Francesca Hartman


Name: Francesca Hartman
Height/Weight: 5’2 1/2
Nickname(s): Franny

Q. How long have you been training?
A. I made the life changing decision to lose weight in Dec 2005 at the age of
22yrs. old at about 180lbs on a 5’2 frame. Realizing that I was considered obese was so depressing and overwhelming that making this decision wasn’t about looking good, it was about being healthy and happy. And now in 2010 I have competed in 6 competitions in the past 5 months.

Q. What was your body like before you started training?
A. I have attached some before photos of me at 180lbs, 160lbs, and 130lbs & at competition weight.

Q. How do you keep yourself motivated and on-track through the grueling dieting in the last few weeks?
A. I have to believe that at some point it’s not about politics that determines who wins but about who shows the most potential and meets the scoring criteria. I have always been competitive and as a female Drill Sergeant in the Army competition is my nature. The dieting is the hardest for me; by the time I am about to step on stage I am living off of the same 5 food items. What makes it even more difficult and different than most competitors is that I am a vegetarian. Making the choice to not eat chicken & fish leaves fewer options in my diet and to compensate for the meat I consume a huge amount of whey protein powder. I usually do come in as one of the leanest and most defined competitors on the stage and I contribute that to strict discipline & pureness in my diet. My competitive nature keeps me motivated to be the best.

Q. Do you get more attention from the people now that you are in such good shape?
A. Definitely, I’d hate to be unrealistic but attention comes in both negative and positive ways. Some seem intimidated, which sometimes results in negative attitude and some recognize the dedication and discipline it takes to be in my condition and a certain respect is given. Um, and I definitely get checked out more, haha. It was a shocker when I realized people were checking me out, coming from 180lbs that wasn’t a thing I was use to at all, so much that my mom had to explain to me why I would get looked at and not to be insecure about it but confident instead. I use to think I might have a booger in my nose, but nope that wasn’t it.

Q. What is the weirdest piece of advice you have heard in the gym?
A. Girls shouldn’t lift heavy. On my off season, which just started after the IFBB North Americas in Sept, I lift very very heavy on my legs and glutes. My diet changes and you can’t get me out of the weight room. I dread the cutting phase and cardio, yuck! I also love the fuller look on my body as oppose to my dieted down weight at 105-110.

Q. What is the one key piece of advice you could pass on to our readers?
A. I hope that if there are any readers that are overweight or simply don’t think they could ever be on stage in a tiny bikini I am proof that it can be done and it’s not always the cheerleader or pretty girl in school that ends up in the competition world, it’s the most determined.

Q. What is your favorite energy/pre-workout supplement? Protein supplement?
A. I love the cheapest brand of pure whey protein available because it’s the best for the money and I’m not rich, haha. I rarely shop to be brand specific during my off season. I do love pure protein and nitro-tech protein bars to mix it up. But during competition dieting I’m hooked on isopure protein. No carbs, sugars and low calorie. It’s great for dieting down and I have to consume about 150grams a day, since I’m a vegetarian and want muscles, so changing it up is a must. I’m also a fan of Oxyelite Pro fat loss supplement, it seems to work the best for me, but like most weight loss supplements you must take an on and off period with them.

Q. How many days a week do you work out?
A. Usually 6 to 7 days. Some would say I’m addicted, I believe I’m dedicated. The IFBB North Americans was my last competition of the year so now my focus is on building muscle in specific areas on my off season. I love not stressing about my dieting during the holidays, but I have learned to take it slower during the holidays than last year, my dieting down was rougher than it needed to be because I gained more bad weight than good weight. But I know what’s up this season and I’m gonna rock it next year:)

Q: How many exercises per body part do you typically do in a workout?
A: On my off season, I focus on one or two body parts a day, once a week or until I feel like a muscle group has had time to recover. So for example, if I choose to do shoulders and chest I do three to five exercises for each muscle group and I won’t work them out for about 4-6 days or until recovered. I am diligent in consuming carbs & proteins after my workout to help recover and build muscle. I love the science behind perfecting the body.
The bikini division isn’t solely focused around muscle development, symmetry and size like figure so building specific muscle groups is a sensitive thing for me. Stage presence, and overall beauty and symmetry is more of the focus. To improve on my symmetry I have redirected my energy on building my calves, hamstrings and bigger glutes. But most importantly, I am adjusting to wearing high heels instead of combat boots and improving my stage presence by the 2011 competition year.

Q: How much weight will you normally gain during the off-season?
A: I gain about 15-20lbs. I love off-season! But I have to do it smart so it doesn’t bite me in the butt when I have to start dieting down. I do consume more foods like sweet potatoes, potatoes, brown rice more proteins than I do when I’m competing and yes I will eat the occasional sweet which I will not touch AT ALL during my dieting down and competition season.

