Video: All Roads Lead To Olympia, Monica Steiner

It’s true… for many it is the realization of a dream… having done all the work to qualify and set foot on such a prestigious stage with the best of the best bodybuilding athletes in each category. It is truly an honor. Not many, however, realize that there are two Olympia’s. The Olympia hosted by The IFBB and The Natural Olympia hosted by The International Natural Bodybuilding Association – the largest natural US based international federation of its kind. This is a drug-free event and all athletes must be tested.

This would be my 4th Natural Olympia, the first one after two ACL surgeries (one on each knee) and the third as a Pro Figure Competitor. I began 2016 knowing I wanted to take my game up a level. I decided to enlist the help of a great coach out of Chicago who works with some of the greatest NPC/IFBB athletes including Autumn Swansen and Brandon Hendrickson - both 2016 Arnold men and women physique Champions.

I changed my training strategy. I went from sets of 12-15 to sets of 20-25 and I trained body parts twice a week. The biggest focus was on my legs specifically my flare and my hamstrings (which are extremely weak due to previous hamstring tears).  I also changed my nutrition to incorporate certain foods I hadn’t in previous years of training to best prep my body for the 4 competitions in 2016 (2 in NPC and 2 with INBA).  Well I’m happy to say that it worked.  I brought my best package yet to the stage.

So at 51, with the support of my ever enthusiastic husband and my best buddy and training partner in crime, I headed out to Las Vegas a couple of days before setting foot on the Natural Olympia stage. What I absolutely love about the INBA family is exactly that, it is a FAMILY and because the Olympia is an International Event, athletes from all over the world come to compete as individuals but also representing their country of origin. While fierceness and hard work show on stage, hugs and kisses are displayed off stage and fascinating discussions and cultural exchanges are shared at the athlete’s brunch the following day.

As the top 5 were called on-stage I could not help feel the emotional excitement and uplifting energy in the room. Earning the silver medal was a huge individual accomplishment and Team USA honor for my country. I saw how far I have come since my surgeries and how much more I can strive for.  It has set the bar and made me look forward to surpassing my best me of 2016 as I begin the journey towards World Championships in Rimini, Italy in June on the road to the Natural Olympia 2017!