A lot can happen in five years, and our cover athlete Rachel Davis would have to agree. Since shooting for our inaugural issue back in 2013, she’s wed her high school sweetheart, flourished in her career in sales, renovated her home, and returned to the fitness competition stage after a not-so-brief hiatus.

But some things never change. And while Rachel, who turns 31 in December, has experienced plenty of personal growth these last few years (“I’m more comfortable and confident in my skin than ever before.”), her upbeat attitude, authentic ear-to-ear smile, and penchant for pulling a funny face, haven’t wavered. The same could be said for her physique, which with the exception of a small scar (evidence of surgery for umbilical hernia two years ago) is as beautifully solid and sculpted as when she graced our first cover at 25.

So what’s her secret formula? (Besides being blessed with some seriously good genetics.) The truth, says our cover star, is that there isn’t one. In sticking to the balanced approach to nutrition that works for her—one that leaves room for cheese, tacos, and wine—she hasn’t fallen prey to the latest diet craze or whichever fitness fad is currently consuming Instagram. Nor has she let a few years away from the stage keep her from the challenge of prepping for competition. If anything, time has made Rachel more grounded and sure of who she is. Here, find out how she’s done it, then keep reading to get her sample daily meal plan and abs routine.

SFM: You were on our first cover five years ago. How would you describe yourself then versus now? 
RD: I would say I’m more seasoned now. I truly believe that a new sense of confidence and self-acceptance can only come with age and from experiencing life's wonderful surprises and curveballs.

SFM: What are some practices you do to ensure self-care in your 30s? 
RD: I definitely value self-care. I see a chiropractor once every other week, and about twice a month I go for Thai massage. Another form of self-care for me is taking care of my skin. 

SFM: Recently you decided to compete in a fitness show again. Why?
RD: I like to call this my "OMG, I’m entering a new decade and turning 30” crisis. It had been almost seven years since I last stepped on stage, and I had this urge to see if I still had it in me. Competing requires the utmost amount of discipline and focus and I wanted to see if I still could channel that inner competitor.

SFM: What was the experience of prepping for the show like this time around?
RD: It was interesting because I had always competed in the Figure category before, and this time I decided to try Bikini. I had to reduce a lot of my leg training, quads specifically, to try and shrink them down as I am quite quad-heavy. So I did a lot of plyometrics between sets to help [lean them out] and added a lot more glute-focused training.

SFM: What is it about competing that you enjoy?
RD: I truly enjoy the challenge. Competing, as in any sport, is as much of a mental game as it is physical, and I love to push my limits with both. If you know me personally, you know I loathe wearing high heels and sparkly bikinis. It’s sneakers and T-shirts all the way. So I also enjoy getting a little out of character. Overall, I enjoy having to step out of my comfort zone, conquer any fears or judgments, and just do it. It’s quite a liberating feeling.

“Confidence and self-acceptance can only come from 
experiencing life's wonderful surprises and curveballs.”

SFM: If you could go back in time, what would you tell your 25-year-old self? RD: I would say don't doubt yourself or second guess your abilities. I feel like I was a little timid or unsure of myself when big opportunities were offered to me both professionally and on the fitness front. There were times where I would let the pressure get to me and sometimes turn things down. So to put it bluntly, now I would say to myself, “Just shut up and do it.”

SFM: What does the word “strong” mean to you now? Has it changed? 
RD: To be strong means going through hardships or difficulties and still carrying on with hope in your heart and a smile on your face. Strong is not letting your past or circumstances define you. Strong is forgiveness. Strong is pushing past your limits, setting goals for yourself and achieving them, large or small. Strong is being there for friends and family when times are tough, and also admitting when you need a hand. Strong is fighting for your beliefs and what you love; having a voice and using it. To me, being strong is not as much physical as it is all of the above. It's a commendable thing to be physically strong, but it’s an admirable thing to be strong in all of those other ways.


How has Rachel maintained all that gorgeous muscle and jaw-dropping six-pack into her 30s? By finding what works for her and sticking to it. A focus on balanced macronutrients (protein, fat, carbs), and portion control means she doesn’t have to deprive herself of entire food groups or the occasional treat. “I like to follow a macro-based system so I can enjoy some flexibility to my lifestyle without feeling restricted,” she says. 

And as for keeping that six-pack sexy and strong? “I usually do abs in between sets for workouts. Not on designated abdominal days.”

Her favourite abs exercises: 

Weighted Crunches 4 x 20
Weighted Decline Crunches 4 x 20 

Cable Rope Crunches 4 x 15
Hanging Leg Raises 4 x 15-20

Meal 1: Protein Smoothie
1.5 Scoops whey protein isolate 
1 Tbsp daily cleanse fiber supplement 
Mixed berries
Fish oil

Meal 2: Stir Fry
1 tsp MCT oil 

Meal 3: Snack
1.5 Scoop whey protein
1 Ezekiel English muffin
Almond butter

Meal 4: Protein + Carbs
5 oz white fish 

Meal 5: Protein + Veggies
5 oz Flank steak OR 2 whole eggs + ½ cup egg whites
Mixed veggies

STRONG Fitness Mag
STRONG Fitness Magazine is a trusted source of cutting-edge fitness and health information for the modern woman who lives to be fit. STRONG’s sophisticated editorial voice combined with raw, powerful imagery and a modern, athletic design reflect the direction fitness has taken in the last decade.