Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training
Hello! My name is Jessica Dickson (28) and I am a personal trainer, online coaching and adventure seeker based out of Brisbane, Australia. I am also an IFBB bikini competitor, a lover of all animals and am on a mission to help our everyday population become healthier, more mobile and mindful humans.
I first began my journey into the fitness industry after competing in my first bodybuilding show in 2014. Coming from a background of boot camp/high intensity training, this style of training was so new to me! I didn’t have a great deal of knowledge on how to train efficiently or train in a way that could shape my body the way I wanted it to appear, so when I started lifting weights in the gym, I became instantly hooked!
Since starting on my bikini bodybuilding journey, I have competed in over 10 shows and have placed quite well across almost all of them. I walked away with podium placing in my first show and came away with a national title in my second. The following year, I won my PNBA Pro Card which was an incredible achievement for me! More recently (2019), I placed 1st and 3rd in QLD’s IFBB Bikini Novice and Open shows and 2nd and 5th in the IFBB Australian Titles for Novice and Open categories.
Bodybuilding training isn’t for everyone. However, I strongly believe that everyone should, at one point in their lives, dedicated a few months to a bodybuilding style training block. Training like a ‘bodybuilder’ helps people become more aware of the muscles required to perform certain exercises. With increased mind to muscle awareness, a person’s ability to contract and ‘engage’ a muscle provides a large amount of transferable benefits in our day to day movements. Not only that, it promotes proper technique and slowing down of movements to learn how to control your muscles correctly. All of my clients, at some point in their training cycles with me, will be introduced to this type of resistance training and I can positively say that they all have benefited, one way or another.
Describe a typical day of training
I look at training as a non-negotiable part of week. At the moment, my training consists of 4-5 days of resistance based gym work, with the occasional metabolic conditioning style workout. For most of the general population, I find that the best workout or style of training is the one that they can stay committed and consistent with. Your goals, your lifestyle and your attitude towards fitness will dictate which training approach is best suited. For me however, I find that I need to dedicate workouts to a particular muscle group for that to grow. So at the moment my training looks like this:
- Day One – Glutes, Hamstring and Back
- Day Two – Shoulders and Triceps
- Day Three – Quads (as I am trying to grow them, so it’s a sole quad focused session)
- Day Four – Quads and Shoulders
- Day Five – Unilateral leg movements, calves and mobility
I program my training to cater to my weaknesses first. As quads are a target area for me, I will start my workout with either hack squat or a barbell squat. If it is delts, I will start with a full range dumbbell shoulder press. My favourite go to exercises for each body part are:
- Quads – Hack Squat
- Glutes/Hamstrings – Deadlifts and their variations
- Shoulders – DB Shoulder press, but I am partial to a behind the neck press
- Back – Snatch Grip Rack Pull
- Abs – Decline Sit Up
The best piece of advice I give to people who are just starting out or are even a few months/years into training, is to TRACK EVERYTHING. Track your weights and your exertion levels each time you do your workout. Track how you felt during that session and if you were fed or fasted. I have religiously tracked my workouts and I have never not found it a useful process. I am old school and hand write everything down but there is a plethora or apps out there that can do the same!
I find extreme benefit working with a training partner but this happens rarely due to my programming being so specific. Having a coach or someone there to help push through mental barriers provides me optimal expenditure and increased results, but as my coach is online, this type of experience is few and far between.
When I am not in contest prep, I ensure to keep a consistent number of daily steps. At the moment my constant is 12,000 but I have a very active job. If my intent was to compete again soon I would be trying to decrease this number so that I could use an increase in steps during my cutting phase as an option to increase energy expenditure.
Instagram, @jesster__ - photo by @lifeportraits_fitness
How do you keep going and push harder?
I am a results driven person. With this kind of mentality I try to ensure I achieve something in my day to day work or my training. I find that writing down tasks, actions or goals keeps me more accountable to them. On days where I simply don’t feel like going, I got through a little checklist in my head and I weigh out the risk vs rewards, pros/cons of it. For example, if my training is in the afternoon and I had a shocking sleep the night before, and if by getting home sooner to get a longer sleep, I will try and work around my training program for the week so that I don’t have to train that night. This happens rarely, but at the moment, getting more than 5 hours sleep a night is a priority to me and the risk of not getting that far outweighs the reward or a session that may be mediocre.
However, if I am just simply feeling lethargic or lazy and I know I have to train, I will usually put on some really hype music, get on the treadmill for 5 min to warm up to my music and go and do my session. Some of the best workouts I have done have been when I didn’t want to do them at the start. Our minds usually play severe tricks on us, but I try and not use many things as excuses to not get my training done as I know the mass amount of benefits I get from training. If I am not feeling strong on that day, I will simply equate the volume of the workout to accommodate the loss of weight. Such as instead of heavier lifts with lower reps, I will go a little lighter and do a few more reps.
When I am prepping for a show though, all of this goes out the window as productive training sessions are a necessity and I plan out my days to the T so that I know exactly what to do and when. If I am tired, I will usually then use a pre-workout or my Greentea X50 Showtime.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Today has been great so far! I have trained 4 clients, taken a HIIT class, did a back session and now I am sitting down writing this, at its 9.15am hehe.
