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Jennifer Eyles: Squatting Deep and Asking Questions

Jennifer found the bodybuilding world in 2010 and got bit by the “buff bug”. She has been putting in that overtime and training like the old school bodybuilders, breaking each day down to one muscle group, is getting ready for the 2016 season. A mother of two and even with her busy schedule, she goes hard in the gym and does not miss a day. Loving leg day and never skipping squats or RDLs (Romanian deadlifts), Jennifer is going to be looking amazing going into her first show next year.

How old are you, where are you from, and do you squat ass to grass?
I’m 34 years old, from Leominster, Massachusetts, and YES! I do squat ass to grass. My coach/boyfriend makes sure of it!

What areas of weight training do you train? And what is your best squat?
I stay within the traditional bodybuilding style of training. I train one body part a day, and typically my workouts will have 4 maybe 5 exercises. The variables will change, like the set and rep scheme or grip.. but we pretty much stick to the basics. Simple movements with a lot of volume. I’ve found that’s what works best for me. As a natural figure competitor, symmetry and balance in my physique are something we work really hard to create and maintain, and hitting one body part a day helps keep the focus on that specific muscle group. My best squat was 195 at 130lbs, it wasn’t a bad squat, but it definitely wasn’t ass to grass. I was more interested in hitting that PR than I was in getting a full range of motion. My best deadlift was 215, that was just a few weeks ago. I’m only 10 pounds and one big breakfast away from hitting that 225!

Where do you train? Do you have a lifting team or partner?
Yes, I train with my coach/boyfriend. He does all of my programming so if he can’t be with me at the gym, he gives me my workout and off I go on my own. We train at a 24-hour gym not too far from us, which is perfect for our life. When you’re a mom and working full time, you need to find ways to make it happen whenever you can. We also run and operate K2 Athletic Training Division and JP Superfoods, so we juggle quite a bit. Honestly, though, even with a 24hr facility at your disposal, you still find yourself having to squeeze in a home workout. It’s just life. As much as you try to schedule and plan, things come up and you have to make it work!

How did you into bodybuilding?
I was just a mom with a two and a four-year-old that was unhappy with her body. I started taking a class at the YMCA in town and that got me familiar with weight training, then I started reading and learning more and I took what I learned into the weight room. I was doing 3-4 days a week, total body workouts plus cardio at first, then once I got down to a size I was happy with the lifting was enough and I didn’t have to do much- if any cardio. In 2010, I left an abusive man and I began working the front desk at that same YMCA. I’ll never forget the day I was flipping through Oxygen magazine at the desk and in the back where they had competition coverage I saw Erin Stern standing there with her ridiculously statuesque physique and I just thought to myself “I could do that”. That was when working out became bodybuilding. The weights changed, total body workouts became splits, and in 2011, I met Joe. We started working out together when we started seeing each other and he would guide me or have me doing things here and there, but it wasn’t until 2014 when I decided to compete for the first time that he actually began training me.

What does a normal leg day workout look like for you?
Ohh.. leg day, I have to mentally prepare for leg day. My legs take a lot of punishment. My workouts are again, very simple but a lot of volume- 3 or 4 exercises, just the basics. Right now the majority of it is leg press. I do countless sets on the leg press working my way up and going as heavy as I can while maintaining a full ROM. Then I’ll move into squats from there and those are pretty light, but all the way down! After squats is an RDL. Right now I’m doing those with dumbbells because I feel like I’m getting a better stretch, especially after all that work on the leg press and squatting. I’ll alternate between dumbbells and the bar, but Romanian deadlifts are a part of my program year round, they’re one of the best exercises for your backside in my opinion. Then I’m pretty much done, I may go burn out with something like a goblet squat or leg extension but that all depends on how I’m feeling.

So what’s next for you? Any goals you have to hit?
Other than getting a 225lb deadlift?! Right now I’m just enjoying the down time, eating and training and getting in time with my family and friends. Prep is right around the corner. I’ve already chosen an April show to start next year’s season, and we’re talking with a friend about shooting a video around the same time, so I’m excited for all of that. I want to do a little bit of everything! I love watching powerlifters and I’ve wanted to do it for years, maybe sometime in the near future, I’ll train for that. I’ve also always wanted to do yoga and never have. But the biggest goal I have right now is to go back to school and get a college degree, that’s something I’m hoping to be able to do soon.

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?
I really try not to stack myself up against anyone else in the gym, men or women. I always tell people, you can’t control the things around you and what the others are bringing. All that you can control is how much you’re putting into your own goals, and that’s what’s going to make or break you in the end. The best way for you to progress is to focus all of that energy on yourself. God, I don’t even know what-what my non-lifter friends think about what I do! I tend to get a lot of “Oh, I’m watching you at home and I’m cheering you on!” when I see them so it seems to be overall support. And I think that they think I don’t eat because it always a surprise when they see how much I actually do. {Laughing!}

What are some of your bodybuilding goals (short and long term)?
My short term goals all revolve around the 2016 competition season. I wasn’t really sure in 2015 if I was going to compete, I had a lot of changes I wanted to make in my physique and it was a hard year for us. Plus I had developed an injury in my right shoulder and anyone who’s had a shoulder injury knows that affects ALL of your lifts. I felt in the end though that 2015 was an important year for me to compete and I was right. It set me up to be renewed and re-focused for 2016, I want to take that momentum into next year and be 100% happy with what I present on stage. I don’t want any weak points. My shoulders are going to need the most attention. My shoulder has been getting better, but I’m still working through it and there’s been some atrophy that needs to rebuilt. Long term I’d like to just continue learning and growing, and I want to stay healthy. Right now I’m thinking of taking 2017 off.

Anything you would like to tell the younger lifters? and add?
The best thing for new lifters to know in my opinion is that this is a process we all go through, and it never really ends. Trial and error are going to be your best learning tool. Educate yourself and be in tune with your body so that you can distinguish between what’s effective for you and what’s not and understand the importance of time! Growth and muscle maturity don’t happen overnight, so don’t compare yourself to the 30 something-year-old guy who has been lifting since he was 15 if you just started, but do talk to him if you have the chance. You may learn something.

Follow Jennifer on Instagram & check out her Coach’s nutrition page, JP SuperFoods, and the K2 Athletic Training Division’s Facebook


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