Muscle Hypertrophy and Fat Loss Nutritional Strategies for Female Competitors

Although she hates the word “guru,” Victoria Felkar, MA, BKin, has paid her dues to become a respected authority on how females should train for figure, fitness, physique, and bodybuilding competitions.

An elite athlete who you can watch on YouTube bench pressing 250 pounds, Felkar identifies as an interdisciplinary researcher. Her domains of study include medicine, exercise physiology, and even anthropology and sociology. Her insight into the complexes of hormone manipulation put her in high demand for seminar presentations, workshops, and personal consultations.

In 2016, Ken Kinakin was able to book Felkar for a presentation at his popular SWIS Convention in Canada. The title of her presentation was “Muscle Hypertrophy and Fat Loss Nutritional Strategies for Female Competitors.” That’s a mouthful, but it had to be.

Felkar’s two-hour presentation covered a wide range of topics these female athletes, and their trainers and other support staff, needed to know to compete successfully. What they will learn is that training the female athlete, especially those seeking to compete on stage, is as much an art as it is a science.

While raging female hormones are a popular topic among comedians, they are no joke to Felkar. She has seen the devasting effects that irresponsible dieting and health practices trainers have recommended to women have caused, not just to the performances of these athletes but to their long-term health. She has only seen these consequences first-hand but experienced the worst of them.

Felkar, who grew up in Vancouver, Canada, was a classically-trained ballet dancer. In an interview on the Real Bodybuilding Podcast (Ep. 28), Felkar said that by the age of eight she was experiencing body image issues, leading her down the rabbit hole of anorexia. Four-to-eight hours of dance, along with running, and what could only be described as a starvation diet with as little as 300 calories, or less, a day. Felkar says because she was (her words) “short and stocky” and was densely muscled, she didn’t look like she had an eating disorder. “I didn’t look like a ballerina and I wanted to.”

When she was 15, Felkar was in the gym during her “cardio bunny” workout on the treadmill and had an epiphany. All the women on the aerobic machines were miserable, and all the men in the weight training pit were having a blast. She got some arm exercises from the guys, then decided to take it to the next level. She enrolled in a 6-month personal training program. Her education didn’t stop there, progressing from a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology to working on her doctoral studies at the University of British Columbia.

Beyond the Barbell

Felkar began by explaining that she does not consider herself a guru in her profession but “I am just somebody like you, I am just up here talking about my ideas, my philosophies, and really that’s what it’s all about – it’s about sharing.”

In the following video clip from her presentation, Felkar talks about the challenge of working with clients.

Victoria Felkar discussing the challenges of training women at SWIS 2016.

“Can you be a little more vague? was one of Charles R. Poliquin’s favorite catchphrases when addressing those whose ideas made little sense. Such words would not be used in Felkar’s presentation because she backed up all her ideas with her research and personal experience in training athletes. And when she wasn’t absolutely certain about how to address a problem, she admitted it. Again, she is not a guru.

A warning: Many of the ideas Felkar presented would make many male trainers uncomfortable. Rather than discussing sets, reps, and what exercises best worked the upper/inner pectorals and work/rest intervals in cardio, Felkar focused more on topics that included menstruation, diarrhea, cramps, PMS, vagina discharges, postpartum depression, and even the look and smell of poop.

Felkar concludes by saying it’s important for trainers to have an honest conversation with their clients. “If you’re giving them some magical equation for cardio, or training, or diet, or drugs, and it’s going to severely impact them in ways that you don’t know, talk about it. ‘I don’t know but let’s talk about the risk/reward ratio,’ especially when it comes to individual variance because you don’t know.” (TSS)

[Felkar’s two-hour presentation at SWIS is available at]

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