The Art & Science of Our Coaching


Transformative Techniques, Proven Approach

Delve into USA Physique's unique coaching methods and philosophies. Our approach combines cutting-edge science with proven techniques to optimize your Bodybuilding, Lifestyle and Discovery goals. Learn about our holistic strategies, tailored to individual goals for transformative and sustainable results.
What's your approach for Off-season and Prep?

As experienced IFBB Pros and NPC Judges, our coaching philosophy, dubbed 'Physique Readiness Coaching™', is rooted in a comprehensive understanding of bodybuilding dynamics. We've identified a critical trend: athletes often enter competitions without significant improvements, a result of coaching strategies overly focused on short-term contest goals.

Our methodology diverges from the norm by emphasizing long-term athlete development and health. We meticulously craft plans that foster continual physical growth and peak performance, tailoring every aspect of our guidance to align with the athlete's long-term objectives. This ensures not just immediate competition readiness but sustained advancement and success in their bodybuilding journey.

What sets you apart from other coaches?

As Physique Readiness Coaches™, our unique blend of IFBB Pro and NPC Judge expertise enables us to craft comprehensive bodybuilding career plans. Our Forward Thinking Strategic Philosophy focuses on more than just prepping for a single contest; it’s about continuous improvement throughout your competitive journey.

Our proactive coaching strategy encompasses Offseason, Contest Prep, Peak Week, Contest Day, Stage Strategy, and Reverse Diet. Each phase is meticulously tailored to your long-term goals and health. As an athlete, this approach provides you with a holistic strategy that emphasizes sustainable progress and overall health, integrating your support network and setting realistic milestones for long-term success in bodybuilding.

What services are included in your coaching plan?

Our coaching utilizes the Trainerize platform for a streamlined, modern experience, surpassing conventional online training with its integrated approach. This centralizes your training in one user-friendly app, free from the usual distractions of other communication channels.

The USA Physique app includes:

  • Customized Workout Programs and Nutrition Plans
  • Progress Tracking
  • Private, Secure Communication
  • Notifications and Scheduling
  • Unlimited Messaging
  • Graphs and Analytics for Progress Visualization
  • Increased Monitoring during Contest Prep
  • Daily Communication during Peak Week
  • All day communication on show day
  • Reverse Plan ready to go Post Prep

The system also seamlessly integrates with MyFitnessPal, Apple Watch, and Fitbit, ensuring comprehensive tracking and support throughout your fitness journey.

Do you have additional coaches on your team?

Absolutely! Our coaching team has recently expanded, thanks to the remarkable success of our athletes, who consistently achieve Top 5 placements. After careful consideration, we're excited to welcome NAMS Certified Coaches Molly Greer, Valerie Ocano, and McKay George to our team. Furthermore, we're proud to announce Karin Hobbs, a 2x Olympian, IFBB Pro, and NPC Judge, as our Head Posing Coach and Advisor. This addition significantly enhances our team's knowledge and experience, allowing us to offer unparalleled coaching services in the bodybuilding industry.

Note: McKay is not taking on new clients at this time.

What role does your Advisory Board play in your coaching approach?

Our advisory board, established in 2022, is a cornerstone of our coaching approach. It consists of renowned experts in various fields, each bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience to our team. This board is not just an asset for our competition team but a valuable resource for all our clients, addressing the specialized needs and challenges of bodybuilding competitions.

  • Dr. Joe Klemczewski, PhD: A WNBF Pro with multiple PhDs, Dr. Joe is a mentor with extensive expertise in nutrition and exercise science. He has a notable 30+ year record of coaching over 400 clients to pro status, 150 pro titles, and over 50 world championships. Even if you have never heard his name, you most likely know his work and may even use it daily. If you consider yourself a "flexible dieter" or "macro counter", you can thank Dr. Joe for creating this concept. He is in large part, if not singularly, responsible for the creation of the contest coaching industry as a whole. Chet and Natalie are proud graduates of Dr. Joe's APEX Coach program and his National Academy of Metabolic Science (NAMS) intensive coaching certifications are required to become a coach for USA Physique. We are pleased to have "The Godfather of Flexible Dieting" and creator of "Perfect Peaking" offering our coaching team and clients unparalleled guidance and insights.
  • Dr. Laurie Minarich, MD: As a Nationally Qualified Bikini Competitor and Endocrinologist, Laurie provides essential knowledge about hormones and the physical demands of bodybuilding. Her dual expertise offers a unique perspective for Competition Team clients, especially beneficial for providing second opinions during and post prep. Unlike guidance that you might find in a typical "hormone optimization clinic" staffed by those who are not medical doctors, her advice is not geared toward creating customers, but on actual medical concerns and long-term health.
  • Karin Hobbs: A two-time Olympian, IFBB Pro, Judge, Air Certified Aerial Yoga Instructor, athletic trainer, nutrition expert, and posing coach with over 23 years in the bodybuilding community. Karin's experience enhances our clients' posing skills, enriching our team's approach and understanding in this crucial aspect.

