Consistency builds a champion
From Brazil to Germany and now the Pro stage, IFBB Figure Pro and Overall World Champion Renata Benigno-Wisskirchen shares how she has shaped her best body and mind.
BY KIRSTIN CUTHBERT | PHOTOGRAPHY BY BLUE LINE EFEX
Name: Renata Benigno-Wisskirchen
City: Munich, Germany
Occupation: Executive Assistant
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Renata Benigno-Wisskirchen has a physique not many can match. After first competing in April 2015, by November that year she had won the Overall IFBB Fitness and Female World Championships, with judges unanimous in voting her into first place, and she’d received her Pro card.
While Renata achieved incredible success within the six events during this time frame, she hasn’t stopped there. Her dedication to training has helped her get through every obstacle, including moving countries, self-image problems and battling prejudice.
Growing up in Brazil, Renata was a swimmer and dancer. At 15, she began training as social acceptance and aesthetics started to play an important role in her life.
“I was unhappy weighing only 47kg and comparing myself with other beautiful, toned Brazilian girls,” she says. “Lifting weights was my way to shape my body just the way I wished to have it and feel more self-confident.”
Through training Renata not only found confidence, but also her health and fitness habits helped her to get through any obstacles she faced.
“My first crucial life challenges showed me that the best way to succeed in tough times was to stick with my training and diet routines to keep a body–mind balance,” she says.
This was the case when, as a young woman, she moved to Germany and found herself often being the only girl in the weights room.
“It was not about being ‘the girl’ between all male lifters, but rather what it meant in the European culture,” she says.
“Coming from Brazil and Portugal where women start to lift weights already in their early years, in Europe a woman who lifts has to deal with prejudice.
“That motivated me to keep showing — especially in Europe — how feminine fit women and bodybuilding can be.
“I don’t miss any chance to say how blessed I feel enjoying fitness progress and putting out a self-confident female essence in the gym, in daily life or on stage.”
With fitness being her source of mental and physical strength, Renata has learnt that it is exactly what she needs to get her through any hard times.
“I believe that problems exist to show us that we still have a lot to learn and that the way to become a better version of ourselves usually demands profound changes,” she says.
“After each training session, I feel able to use that power, including on non-fitness issues such as dedicating even more energy to my family and working harder in the office.”
Renata’s training has changed significantly over the years. Just like most Brazilian girls, she says, she focused on quads and glutes to begin with. However, as she began wanting to compete, she realised the role each muscle group plays when it comes to working for an ideal body shape.
“Upper body training, in particular, was secondary to me,” she says. “But preparing to compete in IFBB Figure contests, I found my passion for upper body training.
“Sometimes, I’m kind of sorry about losing time not training my back and shoulders seriously since the beginning of my fitness journey. This is one reason why I maintain my hard work to achieve goals in the figure division.”
Now, competing at the IFBB Pro level, the next competitions are Renata’s main motivation.
“My training routine goes beyond average standards of ‘being fit’,” she says.
“This means that I must achieve substantial progress in short periods of time. It demands much more commitment, dedication and motivation than a pure fitness hobby.
“Competing as an IFBB Figure Pro gives me that extra motivation to keep the high level, even working full-time and aiming for career accomplishments besides fitness goals.”
As executive assistant to a CEO, Renata says at first not many people accepted that a ‘normal’ business girl would like to hit a fitness and bodybuilding stage presenting herself in a bathing suit.
“I don’t come from a bodybuilder background and still have to deal with contrary and sometimes quite fierce opinions from people who I love,” she says.
“They all recognise and admire the hard work I’m putting into it, but most of them don’t really understand why I aim toward that ‘stage shape’.
“I also still face a huge challenge when it comes to living what seems to be a normal social life. It isn’t easy to convince other people that you can have fun without alcohol and fast food.
Being consistent is often interpreted as censure to other people’s nutritional behaviour, but I follow my athlete meal plan and I’m happy with that.”
Renata uses her mind to control and focus on her own achievements and block out any negativity that comes her way.
“The power and the delicious peace of mind that I enjoy through being physically active are the most fulfilling aspects of my fitness journey,” she says.
“The ability to control your physiological body functions through nutrition and training is the starting point for a balanced life.
“We all face critical daily issues that can push us out of a balanced mindset aura. We can’t avoid them; they just happen!
“But I use fitness as my own soul fortress against negative vibrations coming from everyday problems.”
Training for more than 15 years now, Renata believes the number one lesson she has learnt through her fitness and training is patience.
“Many people are able to put together all the necessary tools to achieve a certain goal and start to work hard for it, but only a small group is able to maintain high performance levels throughout a long period of time, facing losses positively, accepting them as lessons learnt and never doubting that their time will come,” she says.
Renata also says it’s important not totrain to be “like somebody else”.
“We all have our role models, our references of what kind of total package we would like to achieve through fitness,” she says.
“But try not to train to have the ‘glutes like Ashley Kaltwasser’, ‘quads like Michelle Lewin’ or ‘shoulders like Candice Lewis’.
“Yes, these girls are real fitness goddesses who should be our role models of true fitness spirit, consistency and discipline, but we admire them because they are unique!
“They don’t look like anybody else. They are a better version of themselves, just the way you should also be — the best, unique version of yourself!”
While Renata is all about training and eating right, she admits even she struggles to find time for all of her training sessions and lacks motivation at times.
“I’m married, have a full-time job and also try to support other novice athletes regarding posing and general preparation to hit the stage for the first time,” she says.
“I also have a lovely, large family and a group of close friends. I do my best to meet and spend beautiful moments with them despite having many other duties.
“Compared to all other areas of life, training seems to be a secondary activity, but it is not. At least, it shouldn’t be.
“That’s what motivates me on days when I feel tired and weak somehow. I don’t want to let myself put fitness in second place.
“Each training session is a lesson learnt and my energy source to give my best every day, everywhere, to everyone surrounding me.”
Renata is currently preparing for the IFBB San Marino Pro on 4 December in the Republic of San Marino, Italy, and working on building up muscle mass. In addition to this, she wants to keep enjoying her fit and healthy life.
“The positive effects of fitness in my life are so strong that I fall in love again every day and can’t stop enjoying it, searching for more knowledge and improving techniques to enhance my performance,” she says.
“I have no doubt that I will keep training and eating healthy until the end of my days.”
Breakfast: 25g oats, 50g berries, 5 egg whites and 1 egg
Morning snack: 30g almonds (sometimes also peanuts)
Lunch: 250g chicken or turkey breast (beef meat two times a week) with 200g veggies, 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 small potato
Second snack: 100g tuna
Pre-workout meal: 25g rice cakes, 30g whey powder and ½ an apple
Dinner: 250g fish, salad, 2 tbsp olive oil and ½ an apple
Bedtime snack: 30g casein and 30g almonds or Brazil nuts