Meghan Markle‘s not just sweating for the wedding—she’s been a fitness junkie since way before she was slated to become an American princess.
“Meghan’s fitness definitely take priority; she’s very focused on her health,” her trainer of three years, Craig McNamee, C.S.C.S., founder of Catalyst Health in Toronto, Canada, told Women’s Health. “When she gets to the gym, there’s no real complaining. She gets down to business right away and really enjoys it.” (Another reason the princess-to-be is #goals.)
When McNamee met Meghan three years ago, she was “already in fantastic shape,” thanks to her avid running and yoga routine. “So it was up to me to take it to the next level,” he says. That meant supplementing her existing regimen with circuit-based strength training—and lots of it.
When Meghan was still filming Suits in Toronto, Meghan and McNamee met up three to four days a week, for 45-minute training sessions. “For Meghan, we tried to schedule these workouts early in the day, to make it a priority,” he says. McNamee took a high-rep (20 to 25), low-weight strategy with Meghan—rather than heavy lifting.
“Generally speaking, we had a full-body approach,” says McNamee. “And since Meghan was onscreen, we really focused on posture.” To do so, he always included posterior chain (glutes, back, hamstrings) exercises, in addition to plenty of core (abs, back, obliques, pelvic floor) work.
The two trained together for nearly three years. But since Meghan’s life took her across the pond, her multi-weekly training sessions with McNamee have been put on hold. However, the two are still in contact, and he’s confident she’s still keeping up with her strength training. “Meghan is dedicated to her health, it’s a big aspect of her life—so for her, now it’s about keeping up with the workouts we did together, and making them count.” (He says she particularly loved doing lower-body exercises using a mini band—which can conveniently be used just about anywhere—you know, like a hotel, or a palace. Whatever!)
To get a sense of the kind of workouts Meghan does on the reg, McNamee shared an exclusive circuit workout with Women’s Health that’s typical for the actress. “Our big focus with all of our sessions was to not be too repetitive and really create a dynamic workout with a lot of variety,” he says.
For a complete workout, McNamee would generally have Meghan do a five-minute cardio warmup, five minutes of dynamic stretching, a circuit like the one below, and a five-minute stretching cooldown.
“This workout is great for celebs and regular gym goers alike,” says McNamee. “It hits all the right areas and helps you work toward a long, lean, camera-ready look.”
If you’re trying the routine for yourself, McNamee recommends doing it three to four days per week for best results.
Time: 30 minutes (Plus optional 5 minute warmup, 5 minute stretch, 5 minute cooldown)
Targeted Muscles: Full body
Equipment: TRX, mini band, 5 to 10kg dumbbells, 10kg kettlebell, mat
Focus: Strength and cardio
Complete all exercises of this circuit in a row, resting for 45 seconds at the end. Then repeat for two to three more rounds.
1. REAR-FOOT ELEVATED SPLIT SQUAT AND PRESS
“This challenging exercise utilizes multiple muscle groups including the quads, hamstrings, glutes, core, and shoulders,” says McNamee.
How to: Hold a dumbbell in each hand, arms in goalpost position at shoulder height. Stand about two feet in front of a step or bench and place the top of your right foot on it. Bend your knees to lower into a lunge until your right knee grazes the floor, keeping your chest upright and hips directly under your body (a). Push through your left heel to stand, pressing the dumbbells directly overhead (b). That’s one rep. Do 10 split squats per leg, for a total of 20 reps of the shoulder press.
2. SINGLE-LEG KETTLEBELL DEADLIFT
“This exercise will be sure to challenge your core and light up those hamstrings,” says McNamee.
How to: From a standing position, holding the kettlebell in front of your thigh with your right hand, shift your weight into your left leg, and lift your right foot off the ground just behind you. Your planted left leg should have a slight bend in the knee (a). Push your hips back and extend your right leg straight back behind you. Your chest will drop as you reach the lifted leg back (b). When you reach the end of the range of motion—typified by tension in the hamstrings—reverse the movement to return to standing. That’s one rep; do 15 reps, then switch legs and do 15 reps on the other side.
