By Marty Gallagher
Alexandra Antonio is a familiar face and figure to readers of the Parrillo Performance Press. This 30-year old dynamo competes as a Bikini competitor and has recently taken her physique to the next level, this in a very short amount of time. In March of 2018, Alexandra competed and won her classes in the Baltimore Gladiator Championship. She attained a new level of fitness and condition. “I had intended on competing in two follow-up shows,” Alexandra related “I had intended on competing in North Carolina in May of 2018 and then in Miami in November of 2018.” Life got in the way. “I had to work through some health and some personal issues that prevented me from gaining traction.” She reluctantly passed on the competitions and took some time off from bodybuilding. Despite the roadblocks that prevented her from competing, Alexandra stayed lean and fit. “From November of 2018 until February of 2019, I embarked on a serious ‘off-season’ training regimen.” Coming off her peak condition in March, Alexandra maintained her leanness, this while adding lean mass. “I lifted weights five days a week. I was less restrictive in my food selections. I began experimenting with different forms of cardio.” Alexandra muscled up while staying lean.
“Starting in March of 2019, I began experimenting. I started adding cardio in all different forms, i.e., HIT, steady-state cardio, steady-state wearing a tactical weighted vest, this while running.” Her experimentation kept her lean and made her fitter. “I set short-term, non-bodybuilding goals, physical goals that were aimed at performance – but would also improve my physique.” For example, “I completed in my first Murph Challenge. This is a specific Hero WOD dedicated to the fallen Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy. It is a nationally known workout, consisting of a one-mile run, 100-pull ups, 200-push-ups, 300-squats and finishing with another one-mile run while wearing a 20-pound vest. On the day of the Murph, my body fat percentile was 8.3%.” John Parrillo has long maintained that intense cardio exercise is lightyears superior to the meek and mild pace used by the casual jogger or stationary bike rider. Parrillo points out that intense cardio spikes the metabolism, burns calories at an accelerated rate and increases mitochondrial density. “I have found that after each show I get better at maintaining my leanness. I was into the idea of having an off-season. I was not going to consider competing for a while.” A chance encounter with her coach, Chaz Sutton, threw everything into hyperdrive. “I had a casual, check-in meeting with Chaz. When he saw how I looked, he made a radical suggestion: he said I should consider stepping onstage at the NPC Maryland State and East Coast Classic and a week later competing in another major NPC Universe.” The downside was these three competitions occurred on back-to-back weekends. The bad news got worse: the first of the two successive competitions would be in three weeks.
“I checked-in with my coach Chaz Sutton (out of Powerhouse Gym in Hanover, Maryland) on June 8, 2019. Chaz and I were just going to meet, takes some progress pictures and talk about show plans for the year.” That all changed when Chaz saw Alexandra’s physique. “When Chaz saw my physique, he tossed out the wild idea of my competing in the NPC Maryland State and East Coast Classic and a week later at the NPC Universe: three shows that were just 21 and 28 days away.” While flattered that Chaz felt strongly that she could be competitive, the amount of time left to peak for the shows meant Alexandra would have to begin full-on contest preparation immediately. “I was really worried that there was no room for error. Previously my competition prep phases had lasted sixteen weeks. Entering two really serious competitions on such short notice was simultaneously exciting and scary: I did not want to show up and embarrass myself.” Chaz assured her that her terrific condition provided a perfect jumping off point and with 21 days of perfect eating, hard cardio and intense lifting, she could pull off something special: compete successfully with just three weeks of competition prep. “Initially I had my doubts, 21 days seemed like way too little time. Chaz’s genuine excitement over the way I looked, his encouragement, it won me over. I just couldn’t say no.” After her initial apprehension subsided, Alexandra’s competitive instincts took over. “I realized that my running, my cardio, had kept me well below a 10% body fat percentile. What a fantastic personal challenge: could I whip myself into tip-top shape in three weeks?? Game on!”
Alexandra, a Speech and Language Pathologist for the Baltimore Public School System, related that immediately after her meeting with Chaz, “I drove directly from the Powerhouse Gym to the grocery store to load up on my clean foods. I drove home and immediately began meal prep for the coming week.” With only 21 days to work with, complete perfection was demanded. She could never miss a meal, never miss a lifting session or an aerobic workout. “For twenty-one straight days, I became a machine: every day began with a Parrillo-style “fasted cardio wearing a weighted vest.” After eight hours at work Alexandra would head to the gym for her weight workout. “After weight training, I would head home, eat a meal and then head back to the gym for posing practice.” She settled into her groove and locked everything down immediately and adhered completely. Within those three short weeks Alexandra had taken her already excellent physique to the next level. “I didn’t have a single misstep in those three weeks. The focus and concentration stayed with me.” Every day she improved both in physique and in presentation. “I felt and looked ready.”
