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Erika: Squatting Deep and Asking Questions

Erika is still fairly new to the gym, but you would not be able to guess that by looking at her. One look and you think this young lady has been in the fitness game her whole life. Starting off her bikini fitness career in 2015 with taking the top spot in two shows, Erika has been getting ready to take her physique to the next in 2016. Sticking to an old school approach to training, Erika keeps her workouts “simple” but very effective. Just one look at her and you know she has been doing it right.

How old are you, where are you from, and do you squat ass to grass?
I’m 24 about to be 25 in two weeks. I’m from good old New Jersey, the Edison area to be exact. I’m working on my ass to grass squats lol. I’ve only been in the gym for a year (I’m a newb) so I’m still learning a lot about my training and pushing my limits.

What areas of weight training do you train and what is your best squat?
Bodybuilding, I’m a bikini competitor currently in offseason. I started competing this past summer with the NPC. I received first place in Open class A and first in novice at the TriState championships this past August and I placed first in open class a, first in novice class a and overall novice champion at the New Jersey state championships in mid-August.
My squat PR is 155 and I recently hit a 360 PR in the leg press.

Where do you train? Do you have a lifting team or partner?
I train out of Retro Fitness of Edison, Nj. I’m a part of Sassy and Classy contest prep and posing and I do my check-ins/posing out of BodyWorx in Paterson, Nj. I don’t really have a lifting partner, but my boyfriend is my cardio support when I’m in season, he also guides me with workouts when he has a chance. It’s nice to have the extra push.

How did you into bodybuilding?
Summer 2013 is when I realized what bodybuilding was. I started following girls like Bella Falconi and Jessica Arevalo, who are both about my height and were at a weight I wanted to be at. At the time, I was in no way active. I had just graduated college and put on a lot of weight from a poor diet and no kind of real exercise. I knew I could look like them, but I didn’t know where to start. In January 2014, I decided to lose weight and I took a genetic test for my diet and what kinds of exercise I should be doing. From then until October I did at home workouts and lost 20lbs, October was also the first time I stepped into the gym and actually lifting. I haven’t looked back since.

What does a normal leg day workout look like for you?
Lol, I wish those two were my friends! But they are both my inspirations for getting into bodybuilding.
This is a typical leg day. I actually wrote this out while in a meeting at work 😳

  • Cable glute kickbacks 4x 12
  • Cable side glute raises 3×10
  • Straight leg cable kickbacks 4×12
  • Stiff leg deadlifts 5×12
  • Leg extension 5×12
  • Plié squats 5×15 Super set w/ good mornings

So what’s next for you? Any goals you have to hit? (short and long term)?
Long term is to become an IFBB Pro, which would be a complete honor, and short term is to start competing nationally sometime next year, with the guidance of my coach.

When you lift heavy, when was the first time you out lifted a guy? And what do your non-lifter friends think about what you do?
The first time I out lifted a guy was completely unintentional. I had just started really-really lifting and my brother was spotting me for bench press, mind you I had NEVER benched before. I was working the weight up was beyond proud that I was able to bench 65 lbs (which was a huge deal at the time) I looked over to my left and the guy next to was doing 50 lbs. I looked at my bro, he looked at me and we just laughed, which is totally mean but a lot of guys like to be macho in the gym, so it felt good lol.

My non-lifting friends are totally supportive and are constantly asking about my diet and leg workouts. I give them advise and some perspective on what I eat and my workouts, but I always tell them to start with small steps, because a lifestyle change doesn’t happen overnight. I have one friend who constantly likes to remind me that I ate like shit 3-4 years ago, and that I never wanted to step foot in the gym, which was true at the time. This person also likes to take some credit for me even joining the gym. It’s cool, though, she did give me some push, but they’re definitely not why I started lifting or competing lol

What do you tell women who think lifting heavy makes you look “manly”?
I ask them if they think I’m manly (which I’m not, clearly lol) and they usually ask what kind of arm workouts I do, and how much I lift. It doesn’t matter if you lift 5lbs or 30lbs if you continue with hard work it will pay off in the end.

Anything you would like to tell the younger lifters? and/or anything else you would like to add?
Younger lifters, there is no such thing as perfection! All we can do is strive is to be the best version of ourselves, don’t let social media and big names fool you. Also, I would like to add that prior to bodybuilding, I dance for fifteen years until I was 18. I always thought being a dancer was what I would be really good at, but that’s not the path I followed with. I tried really hard to stay with dancing even taking classes in college, but it just didn’t work out that way. I would’ve never thought at the age of 18 I would be in a gym and competing on a bodybuilding stage.

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Founder of Fight Against Chicken Legs, part-time workout stuff, sometimes making websites look pretty, and saving the world #OneRepAtATime