Hannah Tapping Upton – UKBFF Bikini Competitor 2017
Height: 5 ft. 2 / 158 cm
Off-season weight: 55/56kg
Stage weight: 48/49 kg
Hi Hannah! Tell us a little bit about yourself… Was there anything in particular that made you first want to get involved in fitness?
I’ve always had a love for fitness, when I was younger I was a synchronised swimmer and worked my way up to a high level. I loved the feeling competing gave me; the skills I learnt and friends I made – so worth it!
When I was off to university, I gave up synchronised swimming to study a biomedical sciences degree. Whilst at University I got into the gym and loved going 4/5 times a week.
Later, after leaving university I carried on going to the gym but not really knowing exactly why I was doing certain exercises, or if I was doing them correctly. I saw so many girls on social media and knew a few who competed and decided I needed a new focus… ‘Bikini fitness’ was that focus, so I got a coach and here I am now.
I’d never look back now, I love the industry and have met some incredible people who will be friends for life. I especially love the buzz of competing and getting up on that stage with the goal to win. The determination and drive it gives me permeates through every aspect of my life and career as a teacher
the gym gives much more to me than just ‘gains and muscles’ it gives me purpose.
We hear that you’re a science teacher as well as a UKBFF bikini competitor! How do you manage to juggle a day-to-day job with training and competing?
At the minute I’m transitioning from a secondary school teacher to primary education so I’m supply teaching in primary schools until I find that perfect school.
I’m very lucky that my working day is 8.30-3.15, which means I have plenty of time to fit everything in. I can do cardio before work or after.
I do believe that if you want something enough you will make time for it, there are 24 hours in a day and we all have lives – but if you want to achieve anything in fitness or in general life you have to work hard for it.
Nothing easy is worthwhile.
We’ll be totally honest, after a long day we immediately head for the red wine and chocolate buttons… Is there anything in particular that motivates you on a tricky day?
Definitely I have days when all I want is a bar of chocolate, or something off plan (it doesn’t always have to be naughty foods), but,
my motivation comes from me visualising show day and being stood on that stage. I’m my own motivation.
Because of my sporting background I’ve got a desire to succeed and never give up when I put my mind to something – this really helps me push through my prep.
Don’t get me wrong in my off-season I’ll have a cheat meal or refeed once a week, plus the odd treat as and when and meals out. You shouldn’t feel bad for eating or indulging every now and because there’s nothing wrong with that.
Balance is key.
Competing has seen a huge increase in the past couple of years, with a lot of girls entering the UKBFF ‘Bikini’ division. Was there anything about the competition process that surprised you? (It can seem quite glamorous from the outside!)
Prep can be very difficult to get through, you have so many up and down moments it’s like a roller-coaster! So I would be lying if I didn’t say that on show day you are tired, you almost want the show to be over!
What surprised me the first time I ever competed last year was the mechanics of peak week […], it’s a science.
You do so many things to ensure your body is as lean, tight and full as possible and it can be tough.
Show day is full of glamour and you do feel like a princess on stage with your hair done, makeup, tan, bikini and shoes but
backstage everyone is tired, restless, can’t wait for a drink of water, some proper food.
It takes it out of you but once you get on stage you forget all of that and just get lost in the moment.
We all know a gym bunny that swears by yoga to lose weight, but we’ve seen the best results from weight training. Would you agree that girls ditch the cardio in favour of the weights section?
Cardio is definitely key in some form to lose weight but girls especially seem to think that doing 3 hours of cardio a day will get them the figure of their dreams.
Yes, they will lose weight but will end up looking ‘skinny fat’ or just too underweight.
Weight training involves some cardio, when your working compound heavy moments like squats, deadlifts etc. your using your core and your raising your heart rate. I don’t believe girls should ditch cardio completely because it’s so important to make sure that your cardiovascular system is working as it should. It’s important to balance both and make sure that your doing what’s right for your body.
At the moment I do 1 hour of cardio a day (Low intensity steady state) but other girls doing UKBFF bikini I know that are competing only do 45 minutes or even 30 minutes. Everybody is different, all our bodies work differently, do don’t worry about anybody else!
Do you have any tips for girls that are due to start their first prep and have absolutely no idea where to start?
Make sure you find a good coach, that for me has been a long journey and only recently have I found someone who I trust and who cares about me placing as much as I do. Research different coaches, look at their social media accounts, websites and ask questions!
