An active childhood meant USN-sponsored Bikini Pro athlete, Jessica van den Heever always had an athletic physique, but her ultimate goal was to build the shapely curves all women want.

I wanted to have more muscle like the fitness role models I had while growing up, so I started doing HIIT workouts in high school and progressed to lifting weights after my father bought some dumbbells and barbells for our garage gym.”

Jessica says the strength she developed from the weight training empowered her to make rapid gains towards her ultimate goal.

Athlete profile

  • Occupation: Full-time student. Life coach in training
  • Qualifications: Studying towards a B.Com Economic Science with International Trade degree
  • Age: 21
  • Height: 1.73m
  • Weight: 67kg
  • Sponsors: USN
  • IG: jessicavandenheever
  • Competitive achievements:
    • Protea colours in Bodybuilding.
    • 4th Fitmodel IFBB World Championships
    • Arnold Classic Africa Bikini winner
    • IFBB Elite Pro Card Holder

Encouraged to compete

While sharing her fitness journey on Instagram, some of her followers suggested that Jessica should consider competing as a competitive Bikini athlete.

Those comments planted the competitive seed and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I eventually decided to try it out and entered my first show in 2021,” she recalls.

Jessica initially followed a pull-push-legs training split, working out five days a week while tracking her calories with a specific focus on her protein intake.

When I decided to compete, I hired a coach to help me, which has been the best investment I have made in improving my physique and achieving the results I want.

Jessica started working with coach Stephany Hoon, who provided weekly meal plans and a training split with extra focus on shoulders and glutes.

Jessica’s weekly training split:

  • Monday: Hamstrings and glutes
  • Tuesday: Pull movements: Upper body
  • Wednesday: Glutes
  • Thursday: Active rest day
  • Friday: Quads and hamstrings
  • Saturday: Push movements: Upper body
  • Sunday: Rest
  • Daily walks to clear my head at the end of the day to support my mental health. USN-Bikini-Pro-Jessica

Support breeds success

Jessica responded well to this approach and just 10 months after her first competition, she earned an IFBB Pro Card by winning her division at the Arnold Classic Africa.

Since reaching the highest echelons in the sport, Jessica says she has enjoyed the opportunity to travel overseas with other athletes and her family.

In general, people in the fitness community are amazing. Every event I attend leaves me so grateful and feeling fulfilled.”

4 things Jessica wished she knew before she started competing:

  1. Achieving results will take much longer than you expect. So enjoy where you are and remember where you began.
  2. Managing stress and being less hard on yourself will benefit you long-term.
  3. You’ll have to make tons of sacrifices, but, in the end, it all pays off so much more than you think is possible.
  4. You don’t have the same genetics as anyone else, so comparing yourself is a waste of time. Focus on your physique and improve it month to month.

Jessica credits her success to having a knowledgeable and supportive coach and people around you who believe in you.

This support base makes you reach limits you think are impossible. I had an overwhelming amount of support right from the beginning.”

Jessica adds that a good coach makes sure an athlete approaches their journey in the healthiest way possible, and offers an unbiased eye when analysing your progress.

They also know how to change your approach to keep making progress. For instance, my current coach, JP Hoon, has increased the intensity of my workouts, which has taught me to push myself to new limits when training.”

Jessica adds that her rapid rise in this sport stems from her years of consistent training and good genes.

I would also say that I’m very coachable. It feels like I’m wasting my time if I don’t give 100% of myself to my goals, so that made the whole process go so much faster.”

Jessica’s success and burgeoning social media following soon attracted the attention of USN and she now represents the brand as an ambassador.

Jessica’s daily supplement plan

Empowered with information

Jessica has also taken the initiative to build her own knowledge based through research and formal education.

When it comes to improved performance, Jessica’s advice is to get enough sleep. “That’s the secret ingredient to high performance that I got some reading Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker a few years ago. It was a truly life-changing book.”

With regard to nutrition, Jessica says she is enjoying expanding my knowledge through my Advanced Nutrition and Training certificate through Trifocus Academy.

This knowledge is helping me find balance in my off-season by making the healthiest choices possible while eating what I love, but keeping within my macros, and optimising my diet for training performance.”

Jessica’s diet typically consists of USN Hardcore Whey gH and USN Rice Crème for breakfast, with many whole foods throughout the day.

I can’t go a day without fruits and veggies, and include a variety of protein sources in my eating plan, like red meat, chicken, tuna, and whey. I also love sourdough bread and cereal. I eat yoghurt for probiotics, and gets healthy fats from peanut butter and dark chocolate. I eat fast-digesting carbs around my workouts.”

Looking ahead

Having found an approach and formula that works, Jessica says she is focused on working to achieve her biggest goals while still enjoying life with her people and making memories where she feels carefree.

I want to leave a mark on the world in some way. I feel my best and most inspired when I know I’m helping others and achieving the right balance between the machine and the free-spirited sides of me.”

In terms of her future goals, Jessica plans to continue competing while traveling and having fun in the process.

I want to complete my degree, and grow my life coaching client base to help other people achieve the goals they’ve always wanted to.”

Quick facts:

  • Favourite music to train to? Anything with a nice beat. Remixes and sometimes old-school rock.
  • Toughest workout? Leg day. My glutes and hamstrings are pretty stubborn, so I always push hard.
  • Favourite exercise? Squats or shoulder presses
  • Favourite cheat meal? Sushi buffet
  • What do you do to relax? Go for a walk with someone close to me, read, travel, and spend time with friends and family.
  • What’s in your gym bag? An extra shirt, deodorant, a USN water bottle, lip ice, a lifting belt, resistance bands, a USN protein bar and earphones.