Rachel Campbell – An Inked Bodybuilder, a Lion in the Gym

Rachel is a 28-year-old inked bodybuilder living in Scottsdale, Arizona. She’s passionate about fitness, health, and achieving her goals.

Thanks for sitting down with us, Rachel! Tell me, what’s your favorite piece of gym equipment?

Definitely the barbell. You can do so much with it. Legs, arms, shoulders, back… If you have any home equipment, it’s the thing to have. For machines, I’d say a cable. It offers a lot of variety, too.

What’s your favorite exercise?

Back squat. I love making my legs bigger and more defined.

Inked Bodybuilder

Are legs your favorite muscle group?

Legs and shoulders. Legs are #1, because what girl doesn’t want nice-looking legs?

When I started, my whole body was really small. I feel like my legs have always been my biggest project because they just weren’t big enough. I know what I want them to look like, and they’ll probably always be a work-in-progress. I want a certain look and shape to them, and that’s why I enjoy them so much.

When I first started bodybuilding, my shoulders were my weakest muscle group. That motivated me to make them one of my best. I’ve targeted them more and figured out what exercises will give me the results I want.

When did you start bodybuilding?

I got serious about it a year-and-a-half ago. I’m trying to put on more muscle and transform my body. My first show was last November, and I actually won the Physique Division and qualified for Nationals. So now I’m prepping for another show in August. It’s a professional show, so people go there to get their Pro Card. The Physique Division is kind of in between Figure and Bodybuilding. So it’s still a feminine look. We don’t wear heels in that category. When I first started I was choosing between Figure and Physique, and I went with Physique because my legs are bigger, and that category favors more muscle overall. Plus, you can really show off your personality with your movements.

I love your belief that growth is intentional. How’d you get started on this journey?

I grew up doing competitive cheer, and I was always a smaller girl. I eventually started lifting weights, and I gradually got more and more inspired by strong women.
Dana Linn Bailey has always been my #1 inspiration. I just think she’s so beautiful. I started asking myself, “How do I achieve this physique?” So I started lifting more and got into nutrition, which sparked my passion for fitness. It’s all about consistency. People forget that nutrition plays a huge role in lifting. You don’t have to be perfect with it, but you do need consistency. That’ll get you faster results. But it takes a long time to build up muscle.

Female Bodybuilder

How does someone successfully change their diet if they’re looking to gain muscle?

Make good choices with protein, good carbs, good fats. Don’t be super restrictive with what you can or can’t have. Occasionally, give yourself a treat on the weekend, but make healthy choices during the week. That helps keep you motivated and driven.

If you go from eating whatever you want to a strict diet, you’ll fall off. You want long-term changes, not short-term.

For what I’m doing now, though, everything has to be perfect. Nutrition timing, like what time of day you eat, how you separate your meals, what you put in your body at certain times of the day all matter. It all dictates how you’ll lean out and how you’ll look.

So I cannot “cheat” on my diet. If I ate something tomorrow that I wasn’t supposed to, it could tank a week of work.

It’s intense. Prepping for a bodybuilding show is totally different. You have to find ways around being tempted and wanting everything in sight.

Inked Female Bodybuilder

How about going to restaurants? How do hold to your diet then?

Right now, since I’m in prep mode, I eat before going out and then just get something like coffee. My friends understand that I’m avoiding temptation, and they support my goals. Once I’m a month away from a show, I don’t even bother going out.

What’s the female bodybuilding community like?

It’s kind of a smaller community. I have friends who do it, and we’re very supportive of each other. Everyone brings a lot of positive energy. Whenever I come across people who aren’t that way, I just get away from them because I don’t need that.

Bodybuilding and Tattoos

I love your ink. Do you have a favorite piece?

My lion on my right arm is my favorite. Lions may not be the biggest animals, but the jungle is theirs. They’re gentle creatures, but they know when to attack at the right moment.

For me, it symbolizes going after what you want. It hearkens back to Biblical terms, too, with the lion and the lamb. So powerful, yet gentle, so it’s about how to contain that power. I think that’s really cool.

Tattooed Bodybuilder

Do you have a go-to artist?

When I lived in Texas, I had an artist who did a couple of my pieces. Here in Arizona, I found a new artist who did a great job matching those pieces and adding color. Hopefully when I’m done with this next show, I’ll add more.

Not that tattoos mess with your workouts, but the healing process takes time. I don’t want it to be too fresh for a show. I’ll probably wait until I’m done competing for a little bit, and then I’ll add on.

This show sounds exciting!

It’s the Junior USA in Charleston, SC. It’s a Nationals show, so you have to be nationally qualified to compete at this show. I’m trying to get their Pro Card, and for my division, Physique, you have to win first place to get it. It’s very, very competitive, but I’m really looking forward to it.

See more of Rachel’s journey on Instagram @brunettestrong.