Give these elite fitness experts a month, and they can chisel almost anyone into a lean, mean, fighting machine.
Clare Phelps, a 27-year-old creamy-skinned, slim brunette dressed in black Donna Karan bicycle shorts and a bright-pink Nike sports bra is huffing and puffing on an elliptical trainer—and has been for the last fifty-five minutes. “I will wear that tiny Tracey Feith bikini on my Brazilian vacation if it kills me,” says the Boston-based real estate broker who’s enlisted the expertise of one of the city’s elite personal trainer-cum-nutritionists to help. Such eleventh-hour angst is all too common when it comes to losing weight, but for the very brave—or very desperate—there is hope.
“I’m hired to work under a time-crunch,” says Valerie Waters, the Hollywood übertainer responsible for getting The Matrix’s Carrie-Anne Moss into fighting-form and chiseling Lauren Holly’s to-die-for body for her role in Any Given Sunday. “Normally, I like my clients to make lifestyle changes, but emergency situations do come up,” says Waters. “For action movies, they have several months notice to get in shape, but when a client’s already shooting a movie and finds out
Getting a strut-your-stuff figure
she has to get into a skimpy bikini or do a love scene in 3 or 4 weeks, there’s no time to waste.”The key to success, says Waters: “You can’t cheat. Period. Normally, little indiscretions—a bowl of pasta or a chocolate chip cookie—are okay. I encourage people to treat themselves every once in a while. But a clean diet is absolutely critical for achieving short-term goals,” she emphasizes.
Even so, getting lean is not about starving. It’s about eating lots of lean protein and vegetables—and cutting out refined carbohydrates (sugar and white flour). “Kiss them good-bye,” Waters tells her clients. No pasta, no bread’ becomes their mantra.
“And drink water until you drown,” she says. People always want to know if they can use energy bars like the Balance and Zone bars as meal replacements. “Only in emergency situations,” she says. “People get addicted to those things; you need to eat real food.” Real food—and real exercise. Waters recommends an intense workout five to six times a week. “If you’re spending more than an hour at a time in the gym,” she adds, “you’re not working hard enough while you’re there.” Depending on what they have to lose, Waters’ clients shed several inches and up to twelve pounds.
“Imagine you’re Michelangelo—re-shaping your body is like chiseling a sculpture or painting a portrait. Every detail matters,” says Kacy Duke, the ultra-elite personal trainer who’s responsible for sculpting Denzel Washington’s ripped physique for his current Oscar buzz-worthy movie The Hurricane. He reportedly shed more than forty-five pounds for the part. “We began training while Denzel was still filming The Bone Collector—he was playing a bed-ridden quadriplegic, so we could only train from the waist down,” says Duke. Lenny Kravitz met up with Duke in Tuscany before he kicked off his last tour with the intent of undoing the damage of his indulgent Italian vacation. And Maxwell enlisted Duke’s expertise to get him in shape for his latest skin-baring video.
“Everything counts, from nutrition, supplements and daily abdominal work to a positive mindset. For my clients who need very quick results, we sit down with a nutritionist on day one and devise a eating plan that keeps protein intake high and simple carbohydrates and fat to a minimum,” says Duke. “Then we hit the gym.” For real results, you need two hours a day—sometimes more—in the gym, four or five days a week. Duke recommends thirty to forty-five minutes of cardio daily, modifying it each time. “You’ve got to challenge the body constantly—keep it second-guessing,” she says. “When you get on the treadmill, your body is usually ready to run, so pump up the incline and go for a fast-paced hike instead.” Duke’s cardio prescription also includes a killer bout of jump roping alternated with mega-sets of push-ups and intense stair-climbing sessions. Then it’s on to isometrics and weights. “My goal is to pump and elongate-—that avoids building bulky muscles.” To that end, Duke pairs sets of weight-bearing exercises with cable work—squats and cables for legs, for instance. And daily abdominal work is absolutely critical as well.
“If you want quick results, be prepared to work for it—very hard,” says John Rides, of Physical Structure, a discreet Manhattan gym packed with media execs and fashion editors. If you aren’t exercising at least three times a week, Rides cautions, it’s important to start slowly—at least for the first week. He takes a three-pronged approach: long bouts of cardio, intense circuit weight training, and good, clean nutrition. “My clients with time-sensitive goals spend two hours every day in the gym: one hour of intense circuit training with me—bicep curls, bench presses, pull-ups, lunges, and push-ups interspersed with short bouts of sprinting—and an hour of cardio on their own,” he says. He instructs his clients to do the cardio at a medium intensity to stay in the fat-burning zone. “And if you don’t have two hours back-to-back, do your cardio first thing in the morning on an empty stomach—this revs up your metabolism for the next twelve to fourteen hours meaning you’ll burn up to 300 extra calories just sitting still.” Nutritionally, Rides advises sticking to five or six small meals made up of complex carbohydrates—vegetables, brown rice, sweet potatoes—and lean protein sources like chicken breasts and fish. Rides’ cardinal rule of nutrition: “Never eat carbs at night.” At the end of a four-week stint with Rides, most clients lose anywhere from six to twelve pounds.
