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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.

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You Are Special & Why Cookie Cutter Plans Don’t Work

When we wanna get fit, often it seems like the most obvious thing is emulate the person whose results we want, the person we want to look like.

We want to know what they eat and how they train, and we want to do exactly whatever “secret” it is they do, so we can look like them too.

So you follow their Facebook page or Instagram and read everything they say, maybe you buy their workout plan or diet and you copy what it is they do, or what they say they do.

But you don’t get the same result. Often, you don’t even get a similar result.

The reason is that cookiecutter plans don’t work. One-size-fits-all fitness is a myth. Let me explain. The foundations of being fit, strong and looking amazing are more or less the same for everyone, that is true. But we each have unique genetics that give us unique strengths, weaknesses, individual biochemistry, individual anthropometry, muscle belly size, length, etc.

Guess what? It means we’re all unique! Your mum was right, you ARE a special little snowflake after all!

speshul snowflake

Well, OK.. you are and you aren’t! Because you’re a special snowflake, you can’t just take some random workout and expect it to transform you into someone else who also just happens to do that work, i.e: your favourite fitness model. She probably doesn’t even do that workout at all, hate to say it. You need something designed for you to get you to greatness. On the otherhand, because you are NOT a special snowflake, you you can ditch all the gimmicks, magic bullets and quick fixes, because if you haven’t realized, they don’t work. The basics work. Ignore the ads, propaganda and shameless self-promotion. Do what has been proven to work, and that is:

1. Lift weights at least 2x per week, 3 – 4 days a week of lifting is ideal. Focus on multi-joint movements, preferably with freeweights. Lift “heavy” for no more than 10 reps per set. Things like squats, deadlifts & lunges for the lower body and overhead presses, rows and push ups for the upper body. Use single joint/isolation exercises and machines only for parts of your body you want to pay a little extra attention to, and do so AFTER your squats, lunges and presses, etc.

2. Clean up your diet. Looking “toned” is a function of muscular development and optimized body fat levels. You can’t lose body fat with a crappy diet, so clean up your diet! Focus on lean proteins and vegetables at every meal and watch your carb intake. Don’t eat too much. It isn’t much more complicated than that.

3. Do a bit of cardio, not too much. Keep it to under 1 hour per day, at a maximum! If you’re doing more cardio than this, you need to re-examine your diet. You cannot out train a poor diet. Personally, I start out clients with 15 minutes of cardio per day and I don’t increase it unless we stop getting results. I never prescribe more than 30 minutes a day. If we hit a plateau we re-examine the diet and change up the cardio protocol. Use cardio as a tool for weightloss wisely. More is not “more”.

The above should be the foundation of any training and nutrition plan. Beyond this, your individual goals, preferences, genetics and athletic background need to be considered in order to customise a plan to help get you to your best, your pinnacle. So there may be tweaks to your diet, there may be a certain focus on a part of your body you want to work on, certain movements, you may have injuries you need to work around – it all depends on your individual needs, and what you need to get you to the pinnacle of fitness.

It’s going to be something different than what I need.

It’s going to be different again to what the guy two treadmills over from you needs.

It’s going to probably be different than your training buddy and your favourite fitness model.

You can not all follow the same training and diet plan and get the same result. It doesn’t work that way.

What program has gotten you the best results?

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The 7 Habits of People Who Achieve Their Fitness Goals

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1. Set Goals, Make Them Achievable.
Rule number one of achieving your goals is actually sitting down to think about them and setting them! Fit people don’t work out – they train with a purpose. That purpose may be getting into a pair of jeans in a smaller size, it might be improving their deadlift, achieving a faster 5k time, or a goal physique. It can be any goal that gives their physical training structure and purpose.

They don’t just go through the motions or just do “whatever”. The other important part of this is that the goals they set are achievable and they give themselves a realistic timeframe to get there. They are consistent and patient!

You might even consider hiring a trainer or a coach to help you set your goals, workout what you should be doing to get there and how long it should take you. Most goals take at least 3 months of consistency to see major changes, often it takes longer. Also, making this a lifestyle and real excellence in any physical endeavour is something you never stop working on. Set goals, work hard, be patient!

2. Fit People Keep Going.
Everyone falls of the wagon at one time or another, either with their diet or with training. The big difference between fit people and people who just want to be fit is that the fit ones get back on plan and keep going.

