Karina Bjerkeng was born and raised in the northern part of Norway. She is currently located in a small city not far from where she was born. Growing up, she and her family were moving a lot and through that, she has developed a passion for travelling. She has always been very independent and when she was 17, she moved away from home to attend hair dressing school. But, she soon discovered that was not for her and have been working with people diagnosed with developmental disability for the past 7 years. A couple of years back, she lived in Canada for a year and is hoping to move back there when she finishes her degree. She is currently a full time student, earning her BA in human nutrition, and got a chance to tell us about her journey into the fitness lifestyle, what she does to be healthy and fit, some tasty clean recipes, and what she has planned for the future.
You have mentioned that you grew-up being playing sports, but encountered a setback during high school. Can you tell us more about why you stopped being active and what encouraged you get back into the fit and healthy lifestyle?
KB: That’s true. I did participate in team sports from the age of 6-16. During high school, it became too serious for me. It wasn’t fun anymore, so I quit, focusing on other things. I signed up with a local gym, but lacked the motivation to workout without having the support of a team. It actually took me a few years to get back on track. I had gained a little weight, was working long shifts, and had zero energy. I signed up with a gym once again and started lifting weight for the first time. I loved seeing the results and my passion for training started to grow continuously.
After you started living a fit and healthy lifestyle again, what and/or who inspired your decision to participate in bikini competitions? What have you accomplished and what else do you wish to accomplish (titles, personal goals, etc.) as a fitness competitor?
KB: After I got back to training, I spent numerous of hours in the gym, but didn’t really see the transformation I was looking for. After doing tons of research on my own about nutrition and weight training, I got more confused with all the different information out there than anything else. At the time I was moving to Canada, I got in contact with some local trainers at ContestPrep.ca. I decided to compete in a local show and spent a few months prepping. Unfortunately, I had to move back home due to some personal circumstances and didn’t get the chance to compete. We didn’t have the bikini division in Norway, so I decided to put it on hold for awhile, just training on my own. Then I came across an interview with Ingrid Romero on YouTube. I was amazed by her physique and her personality and started following her journey on Facebook. After a little while, she and her husband started Team Edge, preparing athletes for competitions. I was beyond excited; this was exactly what I had been looking for. I reached out to her and the rest is history.
I did my 1st show last summer at the Southern California Championships. Ended up getting 2nd call out, placing in the Top 10 category. I had hoped to place better, but the nerves got the best of me and sadly it came across on stage. It was a huge show, so overall, I was happy with the experience and that I finally had taken the next step to compete!
I’m a fairly new face to the business, but have already had some great opportunities thanks to my coaches.
You are a part of Team Edge. How has it been like surrounding yourself with other female fitness competitors? Have you learned anything from them?
KB: I have been with the team for about 2 years now. Joining them has easily been one of the best decisions I’ve made so far. The team has grown tremendously since then and has truly become like a big family. Even though it has become the fastest growing team in the business, Ingrid and Joe devote their time to each and every one of us. I learn something every day from both my coaches and teammates. Knowing that I have their support means everything!
Besides having Team Edge as supporters, where do you get your motivation from to stay consistent and continue to strive in your fitness career and lifestyle?
KB: I love living a healthy lifestyle. Working out has become a part of my daily routine. Of course, I experience days where I rather stay home watching TV like everyone else, but those are the days where I focus on my goal, also knowing that you always feel so much better afterwards. The gym is my happy place where I don’t think about anything else. Keeping track of my progress with measurements and pictures also help me to stay on track, knowing how far I’ve come. Seeing the hard work of my clients and receiving encouraging words from my supporters also mean a lot!!!
With living a healthy and fit lifestyle, what does your daily diet look like? Do you give yourself “cheat days”?
KB: My daily diet varies depending on my goals at the moment. I’m aiming to eat as clean as possible on a daily basis, having a cheat here and there whenever I feel like it. I’m not a big fan of junk food, so my cheats typically ends up being quite healthy. Right now I’m off season, trying to add some muscles and Improve my physique for this season.