“We look at excess weight like cancer—get rid of it as fast as you can,” says Dr. Robert Rosati, Associate Professor of Medicine at Duke University and Director of the Rice Diet Program. To do that, Rosati’s four-week, in-house program cuts caloric intake to between 800-1000 calories: oatmeal and half a grapefruit for breakfast; rice and two pieces of fruit for lunch and again for dinner. Small amounts of vegetables are added after the first week. Beyond the skimpy meals, the program emphasizes attitude. “People just don’t put aside time for themselves,” says Rosati. “And they need to. My clients spend an hour every morning after breakfast doing yoga, meditating, and taking long walks.”
“Exercise is important for long-term mental and physical health,” he says, “but to lose weight and lower cholesterol fast, diet is key.” At the end of the month, female clients an average of almost twenty pounds, while men can lose up to thirty.
Talk to people who’ve experienced (read: survived) a short term, all-out assault on their less-than-perfect physiques, and they’ll tell you the transformation goes beyond the physical. “It was the month from hell, but you wouldn’t believe how much my body—and my attitude about it—changed,” says Sylvie Hart, 25, a buyer for an ultra-hip downtown NYC boutique, who had four weeks to get into a sample size red silk Versace dress for a New Year’s Eve party in Rome. “I feel utterly invincible now.” For Lexi Marcus, a 31-year-old restaurant owner in Miami, planning her wedding meant four months of nervous eating. “When I went for my second wedding dress fitting, I could barely zip the dress closed. At that late date, there was no time to waste. I needed to take drastic measures,” she says. She enrolled in an accelerated triathalon training course: biking, running and swimming six days a week with weight training at night after work. Marcus was instructed to eat six daily meals (one every three to four hours) with equal portions of protein (chicken, turkey, fish) and complex carbohydrates (oatmeal, yams, brown rice, whole grain breads, fruit, and vegetables). And strict calorie-restriction wasn’t an issue. “I was burning thousands of calories a day just training. I felt like a furnace. My metabolism was in overdrive,” says Marcus. At the end of the month, Marcus had lost ten pounds and slipped effortlessly into her form-fitting Richard Tyler dress. “Let’s just say, it was worth every moment of sacrifice.”
10:30 am: Mid-morning snack (choose one)
An apple or a pear and a slice of cheese.
An orange or 3 apricots and a slice of turkey.
1 pm: Lunch
Chicken, turkey or fish and fibrous vegetables (broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, green beans). If you’re hungry, you can add a yam, a baked potato, or a cup of brown rice.
4 pm: Mid-afternoon snack
Same as morning snack.
8 pm: Dinner
Chicken, turkey, or fish and steamed vegetables. •
Monday and Thursday
20 minutes of cardio: Warm up for 3-4 minutes then gradually increase speed (or resistance) at 1-minute intervals for 4 minutes; decrease speed and repeat three times. Cool down the last 4 minutes and stretch upper body.
Chest, back, and triceps:
Incline dumbbell press
Pec dec or lateral flyes
Chest press or dumbbell press on a flat bench
DO 12-15 REPS AND REPEAT 2-3 TIME
(with a 90-sec rest after each circuit).
Move immediately onto:
Tricep dips off the side of a bench
REPEAT 2-3 TIMES.
Abdominals: choose 5 exercises and do 25-30 reps each.
Ex. crunches, reverse crunches, bicycle, side-to-side crunches.
Tuesday and Friday
20 minutes of cardio (same as above)
Legs, shoulders, and biceps:
Alternating reverse lunges (10 on each leg)
Alternating forward lunges (10 on each leg)
Step-ups onto a bench (12 on each leg)
[Rest, stretch and catch your breath.]
Inner and outer thigh machine—optional (15 rep each, supersetted)
Rear deltoid flyes (lie prone on bench holding 3-5 lb. weights. Hold arms straight out to your sides, and lift.)
