DDT: Could you give us a little background info on who Jeff Nippard and Robin Gallant are?
Jeff: Sure. I am a Canadian pro natural bodybuilder and drug-free powerlifter. In terms of bodybuilding accomplishments, along with winning the overall title and pro card at the INBF Natural Muscle Mayhem in California, I earned the title of Mr. Junior Natural Canada in 2012 under the guidance of Dr. Layne Norton and was Mr. Junior Newfoundland for two years prior to that. As a powerlifter, my best in competition lifts are a 502 lb. squat, 353 lb. bench press, and 518 lb. deadlift with a best wilks score of 446. I am the co-founder of online coaching team STRCNG Coaching and run a science-based nutrition and training podcast called IceCream4PRs. I hold a B.Sc. in biochemistry from Memorial University of Newfoundland and have goals to pursue education further in exercise science or a related field in the coming years.
Robin: Hi! I am Canadian bikini competitor and powerlifter. I’m drug-free as well (I know, so hard to believe). (I also don’t have butt implants, just putting that out there. And I use a lot of parentheses in writing.) I am passionate about lifting for both aesthetics and for strength. I love the reach I’m given via social media and I use that to inspire other women to get into lifting. I studied both engineering and mechanics during my BSc, so biomechanics and lifting technique analysis is my thing and one of the most fun aspects of my job as an online bodybuilding and strength coach (send technique videos to your coaches’ girls and guys!). I spent most of my BSc in biochemistry and metabolism, which helped immensely with my scientific literacy and the nutrition aspect of coaching. Jeff and I co-own STRCNG Coaching, and I post on YouTube (/robingallant) and instagram (robingallantt).
DDT: Can you tell us about your experience with your Bikini/Bodybuilding competitions along with Powerlifting competitions and any tips for a first time competitor?
Jeff: Well, it’s never quite the same each time you compete. Each competition holds a unique place in my memory since each involved a very different journey to the stage, with its own challenges and rewards. Competing is very mentally and physically demanding and having competed at 6 bodybuilding shows, I am not sure it gets any easier; you just get better at dealing with and recognizing the challenges you’re going to face. In the end it’s always been worth it to me, but I definitely don’t think it’s something that everyone should aim for. The stage doesn’t have to be the end goal and isn’t the best end goal if you simply want to get in good shape, be healthier, and feel good. But if you have a true passion for bodybuilding, or think you might, then pursuing stage goals makes sense.
Powerlifting is very different. I think anyone can do a powerlifting meet. Preparing for a powerlifting meet, while having its own challenges, doesn’t entail the same mental, emotional and lifestyle infringements that preparing for bodybuilding does.
For an aspiring new powerlifter, I would say to just go for it. Compete and get used to the platform. You might like it or you might not, but there’s not much risk involved either way. For an aspiring bodybuilder, I would say to tread a little more carefully. Educate yourself on science-based approaches to training and dieting and recognize that developing body image issues, eating disorders, major mood disturbances, ill health effects and personality changes are not only commonplace, but expected. As with any sport, there are risks involved so you will have to make an educated decision as to whether or not taking those risks is worth it for you. Don’t blindly follow. If you are unsure about something, ask questions. Be skeptical and don’t be afraid to carve out your own path.
Robin: I’ve competed in three bikini competitions and four powerlifting meets. I placed second in very competitive Open and Novice classes at my last show, the OCB New York State Natural. My best meet was 2015 Canadian Powerlifting Nationals where I posted a 176 lb. squat, 116 lb. bench press and 270 lb. deadlift at 103 lbs. bodyweight, and achieved a Wilks score of 343.
Compete for YOU. Compete if it is something you truly want to do, if you are looking for a challenge for yourself. You do not need to compete to “prove” you are serious about fitness, or to establish yourself as a fitness icon. One of my biggest inspirations, Katy Hearn, has never competed.