A sample of my off season diet:
Meal 1 = ½ cup of oatmeal with cinnamon, stevia and 1 tsp organic peanut butter, 5 egg whites or protein shake, 1 grapefruit
Meal 2 = 1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt with ½ cup frozen berries, 5 almonds
Meal 3 = pre-workout 5 oz chicken, ½- ¾ cup of brown rice, green salad with tomatoes and onion
Meal 4 = post workout 1-2 scoops whey protein and 1 banana
Meal 5 = (1 hour after having a shake) 2 small whole wheat pizza tortillas (recipe below)
Meal 6 = 4-5 oz of salmon, chicken or lean ground beef, 5 oz sweet potato, veggies
Meal 7 = (if needed) 10 almonds and 1 scoop casein shake or pudding
From your posts online, you seem to enjoy cooking. What are some of your favorite clean recipes that you would like to share? What is your favorite part about cooking?
KB: My weak spot is definitely sweats. I love peanut butter and chocolate, and combined, they taste like heaven!!! I’m constantly looking for new clean recipes to substitute, that way I don’t feel like I’m depriving myself from certain types of food.
These are two of my favorites that I often make during the weekends or if I’m craving something:
Guilt Free Cupcakes
2 oz coconut flour
DIRECTIONS Blend all the ingredients for a minute (except the peanut butter and the protein bar) with a mixer. Place the batter in cupcake forms, ½ full. Cut small pieces of peanut butter and protein bar, place a small piece of both in the middle of the cupcake, and pour the batter that’s left on the top of every cupcake. Bake in 175 degrees Celsius (347 degrees Fahrenheit), 12- 20 minutes, depending on the size of the cupcakes and the consistency you like. Serves 9- 12 cupcakes.
Frosting = Swiss Chocolate Protein Powder (Casein/Whey mix) mixed with water, sprinkle unsweetened coconut flakes on top. Enjoy! <3
Healthy Mini Pizza
2 spelled potato cakes or whole wheat tortillas
DIRECTIONS: Bake in the oven at 225 degrees Celsius (437 degrees Fahrenheit) for about 5-7 minutes. Enjoy!!!
We’re curious, what does your training routine consist of? (Please include a few details – training split, sets/reps, exercises, types of cardio, etc.)
KB: Like my diet, the training routine varies depending on my goals. Since I’m currently off- season, I hardly do any cardio, but weight training 4-6 times a week. My workouts are never exactly the same from week to week, that way I prevent my body from hitting a plateau.
This is a sample routine/split:
Monday – Legs/Glutes
Barbell squats (15x12x12x10x10x8)
Stiff-legged deads (8 reps x 4-5 superset jump squats 15×4)
Smith machine lunges (back foot on small step; 10×4)
Leg extensions (12×4 superset lying leg curls 12×4)
Abductor machine (drop-set x3)
Princess squat (10×4 each side)
Barbell hip thrust (heavy; 10-20×4)
Cable glute kickback on bench (10-20 each side x3)
Tuesday – Shoulders/Abs
Dumbbell shoulder press (10×4)
Front raise with DB superset front raises with a plate (10×4) Lateral raises (10×4) Upright rows (12×4) Reverse-peck deck flys (12×4 superset high rows 10-15×4) Arnold presses or barbell shoulder press (8-10×4) Heavy cable crunches (10×4) Crunshes on stability ball (30×3) Leg Lifts (4 x failure) Crunshes on decline bench (4 x failure)
Wednesday – Back/Hamstrings
Wide-grip lateral pulldown (12x10x8x8) Pull-ups on Smith machine or TRX (laying on the floor; 4 x failure) Stiff-legged deads (15×4) Bent-over rows or T-rows (10×4) Seated rows superset hyper extension (8-12×4) Reverse close grip pull-down (drop set)
Thursday – Off
Friday – Chest/Abs/Shoulders
DB incline bench press (12x10x10x8) Flat bench press (10×4) Decline bench press (12×4) Shoulder press (15-20×3 superset heavy cable crunches) Lateral raises (15×3 superset regular crunches) Bent-over laterals (8-10×4 superset ball roll in with push up) High rows (15-20×3) Regular push-ups (30×3) Push-ups with feet on bench or ball (20×2) Plyo push-ups (3 x failure)
