This is another one of those cases where I have a wildly talented friend who I am taking advantage of for the sake of my readers. (I know, I am so generous. My future kids will be insanely spoiled…) So, in honor of North on Harper’s workout themed week I have asked my friend and fabulous Hollywood personal trainer, Venus Lau, to share a bit of her wisdom. You can find out more about Venus (or sign up for a training session!) on her website: VenusFit.com
As summer gets underway people love to ask me what the best exercises and workouts are… Well, I always respond with “that depends.” And not on your goals because I know we all have the fantasy to look like a badass superhero that’s been airbrushed a million times. We all see the newest fitness crazes on TV, like P90X or Insanity, and trust me I try them and like some, but for the general public… Like I said, THAT DEPENDS. What’s the best exercises for me as a trainer and you as the gal who’s finally on their third week straight of working out (that being the miracle of the year) will be a totally different answer. So I’ll make it more simple and go in categories that everyone should hit hard at the gym…
1. FUNCTIONAL: This refers to exercises that mimic movements in your everyday life. Think about how you twist your core to get out of bed, do a squat to sit on the toilet, work those arms as you wash dishes then turn that core again and split squat to load the dishwasher, turn and lift that box in the closet… Yes, there are many exercises (movements) in life that we do everyday. And we don’t even realize that we ARE getting a little exercise (go ahead and pat yourself on the back)! So how to make your workouts more functional? Choose multi-planar movements as you workout. In real life we don’t walk in a straight line like marching toy soldiers. Therefore constantly changing planes of motion as you exercise is a way better way to work your core then laying down and doing crunches. Added bonus? You burn more calories this way!
**Try… Starting in a regular squat. Next, side lunge to your left. Then rotate 90* right and take a giant step forward with your left leg finishing in a lunge. And that’s 1! Now repeat, being sure to go in both directions. Too easy? You can always make it harder by adding weights. But the rule is always “GO AS QUICKLY AS YOU CAN CONTROL,” don’t forget the word CONTROL.
2. BALANCE: And it ain’t just your core. Balance is very core related but a lot of people forget that it’s also structural- like a building. Would you live in a house that was crooked or had rusty bent beams? (Well, some crazies do in the Hollywood Hills- myself NOT included.) First, draw your abs toward your spine and lift your rib cage. You also want to make sure you are a solid structure from feet to head… Squeeze out your legs so they are solid this includes your thighs and butt! Finally, role your shoulders back and down (think ballerina- just don’t go Black Swan crazy).
**Try… A reverse lunge, then come up to a 1-legged balanced position. Make sure you lift your knee to mid-ab level and that the planted leg is totally engaged, straight, and accompanied by a squeezed out gluteus maximus.
3. STRENGTH… Here’s a tip about strength, it’s not only the number of reps you do but also the time-under-tension. Instead of going for a certain number of reps go for time, 30-60 seconds! It’ll change up your workout and instead of trying to keep count of reps you can focus on full extensions, contractions and your breathing while you wait for the timer to go off on your watch. The correct weight to use will be where the last 10 seconds are really tough to finish. And remember to challenge all parts of your body!
4. CARDIO… Embarrassed to say as a trainer: this is not my favorite part of working out. So I like to get it over with. I’ll go full blast and do as many 10-15 second sprints in 20 minutes (can be done on cardio machine or strength training) or I’ll circuit train with the least amount of rest between strength sessions. After all, what does cardio really mean? HEART RATE! It does not mean treadmill or elliptical. I highly suggest wearing a Heart Rate Monitor and let your heart climb up and down between 50-85% of your maximum heart rate for the majority of the workout. To find your target heart rate try this formula…
**Karvonen formula: 220 – your age – Resting Heart Rate x __% = ___ + Resting Heart Rate. The final number is the percentage you are looking for. Do calculations for 50% and 85% to get your range.
5. FLEXIBILITY… Also what I like to call balanced muscles. A lot of the time when you’re super tight say in your hamstrings (back of legs) and very flexible in your quads (front of legs) it can be an indication that you over use your tight hamstrings and your quads need a little more work. And you’d be surprised on how much flexibility you will gain when you strengthen those quads… So add a couple more exercises for the weaker muscles to play catch up! I’m a believer that working those weaker muscles is much more effective and long lasting than static stretching (the boring stretches where you hold and count) at the end of a workout. But I’m not discounting stretching all together. Next time you’re stretching try squeezing out the opposite muscles to get a deeper more effective stretch. So if you are on the floor reaching for you toes to stretch your hammies, instead try this…
**Try… sitting up straight and squeezing your quads to go deeper into the stretch, abs lifting ribcage, back flat, HOLD position and bend at hips. THAT is a deep stretch!
Infuse these simple 5 elements in your workout and you’ll feel a better you and a much more rewarding workout that will get you ready for that bikini!
Thank you Venus!!! And yes, that’s me- Alexis- in all the photos, wildly impressive, I know. Even more impressive? Venus took the photos. She’s multi-talented!