Erin Fergus

Erin FergusName: Erin Fergus

Division you will compete in: Fit Body, Heavyweight Bodybuilding

Age: 31

Height: 5’4.25″

Weight/Competition Weight: 139/128

City: Greenville, SC

Years as a vegan: 2

Why you became a Vegan: I grew up in southeast AL in the country and was surrounded by all types of animals, including pet chickens. I visited Washington, DC with my parents after high school graduation and saw some PETA demonstrations that helped me make the connection between my friends and my food. I stopped eating meat the next day. I was interested in veganism for a while, but I wanted to take it in steps and educate myself along the way. I still have plenty to learn (and all of it fascinates me), and I want to get into activism work soon. My decision was motivated by animal and environmental welfare, but health benefits are a perk because cancer runs in my family.

History Competing:
NANBF Trojan Classic, August 2014 – 2nd place open physique
INBF Naturally Fit Games, July 2014 – 1st place open fit body, 1st place novice heavyweight bodybuilding
Carolina Supernatural, June 2014 – 4th place open figure medium, 3rd place open heavyweight bodybuilding
OCB Presidential Cup, 2013 – 3rd place fitness model
OCB Emerald Coast Classic, 2013 – 1st place novice figure short, 4th place open figure short
Carolina Supernatural, 2013 – 6th place open figure medium (last in my class, but the most humbling yet motivating experience!)

What drives you to compete: I want to be my best, and I challenge myself to be better every day. It’s more than just physical; you have to be 100% mentally and emotionally committed to be successful. I take everything negative in my head and turn it into fuel for workouts and to set higher goals. In the hardest parts of contest prep, I think of horrible cases of animal cruelty and factory farming. Being strong and placing well as a vegan athlete blows people’s minds, makes me a role model and promotes a change in our industry. I want to be the most positive and influential walking billboard for our lifestyle that I can be.

What do you see as the biggest advantages of being a vegan athlete: I never get sick, I never have to skip a workout, I can train hard six days a week, I sleep well, I recover very quickly, and most important, I have a clear conscience because I am not contributing to animal cruelty. I think the biggest advantage is that I can educate others that there is a better way. Although I experience some negativity, most people I interact with are genuinely curious and open to learning more about what I eat and how I train. Being a strong athlete is one of the best ways to promote our lifestyle and to encourage others to take steps toward a plant-based one. Especially in the sport of bodybuilding, in which omnivore athletes consume large amounts of animal products in ever meal and tend to be quite miserable during their contest preps.

What types of supplements if any do you use?: I use NOW creatine and Vega preworkout energizer in the morning before workouts, and I add BCAAs and maca to my protein shakes, which are usually Raw Fusion, Plant Fusion, Vega One or Phood. I also take multivitamins, including B12, iron, calcium, CoQ 10 and magnesium. The last two are the best migraine preventatives I’ve ever used.

How would you describe your diet while preparing for a competition: I work with Dani Taylor for my nutrition during contest prep. I used to naturally eat about six times before competing, so we work around the six meals a day approach. I love starting the day with oatmeal, banana and peanut butter, but when it gets really close to stage time I might just be eating tofu in the morning. I incorporate a lot more vegetables than I do during the off season, and my favorites are roasted Brussels sprouts and cauliflower and baked sweet potatoes, but I challenge myself to eat a lot of kale, spinach and broccoli, too. I tend to eat my tofu raw and sprinkled with nutritional yeast, and that’s a main protein source along with seitan and occasionally tempeh and TVP. I also work in a protein shake after my morning gym time and some form of protein shake/”ice cream”/pudding at night. Quinoa, brown rice, rice cakes, berries, avocado and coconut oil also find their way into the meal plan.

Favorite food in your prep diet: I love protein “ice cream,” which is a simple blend of protein powder, almond milk and any berries or nut butters of choice. A weird concoction that I came to love was two rice cakes crumbled into my protein shake in a shaker cup the night before so they could soak up the liquid. I swear it tastes like what the bottom of a ice cream cone tastes like when it gets soggy from the ice cream.

How would you describe your training for a competition: I do very little cardio other than warming up before lifting and walking my dog in the offseason. As I get closer to competition, I add two weekly interval runs, some moderate intensity sessions on the elliptical, and HIIT on the stepmill. I lift heavy all the way up to peak week so that my muscles can be as full as possible. I lift six days a week, which usually includes a high volume leg day, a powerlifting style leg day, two days of back/bi, two days of chest/tri/shoulder (one that is a two a day with shoulders on its own), and three days of ab work, which includes high volume days and heavy weight days. Despite training on fewer calories at it gets closer to competition, I become more motivated because it’s amazing to see muscles splitting and veins popping as I become leaner!

Favorite exercises: My new favorite obsession is weighted pullups and dips, because I never see any other women doing them. I actually hate doing the pull ups because they never seem to get easier, but I challenge myself to do that as the first thing on back day. It feels great afterward to have accomplished it. I love Bulgarian split squats, curtsy lunges, cable hip abduction and extension, sumo deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, overhead cable extensions, bent over rows, walking lunges on slider discs, all ab exercises involving a BOSU, stability ball or slider discs, the list goes on and on…

How many hours a week do you spend training?: 10-15

Today I am most proud of: Never giving up. I joke that the “R” in my name stands for “resiliency,” but deep down I believe it. I have a naturally thick waist and straight torso, and judges told me after my first competition that I would have to do major work on my physique to ever be successful. It’s taken a long time and a lot of hard, very specific work on those target areas (wider lat spread and rounder hips/glutes), but I have been watching my shape slowly change. It will still take years to get where I want to be, but it’s worth it. I used to think that I would just have to live with my cursed genetics, but now I say screw that, I’m going to sculpt the body that I want!

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