Health

Celebrity Trainer Hacks for Getting Toned

How Do the Stars Stay in Shape? Celeb Trainers Dish the Deets

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When it comes to fit-spiration, celebrities are a popular source. They tend to be the ones on our screens, big and small, with enviable abs and bulging biceps. But they most likely had a little help to get there.

RELATED: Celebrity Social Media Accounts to Follow for Workout Inspiration

No matter if they’re athletes or entertainers, A-listers often have access to some of the best trainers in the biz – who know which tools and tactics are required to sculpt a strong and svelte bod. Luckily, some of them are willing to divulge their secrets.

We recently caught up with a few of our favorite celebrity trainers to discover their go-to hacks for getting toned and staying in tip-top shape.

Man using resistance band, text overlay switch things upGettyImages

Tackling a grueling workout or sticking to any fitness routine long-term is just as much a mental task as it is a physical one. So don’t be afraid to shake things up when you’re exercising to keep things interesting and enjoyable. Not only will variety allow your mind to stay engaged during a workout, but it will keep your body from plateauing as well.

“I’m a big fan of incorporating different training methods into one workout,” says Joey Thurman CES, CPT, FNS, CSMC, CSSC, BLS, celebrity trainer, on-air personality, and host of the Fad or Future podcast. “Often I will use a strength training block after or before doing some variable resistance training, incorporating balance with bands. This not only benefits the client’s body but also their mind.”

Man doing jump workout, text overlay throw in a circuitGettyImages

Circuits can play a big role in this area, too. Sergio Pedemonte, certified personal trainer and owner of Your House Fitness, often looks to circuit-style routines when he’s training his clients (Gina Rodriguez of Jane the Virgin and O.T Fagbenle of The Handmaid’s Tale and Marvel’s Black Widow, to name a couple). Circuits serve as a way to work on the cardiovascular system, muscular endurance, and strength in one quick workout, he says.

One of his go-tos is a form-focused drill:

  • B-skips (or power skips)

  • Explosive movements which use the same skills (like a brief sprint)

  • Slow and controlled squats

  • Finishing with countermovement jumps or squat holds

“A circuit like this goes back and forth from technique drills to explosive activities,” he says. “This allows the body to regain stamina for the next exercise in the circuit without a full rest by either working on muscle endurance, power, technique, or cardio. The exercise selection also plays a role in the effectiveness of the circuit as the first two exercises target more hamstrings and the last two exercises target more quadriceps, working the entire lower body in under two minutes.”

Kupah James, celebrity trainer, director of fitness for Childish Gambino, and AloMoves instructor, is a big fan of circuits, too. He suggests creating a circuit full of compound exercises (more on those below) with little rest in between to keep things from getting dull and routine. His favorites to throw in the mix include medicine ball slams, battle ropes, weighted burpees, and kettlebell swings. “Intervals are 15 to 20 seconds for beginners and 20 to 45 seconds for more fit athletes,” he says.

Man doing side planks, text overlay body is best toolGettyImages

Sure, celebrities and their trainers often have an extensive selection of exercise equipment at their disposal, but you really can’t compete with the simple power of working against your own body weight.

“My go-to bodyweight exercise is a side plank because it tones the obliques (which usually don’t get worked during ab exercises such as crunches), legs, shoulders, and is a killer core exercise,” says Jessica Mazzucco, NYC Certified fitness trainer and founder of The Glute Recruit, whose high profile clients include former MSNBC Contributor now Westchester District Attorney Mimi Rocah. “This exercise can also prevent lower back pain because it strengthens the deep muscles of your back. You will also build your coordination and balance during this exercise, and your stronger core will allow for ease of movement.”

Thurman is a big fan of anything that involves eccentric training – the slow lowering/negative element of a movement. “This could be a split squat with a three to five-second negative (going down), followed by a two to three-second hold at peak contraction, and then a drive on the concentric portion (coming up),” he says. He applies this same practice to several bodyweight exercises, including pull-ups, push-ups, and squats.


