Shiona Turini, fashion editor, Formation stylist and Oh Boy alumni is on a get-fit mission. She chronicled her journey and is sharing it with us because squatting is a sisterhood that should not be attempted alone. Read about her first week here.
I DID NOT WANT TO LOSE MY BUTT.
That was the first thing I told Stephen Cheuk, my no mercy, no bullshit trainer at S10 Training, during our first consultation.
Stephen stared at me blankly after I announced this — you may remember that we have a love/hate thing.
Then we got down to it.
Then I died.
JK. But it felt like I died. Weighted lunges, weighted squats, pull ups, stomach crunches while hanging from a bar, THE PROWLER (you’ll see) — I was doing moves I never thought I could. Moves that I thought were reserved for men. They made me feel powerful and strong and more importantly, kept my butt intact.
And if you’re wondering, What moves? Stephen broke them down and answered questions so that you can join along and blame me for the pain.
A disclaimer from Stephen before you begin: “Unless you have experience with strength and conditioning training, seek professional help for at least one training session regarding the below to make sure your form is perfect and that you are engaging the right muscles. Start as basic as possible, weight-wise, and try 5 sets of 12 reps. When you have mastered the form, add small progressions.”
1. Sumo Dead Lift
VPL bra, Nike leggings, Nike shoes
Why do I care? This is a compound exercise that mainly targets the adductor muscles (inner thighs) and the glutes (butt muscles), so basically, Shiona’s dream exercise.
What do I do? To perform a Sumo Dead Lift, you should have a wide stance with your feet slightly turned out (about a 30 degree angle). Grip the bar with your hands shoulder-width apart. As you lower down, shift your hips backward while keeping your chest and body upright. Your knees should track out wide, directly over your ankles.
Your spine should be in a neutral curve for this exercise and if it isn’t, stop immediately.
Also important: this exercise is extremely weight-baring, so unless you have experience in the gym, seek a professional guide to make sure your form is 100% correct.
How can I do this at home? Same movement, no weights.
2. Barbell Lunge Walks
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Why do I care? This is also a very compound exercise and targets the core, abdominals, glutes, hamstrings and quads.
What do I do? Start with both legs together. Make sure your abdominals are braced and glutes engaged, then lift one leg up and step forward while making sure your back is upright and supported. As you step, lower your body until your back knee almost touches the ground. Your weight should be distributed evenly between both legs as you drop down, but as you come up, distribute most of the weight onto the front leg and use the glute muscle on that leg to drive up. As you lift the back leg up, step into the lunge again and then repeat.
With this kind of movement, alignment and proper muscle engagement is key, so make sure your knees don’t track out as you step. Make sure your abdominals are braced so that your back/posture doesn’t collapse and be steady and controlled with the movements.
How can I do this at home? Perform the lunge walk with no weight. If that’s too hard to begin with, start with stationary lunges.
3. The Prowler, AKA the Sled Push
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Why do I care? This exercise is a staple at S10. It has a super low learning curve so almost anybody can do it and get really good returns. It’s great for fat loss and conditioning. It works your legs, glutes, core and gets your heart rate going.
What do I do? Hold the bar with your arms locked out while keeping you chest up. Simulate the sprinting motion with the strong strides, pushing off with the balls of your feet and a strong drive. Avoid having bad posture during this exercise and make sure you breathe.
How can I do this at home? Sprint in one spot with high knees for 30 seconds as fast as you can. Fast mountain climbers are similar, too.
4. Battle Ropes
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Why do I care? This exercise is another conditioning drill that’s great for fat loss and strengthening arms, shoulders, the core and abdominals.
What do I do? Set your feet about shoulder-width or wider to give yourself a good base of support. Next, either bend your knees slightly or bend your torso (around a 20-30 degree angle), making sure you have good posture with your spine in neutral and that your abdominals and core are engaged. Then, simulate a beating the drum motion with either just your forearms or your entire arms; you want to make sure you have a good rhythm with your arm motion so that you make consistent waves that go all the way to the end of the rope.
Avoid swaying your body too much, slamming the rope down and not making waves and having too much head motion.
How can I do this at home? Try shadow boxing for 30 seconds, punching as hard and fast as you can.
5. Hanging Knee Raises
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Why do I care? This exercise works your core, lower abdominals and upper abdominals.
What do I do? Place your elbows in the straps and grip the outsides of the straps. Make sure your elbows are aligned with your shoulders and that you are essentially doing a plank, but hanging. Without swinging your body, raise your knees and aim to get them to your elbows. Then lower your knees slowly and and with control so that your body doesn’t swing.
Avoid rushing through this exercise and letting your body. No dropping your knees as you raise them. Also watch that your elbows are in the right place: they should be aligned with your shoulders, not up by your ears. Finally, make sure that you engage your abdominals and core muscles — you don’t want to pull from your hip flexors alone.
How can I simulate this at home? V-sit ups.
And now, nosey-ass Amelia here. Tell me, Stephen the Machi-phen, about Shiona’s progress so that I know what I’m up against.
Shiona started with 5 sets of 12 reps as part of a four week-training cycle. She had weak lower abs and a very weak core in the beginning. Her sets, reps and weights increased in small progressions each week because I wanted her to develop better movement patterns and put on more lean muscle.
With the Sumo Deadlifts, she went from using her body weight to deadlifting 75lbs for 5 sets of 12 reps. With the lunges, she progressed from using her body weight to holding 20lb-dumbbells to having 65lbs of weight on her back for 5 sets of 12 reps.
With the Prowler move, she went from pushing the 90lb-Prowler alone to adding 140lbs on top, so that’s a total of 230lbs.
For the abdominals exercises, she went from not being able to hold a plank for more than 30 seconds without back and hip pain, not being able to do a laying leg raise, to performing 5 sets of 12 reps of the hanging knee raises totally pain-free.
You can do this, too. Tell us in the comments about your own fitness journey and then rate on a scale (the only kind you should care about!) from 1 to 10 exactly how annoyed the term “fitness journey” just made you.
Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis.