diet look like for you, including any supplements?

MS: On rising BCAAs and water followed by a breakfast of  porridge oats and whey protein and then more BCAAs, L-Glutamine, fish oils, a good multi-vitamin tablet and a probiotic. I then try to have 30 g of protein and 20 g of carbohydrates every 3 hours. I take protein powders and have (CNP) protein oat bars if I am busy or at work otherwise I will eat chicken or salmon, green salad and rye bread or rice cakes. Off season I cheat every day – a sweet, a biscuit or chocolate as the fancy takes me. I use USN anabolic pre-workout powder before training and I take BCAAs and L-Glutamine before and after training. Immediately following a workout I will have a scoop of Glycojet. Before bed I will have ZMA tablets and yet more BCAAs.

EK: At the British you looked fantastic on stage as your placement shows. We’ve heard that during your prep you actually got too lean and needed to ‘fatten up’ a bit before the comp! Is this true?

MS: Yes! My trainer told me I looked like a Physique girl! I had been skipping my carbs because I was so busy so I had to increase my carbs. The night before I was cramming rice cakes in to try to fill me out. Not a bad way to compete – better than the awful decarb/ carb up hell I endured to qualify. Instead I coasted in on increased carbs.

 EK: Awesome, that’s definitely a bonus! How about you share some of your methods for dieting as they clearly work!

MS: Whilst competing I am not as strict with myself as other competitors. I have my diet plan (6 meals per day with definite meaures of protein, carbs and fats per meal) but whenever I have a craving I give in to it. I have learnt that if I do so I stay sane and on target otherwise I loose my mind and get grumpy! I cheat on a biscuit or 3 pieces of chocolate sometimes each day. However I don’t have a cheat day. That said the week before qualifying I was religious with the decarb/ carb up hell and 4 weeks before the Brits I did not cheat at all – just in case!

EK: That’s an approach that makes sense and still takes a lot of discipline in terms of keeping a cheat down to a single biscuit or 3 pieces of chocolate. Readers this DOES NOT mean you can eat an abundance of ‘cheat’ food everyday!

You have answered my next question but ill ask it anyway and let you expand a bit…Staying on a diet for fat loss can be tough. How do you manage to stay on diet when the going gets tough?

 MS: As I said I do give in to urges but I recognise that a square of chocolate or a biscuit will not jeopardise the very hard training, hours of cardio and clean meals eaten at all other times. The small cheating kept me on track and made eating otherwise clean easy.

EK: True say the key is adherence and it seems a method that yields good results. Moving on, it is a customary question at EK to ask about inspiration. So here goes, who is your biggest inspiration?

 MS: Ken Scotland – my younger brother is my greatest inspiration. He began bodybuilding when he was 13 and I grew up alongside him putting his heart and soul into developing his physique. He was a Gladiator alongside Russel Crowe in the film. He died before the film was released and I am heartily grateful that he is preserved at his best on film.

EK: I am deeply sorry for your loss. You are most definitely right; a truly inspiring film for a truly inspiring person. I think it is extremely powerful that your biggest inspiration is a family member. With such a driving force behind you I am sure you’ll reach whatever goals you set. On this matter, what are your long term goals and aspirations?

MS: I want to turn pro and open up my own gym.

EK: Great stuff. If any of our female readers are interested in competing in figure, what advice would you give them?

MS: Go for it! Why not – do it!!

EK: Conviction! I like it. Following this, where can anyone interested go to find more about the sport and info on how to enter for a show?

MS: Do as I did – Google and read up on the sport. Additionally facebook other competitors. The women (and men) in the sport are incredibly magnanimous with their time and will happily share their knowldege and experience – me included!

EK: Awesome stuff Maria! Thank you again for taking the time to chat with us. We look forward to following your progress and look forward to speaking with you again when you have your pro card!

 MS: Thank you it has been a pleasure! Xx

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