RELATED: Experts Share How to Maintain Gym Gains Equipment-Free at Home


Man doing kettlebell swings, text overlay compound movementsGettyImages

When it comes to weight training, compound movements are where it’s at. Exercises that require you to work more than one muscle at a time offer convenience, in terms of the number of muscles you can work in a given amount of time, and improve your overall coordination, as well.

Thurman likes to focus on upper body and lower body combined movements when weight training with his clients. “This would be something like a split squat with biceps curl into a press,” he says. “This truly is demanding on the core and trunk and is a great complementary exercise to a traditional compound movement.”

Meanwhile, Mazzucco tends to favor the deadlift. “My go-to [weighted] exercise move for clients is a single leg deadlift because this exercise strengthens the legs, back, and core,” she says. “It also improves mobility through the back, legs, and hips for better posture and movement skills, strengthens the core sling system, and develops single-leg strength and balance.”

Pedemonte agrees that the deadlift is a powerful exercise to add to any exercise repertoire, adding that the hip hinge movement it requires helps to reduce back pain and reduce the risk of future back injuries, as well.

His other favorite hip hinge movement/compound weight training exercise? The kettlebell swing. “The kettlebell swing is an explosive hip hinge movement that is usually taught after the hip hinge and squatting patterns have been practiced,” he says. “The kettlebell swings work with explosive power which helps stimulate fast-twitch muscle fibers that have a high propensity to grow. Kettlebell swings can also be a great way to incorporate cardio into a training session.”

Man running, text overlay don't forget cardioGettyImages

While toned muscles might get all the praise in a picture, cardio shouldn’t be ignored. “Cardio and strength training tackle different areas of the body, but both have significant benefits,” notes Mazzucco. “Cardio gets the large muscle groups moving and increases the rate of breathing which boosts the amount of oxygen in the blood. [It] has also been proven to lengthen the lifespan and improve health in general.”

Pedemonte shares that about 1/3 of your workout routine should be dedicated to cardio. “This will help dynamically warm up the body and prepare the mind for the muscle-building focused portions of the workout,” he says.

Do you gravitate towards the fast-paced circuit-style training shared above? HIIT counts as cardio. Just remember to warm your body up with some low-level cardio first and keep your rest periods short. “This allows the cardiovascular system to continue to work the entire hour while [you] move from one muscle group to the next throughout the body,” says Pedemonte.

Alternatively, cardio can also be implemented on the days you aren’t weight training. Pedemonte says this can “encourage weight loss and active recovery from resistance training.”

If you prefer to run, row, cycle, or swim to get your cardio minutes in and relax your mind, look to steady-state cardio. “Steady State Cardio is one of my favorite hacks to get clients toned without torturing them with HIIT,” says James. “The trick is to moderately raise your heart rate for longer durations, 15 to 20 minutes for beginners and 20 to 90 minutes for more fit athletes.”

Man doing bird dog exercises,text overlay balance and breath fundamentalGettyImages

You probably don’t see an actor in an action movie and think “I wonder what he does to improve his balance and breathwork?” But those elements of a training plan are just as critical as the sexier parts.

Thurman starts every client’s session off with balance work. “I like adding some balance moves at the beginning of a session for a primer and also to focus their intention on the session,” he shares. “This could be a single leg deadlift running man or even an elevated alternating bird dog.”

For Pedemonte, it all starts with the breath. He incorporates diaphragmatic breathing into every warm-up and returns to it throughout the workout. “Diaphragmatic breathing is often overlooked when training but offers many benefits to the workout by connecting the body to the breath and by encouraging mindful core stabilization through all exercises,” he says. “When special attention is placed towards proper breathing through the diaphragm, the core will pull the spine into a neutral alignment, allowing other targeted working muscles around the spine to function to their best ability off of a stable core.”

Whether you bring one or all of these celebrity trainer-inspired training tools into your workout routine, you’re sure to see improvement over time.


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