Lateral raises (15)
Shoulder press (15)
Seated bicep curls (with 5-8 lb. weights; 4 sets of 12-15 reps)
Hammer curls with a twist (with 5-8 lb. weights; 4 sets of 12-15 reps)
[Rest, stretch and catch your breath.]
REPEAT ENTIRE CIRCUIT ONCE.
DO ABDOMINAL WORK.
Active rest day: take a yoga or stretch class, go for a long hike, or go rollerblading.
Cardio: go for a 45 minutes jog outside, take a spinning or boxing class.
Q: How to bring my pear shape into proportion?
Dear Kacy, I have a pear-like body shape with the difference of being more bottom thick than wide. My hips are not that wide, but I do have thick thighs and calves. How do I minimize this thickness and bring my upper and lower body into proportion?? Sincerely, Dora
A: Dear Dora,
The best way to bring your upper and lower body into proportion is to work from both ends. For the thighs and calves think cardio, anything from powerwalking to running to cardio/gym equipment – like the eliptical trainer. For the upper body think strength training, particularly the shoulders, back and chest to give your overall appearance a more proportioned look.
Q: What is causing side cramps during workouts?
Dear Kacy, I have been fairly fit for a good 6 months now. I workout around five times a week, varying cardio and weight training. But lately I’ve been on the treadmill just walking and I start to get a side cramp. It happens about 2 minutes into my walking, but its not like I’ve exhausted myself, and I haven’t even broken a sweat. What is this cramp from?
A: I know what you mean!!! What you are experiencing may be an air pocket brought on possibly from eating or drinking too soon before your workout. Other than that, I’m really not sure. Try sipping water throughout your workout instead of right before. Keep me posted!!
Q: Is there a way I can perk up my breasts?
I was wondering if there are any excercises to perk up my breasts.
A: Perk-up is the right word. Since the breasts are not muscles, there is no way to build the breasts through exercise. But you can work the muscles around the breasts such as the pectoral muscles, and the rest of your upper body to tone and give your shape that healthy firmness.
Q: Are abdominal machines effective?
Hi, I would like to know if a machine like the Torso Track is good for the abdominals. I hate doing regular sit-ups and crunches. I was looking for a machine that would give me a good abdominal workout. Would this machine be right for me?
A: It just so happens that I own a Torso Track and I love it. I suggest you do a few basic sit-ups at times to work your muscles in different ways. As you strengthen your abdominals and start seeing results you should welcome a variety of abdominal exercises. As far as the Torso Track goes, make sure your form is correct at all times to avoid lower back injuries.
Q: Am I the right weight?
I wanted to make sure I was within normal limits for my age’s weight. I’m a little self-conscious about my body and would like to feel better about it. I’m 13, and weigh anywhere from 95-110 pounds – it varies with days or weeks or months. I would like to tone up my arms and abs, like yours. Can you help?
A: I want you to understand that your body is changing every minute at your age. If you start making healthy choices right now you will never be self-concious about your body again. Do like I did at your age and what I still do:
1) Be active!! Try different types of sports or exercises that are fun and that you enjoy. Try everything from a ballet bar class, a yoga class and a fencing class. Or how about a body sculpting video or a walk in the park?
2) DON’T DIET!! LEARN THE ART OF HEALTHY EATING. I made cooking a hobby. I started at age 13 buying cookbooks and trying the recipes on my friends and family, what a ball I had doing it and now all my friends want my cooking!
3) Learn to listen to your body. Your body needs rest as much as work, so take care of it and it will take care of you!!!
I feel your weight is just fine so all you have to do is start having fun exploring new ways to stay active to create the body you want!
Q: A toning workout to do at home
I would like to tone and strengthen my body. I would like to do this at home. Could you please suggest any moves I can do.
A: I love working out at home so this is what I suggest: try three intervals of one minute of jumprope combined with eight to twelve push-ups. The jumprope is a great form of cardio, and the push-ups are a great upper body strenth training exercise. Then do three sets of lunges, twelve on each leg makes one set. Finish off with three sets of your favorite abdominal exercises. Try this workout three times a week and let me know what you think.
Q: Help – I’ve reached a plateau in my weight loss
I’ve been trying to lose weight, and have dropped from 156 to 138 pounds over 3 months. I’ve been stuck at 130-140 pounds for the last few weeks, and would like to continue down to my goal of 130-135 pounds. What is the best way to do this? I don’t know if I can increase my physical activity, as I already dance 90 minutes, 6 times per week, and do cardio/circuit training 3 times per week. I appreciate your advice. Thanks!
