Train Loco Nation! How we doing? Today we have an awesome interview with bikini competitor Laurin Conlin. Laurin is a fellow Team Norton teammate of ours and is in the midst of attaining her pro card in bikini. She has a ton of knowledge and experience under her belt in such a short time competing and she has an absolute bright future ahead of her. So without further ado, if you are a competitior and want to get to know the awesome Laurin Conlin then get ready!
– Chris and Eric
DDT: Could you give us a little background info on who Laurin Conlin is?
LC: I’m originally from south Florida but recently moved to Tampa. I graduated from Florida State University this past spring with a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science and I’m currently pursuing my Master’s at the University of South Florida in the same field. Growing up I was a competitive equestrian rider (Equitation, Hunter Jumpers and some Dressage) and ran track & field all through high school. I’ve been competing in the NPC for the past few years and currently prepping for Nationals at the end of November! Powerlifting is another passion of mine so once I’m deep into next years off season I plan to do a meet.
DDT: What got you inspired and into the fitness-health industry?
LC: Constant injuries that had me in and out of track practice forced me to start lifting and I fell in LOVE with it. Getting stronger helped me run faster which was great but I couldn’t wait to focus all my energy into lifting (and not so much running LOL). After the 2010 NPC Southern States I met Sunny, a trainer at my gym who has since become a great mentor, posing coach and dear friend of mine. She told me to bring a bathing suit and heels to the gym later that week so we could pose and “see what I was made of.” The rest is history 🙂
DDT: You have done many figure competitions and have done well, what made you switch to the bikini division?
LC: Muscle density and maturity was always what I was lacking in figure. No matter how hard and heavy I train off season, keeping the muscle I worked so hard to build while getting lean enough has always been a problem for me. The NPC and IFBB were taking a softer and smaller approach to figure for a couple years with the new emergence of women’s physique but things have definitely changed since last year. At Jr. Nationals, my first show of this competitive season, girls kept coming up to me asking me when the bikini meeting was, or what bikini class I was in. What? Bikini girls? I’m a figure girl! But the look has definitely shifted for all of the divisions this past year and I fit much better into the current bikini look. The judges are looking for more muscle than in the past years with bikini, especially at the National and of course IFBB level, but with out the density and size (which I’m lacking).
DDT: What would you say the most difficult and easiest part is transitioning from figure to bikini?
LC: Transitioning from the onstage figure presentation to bikini has been the most difficult. Figure is much more ‘structured’ (for lack of a better term) so the posing is harder but the tiny details like how you walk on stage, your transitions, etc. matter a lot more in bikini. About half of the judging in bikini is on the “extras” where as in figure your physique is most important. The National shows are huge so if there are 250+ girls in bikini, that means everything from your hair, makeup, jewelry, suit placement, posing, walk etc. has to be flawless. While I love this part of competing it has definitely been work for me. The best and easiest part of my transition has been that I finally feel like I fit into a class! I was always ‘trying’ to be ‘big enough’ for figure but never was; bikini is the perfect blend of muscle, symmetry and shape for me right now. And of course I love the sassiness of the division.
DDT: If you could travel back in time, what would be the one thing you would do differently in your young competitive career?
LC: It’s hard to pinpoint one thing I would do differently because I try my best to use every mistake as a learning experience. When I first started dieting, was ‘eating clean’ and ‘having cheat meals’ and going through an unnecessary ‘bulk’ the most optimal? Probably not. And when I first started training just haphazardly going into the gym without any thought to progressive overload or doing the Stairmaster everyday to ‘lean out’ were most likely not the best ideas either. But every competitor, no matter how elite you are, makes mistakes; it is your choice to grow from them or to perpetually suffer from them. One thing I do strongly suggest is having a reverse dieting plan set up for after your show. This is absolutely crucial. I’ve done no reverse, the perfect reverse, and some combination of the two and let me tell you that the work you put into the reverse diet comes back two-fold in your favor.
DDT: Many women quit their training and nutrition programs too early on. We feel if they set themselves up for success by following a properly periodized training program and proper nutrition plan that’s tailored to their lifestyle, goals, and preferences they would have a sustained and fulfilled journey. What do you think the biggest issue is with women quitting their training and nutrition programs so early on?
LC: I feel that taking on too much at the start of a program in combination with a lack of knowledge in training and nutrition is why so many women quit early. Most (not all but most) women are guilty of comparisons so someone who is new to fitness stumbles upon an Instagram page full of edited pictures or reads a fitness magazine with a top level competitor saying “I do insert minutes of cardio every day. I eat six small meals every day. I only have one cheat meal a week….. etc.” they think well then I have to do it just like this! If you are new to something you are going to be much more impressionable so for a women just starting out training or eating properly or even thinks she wants to compete, these less than ideal messages being spread can be deceiving and also harmful to long term success. Training and eating with a purpose other than your own is truly unfulfilling. Setting small attainable goals towards YOUR personal journey is what is going to make your progress long lasting and meaningful.
DDT: You are currently studying at USF under Dr. Bill Campbell, what kind of research will you be conducting there?