Q. Do you believe in workout programs like Insanity or P90X?
A. Oh yeh! Every body is different and everyone responds differently. Not only are these two programs great but so is cross fit & kettle ball training. It’s a matter of finding what works for you. I had never done plyometrics until a few months ago, and these exercises are incorporated into most of these workout programs. The change was very significant for me and now I won’t get ready for a competition without implementing plyometrics into my workout regiment. Also, all these programs are only as affective as you want them to be, if you want amazing results you have to give it your all and it should hurt, you should be out of breath and you may even feel it the next day. It will pay off.

Q. What competitions have you participated in and what were the results?
A. My first competition was this year MAR 21, 2010 at the San Diego GNC NPC (Lindsayproductions.com), I placed 1st in my height and was a pt. away from overall.
My second was a power lifting competition at Luke AFB in Glendale, AZ, where I placed first in my weight for squat, dead lift & bench. I had to put on some weight for that competition but had a blast.
My third was a Miles production NPC event in Phoenix, AZ where I took 4th.
My fourth was the USA’s bikini Championships in Las Vegas, NV where I placed 8th.
My fifth was Luke AFB Figure & bodybuilding competition, where I placed 1st in Figure and had an opportunity to meet Figure Competitor Betty Vasquez, who competed at the USA’s this year and Pro bodybuilding and guest speaker Troy Alves, who is currently getting ready for Mr. Olympia this year.
My Sixth was at the IFBB North America’s In Cleveland, OH. where I placed 7th.

Q. What do you wish you had known before you started doing shows?
A. Wow! I have a list!! I went in thinking the judging was about how good your physique is compared to your fellow competitors, and to be honest I usually feel pretty unstoppable. But most importantly, for the bikini division you must have rockin’ stage presence and I will be the first to say I can improve. Getting all dolled up, makeup, HIGH HEELS, and oils has never been me. I have been in the military for 10 years, combat, plain Jane and boots is what makes me feel at home. I wear sweat pants to the gym and I rock both those environments, but expect me to come in next year with hopefully near perfection, both physique and stage presence. I also wish I had understood the concept of “TEAMS”, apparently in this competition world there are Teams of girls who are trained by very well known and respected coaches, that gives the competitors more of an insight on what is expected and had I known this in the beginning I would have either reconsidered competing or signed on with a “TEAM” in the beginning, depending on how bad I wanted it at the time. That being said, I have seen politics play a part in certain decisions, but I can also say that knowing absolutely no one and nothing about “TEAMS” and the competition world I came into my first competition of over 75 bikini competitors in San Diego and placed first. So sometimes, physique does win over politics.

Q. Looking back on what you have accomplished so far, what is one thing you would change if you could, knowing what you do now?
A. I wish I had somebody in my corner who could explain to me how to get prepared for a competition. Physically I wasn’t to far but makeup, hair and especially the whole tanning thing was lost to me. I didn’t understand the importance of stage presence as stated earlier, this would have given me a better head start and probably a better finish to the season.

Q. What is one of the biggest sacrifices you’ve made, and was it worth it?
A. Food and patience. haha. I am a nightmare when I don’t eat what I want; this puts a lot of stress on my husband and me. I’m hoping that by next years competition season it will be worth it. But as far as gaining the experience this year my husband says it was worth it. awww he’s so supportive.

Q. What do you feel is the most important thing a bodybuilder/fitness/figure/bikini can have in order to be successful in this sport?
A. A great couch who knows what the judges are looking for and personal determination. Having supportive family members and friends is a must and if your married you must take into consideration that you are going to put your spouse through a lot as you prepare for a competition of these levels.

Q. As a new bodybuilder/fitness/figure/bikini competitor, how should one select which organization or event to compete in? And what are the major differences between the numerous organizations out there?
A. I chose this route because the NPC and IFBB is so publicized in magazines and supplement companies that this is all I new was out there until recently. There is organizations like the OCB, IFPA and ABA etc. But I haven’t had the opportunity to compete with those organizations yet so I am not familiar with how they are ran. As far as certain NPC shows at both local and national levels I have made a decision to never participate in certain promoters shows based off of the way it was operated and the level of professionalism of the judges, staff and promoters. I think some believe that because we are in the bikini division we are a group a uneducated, over privileged, pretty faces with only modeling to back us, I witnessed that kind of disrespect during the last competition of the season and have made the decision to not attend future events by that promoter. But you live and learn and the only real way to decide what organization is best for you is to participate or attend one. There were no huge differences in the different promoters set up of events; I think the biggest obstacle for this years promoter was adjusting to the number of competitors for this year compared to previous years and completing the whole event in a reasonable time, while managing everyone.