The advisory board's impact goes beyond aiding and advancing our competition team. It's insights and expertise extend to all areas of our service. Their diverse knowledge influences how we assist all our clients, from competition preparation to personal fitness goals, ensuring everyone receives informed and effective guidance.

The synergy of expert knowledge and practical application from our advisory board is a significant advantage for our clients. Whether it's for competition prep or achieving personal fitness milestones, the guidance of our board directly enhances our clients' journeys and contributes to their continued success. This multidisciplinary team ensures that our clients benefit from a broad spectrum of expertise, helping solidify their path to success in bodybuilding, health and fitness.

What is your approach to cardio for competitors?

In bodybuilding, there's a lot of debate about how much cardio exercise is appropriate. At USA Physique, we believe in doing as little cardio as possible, especially during off-season unless activity is not sufficient for good cardiovascular health.

Cardio is great for staying healthy and losing fat, but it might not be ideal for building the best physique, which is our goal in bodybuilding. However, when it's time to get ready for a competition, it becomes necessary.

Our approach is simple. To look your best on stage, you need to have a high metabolism. This starts in the off-season. We focus on eating plenty of food, without gaining "unnecessary" fat, and doing very little cardio. Why? Because the more cardio you do now, the less helpful it will be when you're preparing for a contest. Your off-season should be about workouts, good nutrition, and everyday activities...not cardio.

When you begin contest prep, you'll start with a good sized calorie deficit. It's important to have enough calories to reduce when fat loss stalls, which happens often. Also, we will keep initial cardio low (preferably none for the first phase) so you can gradually increase it without overdoing it. Too much cardio can slow down fat loss, cause muscle loss, make recovery slower, and lead to extreme fatigue. It can also make your physique look less than ideal on stage and cause problems after the contest is over.

Research shows that excessive cardio can hinder the benefits of weightlifting, especially when combined with very low calories. Every competitor forum is filled with stories of beginning prep with substantial cardio, often times on extremely low calories, reaching the end of prep doing hours of cardio, perhaps on as little as 800 calories, yet still unable to ever reach "stage lean." Unfortunately this scenario is very common in the contest prep coaching industry, yet it is easily avoidable. We work to prevent this by planning smartly and strategically in the off-season utilizing metabolic science to increase your metabolic capacity and tapering down cardio a client may have been doing regularly to maximize its effectiveness in prep.

Sometimes, we might need to do more cardio than usual in the final stages of prep due to unforeseen and unavoidable circumstances. And once in a while cardio may go to the extreme; however, for us "extreme" means 60 minutes of cardio 5 days a week. As Physique Readiness Coaches™, we factor in additional time to your prep as part of our strategic planning approach and are typically able to avoid these extremes.

What is your stance on PED's?

When it comes to performance-enhancing drugs, or PEDs, our approach is neutral but informed. In some leagues like the NPC/IFBB, using PEDs is more common and accepted. We don't encourage or discourage use. This means we don't push you to use them or tell you to stay away. Instead, we focus on supporting you, whether you decide to use PEDs or not. If you're thinking about using PEDs, we'll give you all the information you need about their good and bad points. This way, you can make a choice that's right for you. The focus is ensuring you can make an informed decision.

It's important to use PEDs ethically. Using them and competing in competitions that are supposed to be drug-free is cheating, and we're strongly against that. If any athlete we coach is caught cheating in these competitions, we will stop coaching them without a refund.

Remember, PEDs aren't necessary to be successful in bodybuilding. Success is defined by the individual, there is no set standard. You need to think about whether using or not using PEDs fits with your goals. We recognize that bodybuilding can be complicated, especially when it comes to drugs. Our job is to help and guide you, making sure your bodybuilding path is successful, and as healthy as possible!

Are your workout programs individualized or standardized for competitors?

