Why You Should Ignore Celebrity Workouts

When I stumbled upon this little video of a celebrity trainer showing how to achieve a celebrity’s upper body, I was flabbergasted. If you believe this trainer, to look like this particular celebrity you need to lift three-pound weights for 10-15 reps and use microscopically thin resistance bands. We wouldn’t want you to break a nail! And heaven forbid you “bulk up,” the authoritative male trainer warns us. What the f*ck?

Seriously – I thought this kind of misinformation was just legend at this point.

But then I realized that it makes perfect sense. The vast majority of models, actresses, etc.  are very thin, with no visible muscle definition. That “workout” will not produce any muscle to speak of, and that’s actually by design. In Celebrity Land, muscle is bad.

The paradox is that, in my experience, most women want muscle definition. They want to look lean and fit. They want to have delts that pop, calves that beg for a skirt, and triceps that stand out. So why do women follow workouts that don’t build any muscle?

Because the messages the media sends to women about strength training and muscle are wrong.

How to get ripped

How to REALLY Get Ripped

Like I said, I believe women aspire to be lean and have a hard body. Ripped. Fit. Feminine. They don’t want to look like a bodybuilder, but they’d love some definition in their arms, shoulders, legs, and butt. Unfortunately, the images and messages we’re fed in the media don’t support these goals.

But maybe you’re already following celebrities who have athletic physiques, such as Jamie Eason or another Oxygen Magazine model. These women, along with Crossfit games competitors, are excellent examples of athletic physiques who work full time at their sport/profession. You don’t have to train full time or be as shredded as an athlete to attain your ideal body. You simply need to follow a few principles in your workouts.

Women have been lied to about how to get buff. Here are the facts:

  • You need to lift heavy weights. Lifting heavy does not make you look bulky like a man; women have only a tiny fraction of the hormone testosterone, which contributes to guys getting big. Women who have huge muscles have been using steroids. We’re just not naturally capable of getting that big.To put it in perspective: I am 5’3” and weigh 111 pounds. I’ve been lifting weights for over 15 years and lift as heavy as I can. Yet I’m still a very petite woman and think I look badass – feminine looking and athletic. It’s the difference between being thin without muscle and having muscle definition. There are many, many women who can lift much more weight than me and look equally petite. The mantra, “light weights, high reps” is a farce. If you use three- or five-pound weights you’ll stop seeing results almost immediately. That’s because your muscles have adapted to the stimulus – they know what’s coming and don’t have to work hard to repair themselves. To continue seeing progress – to get ripped – you must keep increasing the weight. And the more years your strength train the harder you must try to stimulate growth. This basic principle of weightlifting is called progressive overload. The same principle applies to a skinny-ass resistance band that looks like a pencil. Feel the burn? Great! After a couple weeks you’d better get yourself a heavier band or you’re just wasting your time.
  • You cannot spot reduce with strength training. If you see claims of banishing belly fat with an ab exercise, that’s misleading. You need to eat clean in order to lose body fat. And you won’t see muscle definition until you lose excess fat.
  • Doing only high reps every workout wastes time. This might be the most common mistake women make. You should integrate low reps (3-6), moderate reps (8-12), and high reps (15-20) into your workouts or you’ll find your progress at a standstill. This is not complicated, and if you keep a training journal you’ll know what to do every session. You can either integrate different reps each session or you can change it up every few weeks. If you are unsure of how to design a strength-training program then let’s chat – I provide virtual coaching.
  • Being thin isn’t the end-all-be-all. If you’re thin without enough lean muscle mass (a.k.a skinny fat) then you’re at risk for some surprising and scary health risks. I’m betting that many of the models and celebrities out there today are skinny fat, and they’re missing out: Not only is muscle definition beautiful, but it increases your metabolism and burns fat. Being strong protects you from injury too and has been shown to be a factor in longevity.

If you’re not seeing progress, take a look at the advice you’re following. Are you relying on celebrity trainers, paid to make their clients look thin on camera, or knowledgeable, real-world pros who help people like you build lean muscle mass?

I’ve been writing this blog for three years – I’ve got your back. Very soon I’ll be making videos, with the Workout Nirvana stamp of approval, for both my clients and my readers. I spend a big chunk of my time studying the latest exercise science and research, so you can feel confident that I’ll show you how to get results the right way.

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Comments

  1. Well said. Thin doesn’t not equal fit or healthy. Whatever happened to fit female physiques in Hollywood? Like Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2nor Demi Moore in GI Jane?