A: Try varying your cardiovascular routine to keep it fresh. Doing the same thing six times a week can get a little stale, and less enthusiasm often means less real effort. Watch your diet, doing that much cardiovascular work requires fueling up on lots of good healthy complex carbohydrates, and avoiding junk food and empty calories. Finally, relax!!! If you are eating healthy and exercising as much as you say you are, then your in great shape. So don’t obsess about the numbers and start enjoying your body, you’ve earned it.
Q: Advice for staying motivated
I get lazy! What can I do each day to keep myself motivated to exercise?
A: Dear Kim,
I know its hard at times to get and stay motivated, and it’s even harder for me to give you advice on how to do it. But here it goes….A healthy spirit helps you develop a healthy body. Let go of unrealistic expectations of getting the perfect body overnight. Searching the soul is as essential as stretching the limbs. It’s about emotional, spiritual and physical strength.
Have personal strength each morning to know that you have a new day to do something positive for your mind and your body. Do a little something every day – take a walk one day, jump rope another. Run on Monday, meditate on Thursday.
Create your day like an adventure! You are in control of your life. And if now and then you feel like doing nothing, that’s OK!! Sometimes by doing nothing, we get a lot done! Good Luck!
Q: What is the best workout frequency and duration?
It’s hard for me to get motivated to go to the gym (even though it’s a five-minute walk from my home). I’d like to do more on the days that I actually am able to motivate and go. Is it less effective to go three days a week for two hours (one sculpt and one cardio class) than it is to go one hour for six days a week? Thanks.
A: Oh Amy!
What a great question! I believe fitness should fit into your lifestyle. If you want to workout for two hours twice a week or a half an hour five times a week, then do exactly that. WHATEVER WORKS FOR YOU will help you get started, stay motivated, and get off your BUTT!!!…..It is all GOOD and it all works! Remember “IT’S AN EVOLUTION NOT A REVOLUTION!”
Q: What is a good inner thigh exercise?
I go horseback riding every week. Is there an exercise I can do to strengthen my inner thighs without using a machine at the gym?
A: Dear Ms. Thighs,
A great exercise for the inner thigh goes as follows:
1) Lie on your back, knees are bent and feet are flat on the floor with your hands by your sides, palms gripping the floor.
2) Place a ball between your thighs – it can be a basketball or an exercise ball.
3) Start squeezing the ball as you do a pelvic tilt by lifting your buttocks off the floor and squeezing the ball as you hold the pelvic tilt and squeeze for a count of 10.
Try 4 sets of 10 reps.
Q: How do I get rid of my love handles?
Kacy, I do not think I am fat – I just have love handles and a small gut. What is the best way to get rid of these? Sherry
A: Dear Sherry,
Here is how I think you should “handle” your handles:
1) Do 30-45 minutes of cardio activity 3-4 times per week.
2) Think about all the fatty foods you can cut from your diet and begin to CUT BACK.
3) Start doing abdominal work atleast 3-4 times per week. Start by doing 8 sit-ups per day, and increase by 2 each day until you can do 3 sets of twelve repitions.
Good luck on your mission and keep me posted!
Q: I want LEANER muscles
I want to go on a high-protein, low carbohydrate diet and also want to incorporate some kind of exercise routine to elongate my muscles. Any suggestions??
A: Dear Sandi,
I think a high protein/low carbohydrate diet is great for some people, but you should check with your doctor first. As for exercises that elongate the muscles, try yoga, pilates, ballet or maybe a great stretch class.
Q: How to get rid of saddlebags?
I am 5’9 and 125 pounds. I consider myself pretty slim except for one thing: I can’t get rid of my saddlebags! It’s really frustrating each time I try on a pair of tight pants! Is there any fast, easy way to get rid of them?
A: Dear 5’9 and 125 lb. Valerie!!
I’m sure most of your friends think you are out of your mind when you speak of what you feel you need to better your body. A lot of people think fitness is about getting thin, and they forget about the other important components like strengthening, toning, and sculpting, to name a few. In your case it is probably these three components you need to work on. There is no quick way to get rid of what you call your saddlebags, but it could be as easy as focusing more on your lower body. Exercises like lunges, squats, outer thigh work (such as lateral leg lifts), and of course cardio work can bring amazing results.
Q: Should I rotate my workouts?
I like to do a similar workout most every day, but people have told me it can be more effective to work out different muscle groups on alternate days. Is that important?
A: Hi Tony,
I find working different muscles on alternate days most effective. Challenging the muscles with different exercises, and then giving them a day of rest will result in a healthy and well-defined body.