Remind yourself that this is a marathon, not a sprint. To be really fit, you have to make it a lifestyle. It’s not a short term program you stick to for a month or two and rebound back to your old ways (and old body) when you’re “done”. You’re never “done”! 🙂

Fit people are also consistent, but realise there is no such thing as perfection. Forget eating perfectly all the time, eat well 90% of the time and you will look and feel great. There is no magic workout, no exercise that changes everything in a week. There is only consistent diet and exercise. Slip ups happen. They aren’t the end of your fitness journey, unless you let them be.

Sorry if that doesn’t sound sexy or not what you want to hear, but that is the truth. The sooner you embrace a long term approach, the sooner you will see your best and fittest self emerge.

3. Do Something Active Every Day
Fit people do something almost every day. They follow their program. They walk a lot. They ride bikes. They try different classes. They hit the gym. They get in there and do what they have to do each day to achieve the goals they set. It’s one day at a time. All the little things you do each and every day add up to a big cumulative result in the long term. Your body craves movement, move it!

4. Work Harder on Your Weak Links, Make Them Your Strengths
Lacking upper body strength? Pull, press and push until your upper body becomes your strength. Are you inflexible and unable to do certain movements effectively (or at all!) because of it? Stretch every day. Schedule a regular yoga class. Limber up, baby! You will improve. You will be better. And stick to improving things you’re bad at tenaciously enough? They inevitably become your strengths. I’ve seen it time and time again in both myself and in my clients. The human body is an incredible organism that will adapt to the stresses you impose upon it, and the results can be downright astounding.

5. Trust The Process, Commit, Don’t Program Hop.
One of the biggest mistakes and inhibitors of progress is self-doubt, not trusting the process and “program hopping”. A program hopper is someone who cannot or will not stick to something long enough to see any significant result. They typically stick to a diet regimen or workout program for 4 weeks or even less and that just isn’t long enough to see a big result. Most people need to be consistent for at least 3 months before real changes and improvements take place.

6. Make All Main Meals Protein Based, Fill Up On Veges.
Active people have higher protein requirements because their bodies need protein to build and repair, especially if you lift weights. Your body craves exercise and movement, but a rigorous training program also puts a lot of wear and tear on your joints, muscles and tendons. If you aren’t eating whole, unprocessed foods and protein based meals to help your body recover, replenish and rejuvenate itself, you’ll end up worn out and eventually injured. Make sure you’re fuelling your workouts well and fuelling for sufficient recovery.

It’s also been shown that for longevity and disease prevention, one of the key components (in addition to regular exercise and solid sleep) is eating at least 2 cups of vegetables per day. Another benefit of vegetables is the fact that no one in he history of human existence has ever gotten fat from eating too much broccoli, so if you’re having trouble feeling full enough, just fill up on fibrous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach and zucchini. You can use garlic, onion and herbs to give them flavour. just don’t douse them in ranch dressing, mayo, butter or oil, that’ll definitely screw up your diet! Steam your veges and flavour them in ways that add no (or negligible) calories.

7. Measure Your Progress
Fit people measure their progress in useful ways. If they have a physique goal, they take progress pictures. If they want to run faster, they time their runs and push for improvements. If they want to get stronger, they keep a log of their lifts. You get the idea. It’s a very important part of making sure you’re on the right track towards achieving your fitness goals.

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Ditching the ‘All or Nothing’ Attitude in Fitness

My European adventure is drawing to a close and with 7 days ‘til I arrive in Sydney, I have been contemplating my fitness goals.

Part of that is thinking about how I want to evolve and what things I need to let go of, that may have held me back in the past. One of those is an all-or-nothing attitude.

I used to be like that about dieting.

I still struggle a little with it in training. I hate deload weeks and I have been known to get agitated when things don’t go as planned in the gym. I like intense workouts. I like to struggle and triumph. When the latter doesn’t happen, I can get pissed and take my ball and go home… sometimes funny, but never productive!

True fitness is a lifestyle and life has it’s ups and downs. One of the key qualities to being happy, fulfilled and successful is resilience, and you can’t be resilient when you’re rigid, afraid to make mistakes, or get upset when things don’t go 100% your way.

Don’t strive for perfection. Strive for excellence!

Strive to develop good habits and consistency. Strive to be better than you were yesterday. Strive to challenge yourself in some way, every day. Step outside of your comfort zone. Forgive yourself mistakes. They happen.

Those of us prone to an all-or-nothing attitude often end up with just the latter… nothing.

We’re prone to overtraining, because we try to push hard and train hard every single day, thinking more is more. It certainly isn’t.

