Crystal Leigh - Bikini Competitor

I have always been into fitness, as a personal trainer, but more for the health and feel good benefits. As I started to see my own body change and build more muscle I really fell in love with training hard and pushing toward a specific goal. Muscle, to me, is empowering, being able to sculpt your body to what you want. I loved the figure look but struggled with being able to put on that much muscle so my husband convinced me to try the bikini division. Through the process I learned a lot about myself, what I was capable of mentally and physically. I did my first bikini competition in the spring of 2014 in the OCB and did very well (winning everything I could have). I've been hooked ever since to continue to improve my physique and my mental grit.


Off season vs. prep. ?? This last off season I ate whatever the hell I wanted and didnít hold back. Obviously! At 145lbs I felt too heavy, not because of the weight itself but just how I felt. But my energy was great and my training was intense so I didnít worry about the scale. ?? Prep picture about 125lbs, energy and strength much lower but feel good physically. ?? Finding balance of what works best for us can be tricky and changes according to our goals. Donít be afraid to try things, test out new training methods and eating styles. I keep a log of what I do alongside my progress pictures so I can see my changes.

A post shared by Crystal Leigh (@crystallynnfit) on


During my off season I just eat intuitively. I try to eat 4-6 meals/day with some type of protein and fat in each and carbs when I want an extra boost in energy or a treat ;) I don't weigh anything or track, I keep it flexible but sensible. When I start contest prep I will track my foods for a day to give myself a baseline to work with then I set a meal plan up according to that. I keep the plan flexible to start, having different options for certain food groups allows me to slowly transition into prep without feeling super restricted. I make sure I get in 6 meals per day and keep it all clean. Each prep has been different for me and what works best. Generally carb cycle of some kind has worked well so we just see how my body responds and how I feel and adjust accordingly.
There are no one-size-fits-all diets, sorry. The cookie cutter diets may work for some for a little while but there's nothing like learning your body and knowing how it responds to certain foods. I stay away from the BS pre-made diets out there and just listen to my body.

Self-confidence: Oh gosh, this took a while. I started training like I was going to step on stage but didn't actually have the guts to do it... until I met my husband, who was a competitive bodybuilder. He talked to me a lot about competing and what was involved and walked me through the process. Having him guide me really helped calm my nerves of the unknown a little. Ultimately I had to dig deep, set my mind to a goal and believe that I had done everything in my power to look the best I ever had for this show, and every show since. If you undoubtedly put in the work and stick to your plan then what else can you do? You can't control what others look like or who shows up or how you place, all you can do is your best and do it for YOU.

I do fasted steady state cardio throughout the year for overall health. Pre-contest I've found my body responds better to steady state cardio for fat loss and I enjoy it waaaay more than HIIT. My lifting schedule changes depending on how I'm feeling and recovering but generally I train legs twice a week splitting up hams and quads. Back, arms and chest I'll train on separate days once a week and shoulders every other week. Calves and abs I sprinkle in when I remember haha. Like my diet, my training is very intuitive as well. I take a rest day when I feel I need one and train a muscle group when I feel ready to hit it hard. When I've had a surplus day of eating alllll the goodies then I try to hit a larger muscle group the following day like legs or back, so I have tons of energy and strength to push.


A post shared by Crystal Leigh (@crystallynnfit) on


I recently placed 2nd in a NPC NQ show... I never go into a show with the expectation to win 1st place, but rather to just bring my best. All the ladies at this show looked amazing. After the show was over I had a number of other competitors and spectators reach out to me and ask why I placed 2nd when the 1st place winner looked like she should have been 4th or 5th. To be honest I was a little surprised too when looking at the stage shots. Here's what I really took away from this experience: You cannot control (for the most part) how you place, who shows up to compete and what everyone else looks like. Sometimes show to show judges are looking for different things, this sport is extremely subjective. All you can do is YOUR best, bring your best package to stage and be happy with yourself and your physique. At the end of the day it's not the trophy that matters, it's the experience, the people you meet, the memories and all the lessons you learn along the journey to become a better person.

Life as an athlete: I've learned so much about what I'm capable of. By sticking to my diet and training I've built grit, will power and credibility with myself which has spilled over into my personal life, my relationships and my business. I'm a stronger person now because of the hard things I've worked through and learned from and now I try to share as much of my experiences as I can with other so they too can learn from them.

Currently I'm enjoying life, family and friends, training hard and eating lots of great foods. I plan on doing more shows next spring. I'm not IFBB pro card hungry, I enjoy competing for so many more reasons than just a pro card, but I do have that in the back of my mind. Right now I'm focusing on building my physique how I want it, building our competition team (Team MuscleTime) and growing my custom competition bikini business (Crystal Bikinis).

You can find me on Instagram @CrystalLynnFit or @TeamMuscleTime
Facebook: Crystal Leigh (Richardson Mueller),
Etsy: CrystalBikinis,
or email me at StageReady@TeamMuscleTime.com
* Previous feature on Models Observer


Competition Prep e-Books