When Lisa Scherr competes in the biggest competition of her bodybuilding career next summer, she knows she'll be at a distinct disadvantage.
She'll be competing in the national championships next August in South Carolina, and the Westminster resident knows some of the other women likely will have steroids to thank for some of their shape.
"The higher levels competitions don't have (steroid) testing," said Scherr, 27. "It's difficult to compete against girls that are on steroids."
Scherr qualified for the national meet thanks to her performance earlier this month at the 1991 National Mid-Atlantic Open atJohn F, Kennedy High in Silver Spring, Montgomery County. Competitors at that meet were tested for steroids.
Scherr won the lightweight women's competition, beating 10 other bodybuilders, then came back to claim the overall crown against winners from all weight classes.
She joined a small health club several years ago just to tone her body, but said several members of the club persuaded her to start using free weights, and her body quickly responded to the workouts. Soon,a friend suggested she take part in competitive bodybuilding.
Shestarted competing in 1988 and was lightweight state champion in 1988and 1989. She later finished fourth in her class at the Eastern Classic regional meet in New Jersey in 1990 and placed fifth in the junior nationals in New Orleans later that year.
Earlier this year, shetook part in what she calls her most difficult competition to date, placing seventh at the Junior USA competition at Myrtle Beach, S.C.
An ultra-sonographer -- she administers sonograms -- at University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, Scherr trains three straightdays and takes one off.
She works out about two hours per sessionat Four Season Sports Complex near Hampstead -- where she won a "best body" contest several years ago -- using mostly free weights and working different sets of muscles each day. She also works on a stationary cycle.
Scherr adheres to a diet low in fat, moderate in protein and high in complex carbohydrates. Unlike some competitors, she says, she sticks to that diet regardless of the competition schedule. And she adds that while she may make slight alterations to her trainingschedule as a competition draws near, she doesn't make the same radical changes that some competitors make.
A native of Sykesville anda graduate of Liberty High, Scherr says she was athletic as a youngster, though she never played organized sports in high school. She wasactive in recreation gymnastics for several years, training that sometimes comes in handy for the rigorous posing sessions in bodybuilding competition.
Between her long commute to work and the frequent workouts, Scherr says she doesn't have much free time, but says she enjoys outdoors activities such as biking and hiking.
Scherr says most bodybuilding competitions are sanctioned by one of two groups -- the National Physique Committee and the American Natural Bodybuilding Committee. The latter has steroid tests at all competitions; the former doesn't.
And though ANBC meets are growing in both quantity andquality, Scherr says most of the major national meets are sanctionedby the NPC and not tested.
But, she says, using steroids is a health risk she just isn't willing to take.
"It's disgusting," she says of the steroid use she hears of at area health clubs, especially by younger lifters. "The kids don't know what they are getting into."