LC: This semester I am becoming a trained body composition specialist alongside one of the other graduate students, Nick Joy. That means for any future study involving body composition we will be able to reliably calculate body composition using a Body metrix ultrasound, which we have in our lab. This machine is portable and extremely compact so we can travel with it to different bodybuilding shows, and potentially powerlifting meets, around the area and even outside of the state! Finally there will be data coming out on elite level physique athletes that has long been ignored. I will also be conducting a very large research project (potentially thesis?) with Dr. Bill Campbell and Dr. Layne Norton as my advisors. This will be a long term study examining the effects of an inclusive versus exclusive diet on body composition and metabolism with a three month dietary intervention followed by a three month post diet follow up. We will also be measuring how an inclusive versus exclusive diet impacts psychological behaviors towards food during intervention and post diet. My goal was to mimic a real life dieting scenario that most of the previous literature has ignored and structure a design that could give very practical and significant findings. There is an overwhelming lack of published research examining how an inclusive versus exclusive diet affects weight loss during an intervention but also weight regain post diet. I believe that the implications of this study can reach so many different populations, from someone trying to look great for their next cruise or a top level physique athlete training for a show. This is going to be a massive project and I can’t wait to share the results with everyone!
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 overcome it?
LC: For the purposes of this interview I’ll keep my biggest challenges training and prep related. Last year when I was prepping for Nationals, which is at the end of November, I had been dieting since March, I was in the hardest semester of my senior year at Florida State, applying to grad school… the list goes on. It was very, very difficult for me to make it through that show. I’m so happy I did it was an amazing experience but I promised to not diet that long/during school again. Fast forward to this year, I did four shows over the summer and missed my pro card by one placing at USA’s. I had already promised myself to not compete in grad school but I’m very competitive and being so close to my pro card at USA’s, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to compete at Nationals. My body did not bounce back like it normally does after shows due to lots of injuries during my preps earlier in the year, mentally it has been tough to get fired up about prepping for my fifth show of the year and grad school is extremely demanding. When I say every week has been a grind, every week has been a GRIND. Not doing the show has crossed my mind many times but honestly where would that get me? Absolutely nowhere. The reality is life and its unique combinations of challenges will always be hard. Always. You have to remember that otherwise you will literally be consumed by daily challenges and struggles. In the words of Ryan Doris, grind that shit 🙂
DDT: What kind of advice can you give to an aspiring bikini or figure competitor who’s barely beginning their journey in training and nutrition?
LC: If you are just beginning your journey being consistent is the best piece of advice I can give you. Being consistent week after week is brutally challenging but I promise you the benefits far exceed any extreme behavior. Also having a strong support system is essential. I am very fortunate to have an extremely supportive and encouraging family, coach, team and significant other. From day one my boyfriend has stood behind every competitive decision I’ve ever made and pushes me past those days where I would otherwise want to quit. Having someone like him to hold me accountable and remind me of why I’m doing this during overwhelming days makes all the difference in the world. I know this question was aimed at beginners but I feel like often after people have dieted once, or done a show they think if it worked last time, it must work again. And I really want to stress that being open to change is the only way you will continue to progress! This requires that you are extremely in tune with your body (which comes from experience) and you are not stubborn to change something. Just because [insert macros/training program etc.] worked for your last prep, or last week doesn’t mean that I is optimally working for you right NOW. I’m not talking about complete overhauls of programs but instead minor tweaks like increasing training volume or keeping fats higher while dropping carbs. After several years of experience and lots and lots of experimentation, not being resistant to change is the most important insight I can give to y’all! Your progress becomes limitless once you embrace this quality.
DDT: What is your favorite lift and why?
LC: My favorite main lift is sumo deadlifts. Not sure how to explain why because I love squatting and benching, but there’s just something about heavy deads that set them apart for me. And any shoulder training I absolutely love because of all the variety you can incorporate in your routine and of course that pump!
DDT: What does your current training protocol consist of?
LC: Nationals prep my main focus is capped delts, hammies & tie-in that really pop and of course, round full glutes. Right now I’m training delts 3x per week, legs 3x per week (which is a combination of hypertrophy and power), abs and calves typically 2x per week and adding in the ‘extras’ like back and arms 1x per week. Since my overall training volume is high I typically don’t do much cardio. Right now I have 2 HIIT sessions a week but may have to add a third once the show gets closer.
DDT: Your favorite controlled-indulgence meal is______?
LC: Hmmm this is tough because I’m such a foodie! My favorite combinations are sweet, salty and savory so a perfect treat meal for me would be buffalo or filet mignon with sweet potato fries and Ben and Jerry’s 🙂
DDT: What does Laurin like to do for fun? Please don’t hold back on us 😉
LC: Ha honestly I’m very simple but very extravagant at the same time. Like to me having the time to read a great new book or cook an amazing meal with a glass (or two) of wine sounds amazing. But spending a crazy weekend in Vegas or flying to Australia to dive with Great White sharks sounds equally as great. Traveling, shopping and eating (yes eating LOL) also make the list of favorite things to do. And while this may sound cliché I truly love training and competing!
DDT: Where can our readers and supporters follow you and your work?
LC: My Instagram @laurinconlin is the only place I’m active right now on social media. My ultimate vision is to bridge the gap between the scientific and bodybuilding communities so sometime in the near future I plan to make either a YouTube channel or a website (or both!). When I finalize those projects they will definitely be announced on my IG page.
I would like to thank Dynamic Duo Training for this interview. I am very grateful and humble to have been asked. Also a big thank you to all the readers of this article. The support means a lot to me!
Laurin ‘LoCo’ Conlin
Weight Off season 135-138 ; Competition 124-128
Degree BS in Exercise Science from Florida State University ; currently working on my MS in Exercise Science from University of South Florida
Best lifts (not very impressive ha) Squat 245 ; Bench 140 ; Deadlift 285
A few of my favorite things : Lifting, cooking, eating, heavy metal, minions, Nike, Pillow Pets, reading, coffee, anything that sparkles, oversized rings & ice cream.