“I competed in three shows total. The Maryland State and the East Coast Classic were held on the same day. I had a 21-day prep phase for these two. I placed first in my class in both of those shows on the same day. The third show was NPC Universe, a national show, that was held one week later. I started off the 21-day prep phase weighing 121. By the time my shows came around, I was down to 114-pounds. I maintained most of my muscle, despite all the cardio I was doing. At NPC Universe I received third callouts.” How could she not be thrilled with two class wins in two weeks, this with only three weeks preparation. Alexandra found out that holding peak condition for another full week (after winning) is pure torture. Imagine winning an important competition: you’ve trained yourself to frazzle, dieted down until you are weak – and after the victory you can’t even have a beer (male bodybuilder) or a bowl of ice cream (female bodybuilder.) Exhausted and spent from the emotion of winning, Alexandra had to maintain complete discipline for seven more days. “. I had to peak two weeks in a row, something I’d never done. Back-to-back peak weeks are no joke. I’ve heard other bodybuilders talk about how physically and psychologically difficult it is to enter two shows on two successive weekends. Experiencing it was incredibly demanding and draining. Luckily, school was out for the summer, making my schedule doable: gym for fasted cardio, work, gym for lifting, dinner, gym again for posing.” Both shows were optional for Alexandra. The big goal was to compete at the NPC Bikini national championships.
“I had already qualified to compete at the Nationals based on my winning my classes and winning the novice overall title at the NPC Baltimore Gladiator championships in March of 2018. Part of the reason I agreed with Chaz’s suggestion to enter the two shows on such short notice was I viewed it as an opportunity to hone and perfect my posing for the nationals.” Alexandra essentially subjected herself to a 21-day crash course in physique presentation followed by two shows in front of NPC judges – what better way to peak your body and craft your posing? “On July 4, 2019 I went to Teaneck, New Jersey to check-in for the NPC Universe. This would be my first national show. The show was huge. I had a stacked Open Class D. Everyone looked so good. Everyone was lean and vascular. It felt like a fit-chick convention. I received three callouts but did not place. I was not disappointed with myself or the process.” Alexandra had been limited by her short prep period. “I had a 28-day prep phase for this show. With such a short ramp-up, there was no way I was going to be top tier at the Nationals this year. I was there for the experience and to get feedback from national judges. It gave me another amazing stage experience. It is humbling and an honor to compete against the best, the best amateur competitors from across the country.” Alexandra knows and understands the “look” she needs to craft. The elite bodybuilder molds and sculpts their training and diet based on the look that is winning. Her ultimate goal is to become an IFBB Bikini professional. Her short-term goal is to nail down a competitive schedule for 2020 and set her sights on a competition where she can engage in a full 16-week, uninterrupted competition prep phase. Given Chaz’s guidance, Alexandra Antonio will without doubt radically improve in 2020.
Off season training schedule
Wednesday shoulders, abs
Friday back, triceps
Saturday chest, biceps
Fasted cardio: I use incline treadmill steady state walking while wearing a vest, usually for 30 minutes. I will alternate walking without the vest for 45 minutes. This is done four times a week. I will periodically do Hot Yoga.
Daily Meal Schedule
6:30 egg whites with 1 yolk, spinach, oatmeal
10:00 Parrillo Soft chew bar™
11:30 stir fry vegetables, shrimp
2:30 green beans, rice, chicken
5:00 (post-workout) Parrillo Optimized Whey™ protein shake
5:30 stir fry vegetables, ground turkey
8:30 Parrillo Hi-Protein™ shake
I have been using Parrillo Products since January of 2015. The variety and quality of John’s products is incredible. I can switch-up which Parrillo bar I eat depending on my game plan. If I want carbs, I can eat an Energy Bar pre and post-workout. If I want low carbs and high protein, I switch to the Parrillo high protein/high-fiber Soft Chew bar™. I will cook my food in CapTri®. I use it like olive oil. I know this way I get plenty of healthy fats in my diet. The negligent amount of sugar in all the Parrillo products is so important. I try to limit my sugar intake to 3 grams per meal.