Q. Is it not very hard to exercise and lift on such a low calorie diet? I am talking about the pre-contest diet. I know you follow a very low calorie pre-contest diet. Don’t you get hungry?
A. YES YES YES! The low Calorie portion isn’t what hurts my workouts as much as when I cut carbs. My Low calorie dieting begins when I start cutting weight but I can still operate and have energy as long as I am eating every few hours, it’s a week out when my carbs are slowly taken out of my diet and I’m still trying to do things like plyometrics, sprints and fat burning or any form of cardio. When I’m done with the workout I’m smoked for the day. I feel like I’m moving in slow motion.

Q. For someone who is currently a non-competitor, but wants to be as healthy and fit as possible, what would you recommend as far as diet ratios and workout plan (i.e. combination of weights and cardio, how many days, etc.)?
A. It all depends on their goals do they want to build muscle in a certain area or lose overall weight. I get asked this all the time and I have put out a number of diet and exercise plans to people who want to get in better shape. I am a firm believer in what Tosca Reno say’s about diet being 80%, gym 10% and genetic 10%. I didn’t know how huge of an affect my diet had until I started competing and learning how to lose weight. I go through a bulking and cutting phase and diet and exercise takes a complete different direction from one another during those seasons. I don’t think anyone needs to take it to the extreme like most competitors due before stepping on stage, a matter of fact I think that is a pretty unhealthy and drastic thing to do to one’s body. But maintaining a good balance between calories, carbs, healthy fats and proteins is what is needed to be healthy.

Q. Does your social life include others that are not into fitness or competition?
A. Definitely, I have been in the fitness world for 5 months. I actually didn’t know anyone before stepping on stage in San Diego in March 2010. So any competitors I have met I have only known for 5 months at the most. But I can say they have all been awesome and I love meeting new people and other competitors, it’s neat to see the same dedication and determination they put in it as I do. I graduated from Hawaii Pacific University in 2006 so I have a lot of my good friends on Oahu, and from the places I have been stationed in the U.S. Army in the years.

Q. Who is your favorite bodybuilder, fitness model, and/or athlete?
A. My favorite bodybuilders are TROY ALVES and TRAE KIDD!! I think both of these bodybuilders are amazing, they are very humble about their success in the bodybuilding world and they are very down to earth and great to gain knowledge from. I had the opportunity to meet Nicole lee Wilkens at the IFBB North Americas and she was a big sweet heart. But as far as bikini competitors, I think Jaime Baird has an amazing physic.

Q. What is your favorite healthy meal?
A. Oatmeal, soymilk & a scoop of vanilla whey protein:) MMMM I actually get to the point where I am craving it first thing in the morning.

Q. What is your favorite cheat meal?
A. It was French fries, but after dieting so tough my body doesn’t process oils like they use to so I never get to eat them unless I want to spend the day in the bathroom. haha.

Q. What is your favorite exercise?
A. I love working out my glutes and hamstrings right now, so I do a lot of squats and lunges. But I also love the way doing cardio feels, the treadmill and stair stepper are my best friends at the gym.

Q. What is that one body part that you just can’t seem to bring up or make it look like you want?
A. I am pretty happy with the development of all my muscle groups but I know that I would like to see bigger hamstrings; I’m working on that muscle group more & more and no matter what you will see more definition next season, even if I have to glue or Photoshop something there, haha.

Q. What made you get into Fitness and Competition?
A. Well, I was stationed last Dec 2009 at Ft. Knox, KY as a Drill Sergeant and had a group of close girlfriends who were all avid gym goers. They told me that I would do well and kept encouraging me to compete. My husband also had a huge influence on me, at the time he was a stud and I was a muffin, haha. I signed up in the beginning of Mar. for my first competition in California, since I am a native there. I had to drop 20-25 lbs and I didn’t give myself a lot of time to do it, around 8 weeks. After that competition, I was hooked and determined to make further.

Q. What is the best asset of your physique/body?
A. My abs and quads. I can say that even when I was pushing 180lbs I still had a flat stomach and huge quads, so yes genetics plays a part. I was also blessed in that I didn’t have loose skin and stretch marks after dropping the weight from 180lbs to my final competition weight of 108lbs.

Q. What are your methods for breaking through a plateau?
A. Changing up a routine and I even change my diet. Sometimes I need to rest my body for a week and hit it hard hard hard the next week.

Q. Do you like the whole competition process? And how does it feel to be on the stage in the front of the hundreds and thousand people?
A. I hate the dieting but I love knowing that I accomplished my physical goal. The thousands of people thing I’m not sure I will ever get use to, but when I know I have it in the bag, I feel awesome and unstoppable.

Q. What is your future plans?
A. It’s too early to say. I may compete in a few Jon Lindsay NPC productions next year and play it by ear than. I would love to get my procard next year and I know I have what it takes it’s just a matter of me rockin’ the stage and getting the judges to see me more. But aside from that I am still in the military and that consumes a lot of my time.
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