3. PLYO STEP UPS
“This explosive exercise is a great move to define the quads,” says McNamee.
How to: Stand in front of a bench. Bring left foot to the bench (a), then press all your weight into that foot, and explode your body upward (b). As you come back down, return safely and with control to the bench or box. That’s one rep. Do 15 per leg.
4. TRX TRICEPS EXTENSION
“This version of a triceps extension will not only allow for a full stretch on those muscles, it also increases the tension throughout your entire core,” says McNamee. “Can you say killer combo?”
How to: Grab a TRX, and attach it to a stable anchor. Facing away from the anchor, grip one handle in each hands, and lean your body forward until it’s at a 45-degree angle. Arms should bend backward to a 90-degree angle, elbows near ears (a). While engaging your triceps, push your body back to a nearly upright position, and extend your arms until they’re completely straight (b). That’s one rep. Do 15.
5. HANGING ABS RAISE
“This advanced exercise will make new use of a chinup bar and get your abs working,” says McNamee.
How to: Grab a chinup bar, and let your legs fully extend toward the floor. Bend elbows to 90 degrees, engaging the upper body (a). Using your lower abs, bring your knees up, until they’re tucked into your chest (b). That’s one rep. Do 15.
Complete all exercises of this circuit in a row. Rest for 45 sec at the end of the circuit, and then repeat for two to three more rounds.
6. SUPINE GLUTE BRIDGE
“This one will set your glutes on fire,” says McNamee.
How to: Rest your body on a incline bench, with a weight placed across your pelvis (a). With your hips a few inches off the floor, contract your glutes and elevate your hips until they’re in line with your knees (b). Hold at the top for a one to two second count before safely lowering. Do 20 reps. If you don’t have access to a barbell, use a dumbbell or medicine ball.
7. SINGLE-LEG SWISS BALL HAMSTRING CURL
The goal is to not lose the elevated position as you complete your reps,” says McNamee.
How to: Lie flat on a mat with your left ankle and heel positioned on a stability ball, hips elevated, and the right leg extended straight up into the air, perpendicular with your mat (a). Using your hamstring muscles, drag the stability ball toward your body, until just the tip of your heel is resting on the ball (b). That’s one rep. Do 20 per side. To simplify, complete the curl movement with both legs on the stability ball at the same time.
8. TRX BANDED SQUAT AND ROW
“This combination will allow a focus on your postural musculature, as well as providing hip stability,” says McNamee.
How to: Stand facing your TRX, with a mini band wrapped around your thighs. Hang on to the TRX loops in each hand, elbows glued to sides, and then extend arms to lower down into a squat (a). Use your glutes, back, and inner thigh muscles to lift your body back to a standing position, bringing arms back to sides (b). That’s one rep. Do 20.
9. STRAIGHT-ARM SIDE PLANK WITH BANDED HIP ABDUCTION
How to: Wrap a mini band around your thighs, just above your knee. Get into a forearm side plank position, with your hand pressed into the ground, and knee lowered and bent at 90 degrees for stability (a). Elevate your top leg against the band’s resistance (b). Each time you get your leg parallel to the floor that counts as one rep. Do 20 on each side.
10. BANDED HIP EXTENSIONS
How to: Get into a tabletop position with a mini band looped above your knees, one leg extended behind you (a). Lift your extended leg until it is higher than your hips (b). Return to the starting position. That’s one rep. Do 20 per side.
11. V-SIT HOLD
This static core exercise is a great finisher,” says McNamee. “It will target your upper abs, lower abs and obliques all in one seemingly simple move. Just make sure you brace through your core and maintain proper alignment throughout.”
How to: Begin in a seated position with your knees bent and your feet resting lightly on the ground as you balance on your sit bones. With your core engaged, lengthen through your torso and recline slightly, avoiding any rounding of your back. Extend your arms straight out in front of you, then extend your legs, creating a V-shape with your torso and legs. Breathe comfortably throughout the move. Hold for 30 seconds. For an added challenge, hold two to 5kg weights in each hand during the hold.
This article originally appeared on Women’s Health US.
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