0

Scarlett Johansson Trains Hardcore For Her Superhero Body

Scarlett Johansson AvengersNatasha Romanov is a superhero in a skintight slinky black catsuit, and Scarlett has to be in tip top shape to play her.

Scarlett trains “like a guy”, her words! Yep, you read that right.  Scarlett does chin ups, push ups, explosive movements and lots of circuit training to get into Hollywood superhero shape. Her trainer, Bobby Strom, gets her started a few months before filming. She eats lots of lean proteins, vegetables, oatmeal and drinks lots of water and trains with weights. Here is what he told Self Magazine about her workout:

“I was having her do a lot of balance, coordination, and core work, but what she really loved was the strength training – things like pullups and kettlebells – and the idea of feeling and looking strong.”

Scarlett Johansson, on her diet and the “secret” to getting in shape:

Salad and chicken and, you know, nothing else, pretty much,” she said, laughing. “It’s that old tried and true ‘work out like a dude and eat like a rabbit’ [plan].”

Scarlett stays in shape year round, eats well, and kicks it up a notch with her diet and training right before a big movie. So this isn’t how she eats and trains year round, its a high intensity plan for being in her best shape for a targeted period of time. The rest of the year, she still works out and keeps in good shape, but she’s a little more moderate, which is an important take home point as well.

Scarlett Johansson Avengers Body Workout

In general, this is how Scarlett trains:

– she uses “big bang” movements that use lots of muscles and burn lots of calories, i.e: squats, lunges, push ups, and even olympic lifts.

– she uses high intensity circuits, no more than 90 minute sessions per day.

– she uses a variety of tools like dumb bells, barbells, kettlebells, TRX and bodyweight movements

– she trains like a dude and is not afraid of some hard work for big results!!!

Scarlett Johansson for Dolce & Gabanna, 2012.

Scarlett Johansson for Dolce & Gabanna, 2012.

0

Go Hard or Go Home! Kettlebell Workout.

I love doing “met cons” for fat loss. In conjunction with a solid diet, doing rounds of relatively light, fast and sometimes ballistic resistance and bodyweight movements really gets the ball rolling in the right direction.

“Met Con” is just short for Metabolic Conditioning.

Metabolic conditioning can truthfully be almost anything, however it does take a bit of knowledge and know-how to design an effective one. You can use dumb bells, barbells, kettle bells, medicine balls, your trx, you can use bodyweight only, you can do sprints or other traditional cardio in between. Rests are other variables you can also play with.

Most people are talking about high intensity, interval, anaerobic work when they talk about doing “met cons”, but technically speaking, metabolic conditioning work is really about optimising performance within specific energy pathways. So while most people talk about doing  some type of a “metcon”, a “metabolic finisher” or just plain old HIIT with weights, they’re talking about doing a form of HIIT and they’ll tell you that DUH?!! I’m doing it for fat loss, dummy… why else? Another reason you may be doing some type of metabolic conditioning is to improve performance in a particular energy pathway of the body, whether its your short bursts of all out effort (the phosphagen pathway), intermediate (the glycolyctic pathway) or aerobic/oxidative pathways.

Metabolic conditioning work has a wide scope and versatility depending on how smart your program design is based on your objectives 🙂

Me? I do them primarily for fat loss and because sometimes they make me feel bad ass, haha. (In my opinion, if your workout doesn’t make you feel like you are awesome and can leap tall buildings in a single bound, then it’s no fun and probably not worth doing. This is why you’ll never catch me doing zumba, lol.) This type of training gives you a lot of bang for your buck, you’re finished in under 30 minutes and you get results fast. Adding metcons and HIIT to your program will get the fat off FAST AND GOOD… provided you are eating for fat loss. Remember, there is no fat loss workout without a fat loss DIET. You cannot outtrain a bad diet, EVER! Even with metcons. Metcons are not magic.

I try to program mine so I’m not doing any movements that interfere with my big lifts on subsequent days. So, for example, if the day after my metcon day I’m going to be doing deadlifts, then I’m not going to do glute-ham raises or heavy kettlebell swings the day before. I’ll keep everything a bit lighter and faster. It also may be prudent when writing a metcon circuit to alternate body parts, so if you’ve just done some lower body work, the next exercise you might want to choose would be for the upperbody, like push ups, for example.

Here is a kettlebell workout of mine from last week. I used a 16kg kettlebell and it kicked my butt. I did 3 rounds. This week, I did 4 rounds and also 5 cleans instead of 3 and 12 swings instead of 10.