If you’re unsure whether or not to compete: I would wait to start a prep until you have one year of experience lifting. I would advise against using a competition as a way to “hold yourself accountable” to a crash diet in the beginning stages of your journey. There are healthier ways of competing, and those tend to come easier with a solid muscle foundation. A solid base allows you to comfortably maintain a leaner body composition without having to excessively restrict calories. Also, if you have experience lifting, you will be better equipped to train as required to maintain muscle through a diet. If you are within your first year of training and are looking to take lifting more seriously and to learn more about training and nutrition, I would suggest hiring a coach!
Powerlifting is a little different. If you enjoy strength training and are familiar with how to squat, bench and deadlift, then I think you should do a meet. Yes, right away! Powerlifting is a performance sport; so the sooner you can start gaining competition experience, the better. As a rule of thumb, powerlifting meets hold the most positive, fun and motivating atmospheres ever. I would advise against cutting weight for your first meet, and I would go in and hit attempts you know for a fact you can hit. Your competitive total can wait, trust me!
For either your competition or meet, I would go into it without the goal of a trophy in mind, but rather for the experience. Follow your program leading up to the show/meet, and whatever happens on the big day, let it. Take it all in, meet new people, and learn whether or not it is a sport you truly enjoy and wish to continue to pursue.
DDT: You two clearly demonstrate what a power fit couple represents, can you tell us how you guys balance each other out and how it is to both share the same passion?
Jeff: Thank you! We’re definitely alike in a lot of ways, but also share our healthy differences. I think this allows us to have enough in common to share the same basic values and goals while still having our own strengths and weaknesses to compliment each other. I think that sharing a passion in fitness is what got our relationship started, but it is our shared sense of humor, outlook on how to live a good life, passion for learning, and commitment to personal and professional growth that make us a real power couple over the long run.
Robin: Thanks! We are definitely not perfect, and although we share common overarching values and goals, I think it’s our differences that make us great together. We compliment each other well: Jeff is the reader, creative writer and the financial manager (i.e. the saver), and I excel at visuals like web and graphic design, interior, style/fashion (which necessitates me being the spender, hehe). Like Jeff said, we met because of fitness, but I think it’s in our interests outside of fitness – like skeptical inquiry, science and philosophy – that strengthen our shared passion.
DDT: Can you tell us what your daily rituals and habits look like?
Jeff: I am not a very organized person and I think life is best lived spontaneously. With that said, I try to read for at least 30 minutes every day, usually in the morning, and I train pretty much every day. I do my best to remind myself to “eat the frog”, or in other words get the most difficult or dreadful task for the day done first. Other than that, I don’t have many daily rituals. I have all my goals for the year written on flash cards and review them a few times per week and I always try to get a solid 8 hours of sleep per night.
Robin: If Jeff is not an organized person, than I am an especially disorganized person, LOL. I spent most of young adulthood under a pretty strict regimen, peaking during my years in engineering. At one point I was taking 6 engineering courses a semester each with their own lecture, lab and tutorial, maintaining a 4.0 GPA, a fulltime job as a resident assistant (in house peer counselor), and working as secretary of the Undergraduate Engineering Society. Typical A personality horror story. Eventually, the time came when I had to take a step back – I’m (finally) not embarrassed to admit that it took a toll on me physically and mentally. Fitness helped me find balance in my life and eventually led to finding my passion and career. I thoroughly enjoy the freedom that working from home gives me. I try to take life as it happens and not stress the day to day. I typically spend my mornings preparing social media content and/or networking. I train in the afternoon for a few hours – sometimes I film my workouts. I spend evenings answering client emails, analyzing lifting technique, and writing training programs. Jeff and I normally watch or listen to science or philosophy lecture/podcast or watch “The Office” before bed.
DDT: At times life throws challenges at you to test your mental toughness and heart as a person. What has been your biggest challenge in life and how did you both overcome it?
