Issue #118


by Juan Carlos Lope

20 Questions with Cover Model Mari Robles

Video Interview with Amateur Figure Mari Robles

Mari Robles, Chelsey Novak, Hanna Hallman, Karen Salinas & Lindsey Marie Autumn

Video Interview with Amateur Figure Ashley Arampatzis

Product of the Month
by Heather Hirmer

Video Interview with Amateur Figure Christine Amon


20 Questions with Cover Model Mari Robles

Mari Robles

1) Please introduce yourself? What makes you special? Who is Mari Robles?

Hi! I’m Mari Robles. I’m a student at Texas Tech University and I live in Lubbock, TX. I absolutely love to train and compete. If I’m not at school or work, you’ll find me in the gym with my Greek God of a boyfriend. I’m a very go with the flow, laid back kinda girl. I’m very easy going, but I have no problem shooting straight with you. I guess you could say I’ve always been one of the guys, which would explain my adrenaline junky, spontaneous side. Beyond that I take pride in being very personable; I can talk with just about anyone!

2) Please tell us a bit about your family, friends and surroundings?

I grew up in West Texas, the best place on earth. I’m a Texas girl to the core. Love traveling all over the place, but there is no place like Texas. Everything really is better here.

The most important thing in life to me is my family. I have 3 brothers, and I’m the only girl. Of course, I wouldn’t have it any other way. My brothers are my everything! Growing up I was what they called a “muddy Barbie doll”. I loved wearing my princess dresses, but if the boys were going to catch frogs, you best believe I was there, princess get up and all. I don’t think my mom ever imagined I would be competing in figure like I do today, she wanted me in pageants and talent shows, but she’s warmed up to the notion that this is my life now. I come from a HUGE family, and what I love so much about my family is that we are all so very close. I have the support of everyone when it comes to competing.

When it comes to my friends, I keep my circle small. I know its cliché, but it is hard to come by good people in this industry, so when you find good people, you hold on to them for dear life. And when you meet people that don’t bring any form of positivity to your life, you leave ‘em be.

3) How did you start competing in figure?

I started competing after I saw a friend’s picture on Facebook after one of her competitions and I thought, “If she can do that, I definitely can!” Immediately after that I got in the gym and started training. I had no clue what I was doing at first. I was lost and reading all the instructions on the equipment before I used it because I had no clue what the purpose of majority of them were for. This all changed when I met my then coach, now boyfriend. He took me under his wing and helped me prep for my first show. About 8 weeks into training with him he sat me down and told me that I was gaining size way too quickly to compete in bikini and that it would be best if I switched divisions to figure. I’m so glad I took his advice, because I love, love, love the figure division.

4) What is your personal policy (not what the judges want) about conditioning and muscularity when coming into a show? Soft or hard?

My personal policy on muscularity and conditioning when coming into a show is that conditioning and stage presence are without a doubt key. Anyone can have an x-frame, anyone can have mature muscle, anyone can come in relatively lean, but not everyone nails their conditioning. I personally shoot for visibly tight and lifted glutes, pronounced rear delts, a tight back with good width, round capped shoulders, lats clearly visible from the front relaxed pose, a tight waist, and an evident quad sweep with close to, if not, separated legs. Deep square blocky abs, while very impressive, are not solely what I look for. I love to see a symmetrical physique that flows.

5)  What is your idea of what judges want in a Figure competitor? Do you think judges are clear enough with competitors about how they want you on stage? It seems in Europe they are very clear unlike in the USA and now in Canada things are confusing.

The reason I like figure is because I feel the judges are very clear in what they are looking for. Round shoulders, tight waist, good quad sweep, lifted glutes, wide back, and popping rear delts. For the most part, I think the judging has been consistent. I’ve noticed here lately a bit harder looking physiques hit the stage, but that’s all right with me because it allows me to train the way I normally do leading up into a show.

6) For the next shows what do you think you need to work on physique-wise/conditioning-wise? If anything!

