By Marty Gallagher
Kristen McSorley is a 33-year Ohio-based bodybuilder that had to become a time-management master in order to fit fitness in. Kristen is the mother of two preteens, Michael, age 9 and Amelia, age 6, and in addition to all the rigors, demands and commitments that accompany being a modern mother, she also has a very serious fulltime job. “I am a Clinical Nurse Manager of a Progressive Care Unit in Cincinnati, Ohio. Add to that the fact that Kristen is in her final semester of Grad School and will be receiving her MSN in November. School eats up a ton of time with classes, homework and test preparation; kids and family eat up a ton of time; working fulltime gobbles up the remainder – so how does someone with this active a life find the additional time needed to mount a serious fitness effort? Kristen pursues her fitness before the rest of the world wakes up. “As you might imagine, between my job, between all the activities connected with being a parent and the rigors of Grad School, I need to use all my available time productively.” Kristen’s solution was to create a new block of time by waking up at 4 am. On top of an already full schedule, Kristen now needed to make time for weekly weight training sessions and near daily cardio. Time also needed to be allotted to prep bodybuilding foods. Kristen related that she created time to train using the classical strategy of getting up really early, before the rest of the world. “My typical day begins when I wake at 4 am. I will weigh myself. I train in the morning and usually arrive at the gym at 5 am.” She got serious about fitness four short years ago.
Effort is no substitute for success and in the interim four years Kristen’s progress has been amazing: she dropped from 21% body fat down to 4% bodyfat and has embarked on a competitive bodybuilding career. Kristen has entered three Bikini competitions and won two of them. Ironically, she is a late comer to bodybuilding, taking it up just shy of 30. She has morphed from sedentary and sluggish into svelte and energetic. Kristen grew up fit and athletic. “I started formal dance instruction at age five and have always loved athletics and being physical. I started cheerleading as a pee-wee and I continued my cheerleading all the way through high school. I ran track in high school and developed an athletic physique.” Her muscles were functional. “I was never overweight or out of shape.” She softened a bit as she aged and took on motherhood and parental responsibilities. Four years ago she decided it was time to commit to fitness. As Kristen approached age 30, she was feeling unhealthy and tired. Later it would be determined that Kristen was carrying a 21% body fat percentile. “For the first time in my life, I was feeling sluggish and unhealthy. I had been taking my health and fitness for granted and now I did not feel so fit. I needed to embrace some sort of formalized approach towards diet and exercise.” Luckily, she had a terrific reference guide for all things fitness-related: her husband of twelve years, Michael McSorley. Michael was a lifelong athlete and longtime lifter.
“Lifting and strength and fitness have always been a part of Michael’s life. When I decided that I wanted to make a real commitment to a serious fitness program, I worked with my husband to create a training regimen.” To maximize the results from her fitness effort, Kristen and Michael created an integrated approach that would coordinate an intensive training schedule with a full-on bodybuilding-style/Parrillo-style dietary approach, complete with a high-powered nutritional supplementation component. Rock-solid nutrition would be augmented with near daily cardio, done first thing. This one/two punch, bodybuilding nutrition and intense, timed cardio, are the magic formula for fat-burning. “I always begin my workout with a ‘fasted cardio’ session.” Fasted cardio was an innovative wrinkle introduced to the bodybuilding world by John Parrillo. The idea is battle-tested: engage in an intense aerobic session while glycogen stores are at the lowest point coming off the sleep fast. Deprived of its favorite fuel, glycogen (emulsified carbs,) the body is forced to burn body fat. This strategy is in widespread use by bodybuilders in the know. “I hop on the treadmill for 40 minutes. Every other day I hit the StairMaster. I avoid the StairMaster on leg days as I find it zaps leg strength. Once cardio is completed, I hit the weights. I spend about an hour in the weight room, using a combination of free-weights and resistance machines.”
Kristen uses technology that allows her bodybuilding preparation coach to see her daily progress and make any necessary tweaks to her training or diet. “At the end of every training session, I take a front shot photo and a back shot and email these to my prep coach, Tyler Stines. I do this every morning. He gets back to me with any adjustments to our training or nutrition.” Kristen has two coaches: Tyler and Michael. “My husband Michael has been my inspiration; his love of fitness sparked my love of fitness. Weightlifting, training, and being athletic has always been a part of his life. On the day that I decided I was done with a sedentary lifestyle, I asked Michael to teach me how to lift properly.” In a relatively short timeframe she morphed from unfit into fit and then on into super fit. Her progress was so rapid and dramatic that she began to consider competing. Figure and Bikini divisions have proven to be a genius moves on the part of bodybuilding promoters. Capable, fit females have seen these newest bodybuilding divisions as fantastic motivators. The competitive ranks have swelled as a result. As John Parrillo once noted, “Competing in a bodybuilding show, putting yourself on the spot, is a surefire way to take your physique to the next level: you only think you have been training hard and dieting strict; wait till you commit to walk onstage, nearly naked, in front of an audience of strangers and judges…harder training and stricter dieting become effortless once you commit to compete.”