Image

You always have to do just a little bit more so you can say that you are better than you were before. Always. That’s one of the workout rules I live by, whether I’m doing traditional lifting, metcons or going for a run outside. Be fundamentally, inarguably better than you were last week. And if I can’t manage even 1 more rep, then I’ll rest… and do a whole extra set.

I hope you try out my kettlebell workout, let me know how you go in the comments!

0

Fit & Glam Training Update #2

Today is exactly 2 weeks til I fly out to Paris, and I’m on track with my fitness goals, though to be honest, while I am “getting it done”, I am struggling a bit mentally. I guess I go through what I jokingly refer to as a “fitness existential crisis” every few months and I’m having a mini one of those now!

So what do I mean by a “fitness existential crisis”? I mean I get into this mood where I question the WHY of everything. WHY should I do what I do? WHY do I care about my fitness? WHY can’t I be like other girls and just do yoga and jump on the elliptical and call it a day? WHY do I care about my strength? Why is this important to me? What’s the freaking meaning of life?

WHY WHY WHY?!!!

And the answers are always the same. Because I love lifting. Because I know better. Because I can. Because pushing myself exhilarates me and makes me feel alive. Because I want to be better. Because it’s awesome. Because I’m awesome.

And because why not?

So, this week I am hitting 100kg deads for reps, but struggling with my crappy attitude and wondering WHY. Why why why. Although, I think from time to time, it’s important to ask yourself why you do the things you do and to assess your motivations. What’s that old adage about an unexamined life is not worth living? Yeah, that. Plus I already feel better having answered myself above. I feel like ‘yeah man! that is why!!!”…

Some pics of me in my beautiful home city from the last week or so. And "that" quote from Socrates :)

Some pics of me in my beautiful home city from the last week or so. And “that” quote from Socrates 🙂

A note on cardio. I am up to an hour a day which is my self-imposed maximum. I started about 2 weeks ago with 40 minutes, 6 days a week, bumped it up to 45 minutes last week and now I’m doing 60 minutes until I leave (exactly 2 weeks from today).

My usual level of cardio activity is 2 – 3 HIIT sessions and 1 – 2 run/jogs for x amount of time. Meaning, if I’m enjoying my run that day, I might stay out for an hour. If it’s really sucking and I’m hating it, I’ll stick it out for 20 miinutes. I don’t torture myself with any of it. My main tool for maintaining or changing my appearance is my diet. The cardio is always, whether I’m doing more or less of it, incidental.

My thought process behind an hour of cardio per day is that it’s a shock to my body, it’s a lot of activity that I don’t usually partake in for a short period of time (one month). So results and little to no adaptation. When your body adapts to your current activity, it means you’ve gotten fitter. If your goal is, for example to become a better runner, that’s great! Bazinga! But if your goal is to burn calories and trim down, then adaptation is not what you want. To overcome adaptation, you have to increase either time or intensity to get the same bang for your buck.

You should read my post about how you get more bang for your buck lifting weights from a few weeks back to get a better understanding of how and why steady state cardio is far from the most efficient tool for changing your body. But it is a tool, and an effective one if used thoughtfully.

Why do you do what you do? Why do you lift?

How much cardio do you do every week?

Tell me in the comments!

0

The 3 principles of body transformation

body-transformations-fit-and-glamorous

  1. There is no such thing as spot reduction.
    Your body gains and loses fat in a predetermined genetic pattern. What this means is that if the first place you gain is your tummy, that’s usually the last place you’ll lose fat. So you can’t do 100 crunches a day in order to flatten your belly. This principle applies to any other body part where there is too much “jiggle” – sometimes doing targeted exercises CAN help because the exercise helps develop the muscle underneath, helping improve the areas appearance a little bit. But if the problem is simply excess fat in a particular area, you just have to work it off all over, and eventually it will come off your trouble spots. Consistent diet and training to reduce overall body fat is the key.
  1. The word “toning” as most people use it, is a myth. 
    Continuing on from the above, there really isn’t such a thing as “toning” a muscle. Muscle can’t be “toned”. Muscle is just muscle, it can get bigger or smaller and the fat mass covering it can be either less or more. Fat cannot and does not turn into muscle and the reverse isn’t true either. So you can either develop a part of your body that you’d like to improve, meaning increasing the size of the muscle there, which can dramatically improve it’s appearance OR you can lose fat all over your body, which as discussed above, will happen in a genetically predetermined pattern.When you’re very new to exercise or coming from a long lay off, you can pull off doing a bit of both – building and losing fat. But eventually you will have to pick one goal to focus on in the immediate few months, so that is either losing fat or gaining muscle. All muscle gain comes with a least a little bit of fat and all fat loss goes hand in hand with a little muscle loss. The best results either way come from being consistent and moderate over a long period time. Don’t try to lose too much fat/weight too quickly, because a lot of what you lose will be your hard earned muscle, and conversely, you can’t just eat everything in sight and lift without also gaining too much body fat in the process. Moderation, kids! Moderation and consistency.
  1. You cannot change your basic structure. 
    By “structure” what I am referring to mostly is your bone structure. However, “structure”   also refers to the shape of your muscles and the origin and insertion points of said muscles (i.e: where your muscles attach to the bones). Thiese are the elements that determine the shape of our legs and calves, our hips, the shape of our biceps and shoulders, etc. Everything. It’s your individual arthropometry.  What do I mean by this? Well, our bones determine the length of our limbs, and the width of our hips, ribcage and to a lesser extent, the width of our shoulders. There isn’t a diet or training program that can change these fundamental structural elements of our bodies. We have to work with what we’ve been given.

