Mike Heatlie Shares Gwen’s Workout Secrets

Gwen’s longtime friend and personal trainer,Mike Heatlie,shared with Shape Magazine some of her workout secrets to keeping her rockin’ bod!

There’s No Doubt that Gwen Stefani has one rockin’ bod! Known for dropping down and doing pushups during live performances, the sexy 43-year-old singer (can you believe she’s 43?!) has always worked tirelessly to stay in tip-top shape.

But staying in such awesome shape while balancing motherhood and a busy career isn’t easy. “There is no secret: you just have to eat healthy, work out, and torture yourself!” Stefani said in the September issue of Harper’s Bazaar.

We were dying to know her exercise secrets, so we went to Stefani’s long-time former personal trainer, Mike Heatlie, to get the scoop on how we too can get a rock-hard bod!

SHAPE: As Gwen Stefani’s former personal trainer, you worked with her on and off since 1997. We must say she definitely has some amazing abs, arms, legs, and a great booty too! What type of routine do you recommend to really work those areas?
Mike Heatlie (MH): I would recommend a high-intensity weight training routine combined with some quality cardiovascular training. My clients will adopt maybe four to five exercises and perform them without any rest between sets and then do one to three minutes of high-intensity cardiovascular work; moves like 20 reps of full barbell squats, 12 reps of military press, 20 reps of reverse barbell lunges, 15 reps of dumbbell chest press, and three minutes of cycling at a fast pace. This type of circuit would be performed three to four times before adopting another circuit with more isolation exercises of less intensity.

SHAPE: How often should clients do this type of workout to get the desired results?
MH: That really depends on the level of desire, discipline, and determination one has. I wouldn’t recommend training more than 60 to 75 minutes for one session, no more than eight to 10 sessions per week, minimum of four sessions. The key is the intensity one trains at, so quality is more important than quantity. An individual is better off training for 45 minutes at a higher intensity than 75 minutes of moderate intensity.

SHAPE: What about diet? What do you suggest for your clients?
MH: Weight loss is at least 75 to 90 percent diet. The best diet for burning fat and losing weight is carb/calorie cycling. To burn fat, we must drop the levels of stored carbohydrate (glycogen) in the muscles and the liver, and therefore the body starts using more stored fat for fuel and metabolic processes. To do this, one needs to reduce the amount of carbohydrate in their diet—less bread, pasta, potatoes, and rice. It goes without saying that sugar and high-fat foods such as French fries are extremely limited! It isn’t easy to reduce carbohydrates, as they are highly enjoyable foods to consume and very popular, especially given the environment we live in, so therefore it is advisable to “cycle” the intake where one would be more strict on certain days than others.

SHAPE: What’s the biggest roadblock someone might have in getting the body of their dreams?
MH: We live in what is known as an obesogenic environment, where it’s actually very difficult not to be overweight given the volume and types of foods and drinks sold to us. In the United States, portion sizes are very large and free refills of soda drinks are very common, leading to massive calorie and sugar intakes that create havoc on blood sugar levels and insulin response. I advise my clients to be very organized with their foods and drinks and to know exactly what they’ll be eating every day, and to try and prepare as many meals themselves as possible. Don’t drink your calories—water should be the main source of fluid. It isn’t easy; it’s hard, and it requires dedication and discipline. We eat for a variety of reasons—especially boredom, loneliness, stress, and comfort, so it’s a complicated process. Training and dieting for fat loss is theoretically simple, but practically very challenging.

So, want to sculpt a rock-hard Gwen Stefani-inspired bod? Check out the sample workout Heatlie shared with us on the next page.

Get a Body Like Gwen Stefani

You’ll need: dumbbells, kettlebell, rower, assisted dip machine

1. Full Dumbbell Squats
Sets: 4
Reps: 20

Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Push your hips back and bend your knees to lower into a squat. As you descend, keep your chest up and look forward. Squat right down until the back of your thighs touches your calf muscles. Squat down for a count of 3 and quickly press up for a 1 count. Complete 4 sets of 20 reps.

2. Standing Lateral Shoulder Raises
Sets: 4
Reps: 15

Stand holding two dumbbells at your sides and then brace your torso by contracting your abdominal and core muscles. Raise the dumbbells out to the sides with a slight bend in your elbow joints. Only raise to shoulder height and hold for a second at the top then lower slowly. Complete 4 sets of 15 reps.

3. Kettlebell Swings
Sets: 4
Reps: 12

This is a wonderful high-intensity exercise that is easy to perform. Stand holding the kettlebell in both hands between your legs. Move your hips back and let your arms swing backwards so the kettlebell will swing back between your legs. The key is to create momentum, so let your arms act as a pendulum and not as the prime movers for the exercise (it is a dynamic hip drive). Once the kettlebell swings back between your legs, keep your chest and head up to keep your back straight, and then drive your hips forward with power. Keeping your arms straight, swing the kettlebell above your head. Complete 4 sets of 12 reps.

4. Unbalanced Lunges
Sets: 4
Reps: 20

To stress your core muscles more than a traditional lunge, try taking two dumbbells of two different weights (like 3 lbs and 8 lbs) above your head so you will be unbalanced during the exercise. Stand with the two dumbbells above your head and then lunge forward with first leg, lowering the body by flexing the knee and hip of the front leg until the knee of rear leg is almost in contact with floor. Keep your chest and head up during the entire movement. Return to the original standing position by forcibly extending your hip and knee of the forward leg. Repeat by alternating lunge with opposite leg. Complete 4 sets of 20 reps.

5. Assisted Triceps Dips
Sets: 4

Reps: 15

Using the assisted dip machine, keep your chest up and your head forward in order to reduce the stress placed upon the chest (so don’t lean forward). Position your elbows so that they are pointing out to the sides and not behind you. This places maximum stress on the triceps. Lower yourself for a count of 3 until you feel a full stretch in the triceps and then push yourself back up for a 1 count. Complete 4 sets of 15 reps. Click here to see a video demonstration.

6. Rowing Machine
Row for 2 minutes as fast as possible.

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