I trained actress Milla Jovovich for her upcoming role in the Resident Evil franchise. Over the three months we worked together, Milla lost around 20 kilograms while getting stronger and fitter than she has ever been in her life. Below are the rules I used to help her.
There is so much rubbish fed to women about their training. I’ve said for a long time that I feel genuinely sorry for women when it comes to the information that they’re presented with when it comes to how to exercise and what to eat.
I’ve also heard so many women ask me/their trainer/their friends, “what’s the one thing I can do to lose a few kilograms?” There is only one answer to this, and unfortunately it doesn’t sell magazines: sacrifice.
There are some ‘fitness experts’ out there who people listen to simply because what they write is published on the internet. Please believe me when I say that there isn’t a soft and easy way to get the results you want. It will require some discomfort – just like anything else you’ve ever achieved in your life!
Below are 10 basic rules to follow that are fundamentally honest:
1 – Choose Your Cardio Carefully
I don’t believe that women lack the effort when it comes to exercising – they simply lack the guidance. I’ve seen girls work on an elliptical machine for an hour. This isn’t easy (I’ve tried!), while it’s also incredibly boring. There’s dedication there, but it’s misplaced.
Stick to shorter durations of exercise but ramp up the intensity.
I would also recommend some slow and steady cardio for 60 minutes once or twice a week, together with three sessions of high intensity weight and cardio work.
You need to train at least four times a week if you want to make a significant and meaningful change.
2 – Intensity is Key
What is intensity? Lets make it simple – if when you go for a 30 – 60 minute run you’re working at 50% intensity, then when you’re performing cardio intervals (2 minutes or less) in the gym, you need to be working at 90% intensity.
If you don’t know what 90% feels like, just go as hard as you possibly can for 2 minutes on a rower and you’ll get a very good idea of the difference between 50% and 90% intensity.
3 – If You Train Hard, You Won’t Die
I’m not saying this to be a smug asshole, I’m saying it because it’s the truth. You’ll breathe heavier than you ever have before, your heart will pound harder and your muscles will ache, but you won’t die. So many women want the quick results, but let me be the one to say that it won’t happen without some suffering.
4 – Weight Loss is a Simple Equation
If you want to lose weight you need to burn more calories than you’re currently burning, while eating less calories than you’re currently eating.
Please don’t believe someone who says it can be done easily. If that’s what they’re promising, you’re going to waste a lot of money following them.
5 – Prove it
Don’t say getting in shape is important to you if you can’t prove it. Please.
Eat better. Eating ‘cleaner’ is more expensive, but so what? Rather eat less of what’s good for you than the same amount of what drives your body fat percentage up and clogs your arteries.
Breakfast isn’t difficult – don’t eat toast, just have some eggs. Don’t eat fruit every day, it’s filled with sugar. Eat avocado, it’s delicious. If you’ve just asked “so what must I eat my eggs and avocado on then?” I’d like to refer you to the start of this article – sacrifice.
Quite honestly, if bread is a big sacrifice in your life, you have a pretty awesome life.
Lunch – have a salad. Most women I know do this anyway. Don’t put salad dressing on your salad, it’s full of calories.
Dinner – if time is tight, buy a slow cooker (R 800 from At Home, which is the same cost as a one month gym membership – once again, don’t say it’s important if you can’t back it up). All you need to do is put some chicken/meat, vegetables and stock into it before you leave for work, and when you get home it’ll be ready.
Don’t eat sugar. If you do, make sure you burn it off afterwards. Don’t drink in excess.
Also, if someone tells you that almonds are a great snack and are good for you, don’t eat a hundred almonds a day. Most of the time when it comes to food and calories, common sense will get you there.
6 – Exercise Machines at the Gym are Lying To You – that’s how they sell the equipment!
If you want a true reflection of how hard it is to burn calories, try the following: set the units on a rower (Concept 2) to ‘calories’ and start rowing. Try rowing at a decent pace (2:15/500 meters) for 30 minutes. Have a look at how many calories you’ve burnt – it’s probably less than 300, and I’m sure that’s the hardest you’ve exercised in a while.
Now think about how easy it is to eat 300 calories. Like I said above, weight loss is a simple equation. Don’t say that the exercise equipment is lying to you if you’re lying to yourself.
7 – Stop Chasing Goal Weights
Why? Tell me what you’re going to do when you hit your goal weight. Is that the proverbial finish line? Are you going to keep eating and training exactly the way you did to hit that weight for the rest of your life?
Try this: focus on actual performance. By this I mean, try counting how many reps/meters you are able to perform in a set amount of time, and then try to improve those numbers every week.
I promise you that if you can row more, run faster and do more reps your body will change for the better. Muscle is denser than fat, so when everyone tells you how amazing you look after months of hard training and you step back on the scale and you weigh the same, please understand why I’m pleading with you to stop chasing goal weights. It’s meaningless.
8- Lift Weight
Here’s where women tend to get that distant look in their eyes, picturing themselves turning into a female body builder on stage in a shiny bikini.
I promise this won’t happen. Any of the women in Hollywood with bodies you admire all lift weight – not crazy heavy, but enough to enforce muscle definition and tone.
If you want to change the shape of your body and it’s many different parts, then you need to do so with resistance. Weight is the safest and most efficient way to do this. It has been for hundreds of years and it’s not going to change.
Learn to deadlift and squat – it’ll change everything.
9 – Change One Thing
In scientific testing, the only way they can check if an outcome is affected by a variable is to change only one variable. That way they know exactly what influence that variable had.
My advice would be to change one thing each day. Examples are:
– don’t have that one sweet;
– run for 10 minutes more;
– keep a bottle of water at your desk so you can drink more;
– take less or no sugar in your tea/coffee;
– go that 5% harder in your workout (even though you’re the only one who knows the difference);
– rest less between sets;
– ignore the scale;
– don’t quit.
10 – Work Hard, often
This is the hardest one for most people to stomach because there’s no way around it. There’s no shortcut or quick fix, there’s just hard work. Do one thing every day that makes you fitter and stronger.
Above all though, just be honest. Be honest with yourself that you haven’t exercised enough or eaten well enough to get the results you want. Honesty will help to clear up a lot of the confusion you may feel.
It’s ok to mess up, but don’t do so out of ignorance. If you have any questions please email me, and I’ll be happy to help.