We’re prone to struggling with our diets because we expect perfection from ourselves, with nary a calorie or macronutrient out of place. And when we can’t achieve that, we fall right off the wagon and binge… guess what? 100% diet adherence is overrated… and not possible without an adjunct obsessive-compulsive disorder. Certainly, eating well 90% of the time is necessary to looking your best, but perfection is a myth and unnecessary.

We’re prone to being competitive, which personally, I tend to find a friendly competitive streak in a person kind of cute 🙂 HOWEVER, not everything is a competition! Not everything is so serious. And no one said you had to be the best at everything or the most of something. Just be you and strive for constant improvement. Stay humble. Keep your ego in check.

Some of us never even get started because we think we have to be “dedicated” and “disciplined” and “train hard” to make any of it worthwhile and it’s all just too intense and overwhelming. So we do nothing. We sit on the couch instead. Well guess what? MOVING YOUR BODY in some way every single day is certainly worthwhile and good for your health, even if you don’t approach things with the razor focus of a professional athlete. Just move! Pick something you like doing and just go with it.

Do something. Walk for 20 minutes a day. Eat a serving of vegetables at dinner every night. Who told you that you had to eat perfectly and train like an Olympic Athlete for it to be worthwhile? Hey, they lied. Eat your veges and move a little each day. Baby steps. Will you look like a fitness model? No. Will you feel better and look better, and be glad you made those small changes? Yes! You will.

Something always trumps nothing.

The people you admire the most in sports and fitness, they have off-seasons, they have intelligently periodized training protocols (i.e: not pushing at 100% capacity all the time), they have diet slip-ups and off-plan meals. They have bad days at training, days where they feel tired. But guess what? They do things MOSTLY right and properly, and stick to their plans the vast majority of the time.

Getting it right over 90% of the time is what gets results and what is important.

Earnest effort is everything. Perfection is a myth. A fitness unicorn! You wanna go chasing unicorns? Be my guest. Have fun with that. Getting great results and maintaining them is a balance between consistent, intelligent training, good nutrition and incorporating all of that into your every day, real life.

Have you had an all or nothing attitude to your fitness? Have you been far too intense in the past or has your attitude kept you on the couch? How have you managed to find YOUR balance?

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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!

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One day, we’re going to weightlift in Paris… or not?

I’m going to Paris for the first time this July!

I’m spending one week there and while my priority is definitely seeing and experiencing Paris, I did want to get in at least one workout so I could maintain my lifts. Training breaks in the past have slowed down my progress tremendously – essentially you do a lot of hard work for many months, building up your lifts and then you move countries like I did (1st training break, February – March 2012)  or travel for several months (2nd training break, July – September 2012) and… you have to start all over again.

I have conservatively worked out that I should be squatting 100kg and deadlifting about 110kg by the time I leave for Europe in early July. Hopefully 5kg more on each, but I will be satisfied with those numbers. I have not been bench pressing since Christmas due to a shoulder injury (my shoulder is better now, thanks for asking). Those numbers are not too bad, but without the training breaks, I’d likely have 25 – 50kg more on each lift by now. It’s not just the time off that you’re missing, its also the time you’re using to get back to your old PR/PB levels that you could have been using to push through old personal bests.  Frankly, I have worked really hard and consistently and it makes me want to cry and kick rocks if I consider having to “start again” and build back up.  Hence, I wanted to get a workout in while in Paris! It is imperative.

It turns out the gyms that do exist in Paris are ultra luxe, super expensive and kinda goofy, with old guys in jumpsuits walking on treadmills and smoking.

There is a Crossfit Louvre, but the site is all in French! I’d love to squat and deadlift and then do the WOD! I wonder if they’d go for that? 🙂

The worst case scenario is that I will plan a deload week with no strength training, and just wait to train when I get to Split, Croatia. According to a fellow Aussie on Tour, they have cool gyms there. A search of “gym split croatia” in Google concurs. I may also check out Le Meridien in Split!

I am still optimistic about a workout in Paris.  There must be some serious lifters in jolie Paris? Oui? Non? Aidez-moi s’il vous plaît!

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This Week’s Fit & Glamorous Recommended Reading!

I’ve decided to a weekly, or at least bi-weekly round up of great articles from the blogosphere!

Here is what I’ve got fot this week:

And this week’s positive affirmation – gratitude. Always be grateful. There is always something to be thankful for. Be thankful for your health. Be thankful you are loved. Be thankful to be alive!
keep calm and appreciate what you have