Bikini Bombshell: NPC Bikini Champion Emily Carey Talks With

How did you get started with bodybuilding?

I have kept active my entire life. My parents started me early in organized activities including gymnastics, dance, swimming, and soccer. There were also special activities I remember doing with them individually; I often attended the aerobics classes, and went hiking in the mountains with my father. As, I grew older I participated in multiple team sports and played soccer through college. In the midst of full-time Graduate School coupled with working full-time as a Registered Nurse, I found myself becoming less active. I attended my first NPC show in March of 2009 when one of my close friends Amy asked me to attend her first figure competition. Over the 12 weeks leading up to her competition I watched Amy completely transform her body; she spent hours in the gym and ate fish out of plastic bags in her purse.

While I found this to be quite peculiar I agreed to go and support my friend; after all she had basically committed her entire life to this.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed the show and while I knew I did not have near enough muscle mass for figure I became genuinely interested in the Bikini Division. I love to learn and have always been the type to completely immerse myself in my interests. I started buying bodybuilding/fitness magazines and reading online. Within a month I decided to hire Amy’s trainer.

First Gym Experience

For the first time in my life I set foot into a gym with the intent of seriously lifting weights. Joe Valdez, my first trainer, helped me set a goal to compete in my first NPC competition. Joe designed my diet, workouts, trained me 3 to 4 times per week, taught me stage presence and posing, and even helped me pick out a suit. I started with faith in my trainer and pure determination to succeed. Soon, I started seeing results that only fueled my fire.

In July of 2009 my hard work paid off, big time! I won my class and the Overall Bikini title at the NPC Arizona Open. Needless to say, I found passion in training/nutrition and was instantly hooked.

Photography Credit: Barry Brooks

Where does your motivation come from?

When I began preparation for my first competition my motivation stemmed from watching Amy’s transformation, my family, my trainer, my new friends at the gym, and the athletes I read about in the magazines. I quickly became a fan of IFBB Pro Adela Garcia; without any dance or gymnastics background, Adela had worked her way to the top of the fitness world!
As I have continued to train and compete my motivation has shifted a bit; a large amount now comes from within. I have found an inner desire to push myself towards success and found faith in my own hard work. Last year I was blessed with the opportunity of a lifetime; to train with the very person whose pictures were posted on my fridge for motivation, Adela Garcia. I joined Adela’s O.F.F. Challenge Team in August of 2010 and thrive on the energy radiating from these girls!

One of my favorite fitness journalists, Chris Shugart writes “Working through difficulties carves you into a strong person. Doing things that are painful make you less susceptible to pain. Calluses are good. Scars give you character. Grit your teeth and juggernaut through those walls life builds up in front of you. Don’t look for the work-around. Go through”.

Photo Credit: Hammer Fitness Photography

What workout routine has worked best for you?

I have found that my body responds best to change so I switch up my routine about every four weeks. I lift heavy about 2 days a week and incorporate plyometrics into my weight training 2 times a week. My cardio routine depends on what phase of contest prep I am in but I always do some sort of cardio routine 6 to 7 days a week. Sometimes it’s hard for me to take a day off – workouts are my drug, I’m addicted!

Sample Split:

  • Monday – Legs & Arms
  • Tuesday – Chest & Shoulders
  • Wednesday – HIIT Cardio only
  • Thursday – Back
  • Friday – Legs & Shoulders
  • Saturday – Something fun outside
  • Sunday – Off

Photo Credit: Hammer Fitness Photography

If you have to pick only 3 exercises, what would they be and why?

  1. Jump Lunges – They target your core, glutes, hip flexors, hamstrings, and quads all at once while getting that heart rate up too.
  2. Pushups – They target your chest and shoulders but also engage your core, upper back; they not only sculpt your shoulders but help with posture.
  3. HIIT Cardio – Great for burning fat, especially if you are pressed for time.

Photography Credit: Jeff Sygo and Dan Ray

What is your diet like?

I primarily eat clean year-round but don’t deprive myself from indulging in the occasional craving. I incorporate lean protein in every meal and choose my carbohydrate sources based on glycemic load. While it is expensive I shop mostly organic because I find it to have more flavor. With the hectic schedule of working and training I depend on a local Austin company for many of my meals, Simply Fit Meals.

Sample Diet:

  • Meal 1: Egg whites, oatmeal, and blueberries
  • Meal 2: High protein Greek yogurt high in protein and mixed berries
  • Meal 3: Tuna mixed with chopped green peppers, and cucumbers wrapped in sheets of seaweed
  • Meal 4: White fish and sweet potato
  • Meal 5: Chicken breast and green veggies or salad
  • Meal 6: Lean red meat and spinach
  • Meal 7: Protein shake

Photography Credit: Chris Zimmerman

When trying to cut down do you prefer to use HIIT or just normal cardio?

I use a combination of HIIT and longer/slower cardio. I make frequent changes to keep my body guessing.


Nothing too fancy. My daily supplements include:

  • Multivitamins
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin B complex
  • Glutamine
  • Fish oil
  • Probiotics
  • Thermogenic (during contest prep)

Favorite Quote?

“Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.” — Marilyn Monroe