Over the next year I want to increase my impact on my general population clients. My clients are your average everyday people who simply want to live a long healthy life. I want to be the person that keeps them healthy and strong and in a frame of mind that promotes positive thinking and self love. So I want to impact at least 100 more people this year. Also in the next month, I will be launching a podcast with my girlfriend Andrea called Yeah The Girls. It will be aimed towards females who want to understand how they can like a healthy, mindful, fulfilling life and ensure they know more about their body and all the things that can happen to the female body throughout their lives.
I don’t have any immediate plans to compete any time soon as I am on a self love and strength journey myself. I want to increase my muscle mass on my legs and be comfortable and strong a body fat percentage to promotes health. I plan to also look at opening my own facility in Brisbane over the next 3 years too!
How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
I, thankfully have never really suffered from any injuries, however I do get niggles from time to time. I am quite conscious of my body and I am usually aware of the cause of my niggles, so I usually seek help from a physio or a massage therapist to help me get rid of my niggles quicker. I find a lot of injuries are a result of poor movement patterns or that I wasn’t quite ready for a weight I had selected. By addressing these areas, I have been able to remain injury free and this is something I advocate to my clients on the daily!
The best antidote to an injury to is to address the reason it and not place a band-aid on it. If you have a constantly sore back, I wouldn’t suggest getting regular massages, but rather look at how you move and walk and utilizes the muscles in your back and torso.
How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
I find that the best diet anyone can do is the one that they can stick with and one that can prove to have long term carryover benefits. As a result, for me, I follow a flexible dieting approach as my eating protocol. It allows me to eat the foods I enjoy whilst still getting the results I want. It took a good year or so of tracking my food in app called Calorie King (but I use Cronometer now) to be able to now, successfully look at food and know how many carbs, fats and protein in it. Tracking has also helped me go out to dinner or go on a holiday and not have eating be a problem if I am worried about maintaining a particular physique. It has also helped me become more aware of what is in food and the tricks that labeling has to make food appear ‘better or healthier’ than they really are. My top tip when looking at the label is to look at the serving size per packet and the nutrition per 100g. You’ll be astounded at what you find!
Even though this is my preferred method of controlling my eating, I have clients on a range of different diets, pending their goals and lifestyles. There is no one size fits all approach to dieting!
What has inspired and motivated you?
My own health and my body shape was my first motivator to getting into the fitness field. I would look at our older generations and wonder how I could be a fully mobile and functional elder and I learnt that keeping healthy, fit and strong and mentally sound was the best way to achieve this!
At times where my motivation is lacking, I would usually use myself and my past outcomes as motivation. Either by looking at what I had achieved or looking at a what I used to look like and feel like when I was 20kg heavier. I don’t have a goal physique or a person I look up to in respect to aesthetics but I do look at people and their physical achievements to get inspired. That could be to achieve 10 chin ups in a row or to be able to get fit enough to do an entire crossfit workout at RX or to deadlift 120kg with perfect form. I find setting performance goals for myself and for my clients is the best way to stay motivated and inspired.
The people I look on to for inspiration are honestly just everyday people, showing themselves they can achieve something they didn’t think they could. When it comes to the IFBB world though, I look up to Janet Layug and Indiana Paulino! Those girls are INCREDIBLE! When it comes to keeping abreast on all things fitness, mobility, movement and training, I look to Eugene Teo, The Mind Pump crew, Ben Pakulski, the 3DMJ guys and a few others!
Instagram, @jesster__ - photo by @1mdesignlab
Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
There are many things that I could say to answer to this question but what I find is that the only way you will improve from where you are is if you have a ‘WHY’ behind it. If you want to want to lose weight, why do you want to lose weight? I find if people place happiness on a number on the scale they won’t reach the happiness they seek.
The best advice I can give is to start with something that you can still do in 5 years to come. Find a way of training that you love doing and once you have that, it will prove to have not just short term but longer health benefits for you. This will change your life but know that a healthy body and mind is a long-term commitment!
When you want to start up, find people who can help you. This can be a PT, an instructor or a friend who is doing something similar. Finding a professional in the area is your best bet but you might have to go through a few before you find one that resonates with you and speaks your language whilst ensure you move well and eat well.
Are you taking on clients right now?
At the moment yes I am ! I am taking on more online clients than face to face but I have about 5 spots open for new face to face clients. I find my F2F clients keep me real with the world and keep me on my toes with my skills and knowledge. I also LOVE training people too which helps!
When you sign up with me, know that I will do more than give you a program. I am VERY hands on and very personal, so if you want an off the cuff plan, I can provide you with that but you will get the most benefit from me if we go through a full consultative process and let me know how I can ‘really’ help you, from a mental and physical standpoint.
Where can we learn more about you?
I am only on Instagram at the moment as I am re-developing my website. You can find me at @jesster__. I do these awesome IG TV series called Jess’s Car Time, where I spend my road trips talking about topics people have asked or provide education on the things I have learnt. Also, be sure to keep an eye on the @yeathegirls_podcast Instagram page to follow my upcoming podcast series.