Jaime Cooper: My advice for aspiring body-builders

Jaime Cooper looking sharp in her first ever body-building season

Since competing, I’ve received countless questions from those wanting advice.

I’m not really the right person for advice, but here’s my two cents worth. Enjoy!!

“Wow, how long did building a body like this take you?”

I have been training since I was about 30 (13 years ago). My training over the years has come in many forms, from participating in and teaching group fitness classes, to cardio only, weights only, Crossfit and finally periodised programs focusing on form, technique and progressive overload.

The latter being my main focus for the last 2 years. Each session consists of 2 working sets of 4 exercises only. I have been doing the exact same program, with small variations, week in and week out for 2 years. It’s not fancy or glamorous and sometimes down right boring. But it’s focused and fit for purpose, not just for fun.

“You must have spent hours in the gym every day to get a physique like that. Where do you find the time? I wish I had the time.”

WRONG. I spent an average of one hour per day x 5 days a week at the gym in the 3 months leading up to my comps. Prior to that I was spending an average of 1 hour per day x 4 days a week.

That’s less time per day (by far) than most of us spend scrolling pointlessly through social media. Please don’t tell me you don’t have time.

In Jaime's first body-building season she walked away with an impressive 4x gold medals and 3x silver

“Tell me about your cardio regime. It must have been hectic to get that lean. Coz cardio is the only thing that burns enough energy to get that lean right?”

WRONG. I haven’t done ANY cardio in approx 12 months. Yes you read that correct. Read it again - I’ll wait!!!!

What’s more interesting is prior to that, I only did 1 x <30min cardio session a fortnight. For those that tirelessly spend all their energy on hour+ long cardio sessions day in and day out, sometimes multiple times a day, it might be interesting for you to understand that whilst cardio appears to burn slightly more calories during your session, weight training (focusing on progressive overload) actually burns more calories in the hours that follow your session, resulting in a higher overall caloric expenditure. Use your time wisely.

Jaime did zero cardio in the 12 months leading up to her first competition. All of her training was focused on strength training and progressive overload

“Tell me about your diet. What did you eat to get that lean? I really want to get that lean.”

I could easily tell you what I ate. However, that won’t help you. I’ve spent 2 years working on my bad habits, my relationship with food and building a metabolism that works for me.

If you’ve eaten like an asshole for most of your life and suddenly change to MY comp prep diet (coz you want to be that lean) you will not get the same result. In fact, it would be detrimental to any lasting results.

A more appropriate question here would be: What do I eat when I’m not competing?

“What body fat percentage were you sitting at to look like this?”

I could easily tell you that also, but really - who cares. What X% body fat looks like on me, would look completely different on you. It’s not about the numbers, it’s about how your body has been primed to react to certain foods and stimulus which will ultimately dictate your end result.

“Let’s catch up and chat about your experience, I can’t wait to see your physique.”

Do not be fooled, I will not look like this when we catch up. This is not sustainable, nor would I want it to be. This physique was carefully planned and monitored under the very watchful eye of my coach. My regime was systematically timed for my physique to peak at a certain point.

It would be detrimental to any lasting results for me to continue with this regime. I’m human and just like you, I also like to live a balanced life. Don’t be fooled or sucked in by the glitz and glamour of “comp day”.

Yes I’m proud of what I achieved, who wouldn’t be, however what makes me prouder is the smaller things I’ve learnt along the way, things about me personally, my habits, my choices, my emotions, my focus and my priorities. These things I had to learn long before I decided to compete. These are the things that will carry me further.

Creating a lean, muscular physique has been the by-product of reparing her relationship with food and carrying out a long and productive off-season, long before she was ready for her first competition

“I’d like to be a bodybuilder too, can you train me to step on stage!”

Absolutely NOT. I’ve been through the process and I’ve learnt a lot - about myself. However, there was also a team of professionals behind me, guiding me every step of the way. I did exactly what my coach told me to do, when my coach told me to do it. I did not question her, I did not seek out advice from anyone else and I certainly did not listen to, read or seek out bullshit alternatives or quick fixes that are unfortunately plastered all over the internet.


What worked for me will not work for you. My blueprint is not your blueprint. My best advice to anyone wanting to grace the stage - engage a professional and listen to them and only them. And when I say a professional - I don’t mean someone who has been through the process, I mean someone who actually knows what the f*#k they are talking about.

Someone who knows the difference between you, me and the next aspiring athlete to come along. There is no “one size fits all” program. It takes time, years of your time in fact and there are no shortcuts, pills or fat burning supplements that will even come close to giving you your dream physique.

The goal needs to be great and you need to want it - BAD. Without it, there’s is nothing but distraction and mediocrity - at best. Don’t stand for that. I didn’t.

My team of professionals: Trish Veugelaers, Dave Oulton & Strike a Pose Studio.

Thank you, you wonderful humans.

Jaime xoxo

PS: Read more about Jaime here.

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