Abbi Gaetano has been competing in the IFBB Pro League as a Bikini competitor since turning pro at the 2016 Masters Nationals. She has done numerous shows in both the Masters and Open categories. Beyond that, she has also worked as a coach, helping other athletes prepare for physique competitions. Both forms of experience have helped her gain a wealth of knowledge.

She was willing to share some of that knowledge with Whitney Jones and Lenda Murray on a recent episode of Femme Flex Friday by providing tips for athletes that are starting prep for a competition. The first aspect they discussed was mindset, and Gaetano explained that being clear with your intentions matters, but having someone to monitor how you’re doing is very important.

“You want to list your goals, and you want to be firm with them, but have a little bend in them too,” said Gaetano. “Progress is great, and a lot of athletes get in their head that it is never enough, and that’s not true. That’s why you hire a coach.”

Abbi Gaetano also touched on nutrition. She said that many women competing actually don’t have an issue with eating too much – it’s the exact opposite.

“We actually have a lot of our athletes start with reverse dieting because many women actually don’t eat enough,” she shared. “They want to jump onstage and there’s no room to wiggle because they’re not eating enough. Build your calories up before we start an actual prep.”

When it comes to determining the formula for when to get athletes ready to face the judges and audience, Gaetano said that it’s determined on an individual basis.

“It honestly depends on the athlete. Sometimes we get girls that are good when it comes to calorie intake, but their heads aren’t right,” she told Murray, “They’ve been lean for so long that to put a layer on to change their physiques for the better really messes with their heads. Putting a timeframe on it is hard because every athlete is so different.”

The discussion then shifts to cardio, and Gaetano feels that too much may not be a good thing in all cases. Some of the athletes she has worked with need to actually reduce the amount of time they spend on the elliptical or treadmill.

“90 minutes is a lot, even an hour is too much when you’re starting a prep,” she shared. “Starting a prep, if you’re doing a lot, you want to taper that back. Don’t cut it off completely in the beginning, but slowly cut back so your body gets used to it and acclimated.”

Catch this full episode to learn more about Gaetano’s strategies for a successful prep as well as her own experience in the sport. Femme Flex Friday episodes drop every Friday at 6 p.m. Eastern time over at