Our workout programs are precisely specialized and tailored to each competitor's unique needs. The process begins with a foundational phase, where we establish core compound lifts. This initial stage, lasting about 10 weeks, sets the groundwork for customization based on your division, experience, and progress. As you evolve, so does your program, incorporating techniques like supersets, drop sets, and blood flow restriction, and other modalities to target specific strengths and weaknesses. Nutrition is similarly individualized, aligning with each training phase. Our approach is dynamic, adapting to your ongoing progress and specific goals, ensuring a continuous cycle of improvement from off-season to contest preparation.

However, it's crucial to remember that your personal commitment to nutrition and training significantly impacts your progression. Consistency is key, and we only make changes to your program when it's beneficial for your development. This method is proven, adaptable, flexible, sustainable, and suited to continuous improvement.

What about your approach for Discovery clients?

Our Discovery plan is tailored for individuals who are intrigued by the bodybuilding lifestyle but may not be ready or sure about stepping onto the competition stage. This plan serves two main purposes:

  1. For Non-Competitive Enthusiasts: If you're passionate about embracing the bodybuilding lifestyle without the intention of competing, this plan offers a balanced approach. It includes key elements of bodybuilding training and nutrition, but with less intensity and rigidity than our competitive programs. This allows you to enjoy the process and benefits of bodybuilding, such as increased muscle mass, improved body composition, and enhanced physical strength, while fitting comfortably into your daily life.
  2. For Potential Competitors: If you're considering competition but aren't yet committed, the Discovery plan acts as a stepping stone. It is not as detail oriented as a committed competitor, but does provide a glimpse into the discipline, training, and nutritional habits essential for competitive bodybuilding. This plan is structured to give you a realistic experience of what it takes to prepare for a competition, helping you make an informed decision about whether to pursue it further.

In both cases, the Discovery plan is less demanding than our competition-focused programs, offering a structured yet flexible approach. It's ideal for those who want to experience the bodybuilding lifestyle at a pace that aligns with their current goals and lifestyle.

What about your approach for Lifestyle clients?

For our Lifestyle clients, the focus is primarily on health and overall fitness rather than just aesthetics. Our workout programs are more standardized, with several to choose from based on individual goals, experience, and needs, but can be modified as you progress. They are designed to enhance your quality of life by incorporating a variety of functional and strength training exercises. These routines are crafted to improve your everyday strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular health, aligning with your personal health goals. Whether it's losing weight, gaining muscle, improving posture, or increasing stamina, each program is tailored to your specific needs. We emphasize sustainable fitness habits that can be integrated into your daily life, ensuring long-term success and well-being.

Do you provide meal plans, or do you focus on macro counting?

While Natalie and Chet specialize in coaching competitive athletes who follow Macro Counting, aka Flexible Dieting, our team of expert coaches is adept at working with both Macro Counting and Meal Plans. That includes Competitors, Discovery, and Lifestyle clients. This flexibility ensures that every client finds a nutrition strategy that aligns with their lifestyle and goals.

Our nutrition strategy primarily centers around Macro Counting, offering a sustainable and flexible approach to dieting. We emphasize learning how to select foods that align with your goals, rather than following restrictive meal plans. While meal plans can be effective, research indicates there is an increased risk of binging and developing long-term eating disorders due to their restrictive nature. In contrast, Flexible Dieting through macro counting promotes a varied diet, crucial for gut health and metabolic efficiency. Likewise, flexible dieting provides the freedom of choice and lessens the negative emotional impact that often comes from being told that certain foods are off-limits or bad. Studies also show that Macro Counting is more sustainable which is especially crucial during the hard dieting involved during contest prep.

Our plans are fully individualized, adjusting to your progress and preferences, whether it's clean eating, keto, vegan, or any other dietary style. You are free to make your own meal plan based on the macros we give you. It's the best of both worlds.

When can I start contest prep?

The question of 'When can I start my prep?' is a common one, reflecting the eagerness of many to compete. However, rushing into prep without considering key factors can lead to suboptimal results. Unlike the standard 12 or 16 week preps commonly offered throughout the industry for their simplicity and profitability, we at USA Physique believe in a more tailored approach.

The decision of when to start prep is based on three main criteria: your metabolism, base physique, and personal schedule.