For my next show I would like my ham/glute tie in to be more pronounced, my back detail to be more pronounced, and for my waist to be tighter. I was very proud of the package I brought to the Phoenix, Europa where I won the overall, but I know I can bring an even better one to the National stage in Miami.

7) What is your typical training routine in the gym (per day, include sets and reps!) How much cardio do you do before a show?

I train 6 days a week and do cardio 7 days a week. When I’m in my off season I still train 6 days a week but I cut my cardio back to 5 days a week and cut the time down by a lot. Right now my typical training day starts at 6AM with an hour of fasted cardio on the elliptical or stairmaster. I come back to the gym to train at around 6:30 and my training sessions usually last for an hour and a half. Right now I train back on Monday, shoulders on Tuesday, Quads/calves on Wednesday, arms on Thursday, Friday is my rest day, Saturday shoulders, and Sunday is glute/ham/calves. I mix my training methods up quite a bit from FST-7, to Mountain Dog style training, high volume, multiple drop sets, mixing up rep ranges, and focusing on negatives and concentric movements. I guess you could say in general I do about 4x10-12 for about 7 different exercises when training upper body.

Mari Robles

8) What is your pre-contest diet? (per day, 1 week before the show)

I have a new coach this year so my peek weak precontest diet is different than what ive normally done. We stick to easy to digest protein and carb sources. Since I carb cycle during with multiple low days, I don’t really carb deplete. I eat more turkey and rice than anything and some ground beef here and there when my coach gives me the green light.

9) How do you go about dropping your water before the day of the show? How much water do you drink the day of the show. Please be specific.

I’m not drastic or fancy with water cutting. I drink pretty heavily up until the day before the show. I usually don’t cut water until 9 p.m. the night before a show. I drink up to 2 and a half gallons a day leading up to a show.

10) What motivates you to train/diet and compete? Are there any competitors you looked up to?

I’m addicted to seeing the hard work I put into my body come to fruition. I compete because I love to train. “Am I going to work out today?” is not a question in my house, more like “ What are we training today?”. Watching my body transform right before my eyes has motivated me to push myself harder every day to reach my goals. After winning and overall title at the young age of 20 lets me know that I can hang with women who have years of competing and training on me and that fuels my fire like no other! I really look up to Candice Keen, Allison Frahn, and Alicia Coates. All very different physiques when put next to each other, but I love their individual style and presentation on stage and off.

11) Please tell us an interesting experience you had at a show recently, be it a fun thing or something rather not so fun?

My interesting experience with the most recent show I competed in was that I won the overall at just 20 years old. The woman I went up against for the overall had to have at least 8 years on me and I still won. I was beyond stunned, and I started crying when they called my name.

12) What is your personal opinion about the figure, fitness, bodybuilding industry we are in? Anything you would like to see changed? 

One of the toughest obstacles I’ve had to overcome in my competing career is breaking my humerus in January of 2014. I was for sure that I wouldn’t be able to step on stage for a while with an injury as serious as that. I was beyond devastated. Lifting upper body was out of the question since my right arm was in a hanging cast from my tricep to my knuckles. It wasn’t until 4 and a half months later that I was released to start lifting again. To some people it was just a broken arm; to me it was like turning my whole world upside down. Training is what I love to do every day, it’s a part of my daily routing, like brushing my teeth, and that all came to a dead halt. During the time I was out I ate my emotions and went from my usual off season weight of 145 to 165. By the time I was released I had A LOT of work to do if I wanted to even step on the stage for the next year. That’s why the win at this year’s Phoenix, Europa had so much emotion behind it.

Mari Robles

13) What has been your hardest challenge to overcome either in your personal life or competing career?