Saturday – Legs/Glutes
Leg press (15x12x12x10x8) Step-ups with a kickback 12×4 superset 15 weighted jump squats Curtsey lunges using Smith machine (front foot on small box; 10×4) Glute kickback on lying leg curl machine (15×4) Plie squat (15×4 superset walking lunges 30×4) Seated leg Curl machine (15×4) Side presses on leg press machine (10×4) Hamstring curls on stability ball (4 x failure) Hip thrust with barbell (heavy; 10×4)
Sunday – Arms
Alternating bicep dumbbell curls (15×4) Bicep curls with barbell (21’s x 3) Tricep rope pushdown (8-12×4) Tricep cable pushdown (10×4) Double bicep cable curls (15×4) Overhead tricep extension (DB; drop set) Dip (4 x failure) Hanging leg raises (4 x failure) Ball roll-in (20×4) Crunches on ball (30×4) Crunches on floor holding a plate (15×4)
On season, my workouts look a bit different. Typically, Joe has me do 45 minute incline cardio a day, incorporating lots of supersets and plyometric movements in between sets.
In addition to your diet and training, do you believe in supplements? If so, which kinds do you use and what results have these given you?
KB: In addition to a healthy and balanced diet, yes, I do! My basics off and on season are:
L-glutamine BCAA’s Creatine (off season) No-Xplode from BSN or Jack3d fro
m BPI ports Whey Protein Casein Protein Multivitamin Vitamin B&C Omega-3 Calcium
You are originally from Norway. Do you think being from a different country gives you any kind of an advantage and/or disadvantage when it comes to competing?
KB: When I first made the decision to compete a couple of years ago, people seemed to be quite apprehensive and did not really understand why I wanted to do it. At times, I experienced a lot of negative comments regarding my lifestyle and I felt like I had to defend myself for choosing this path. Obviously, you’re bound to come across negative people who question you, but I find it to be very typical as to where I’m from. People are not supposed to stick out by doing something different for some reason. Luckily, I have my closest friends and my family’s support. I find it sad, though that some people are not able to be happy for others’ success nor accepting the fact that we are all different and have different goals in life.
What advice would you give someone who wants to transition their life towards a more healthy and fit lifestyle, but don’t know where to start?
KB: The most important thing is to take a look at the food you are eating. What most people actually don’t realize is that proper nutrition is 80% of your results. You can spend numerous of hours in the gym, but if your diet is not on point, you can’t expect optimal progress.
What are your future plans and goals? Do you have any competitions coming up?
KB: Travelling the distance makes it hard to compete as much I would like to. However, my goals for this year fitness wise is to do a couple of shows in California. Also, to qualify for the Norwegian Championships in October, which I’m very excited about! Career-wise, I’m working on developing a blog and will also be offering online meal plans, custom to meet your needs. I’m also looking forward to complete my degree in human nutrition, which will be next year. My goal is to specialize in sports nutrition and hopefully have the opportunity to work with professional athletes.
Lastly, any shout outs and where can we find you on the Internet?
KB: First and foremost, I want to give a big shout out to my coaches Joe DiScuillo and Ingrid Romero! I’m so grateful for what you guys do for all of us!!! My teammates of course, I love you all! My friends and family, especially my two younger brothers, who’s always there to support me. Natalie Minh for giving me this opportunity and last but not least, my better half, who is everything I could have asked for and so much more.