Let’s not kid each other: As much as we hit the gym to feel awesome, live longer, compete with our buddies, relieve stress, and, of course, have a damn good time slinging giant pieces of steel, it doesn’t hurt that working out makes us look damn good, too. Which means that, if you’re a guy seeking to round out your sex appeal, you’re probably more than familiar with all the coveted (admittedly superficial) physical attributes that constitute a “perfect male physique”—the ones even hardcore gym rats have trouble achieving. These include the well-defined arm “horseshoe” (see: Mark Wahlberg in The Fighter), ridiculously chiseled V-cut abs (see: Brad Pitt in Fight Club), and the giant wingspan of a well-carved upper back (see: Hugh Jackman in any film in which he sprouts metallic claws). So, with the help of some of the nation’s best trainers, strength coaches, and strongmen, we’ve laid out in exhaustive detail everything it takes to achieve them. If you’d love a physique even Michelangelo’s David would be envious of, we’d advise you to start here.
1) The Tapered Torso
“You can do all the gym work in the world,” says Zach Even-Esh, founder of New Jersey’s the Underground Strength Gym, “but if your body’s covered by a layer of fat, then nobody will know.”
Which is why getting yourself on a strict, clean diet—with the right balance of proteins, fats, and carbs—is the key to transforming your flabby torso into a perfectly cut, tapered midsection.
But how do you do it? “The first order of business is to get your math in order, and that means calculating what your overall calorie intake needs to be,” says sports nutritionist and strength coach C.J. Murphy, MFS, owner of Total Performance Sports, in Malden, MA.
So if pure fat loss is your goal, you need to be ingesting roughly eight to 12 calories per pound of your body weight per training day, depending on how active you are and how much fat you need to shed. If you’re already fairly lean and you just want sharper muscular definition, you’re allowed 12 to 15 calories per pound of body weight. (Though, start on the low end and see how it goes.) So if you’re a 200-pound guy looking to get lean, you’re looking at roughly a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet.
And Murphy recommends a simple high-protein carb-cycling program, with which you eat more carbohydrates on your strength-training days and less on days off, creating a caloric deficit that torches fat.
So let’s start with strength-training days.
First, you’ll need lots of lean protein. “That includes anything that swims, runs, or flies,” says Murphy. Meaning: steak, chicken, fish, turkey, and ground beef. Eggs and protein powder are good, too. As a rule of thumb, Murphy calculates meats at 7 grams of protein per ounce. “Different foods have different values, yes, but if you’re eating a wide variety of meats you’ll still be in the ballpark.” All told, that means roughly 1g of protein per pound of body weight (at 4 calories per gram).
Then there are carbs: Yams, sweet and white potatoes, white rice, and fruit are all good carbs to power your workouts. Those carbs should make up 35-45% of your daily calories, calculated at 4 calories per gram.
The remainder of your calories each day can be made up of vegetables and healthy fats, like nuts, nut butters, olive oil, and avocado. (Calculate fats at 9 calories per gram.)
On non-strength-training days, you should cut carbs up to 50% and increase fat to 20-30% of total calories to help fill you up, reduce hunger pangs, and increase your likelihood of sticking to it.
And remember: Timing is important, too.
“Earn your carbs,” says Murphy, who suggests ingesting carbs directly pre-and post-workout. Also, save the bulk of your off-day carbs for the evening, which prevents you from bingeing at night and gives you a little more energy (in the form of stored glycogen) to carry into the next morning. “Carb cycling isn’t the only way to put on lean muscle mass, but it’s the simplest,” Murphy says. “It’s easy, and it’s hard to screw up.”
2) Broaden Your Chest
“Nobody likes a chicken chest,” says trainer Murphy, and we can’t argue with him. If you want to project an image of strength and power, a broad, chiseled chest is one of the oldest, most time-honored ways of doing it. But there are better ways to build pecs than the bench press. “The bench does work the chest,” Murphy says, “but it also works a bunch of secondary muscles, like the deltoids and triceps, among others.” With these other exercises added to your once-a-week pec workout, you’ll have a “chest you can balance a beer on” in no time.
Murphy first suggests the highly underrated decline dumbbell press. “It activates more pec fibers than any other exercise,” he says. “It’s almost all pec because the range of motion is so short that your delts and triceps don’t do a ton of work.” The angle also allows you to use heavier weights, which equates to more work and a bigger chest. (Using a weight that allows 10 to 12 reps on your first set, perform five sets, pushing each one until you’re one rep shy of failure.)
Then it’s on to flyes. Murphy advises using bands or chains to put less wear and tear on the shoulders. (When the weight unloads as you go down on chain flyes, your shoulders will be safer at the bottom and you’ll get a more powerful pec contraction at the shoulder.) With bands, you can loop an exercise band around each hand and behind your back before picking up dumbbells. (Do four sets of 15 to 20 reps.) the elbows. Go as far as you can while keeping your back, neck, and upper arms straight and perpendicular to the ground. It’s important to perform the full range of motion if you want better results. Slowly return the weight to the overhead starting position. Then the triceps dip is Bryant’s top choice for hitting this deep-down part of
Finally, “dips are like the squat for the upper body,” says Murphy, “in that they’re a great way to increase pec mass.” They press the muscles fully and also hit stabilizing lats and abs hard when done with proper technique. (Perform 50 dips in as few sets as possible.)
But to really stimulate growth, try suspension trainer flyes, which utilize full-body tension. “Plus, it’s done from an angle that you hardly ever use when doing presses,” Murphy says, “which creates a totally new stimulus that causes your nervous system and muscles to work differently, stimulating growth.”
To do it, ensure that you’re maintaining a strong plank position throughout each flye. Perform 40 total in as few sets as possible, keeping your body at a 45-degree angle.