  1. Metabolism: A critical factor is understanding your metabolic health, particularly your maintenance calorie level. This is the daily calorie intake needed to maintain your current weight. A simple way to estimate this is to multiply your body weight by 15. If your current calorie intake meets or exceeds this figure without weight gain, it indicates your metabolism is ready for the fat-reduction phase of contest prep.
  2. Base Physique: Your physique should already align with the muscle development and body composition standards of your chosen division before starting prep. Having the necessary muscle mass and an appropriate body composition is crucial for placing well in your competition division.
  3. Personal Schedule: Your ability to commit the necessary time and effort, without undue stress or disrupting other life commitments, is equally important. Prep should be a manageable part of your life, not a source of overwhelming strain.

At USA Physique, we discard the 'one-size-fits-all' mentality in favor of a customized prep strategy. We consider these essential factors to determine the ideal start time for your contest prep, ensuring it's tailored to your unique metabolic rate, physique, and personal circumstances. This approach sets you up for success, aligning every aspect of your prep with your individual goals and lifestyle.

What is the typical duration of your Contest Prep plans?

Everything we do is tailored to each person. We don't have a one-size-fits-all plan – that's just not our style.

When we start your contest prep, we plan it based on losing about 0.8 to 1% of your body weight in pounds each week. Losing weight too fast can lead to muscle loss and other issues. We also add extra time for diet breaks, mock peak week, and to handle unforeseen issues one cannot plan for, like illnesses and recuperation, injuries and necessary recovery, or having professional or relationship troubles. This means your prep could last 16 weeks, 24 weeks, or however long it takes for you. This careful planning is key to successfully completing the Five Stages of Contest Prep.

Many of our competitors reach their ideal stage weight a few weeks early. By that time, we often start increasing their calories, sometimes by 500 or 600 more per day. Mood, energy and stamina go up. The athletes get fuller, tighter, leaner and less sensitive to carbs, which decreases the likelihood of spillover come show time.

Our goal is to build "Competitive Athletes," not to just coach a lot of "competitors." While some coaches focus on getting as many people as possible on stage with standard prep plans, we focus on what's best for each individual. By working through the Five Phases of Contest Prep, we help our athletes become truly competitive on stage.

How many clients do you have?

At USA Physique, Natalie and Chet understand concerns about client numbers and the quality of coaching. Quality Assurance is something we take very seriously. As of December 2023, we are coaching 83 clients together. Our other coaches make up for another 40-50 that they manage on their own, with our guidance if needed. For 2024, we're planning to have a maximum of 85 clients. We chose this number carefully to make sure we can give each client the attention they need.

There are two main reasons why we limit the number of clients we coach. First, for us, coaching is about passion, not money. We've retired from our other jobs, so we don't need to coach for income. This lets us focus on quality coaching and really caring about our clients and the sport.

Second, we want to help the whole bodybuilding community, not just our clients. By having a manageable number of clients, we can give detailed advice to everyone we coach, and also teach others who are interested in bodybuilding. We love helping the sport grow and being the best coaches we can be. Its also why we judge and we are active on many of the discussion boards giving out free information and advice. Its our way of paying it forward.

Most of our clients are in their off-season, which doesn't need as much time from us as contest prep does. To give you an idea, out of our 83 clients, 12 are Lifestyle/Discovery clients, 53 are in the off-season, and only 15 were in contest prep this year. We're expecting 23 clients to compete in 2024. This spread of clients allows us to really focus on those who are preparing for competitions, while still fully supporting everyone else.

Our coaching focuses on getting each athlete's body and metabolism ready before they start contest prep. As a result, most of our team is in the off-season at any time, which helps us manage how many clients we have. It's important to us that anyone thinking about joining our team understands how we work. We want each client to feel important and not just like a number. It's why we reduced our client cap from 95 to 85 for next year to keep our quality high, especially since we expect more clients to be in contest prep.

What do you look for in a potential competition client?

We're pretty selective about who we coach. Our goal is to work with people who are serious about winning and ready to do the detailed, tough work it takes. Bodybuilding is all about patience, discipline, and sacrifice. If you're looking for quick results, we're probably not the right team for you. This might sound tough, but it's nothing compared to how strict the judges are. We want clients who think and act like athletes, no matter their current shape.

We're not just looking for people who want to be part of the competition; we want people who aim to be at the top of the competition. You don't need to have an amazing physique to start with – that's not our focus. We're skilled at building competitive physiques, no matter where you're starting from. The more time you're willing to invest in improving your physique and metabolism before starting prep, the more interested we are in working with you.

