Erin Stern on Rebounding from a Low Point to 14 Bodybuilding Titles

Erin Stern – 14 time International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness winner
Sep 05 2018 by StrongPath

Erin Stern on Rebounding from a Low Point to 14 Bodybuilding Titles 

At age 27, Erin Stern had hit a low point. Everything in her life was going wrong. She turned to strength training to get her out of the funk. Just one year later, she won her first fitness competition. Ten years as a professional bodybuilder, she is a two-time Ms. Figure Olympia who credits weight lifting with not only giving her physical strength but giving her emotional strength as well. These days, while still competing, her mission is more focused on helping others enrich their lives through training and healthy living.

Erin Stern Shares her new Vision and Mission

“I’m trying to help people with maintaining a lean and healthy physique year-round,” Erin told StrongPath recently. “It’s not that stereotypical beefcake kind of look that I would be going for in a competition, but I do want to teach people that building your shoulders, building a beautiful upper back, can in fact make the waist look smaller and give you a superhero physique and also improve posture. Strength in the gym equates to strength outside of the gym. It’s about empowering people through lifting weights.”

Erin Stern on her Fitness Journey 

Erin has competed in sports since she was a child. She started lifting weights in college as part of her training for track at the University of Florida. “We learned the basics of weight lifting form. When I started, I could barely squat the bar, which is 45 pounds, and by the time I left I was squatting 315 pounds,” Erin recalled. “It was a big transformation for someone who was an introvert and had not really known they had any kind of real strength.”

The Lowpoint in Erin Stern’s Life

After college, she moved to Ocala, Florida, where she started a real estate company, and only worked out occasionally. “I was upside down in the house that I had built. I had an abusive relationship. I couldn’t make ends meet,” Erin said. “I had let my physique go because I was extremely unhappy. I saw a picture of myself from the back. I was like ‘Ew, who is that girl wearing those awfully tight shorts?’ And then I realized it was me.”

She also realized, despite all the that was going on in her life, she still had two good things she could count on—her family and the gym. “I just told myself I wanted to be the best at something, and I just began training hard and I dropped about 20 pounds.”

From Local Figure Competition to 14 Time International Federation Titles

Erin Stern – 14 time International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness winner
Deadlifts are a big part of Erin’s strength training. (Photo credit: George Kontaxis)

She got into the best shape of her life and a friend suggested she try a local figure competition in body building. “I won my first competition. I ended up going pro two contests later and ended up winning the Olympia a little over a year after that.” Erin said she now believes that she could have handled the low points better if she had been physically stronger. “The gym can be a powerful tool for increasing feelings of self-worth and self-esteem.”

During her professional career, Erin Stern has won 14 International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness titles, including the Arnold Classic Europe. Her last competition was in May in South Africa. Even when she’s not training, you can find her in the gym working out four to five days a week. “You get a great workout doing legs because it’s a large muscle group. I’ll do a squat with a Romanian deadlift and they’re big compound movements,” Erin said.

In Her Words

“And I love the high intensity interval training workouts because you can do them on any piece of equipment, or with body weight. It’s just a very, very difficult workout for about 15 or 20 minutes. And all out is relative, so it can be adapted to any age or it can be worked around any kind of injuries. So basically anyone can do it.”

How Erin is Helping Others

Erin is now creating training programs to help others reach their strength and body building goals. In general, if you want to get into good physical shape through strength training, it’s all about training smart, according to Erin. “I recommend strength training at least twice a week and up to six days a week. It just depends on someone’s schedule and if you only have three days a week, we could do a total body workout, then have an upper body workout, and then do a lower body workout.”

Erin’s strategy for avoiding hitting a plateau as you work out

“The goal, I think, for most of us is to maximize our time in the gym,” Erin explained. “Your body is amazingly adaptive. The idea is to train as hard as you possibly can in a sustainable way. Eat more on days that you train hard and then eat less on days where you’re not training hard. This creates a sort of imbalance in the body, which keeps it guessing so you don’t ever plateau.”

Nutrition is so important to Erin that she’s written her own cook book, The Bodybuilder’s Kitchen, which includes sample meal plans, including one for those on a keto diet. “It’s just a healthy Mediterranean diet, with healthy fats, lots of protein, and lots of veggies. I don’t do a ton of dairy and I don’t do gluten. There are 100 recipes and most of them five ingredients or less. It’s not daunting. I tend to shy away from things that have a big shopping list because realistically if you’re meal-prepping for yourself or for your family, you don’t want to go to the grocery store and have a list that’s like 300 items long. So it’s just pretty simple. Anyone can do it.”

So, healthy eating combined with strength training is, according to Erin, the recipe for living healthier, especially as we age. “Strength training can help with balance, which is something that we lose as we age. It is the fountain of youth.”

“I’m 38 and I don’t want to try to be 20. I think with social media, the push is younger, younger, younger. But I think there is a certain beauty in the energy we have, and the way we able to appear in life, as we get older. I want to continue to push myself and see if I can get better, if I can get stronger and I am continuing to compete. And I want to age as gracefully as possible.”

You can follow Erin Stern on social media:
Twitter: @ErinFAST
Instagram: @2X_Ms_Olympia
Facebook: @FitErin






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