I really do love majority of the aspects to the fitness industry, but there are many aspects that I wish would change. So many people want to compete now, which is wonderful and all, but I feel like the fitness industry has made it out to look like competing in the NPC is for anyone and everyone. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s not. Just because you lost 100 lbs does not mean you should step on stage. Just because you have a trainer, and he says you look good, does not mean you should compete. This is a sport for a different breed of people, not average gym goers. There is so much sacrifice, discipline, humility, suffering, pain, and isolation that comes into play when you’re serious (really serious) about this sport. So many women want to wear a sparkly competition suit, get tanned, have the hair and makeup done for the stage, but I can guarantee you none of them want to suffer to actually earn the right to wear that suit, get tanned, and have their hair and makeup done for their show day. Oh, you never experienced any of these things when prepping? Well you probably didn’t place, and you probably weren’t conditioned come show day. Just my opinion on the way the sport has evolved though.

14) Did you make any changes to your contest prep for your last show? Water intake, carbing up, etc...

My coach has an old school mixed with new school approach. This prep we did a slight carb up starting the Wednesday before the show and kept my water intake high all the way up until the night before my show. We kept sodium in up until the last minute and it really helped when we pulled water. I showed up with my best package to date.

15) What do you think of bikini division?

There are many bikini competitors that I admire, and there are many who make me roll my eyes. Bikini girls who actually train have my applause. I see so many lanky, skinny girls up on stage and they just look so out of place. I love the bikini look that has nice quads, a tiny waist, slightly capped shoulders, and a ham/glute tie in. I always pay attention to a bikini girl on stage when I can tell she has touched something other than a resistance band. The division is still all over the place as far as what the judges are looking for. But I do like the more muscular look for bikini

16) What are your favorite foods to eat right after you compete on a Saturday night?

Cheeseburgers are my drug of choice. I can eat a gourmet cheeseburger any day of the week! And my favorite post contest dessert would have to be cookies and fun-fetti cake! I’ll never out grow my love for fun-fetti cake!

17) Please tell us about how you were raised and did you have any interesting experiences while growing up?

I was raised in a small town. I grew up in a house full of boys with parents who loved us unconditionally, my mom and dad always wanted us to know how much they loved us. I never had to want for anything, and I had everything I ever needed. I wasn’t involved in any kind of sports growing up. I was more concerned with my pigs. Yep, that’s right, my pigs! I raised show hogs growing up and traveling to stock shows took up the majority of my time. If I wasn’t at school, you would find me in the barn with my pigs.

18) Do you have an athletic background? Gymnastics, soccer, volleyball or what?

I wasn’t involved in any form of sports in high school or middle school. I played little dribblers, but I highly doubt that contributed to the physique I have built for myself today. I was very skinny prior to lifting and competing, like size 00 jeans skinny, so I didn’t have to be in any form of athletics to stay in shape.

Mari Robles

19) What is a typical day in the life of Mari Robles? From waking up to until going to bed?

Since I’m in contest prep right now, a typical day for me is laid out before it even begins. I wake up at 6AM to do my fasted cardio. I usually eat meal #1 at 8AM and then get ready to head to class. I attend classes from 9AM -11:50AM. All of my meals go with me for the day in my 6pack backpack so I can stay on track when I’m out of the house. I go into work from 12:30-5 and then I go home to prep for my training session at 6:30. My training sessions usually take about an hour to an hour and a half depending on the body part being trained that day, and if I have post workout cardio scheduled. From my training I go home to my puppy and start prepping my food for the next day before I start studying. I don’t have a very eventful week, but I do what I love every day, with a man that I love, so that’s more than alright with me.

20) What is your current occupation? Please tell us more about it, what do you specifically do in your job?

I work for Xcel Sports Nutrition. I’m the assistant manager for the main store in Lubbock, TX. I work on the floor handling sales, and communicating with sales reps concerning product. I love my job. I feel like I have the best bosses (not to mention I’m sponsored by this company as well) in the entire world, and I’m not saying it to be a suck up either!! I’m the only girl in a store full of men, but we all get along so great and they’re awesome co-workers!

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