Jeff: Good question. I would say my biggest challenge was dropping out of dentistry school. I was on a career path that was more or less guaranteed to earn me money and prestige as a dentist, but being perfectly honest with myself, I knew it wasn’t what I really wanted out of life. I always performed well academically, including in dentistry, so dropping out initially felt like a pretty big blow to my ego. But ultimately, with the help of Robin and my supportive family, I have fully realized that life is really, really short and you should live it on your own terms and not anyone else’s.
Robin: As I touched on in the last question, in my second year of engineering (2013), after being diagnosed with clinical anxiety and depression, I finally realized that I had put too much on my plate and held myself to too extreme of expectations. I took time off of school for the first time and allowed myself time to recover mentally and physically (lack of sleep and food). During this time I found the gym and lifting, so thankfully that played an important role in overcoming my stress. I still have the tendency to fall into my old mental traps, but by surrounding myself with supportive and accepting people, and by pursuing endeavors and a career I am passionate about, I’ve been able to work through it!
DDT: What are your future plans with competing and other areas of interest?
Jeff: I don’t have any competition-specific bodybuilding goals for 2016. I will likely do a powerlifting meet or two, while keeping the preponderance of my training focus on getting more jacked. I would guess that it will be 2017 or 2018 before I step on stage again and I want to ensure that I bring my absolute best look to date by a long shot. A lot of my attention and effort is going to go toward my coaching and being the best coach that I can possibly be. I also want to improve and grow my YouTube this year with a focus on creating the best quality videos I can produce.
Robin: I will be competing in the Bikini division at the 2016 California Natural Muscle Mayhem, in Sacramento, California. I plan to travel and do some collaborations with other popular female fitness YouTubers. I’ve just had an amazing opportunity arise, so things to do with that! (It’s still secret.) Later this year I’d like to hit another powerlifting meet.
DDT: If your brand was gone, Youtube channel was erased, your followers left, and all your content was deleted… you have a piece of paper in front of you and it was the final moment and you had to write 3 truth’s you knew were to be true and this was your final message to the world, what would those 3 truths be??
Jeff: LOL interesting question. To be sure, my replies are going to undoubtedly going to sound extremely cliché without any elaboration. (Which now makes me think maybe I’d be better off going with satire?)
- Life is short, so make the most of it. Don’t take it too seriously.
- Do your best to help others when you can, and don’t hurt others.
- Live in accordance with your values – so find out what they are and remind yourself of them often.
Robin: Jeff’s is sooooo good! I don’t know if I can top that, or come up with something different. Actually, since we’ve discussed these values often, I feel justified in stealing his. Perks of a dual interview. And, after all, he is the writer.
DDT: What is your favorite lift and why?
Jeff: Bench press, because it’s my best lift.
Robin: It was deadlift, because I was narrowing in on a 3x bodyweight pull, but then I dropped 260 lbs. on my toes.
DDT: Where is your one travel destination that you would want to go to?
Jeff: Japan! (We’re planning on going there this year)
Robin: I can’t wait to move to Kelowna, BC, in May and see western Canada. I also can’t wait to visit LA in July. Japan is a lifetime travel goal!
DDT: Your favorite controlled-indulgence meal is______?
Jeff: Sushi when prepping. If off-season, my favorite meal is home cooked turkey dinner.
Robin: Sushi and froyo while prepping. I crave mozza sticks like nobody’s business on prep. Off season – still sushi, but also pizza… and a good turkey dinner as well.
DDT: What does Jeff and Robin like to do for fun? Please don’t hold back on us 😉
Jeff: LOL lift and eat.
Robin: I enjoy looking at (fitness) fashion and interior design editorials, online shopping (let’s be honest here), and fitness YouTube.
DDT: We wanted to take a moment and acknowledge you both for all the awesome work you do in this industry and you are a true inspiration. Where can our readers and supporters follow you and your work?
Jeff and Robin: Thanks for the opportunity! We thought you guys asked some great questions.
You can find Jeff here:
You can find Robin here:
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