The good news is that i don’t know of a single person that doesn’t look absolutely amazing when they’re in their best possible physical shape!

Long legs, short legs, wide or narrow hips, long or short torso, the human body is a glorious thing to behold when it’s been trained and sculpted to its aesthetic and athletic peak.

So, far from trying to rain on your parade, I want to empower you with information. My goal is to have you take a long term, pragmatic view to your health and fitness goals, for you to love and accept yourself completely, and work on change and improvement, inside and out. You can do a lot within the parameters outlined above! But it helps to know what is and isn’t possible and how the human body works to create a successful game plan, instead of just spinning your wheels because of certain misconceptions you may have about the way things will occur.

In my case, I got into heavy weightlifting because i always hated the way my legs looked and I was told that the only way to change their appearance was through squatting. Heavy. So that’s what I learned to do. I don’t have thin legs today, because adhering to the principles above, that is just not possible for someone with my structure, and that’s OK. I like the way I look in shorts and skirts these days, and I can honestly say I like my legs now. That’s so huge for me! They were the bane of my existence in high school!  I still always admire women with long, slender legs, but I have muscular, powerful ones. My legs are awesome and healthy and strong. They also look great in a pair of heels and I’m thankful for all of that!

How successful have you been in transforming your body and what methods have you tried? Let me know in the comments!

0

4 Simple Rules For Uncomplicated Dieting

Quite often, all of us make eating healthily and dieting far more complicated than it needs to be!

There are a million different diets out there and styles and formats to follow – low carb, keto, paleo, South Beach, dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free and on and on… Its all so fussy and needlessly complicated! How is anyone supposed to know what the “right” way to eat is?

Well, my first bit of advice is to eschew anything extreme. Even if it produces short term results, if it isn’t something you can follow for the rest of your life, it’s a waste of time. Because guess what happens when you stop doing that extreme regimen and inevitably return to your normal way of eating? The weight comes back, and almost always with a vengeance.

Under “extreme” I would file any super low calorie diet, all diets that eliminate entire food groups and macronutrients (like zero carb diets, dairy-free diets if you aren’t lactose intolerant, fruit-free diets, fat-free diets). Any extreme exercise program that is paired with an unnecessarily low-calorie diet is a recipe for disaster. You are going to hit a wall.

Everyone is going crazy these days eliminating vast swathes of food groups. We’re all going gluten-free, lactose-free, grain-free… While the reasons for doing this can certainly be valid (hi, I’m gluten-free), I’d urge you to do your research, and don’t just cut out certain foods because everyone else is doing it or you read that your favourite celebrity doesn’t eat dairy or gluten or some such nonsense. Figure out if it’s the right thing for you. Unnecessary eliminations make eating complicated. The more complicated your mealtimes are, the less likely you are to stick to your plan and revert to the poor eating habits that got you into bad shape in the first place.

Any exercise or nutritional program you undertake needs to pass the “smell test”, and my smell test is this – is it a balanced approach and is it sustainable long-term? If the answer is no to either, then it’s not a good program.

Here are four simple principles that you can adopt into your diet to start getting results and lasting changes quickly:

1. Don’t Drink Your Calories
Alcohol and soft drinks are the biggest culprits and full of sugar. The next one is fruit juice – full of sugar.

Sugar = carbs. Unused carbs = unsightly fat on your body! Choose water as often as possible instead.