Ultimately, this sport demands your willingness to make sacrifices, step beyond your comfort zone, and commit to rigorous, meticulous effort. If you're hesitant to embrace these challenges, bodybuilding might not be the right path for you.

How often do I need to check in with you?

Our check-in system is designed to be responsive and individualized, adapting to each client's unique needs and progress. We've implemented a system that closely monitors our clients' progress, ensuring it aligns with our expectations. This approach surpasses the traditional once-a-week check-ins. We are instantly alerted, on any day, if a client's progress deviates from the desired or expected path. This proactive strategy allows us to maintain a consistent and effective oversight of our clients' development.

This is especially true for those in contest prep or facing specific challenges. Adjustments to your plan are made as needed – sometimes this could be multiple times a week, or it might not be necessary for a few weeks. You can expect at least a weekly update from us, either to confirm your progress or to suggest changes, effectively shifting the responsibility from you to us.

You have 24/7 access to communicate with us. Picture this: if you have a question in the middle of the night, you can send us a message through our private messaging system and then go back to sleep. Whether it's a weekend, holiday, or any time of day, we're here for you. We don’t just let messages pile up; we respond as soon as we can. That said, there will be times when we're occupied – with other clients, in meetings, during family time, or when we're sleeping – and we'll have our system on silent.

Remember, weekends are primarily our family time. While we often try to respond to messages during weekends, it's not something we guarantee, except in certain circumstances. If you're in contest prep, rest assured we monitor and communicate with you every day of the week. During peak week, we may be in contact with you multiple times a day, and all day long on show day.

We check messages frequently and aim to reply on the same day. But, if you haven't heard back from us within 24 hours during the week, please send a follow-up message.

What would my responsibilities be as a client?

While we provide comprehensive support and guidance, the success of our coaching also heavily depends on your active participation and commitment. It's crucial for you to do your part.

You are responsible for consistently providing accurate and up-to-date information, all done through our app. This includes tracking and reporting your weight, adhering to your nutrition plans, and logging your workouts and cardio sessions. Skipping or neglecting to record this data can be detrimental to your progress. Remember, as coaches, we base our advice and adjustments on the data you provide. If the information is incomplete or inaccurate, our guidance won't be as effective as it could be.

Staying diligent in keeping your records helps us help you more effectively. It's a partnership where your consistent effort and honest reporting are just as important as our expertise and guidance. We rely on your data to tailor our coaching to your specific needs and goals. Without it, we're working in the dark.

In summary, your commitment to maintaining accurate and thorough records is a key part of the coaching process. It ensures that the feedback and adjustments we provide are based on a true reflection of your progress, leading to more effective and successful coaching outcomes.

Coaching is a team effort, at least it should be.

If I ask questions, will I get answers or "Trust the process?"

We have a strong stance against the often-used phrase “trust the process.” To us, as coaches, it's more than just guiding; it's about educating. You won't hear us telling you to trust the process. We believe in making sure you understand why you're doing what you're doing. Understanding the reasons behind each step of your program not only builds your trust in the process but also enhances your commitment and effort.

Why would anyone give their all if they don't understand the purpose or the expected outcome? Plus, our goal isn't to coach you forever. Ideally, you'll learn enough to eventually create your own training and nutrition plans. We're here to teach you, not just to give orders. So, if you have questions, always feel free to ask – that's a big part of our role.

After-all, an informed competitor is a better one!

We do encourage you to ask questions about your program, but we also ask that you check our FAQ page first. Many common questions are already answered there. If your question is covered in the FAQs, we'll direct you there first. This approach helps streamline communication and ensures that our time spent answering questions is as efficient and beneficial as possible.

How much do your plans cost?

Believing strongly in the quality of our service, we don't tie you down with a contract. Our pricing is simple: a flat rate charged monthly. You have the flexibility to cancel your plan whenever you need to. Just remember to cancel at least 7 days before your next payment is due, as our system processes payments automatically.

We offer three different coaching plans, each designed to meet various needs and goals. You can find all the details about these plans on our Online Coaching page. Importantly, we do not charge any setup or initiation fees for these plans.

How do I get started and what's next?

To kick off the selection process, simply complete the Competitor Application. Our team aims to respond within two business days to arrange a free consultation with you. While you wait, we highly recommend exploring our FAQ section. It's a great resource that covers many aspects of our coaching approach and the reasoning behind our methods.

Sign up now