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SPC Competitor Close Up: A.J. Jones

The basics – How old are you, which university do you go to and what do you study?

I am 24, doing a masters in Forensic Psychology at the university of Kent

How did you get into fitness?

When I was 15 there was a death in my family. A year later I was diagnosed with PTSD, bulimia and anorexia, and also began drinking quite heavily to help me sleep and block out my problems. Somehow, I managed to get into university and during my first year I continued to spend all my money on alcohol and partying rather than focusing on my studies. However, I was drinking so much I could no longer starve myself as thin as I wanted to be – so I started to run. At first I couldn’t run lamppost to lamppost, but I had a lot of problems to run from so I kept it up. In my second year I moved back home and commuted to uni because of my poor mental state. During that year I stopped drinking, stopped partying, got a job in the security industry and pretty much decided to never drink again. My running when from strength to strength and soon I was running 7 miles a day, every day, before breakfast. While at this time I was no longer receiving treatment for my eating issues, I still wasn’t eating enough, ensuring I ate under 1000 cals every day. While at work I was thrown through a door during a fight and was quite badly hurt, and I realised I wasn’t strong enough to do my job. So, I started weightlifting, and shortly thereafter moved back to Edinburgh and continued to focus on weightlifting as opposed to running. Fitness has helped me immensely with my mental state, and thanks to it. I no longer have issues with food and I am able to manage my PTSD through this outlet.

What made you want to compete?

I’ve always admired the physiques of those that compete and last year I decided to tick it off my bucket list. I really didn’t think I’d enjoy it as much as I did, nor did I expect to meet so many awesome women with a similar mindset to myself! I feel like I learned a lot more about myself during my prep last year and I decided to compete again this year because I had such a great time at the shows and I like having targets to meet for my training.




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How many competitions have you done? Is this year’s SPC your first? How are you feeling about it?

I competed last year while I was saving up to go to do my second masters. This year I don’t have the first time nerves that come with not knowing what the day will be like, but rather I feel a lot of pressure from myself to beat what I brought to the table last year.

What is your training like during prep?

As I also compete in powerlifting, my programme remains structured around the big three lifts. During prep for a bikini competition my accessory work focuses more on my ‘bikini muscles’ – shoulders and glutes. While preparing for a powerlifting competition my accessory work changes to focus more on assistance exercises that will help me lift more. Right now a typical Monday’s training looks like this; Am session ; squat 5×5, bench 6×6 , deadlift 5 x 5 Hip thrust – 3 x10, squat cleans – 3 x10 , step ups – 3 x 10 Pm session ; Incline DB press superset Lat raises – 4 x 12 Bicep curls superset close grip push ups – 5 x 10 Shoulder press superset incline curls – 4 x 12 Cable rows superset upright rows – 4 x 12

What is your diet like during prep?

I count macros year round. Last year I handled my own nutrition and training during prep, but this year I have someone planning my macros for you. I check in every day telling him what macros I hit, how close I was to my target, how I felt during the day, what my strength was like etc. My macros change every day depending on what I’m training, how I felt and performed, and of course, how far out I am from competition!




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How do you stay motivated during prep?

I have an issue staying out of the gym rather than getting to it, I really love training! During sessions that get hard I remind myself that very shortly I will be standing on stage wearing next to nothing, for me that serves as a massive motivator to get every rep in and do every single burpee I’m supposed to do!

How do you manage your studies alongside staying in shape?

It’s a struggle, and I don’t always manage my balancing act too well. I try to keep my day very structured and very planned so every day I train at the same times and walk the dog at the same times. Every spare minute I have is spent on my laptop trying to meet my deadlines.

What are your fitness goals for the future?

I will probably continue to compete in bikini for the next two or three years and just see what happens there. I’m not looking to make it my job, or make any money out of it, I merely do it for the love of it and the opportunity to meet other people with similar interests. After that I will probably shift my focus purely to strength and give powerlifting my all.

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