Training is only part of the bodybuilding equation: nutrition is critical and Kristen’s way of dealing with food prep is unique. “I work out in the mornings so that I can spend my evenings with my family. “I am unlike the typical competitor, most of whom usually prep all the food for the entire week on a single weekend day. I prep twice weekly: I will do some bulk prep on Sunday and then again on Wednesday. This is my preference and what works best for me. I have tried many different ways to deal with food prep. I enjoy cooking and I enjoy being in the kitchen, so I prefer to prep twice weekly. Twice weekly food prep is smart during the competition season because the food selections can change dramatically day to day, depending on what coach Tyler sees and based on my ‘check in’ photos.” Progress came quick for Kristen and being competitive by nature she began to consider the possibilities of competing.
Kristen made her competitive debut in November of 2017 at the Kentucky Natural. She won the novice division and placed third in the much tougher open division. It was an auspicious debut. Despite the obstacles and issues, in the end it all came together. Fired up and inspired, she redoubled her efforts. In 2018 Kristen made a commitment to compete in the Ohio State Championships. She was deep into her preparation phase when life threw her an unexpected curveball: she was involved in an automobile accident. It was a big deal. “I fractured my sternum. I was hurting.” It was a serious injury and despite being in tiptop shape she was told not to train for eight weeks. “The timing could not have been worse. It was emotionally draining. The gym, the training, the regimentation had become a productive groove for me. I was deep into contest prep and was really on track. Now it was snatched away by an auto accident. It looked as if I was not going to be able to compete for the entire fall season. After a check-up in August I was cleared to compete. However, Tyler was unsure if I would have enough time to truly prepare for the fall season. I gave it my all.” In March of 2018 Kristen won the open class in the Kentucky Grand Prix. This was yet another really excellent showing. In October of 2018 she took third in the novice and fifth place in the open division of the Kentucky Muscle Show. “My last show of 2018 will be in November. I will be returning to compete in the Kentucky Natural.”
Kristen is at the beginning stages of what will be a long and successful competitive career. When asked about her future plans, she had a variety of goals in a wide-range of activities. “I am currently finishing up my last semester in grad school. I will graduate in December with a Master of Science degree in nursing administration from Xavier University.” Kristen is living “the bodybuilding lifestyle” in that the training and nutrition have become a lifestyle. “Working out is my outlet; working out is my ultimate stress-reliever. Working out helps me stay clear-headed to balance work, school, family and all the other responsibilities and obligations that make up my life. This is why I love fitness so much; the intense training gives me that feeling of euphoria and increases my energy.” The ending of Grad School will buy Kristen back a big chunk of time. “The final phases of Grad School have been a very challenging period for my fitness. The academic workload was extremely intense and time consuming. I have great support from my family – especially my husband. My coach Tyler Stines is incredible. He has really done a terrific job. Under Tyler’s supervision, I attained the leanest and most muscular look of my entire life. He is supportive and encouraging – but also very realistic, which is something that I, as a realist appreciate.” Kristen noted that like her husband Michael, now fitness is an integral part of her life. “My motivation is to become a better me. I seek to try and ‘one up’ myself, to push myself to see what I can achieve.” That is the very definition of bodybuilding.
Monday Chest, biceps
Wednesday Back, triceps
Thursday Legs, biceps, abs
Friday Shoulders, calves
Saturday Light back and legs
My training splits will change, depending on what I’m trying to improve upon. Things change consistently through the preparation phase. In the off season I like to mix up workouts just to make things a little different. I rotate between using a Stairmaster and the treadmill. I will perform aerobic exercise five times a week for 30-45 minutes per session. If I am prepping for a show I might perform two 12-minute bursts, adhering to the High Intensity Training (HIT) protocol.
Daily Meal Schedule
- 7am Meal 1 Organic oatmeal with sugar free syrup, whole egg + egg whites
- 10am Meal 2 Chicken, basmati rice, almonds, asparagus
- 2pm Meal 3 Flat Iron steak, red potatoes, almonds, broccoli
- 4pm Meal 4 Vanilla Crème or Fudge Brownie Parrillo Protein bar™
- 6pm Meal 5 Ground turkey, marinara sauce & spaghetti squash, parmesan cheese
Post Workout: Parrillo 50/50 Plus™; Muscle Amino Formula™, Parrillo Creatine Monohydrate™
I have used Parrillo Products for four years. My husband raved about the taste and potency of Parrillo protein powder. I tried Parrillo Products and have been hooked ever since. I have a body that likes to bloat. I need to be very particular about what supplements and protein I use. Parrillo has enabled me to overcome bloating and has helped me to excel and exceed my previous best condition.