    • Interesting that you don’t see that physique much anymore. It’s clearly something that goes in and out of favor in Hollywood… however, back then I doubt any women were lifting and today many are!

  2. Great post. I hate the celebrity diets and workouts. Like doing 10 crunches, 12 biceps curls and some jumping jacks are all you need to lose 40 pounds! They are such a joke!

    I appreciate your wisdom and advice!
    Lisa recently posted..Operation Glutes Follow UpMy Profile

  3. Back when Zoe was a budding actress, she had more meat on her bones and looked great. Hollywood has definitely changed her. Eff the light weights. Can’t wait for the videos!
    Yum Yucky recently posted..Edible Weeds Taste Test: CloverMy Profile

    • I don’t know of her, but then, I’m clueless about celebrities in general. It’s too damn bad actresses are expected to be so thin! Gonna follow in your footsteps and be a YouTube queen, gurl!

  4. I’ll be sharing this all over my Facebooks and Twitters on Sunday… just so ya know. I’m tagging it with the preface: THE GOSPEL!

    thanks for being the voice of reason in an unreasonably stupid arena (celebrity fitness).

    Always watching, only been lurking til now. Nice to meet you finally.
    Jackie

  5. Well said & not a lot to add! 🙂 There is one celeb trainer that drives me crazy – well a lot do – but they show her training with 3 & 5 lb. weights.. Yes, seeing what the media wants, it makes sense but I rather be what they do not want & have my muscles! 🙂

    Always great advice here Suzanne! 🙂 Yahoo for videos!!!!!!!
    Jody – Fit at 55 recently posted..Gratitude Monday & Healthy Bite Me! 😉My Profile

  6. This is such great advice! I hate that women are scared to lift heavy. It’s a great workout, and people don’t realize exactly how HARD it is to gain size. You won’t suddenly look like She-ra. 🙂
    Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table recently posted..Work It Out: Top 5 Core ExercisesMy Profile

    • Ain’t that the truth? It’s no easy path, you are right. You have to really work hard to gain muscle and that’s part of the beauty :).

  7. Great post! I’m 5’3″ and would like to get back to 115-117. Was there and lost it for a variety of reasons but felt SO good. Unfortunately I fell victim to criticsm that I was too thin but I was solid muscle.

    I do it for me and I do it to be a roll model. My daughter is 6 and I noticed today that even Strawberry Shortcake is now a fashion template, long and thin as opposed to short and stocky as we used to know her.

    Thanks!

    • Omg! Strawberry Shortcake?? That is just plain sad. A short, squat, cute little girl is out of fashion in favor of a “model” body type. You can get back Barb! Get your iron face on, eat clean, and go hard and heavy. Let me know how you’re doing!

  8. Preach it sister! One of my biggest pet peeves as well. Gotta love it when women say they don’t want to ‘build muscle’ they just want to looked ‘toned’. I need to write a rant about the T word…
    Tamara recently posted..Hate to exercise? Like it or not, it’s all the same to your healthMy Profile

  9. Great post. Ever since I saw Angela Bassett play Tina Turner, I fell in love with that woman on a body envy way. She was defined and not rail thin skinny. That’s what I want.

    But I have a bad back. Case in point, I pulled a muscle just opening the door and twisting as I walked out. Now, I’m resting. I’ve been to PT before for my back and I even did some reading on the interwebs yesterday. All say that I have a weak back; however, I’m doing trapeze and running right now and minimal yoga. So, I don’t think it’s any worse than say a couple of months ago when I did nothing. I guess my roundabout question is do you have any quick back strengthen exercises that I can do now to help heal this thing quickly. I have a 5k on Saturday and I want to get back to exercise.

    • I’d suggest you start a back and core strengthening program instead of looking for “quick” back exercises. I spend as much time on my back muscles as I do my front – in fact, I spend more time on my back. You should too to prevent a larger injury than just a strain. Is trapeze a good thing to do if you have a weak back? I’m not sure. Bottom line, spend some dedicated time on a strength training program to get strong and truly conditioned.

  10. The fear of muscle is still so damned pervasive. Makes me tired just thinking about it.

    And honestly, I don’t get why anyone would want to look like the average female “celebrity.”

    Great post!
    Mary C. Weaver, CSCS recently posted..Is a brisk walk as good as a run?My Profile

  11. Good post! I’ve never wanted to be skinny like the Kate Bosworths of the world and when I think of fit celebs, tend to be more motivated by a Poppy Montgomery or Julie Bowen. Thanks for the great insight!
    Shira recently posted..Will the Boston Marathon bombing change your race day behavior?My Profile

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