FIT6: Figure Competitor Autumn Cleveland

FIT6: Figure Competitor Autumn Cleveland

(Cover photo credit: Nash Laney)

Every week, the Louisville Women’s Sports Network highlights a local woman by asking her six questions about her health and fitness routine. Sponsored by Baptist Health Sports Medicine, this week’s guest is Autumn Cleveland. If there is a woman you’d like us to feature, email suggestions to

Mike Eckstut 2(2)

(Credit: Mike Eckstut)

Tell Us a Little About Yourself

I am a nationally-qualified figure competitor of over 12 years, and I am the owner of On-The-Grind Training. I create nutrition and training programs as well as personal training based on each individual’s lifestyle goals. I am also a competition prep coach for those who want to take their fitness journey to a competitive level, and I assist athletes with all needs to make their experience of stepping on stage a great one.

I graduated from the University of Louisville with my B.S. in Exercise Science. I love meeting people from all walks of life, motivational and inspiring stories, and the positive mindset. My favorite part of what I do is becoming a part of someone’s journey and watching them evolve as they grow more knowledgeable and confident in themselves. It’s amazing to see what people can do with the right tools and mentality, and I feel honored when people allow me to be the one to help them with that.

Six Questions About Your Fitness & Health

1) What is your weekly training/exercise routine?

Depending on my season, my training differs. In my offseason, which is most of the year, I resistance train 4-5 times per week (one to two body parts each day) and do cardio 2-4 times per week. I lift as heavily as possible with good form, utilizing complex movements over isolation. If a body part needs attention, however, I will isolate it until my body comes into balance. During a prep season, which is about four months before a competition, my resistance training stays the same, but my cardio sessions may increase in frequency and duration, sometimes up to seven days a week based on how my body is responding.

2) How do you prepare for a workout?

For me, it starts at the beginning of each week. I run my own personal training business, so in order to keep my own training a priority, I must schedule it as an appointment just like I do for my clients. I prep my meals in advance and carry them with me all day so I am fueled for my lifts. I treat my workouts like my job. I show up every day, on time. I change into my workout clothes just as I would change into my uniform. In my car, I turn my phone off so I do not have any distractions and put my favorite music on. I use the drive to the gym to visualize what I am training that day and how I want to feel: energized, tuned in to my body, strong, and pumped. I don’t just go to the gym… I make myself EXCITED to lift. The consistency needed for results is more mental than it is physical, so I have to get my mind and attitude right before I even touch a weight.

3) What do you eat, drink or do for quick energy?

I can’t really say that I use one substance for “quick” energy. Instead, I plan well in advance to get a good night’s sleep, eat my meals on time, and drink plenty of water. Sometimes I will use just a bit of Himalayan pink salt in my water to bring my hydration and electrolytes into balance. I do drink a ton of coffee, but at this point I don’t think it has an energizing effect and has become more of a habit I that don’t feel like breaking 🙂 I’m actually aiming to decrease my caffeine intake now. When I feel run down, I will take a 20-minute nap or do some headstands against a wall to increase circulation for energy. The thing that works the most for me is to meditate a little just to talk myself out of the “I’m tired and I can’t” mentality, and convince myself with “I feel good, energetic, healthy, and able.” It’s amazing what your body will do when you send it the right message.

4) What is your daily nutritional meal plan when training?

I utilize several styles of diets based on my goals and training. Sometimes my diet is balanced with all macro-nutrients, sometimes I carb cycle, and sometimes I follow a ketogenic diet. It all depends on what my goals are and what realistically works with my current lifestyle and activity level. Regardless of the style, I cook my food every single week and have my meals on me at all times. I measure my food out in portions to make sure that I am getting enough calories or not overeating, but I do not count calories much. I focus on consuming whole foods mostly, with lean animal meats, low glycemic carbs, plant-based fats, and probiotic-rich foods. I will supplement with whey protein, creatine, beta alanine, and fish oil as my staples.

Mike Eckstut(2)

(Credit: Mike Eckstut)

5) What do you snack on between meals when training?

In my offseason, I have 5-7 meals a day, so I guess you could say my “snack” is just another meal. As long as I am eating the right amount of calories at each meal and eating my meals on time (about every 2-3 hours), there is no need to snack. Now if I’m prepping for a competition and in a caloric deficit, I rely on celery, water, and pickles or sauerkraut to hold me over until my next meal.

6) What are your fitness & health goals?

I have so many long and short term goals. On a daily basis, I want to feel powerful, energetic, and look and feel good in my clothes. I train to build strength and muscle mass, and maintain a leanness that I can see muscle definition, but I am very focused on adding size to my frame. Contrary to what many people think I should or should not look like, I do actually want to be bigger and carry more muscle. This has been a lifelong challenge for me as I have always been very thin.

My ultimate goal as a figure competitor is to earn my Pro card in the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) and compete on the Olympia stage. Although these seem like simple goals, they are a constant battle to fight for and progress is not linear. My sport is very superficial and aesthetic, and people are constantly judging you. YOU start to judge you, and sometimes it’s hard to keep your head on straight. The most important goal for me is to find the balance of effort and enjoyment in all areas of my life so that I can continue to be passionate and love what I do, keep a healthy mindset, and be able to lay my head down at night knowing that I gave my best effort to overcome my adversities. By doing so, I also want to inspire others to do the same for themselves, even if their goal is not about fitness.