2. Have lots of vegetables at lunch and dinner.
I pile at least half my plate full of vegetables and have giant salads on a regular basis. What do I consider “lots”? Well, if you bunch your hand into a fist, a good serving of veges is about 2 -3 times that amount. Why so many vegetables? They’re full of fibre, antioxidants and micronutrients and they help you feel full. There are also dozens of studies that show a high vegetable intake can dramatically reduce your risk of cancer. Just make sure they aren’t fried or covered in a calorie dense sauce or dressing – steamed is always best. Freshly squeezed lemon and fresh herbs work well to enhance flavour too.

3. Only have carbohydrates during the daytime.
That eating carbs at night or eating anything at night is going to make you fat is a myth. It’s your overall calorie intake vs expenditure that will determine whether you get fatter or leaner. That said, you do want to regulate (not eliminate) your carbohydrate intake if you would like to get leaner. A simple rule like not having carbs at dinner or after 3pm can help you facilitate that.

4. Base each meal around a Protein portion.
This ones a bit of a “duh”, but it always bears repeating. Protein is not only for bodybuilders. A high protein diet is indispensible when shedding kilos because it will help dramatically with satiety (i.e: feeling full) and as you lose weight, it will help you retain your lean body mass. You know how everyone and their mother lists “being toned” as one of their overriding fitness goals? Well guess what? MUSCLE helps keep you looking “toned” and a high protein diet will help you not only maintain that, but feel less hungry while doing it.

Remember, there is no such thing as a “quick fix”. What builds the best looking, healthiest, most amazing bodies is a commitment to eating a balanced healthy diet and regular exercise. If you really want to change your lifestyle and your body, you have to think long term and expect to get some results in the first 1 – 3 months, with the real rewards for your efforts coming 3 – 6 months and beyond. Maybe more, depending on your starting point.

How many people do you know that adopted an extreme crazy diet, starved off the fat and exercised til they dropped and in a month or two got an incredible body that they maintain to this day?

*crickets*… my point exactly.

0

New Years Resolutions Part II, Staying Motivated!

Yesterday, we talked about how important it is to “pick up the ball and keep playing”, even after we lose focus and get sidetracked in some way from our primary goals. Then I gave you guys a few simple strategies to remind yourself of what you really want and who you really want to be.

If you’re reading my blog, you probably want to be “fitter” – this usually means being physically capable, faster, stronger, more endurance, better general health and whether you want to admit it or not, you probably want to look better naked!

So let’s focus on that.

You have to adopt the mindset of a physically fit person.

The strategies out lined in my previous post all serve to help you develop that – visual and verbal cues that keep the person you want to become fresh in your mind.

The mind is your most powerful muscle.

What usually happens when we set out on a diet or fitness regime is that we are all fired up and motivated for the first week or two and then we fizzle out and revert back to our old, self-defeating habits.

It’s beyond the scope of this post to go into “why” in great detail, but very basically, you’re going to default back very quickly to whatever it is that you believe and think about yourself.

Please re-read that paragraph. Let it sink in.

So what we’re doing with our visual and verbal cues, our affirmations and vision boards is changing what you think about yourself.

It isn’t new age, airy fairy fluff – it is science. It is how our minds work.

I am a very positive and happy person, but sometimes I still struggle with being kind to myself and believing nice things about myself; it’s a work in progress for all of us. But it truly is the first step you can take to changing your mindset and changing your behaviour and it’s as crucial to your success as getting in your training and eating correctly.

To help you get started, here are a few gems I have used in the past to set my goals for the day and keep me focused on eating right, training hard and staying positive:

I am fit, healthy, happy and strong.

Each day, I eat the correct foods to fuel my body, I drink all my water and I train hard to build my best body ever!

I love eating healthy food. Eating good food makes me feel great.

You have to start thinking like a fit and healthy person. Fake it til you make it! Act as if! When you think like a fit and healthy person, you will start acting like a fit and healthy person… and it will be your default response. Meaning, you aren’t going to have to consciously think and force yourself to make the right choices at lunch… and then pat yourself on the back for being good on your diet. That’s what an unhealthy person who is on a temprorary diet does. A truly fit and healthy person chooses the right foods to eat because that is just how they eat, and furthermore, they enjoy it.

It’s a process and a huge part of that process is changing your thinking and changing what you believe about yourself. One supports the other. You make a small effort, work on changing your thoughts, your mindset shifts into more positive territory, another small effort re-inforces all the positive changes you are making, you think happy thoughts, more mindset shift… The sum total is a new you.