It’s so important to have a good relationship with food before you begin competing. Nobody ever mentions how expensive competing is so make sure you have the funds for food, supplements, protein powders, BCAA’s, coaching every month and the bikini – which can cost in the range of £240-600 (if you shop smart it could be less).
Most importantly make sure you have support around you, it’s a tough sport and you need to be headstrong and determined. It’s made so much easier if you are surrounded by people who love and support you.
How do you approach alcohol, treats and generally having a social life during competition prep and everyday training?
I’ll be honest, my social life does suffer during prep. I find it difficult to be in social situations when on prep because being around food or drinks you can’t have is tough especially when you’re near a competition date.
Prep also tires you out so having the energy to go out with friends for for meals is 10x harder than it would normally be. My cravings have been low this prep because I’ve managed to stay on relatively high calories and carbohydrates, but it still doesn’t mean I want to be surrounded by doughnuts and cakes.
Luckily I have friends who understand what I do and why, and I do see them in situations that are easier for me but it can be tough and I wouldn’t lie and say it’s easy.
What does your current training programme consist of?
At the moment I’m training a 3 days on/1 day off – which consists of push, pull, legs and glutes. I’ll also do a specific glutes session which enables me to fully focus on training and targeting just my glutes. This training split isn’t necessarily what I’d do in my off season but it’s what’s working for me this prep.
As I’m in prep and 2 weeks out from my show day UKBFF English grand prix I’m on an hour LISS or low intensity steady state cardio every day.
I tend to use the treadmill for my cardio and do it on a steep incline and relatively fast pace. This works well for me, but there are other competitors I know who do 30 mins of cardio 3x a week.
As girls, it can be tricky to know what to eat whilst training – there’s so much advice for men about bulking and cutting but for girls it can be a minefield! What does a day of eating look like for you?
When I’m prepping for a competition the calories and carbohydrates are lower then they would be for my off-season. I stress the MY because this diet and the macros specific to it are for me not for everyone. My body works well off high carbs and low fats, and that might not work for everybody.
Diet Plan Of a UKBFF Bikini Competitor
Meal 1: Oats and whey protein – I add a bit of stevia to this and some S/F chocolate sauce
Meal 2: Steak mince, greens & rice
Meal 3: Fat-free Greek yoghurt & a pot of sugar free jelly
Meal 4: Turkey meatballs, sweet potato & greens. I also add in reduced salt and sugar ketchup
Meal 5: Oats & whey protein and again I add stevia and sugar free chocolate sauce.
Drinking 5 litres of water every day without fail also helps, plus you can drink black coffee and sugar free energy and diet drinks as well up until a week out from show day.
As I am on prep my diet could change after I check in with my coach, or I might get a refeed (more carbs added to my daily intake) it all depends on how your body looks, plus your weight and measurements.
Tell us about how you overcome any cravings when dieting. Do you have any favourite foods or recipes that help satisfy those cravings?
Diet hacks of mine which I have clung on to over my few years of dieting are:
1. Sugar free jelly (which is amazing in a bowl of fat free Greek yoghurt).
2. Sugar free/low calorie sauces like reduced salt and sugar ketchup, Waldon farm sauces and Carefree sauces.
3. Diet drinks: Diet Coke, Coke Zero, S/F Monster, S/F Red-bull, flavoured black coffee.
4. Flavour drops – You can put them in yoghurt, oats, coffee and tea for flavour
Oats are my favourite food and luckily they have been in my plan from the start, but in my off-season I make a wicked bowl of oats.
Also, pick a whey protein you really enjoy – I recommend Efectiv nutrition white chocolate and raspberry, add some stevia, Reece’s chocolate peanut butter or Manilife peanut butter and some S/F chocolate sauce.
If you could have ONE cheat meal for the rest of your life what would it be?
That is a very difficult question for me ……… NOT
I’m a sucker for a dominoes: Stuffed crust with dominoes herbs and spices and a BBQ base.
Can’t go wrong with a dominoes.
Although when I am off prep and in an off season I do love to eat healthy, home cooked food or clean and simple foods like oatcakes, rice cakes, peanut butter, pasta (not all together) with the odd treat added in.
Is there anything else you would like to leave us with?
Anyone who wants to compete think carefully about it it definitely isn’t a sport for everyone. Hopefully I may have inspired some of you out there who are lacking in confidence to go to the gym or start a fitness journey to get out there and make it happen.
Follow Hannah’s UKBFF Bikini competition journey on Instagram @hannahelizabethfitness
Thanks for being a part of our Lean Queens Series, and good luck with the Grand Prix!