Posted 03 September 2011 by Interview:

IFBB bikini Michelle Brannan

Are you or have you ever been a cardio bunny
and avoided the free-weight section?

I used to be a dancer, not as my main profession but I used to dance 3 to 4 times a week and teach Lambada, I also performed with Diablo Dance Company who were the twice European Salsa Team Champions and we performed in UK and across Europe and in Egypt. We were lucky enough to perform at a Latin event in Athens that Marc Anthony was also performing at. At the time I didn't work out in a gym, so I supposed my main source of exercise was cardio but I was never one for the treadmill. I decided I wanted to compete in 2009, at the same time I was studying to be a Personal Trainer. I researched what I needed to do to look like a bikini girl and started working out with weights. I didn't do any cardio because I didn't think I needed to because I was quite lean. After a year of competing I joined Team Bombshell, I needed help to get to the next level. Shannon Dey's plans included daily cardio so that's what I have been doing, I haven't been getting skinny just a better shape!!

How long do you spend in the gym during
a typical workout?

Typically an hour of weight training 4-5 days per week and an hour of cardio 6 days a week

What are you most proud of?

My contest history. The Bikini is new in UK, it was only introduced by UKBFF (amateur arm of IFBB) in October 2010. I am the first competitor to represent the UK in Europe in the Bikini class.

  • IFBB / EBFF European Championships - 5th place Bikini class
  • IFBB Amateur International Cup 2011 - 1st place Bikini class
  • UKBFF Mr Hercules 2010 - 1st place Bikini class
  • Ms Bikini Fitness Britain - 2nd place
  • Ms Bikini FAME British Championships 2010 - 1st place
  • My upcoming contests are Arnold Europe, IFBB Amateur World Championships and UKBFF British Championships, all in October 2011. October will be a busy month for me!

What’s the longest break you’ve had from training?

Since I started in late 2009, I have not stopped, maybe a week here and there but I've done 5 shows in 12 months so there hasn't been much room to rest. I have 3 more shows in October! In the bikini class, there is no off season of cyclical dieting, it is about eating right and working out all year round, I also train clients in a gym so I need to practice what I preach!

Have you had any obstacles or setbacks
towards achieving your goal physique?

Of course. Mentally you think "will I ever be good enough?". The key is to focus on yourself and what you can do. Obviously you have to take a look around you to see if you are on the right track and study the contests to see what's happening, you can find inspiration in this but it is important not to dwell on what ‘she’ has better than you or what the other competitors are doing.

We know consistency is key, what tips would you give to anyone struggling to stay consistent?

People say train hard or go home which is true to some extent but I believe it is about routine also. Some days I used to turn up to dance practice and maybe my heart wasn't in it but I was there and so my body learnt the steps. What I'm trying to say is yes you should try to give 100% but if you can't, still do it, you have a plan and you do it whether you are `feelin it' or not. You don't ask yourself ‘Do I want to go work today?’ The key is to get into a habit and just go (no excuses) and hopefully you can give 100% more often than not.

How do you deal with cravings for junk foods,
sweets and salty food?

It is difficult because I'm a sugar addict!!! I am used to eating chocolate bar after chocolate bar but if you want to compete or look a certain way, you have to give this up. I believe it is important to eat regularly to keep your blood glucose levels constant and to manage your insulin levels, this reduces cravings for sugar. When you leave it too long in between meals your blood glucose levels drop and your body starts craving sugar to replenish the glycogen stores, this is when you are in danger of straying from the diet. Always have something to hand so you don’t get caught out. I prepare my meals the night before and carry them with me. I also have a spare protein shake in the car in case I get stuck in traffic.

Who are your favourite, athletes or fitness models?

All of the Team Bombshell girls are great, there are a lot of good physiques out there, a lot of people to draw inspiration from, more so in the US than in UK but we are starting to catch up!! I also look to Professional Latin dancers for their physique and shape in their legs. I take inspiration from dancers such as Karina Smirnoff and Carmen Vincelj for their passion and energy.

What types of cardio have worked best for you?

I can get lean on diet and weights but cardio isn't just about getting lean. Since I added gym based cardio I feel I have improved my overall look and shape. Dancing is my number 1 and it doesn't feel like cardio. In the gym, I like the stepper and using the gradient on the treadmill.

What is your training routine like?

I try to mix my training up, I have historically done 3 lower body workouts and 2 upper body workouts but since joining Team Bombshell I'm doing two upper, two lower and one plyometrics based workout.
Some days I will do higher reps and slightly lower weights and other days I will do lower reps and higher weights. It is not just about lifting the heaviest you can, it is about time under tension. I don't build muscle easily so I try to use the heaviest weights I can. My lower body in particular, my quads, seem to respond much better than my upper body even when I work just as hard on each. I suppose it’s a good thing I'm in the bikini class because my figure is not suited to the figure class. My hips are naturally quite wide in comparison to my shoulders.

What does your diet consist of?

I eat 6 meals a day, my diet is mainly low starchy carb, moderate to high in lean protein and lots of green veg. I have a cheat meal once a week, which is usually chocolate, or something sweet, I am not bothered by pizza or bread. I like a glass of wine or a cocktail but have cut this right back as drinking and a fit body don't really mix. You have to sacrifice your nights out if you want to progress in this sport!

What supplements would you use/recommend if any?

I use multi vitamin with extra B complex, calcium, magnesium and zinc, 1000mg vit c a day, a good bacteria supplement and ground flaxseed. I also use whey protein, I don't have a supplement sponsor to date so I try out different products at the moment.

What 3 tips would you give to any woman wanting to get a feminine, CutandJacked physique like yours?

  1. Set a goal - You have to know where you are and where you are going. What is it you want to achieve? It is important to know your strengths and weaknesses and know what works for you.
  2. Plan - You need to have a plan and everyday do something that takes you a step closer to your goals.
  3. Dedication - Someone once told me success is 10% talent and 90% dedication.


Michelle is a Personal Trainer, Bikini Competitor and Fitness Model based in London, UK

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