3) Get Well-Defined V-Cut Abs
Ever since celebrities started showing off those V-shaped cut lines that start below their abs and disappear into their pants, girls have been lusting after them and guys gunning for them. Even if you have six-pack abs, though, the V itself is very hard to sculpt for one simple reason—it’s not a muscle. “The V is formed by the inguinal ligaments,” says New York– based personal trainer Ryan George, “and that’s hard to build.” We all have inguinal ligaments, which originate from the hip and run into the pubic region, but most of us have a layer of fat covering it. “If you really want the V-cut to be prominent,” George says, “more important than anything is eating clean so you can achieve really low body fat.” We’re talking 8%. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that there are exercises that target the obliques and transversus abdominis that can indirectly engage it and cause it to grow more defined.
For this George recommends the cable woodchop because it engages the obliques and is a functional movement; the seated medicine ball trunk rotation, which also targets the obliques and—bonus—can be done anywhere, no machines required; and, finally, the kettlebell windmill, which engages the entire trunk. In the case of the kettlebell windmill, remember to start with a wide straddle stance and aim to touch your toes with your free hand while keeping that kettlebell up to the sky the entire time.
Repeat these three exercises 12 to 15 times, then start the circuit over. Perform three rounds two to three times a week, taking care to rest your core in between to up your chances of carving out your V-cut.
4) Get the Triceps Horseshoe
News flash: Biceps may be cool, but triceps actually make up the bulk of the upper arms. Growing big arms and—even more impressive, carving out a detailed triceps horseshoe—means working every part of the muscle. “You need to make sure you hit all three heads of the muscle—long, medial, and lateral,” says Noah Bryant, C.S.C.S. “While you can’t completely isolate them, you can do exercises that emphasize each one.” Add these three moves to your routine as much as twice per week—on chest day and shoulder day.
The first exercise, which hits your triceps’ “long head,” is the EZ-curl bar French press.
To do it, sit on a bench and grasp the EZ-curl bar with a pronated grip. Start with straight arms and the bar directly overhead. Lower the bar by bending at the elbows. Go as far as you can while keeping your back, neck, and upper arms straight and perpendicular to the ground. It’s important to perform the full range of motion if you want better results. Slowly return the weight to the overhead starting position.
Then the triceps dip is Bryant’s top choice for hitting this deep-down part of the triceps. Set up on a dip bar as you would for normal dips, only this time you’ll keep your body straight up and down (perpendicular to the ground) and your feet underneath you rather than crossed behind you. Lower yourself until your forearm and upper arm make a 90-degree angle, then push yourself back up.
To hit the lateral head, Bryant suggests straight-bar cable pushdowns. “The lateral head is the one most responsible for the ‘horseshoe’ shape of the triceps,” Bryant says, “and working it is extremely important to get that look.” Any movement that pushes weight down will hit the lateral head, which runs on the outside of the arm, but this is his favorite. Start with the bar about chest level, your elbows in tight to your body, and your upper arms pointing straight down to the ground. Keep your elbows tucked tightly in to your body, and push the bar down while keeping your upper arms static. Feel your triceps moving the weight—and your horseshoe getting more and more cut.
5) Get a Wide Upper Back
A strong, wide upper back doesn’t just look great, says Jeb Stuart Johnston, C.P.T., a Brooklyn-based Strongman. It opens up your shoulders and improves posture. You stand taller and appear more confident.
To get there, Johnston recommends hitting the upper back with some of the same full-body functional movements that are central to Strongman competitions. Loaded carries force every muscle in the body to work together to lift and stabilize heavy odd objects, and much of the load is placed on the upper back. They also provide tremendous cardiovascular benefits. “Any of these would be great as a finisher on back day,” he says, “or try pairing them with sled pulls and car pushes to make your own ‘Strongman Saturday.’ ”
The first is the farmer’s walk, a Strongman staple that works the whole body, developing powerful legs and hips, increased core strength and grip strength, in addition to making your back stronger and more stable. To do it, simply grab the heaviest dumbbells or kettlebells you can comfortably carry (half your body weight in each hand is a good starting point) and do it. “Also, nothing taxes your posterior chain and your lungs quite like sandbag carries for distance,” says Johnston. “Simply pick up your sandbag and walk for as long as you can without dropping it.”
Finally, there’s the snatch-grip deadlift, a deadlift that puts you at a mechanical disadvantage with a wide grip that engages the lats and rear deltoids and keeps them engaged. To do it, set up as you would for a regular deadlift, but take an extra-wide grip on the bar. Always lower in a controlled manner, keeping the back flat through the entirety of the movement.
6) Get Bolder Shoulders
Sculpting the perfect V-tape physique starts at the shoulders, which means training your deltoids and traps. “Shoulders that are round and powerful looking give the impression that your body is built for performance,” says Zach Even-Esh. But getting there can be difficult, he contends, especially if you’re doing the same old lifts day in and day out. “The body adapts and doesn’t feel challenged, limiting new muscle growth.” For a fresh set of shoulder exercises, try these three exercises that attack the delts from all angles and build strength and endurance both concentrically and isometrically. (Note: Once a week is plenty.)
First, there’s running the rack side raises, a simple way to overload the deltoids. Start with a light pair of dumbbells and perform three reps of side raises. Go to the next pair of dumbbells for three reps and continue “running the rack,” climbing up in weight until you can no longer perform three reps with perfect form. From there, reverse order and work your way back down the rack to where you started. If you can do more than two sets, Even-Esh says, then you didn’t push hard enough.
Then he suggests the dumbbell overhead carry, which challenges your shoulders, abs, and upper back isometrically. Lock the dumbbells (or kettlebells) overhead with arms completely straight, engage your abs, and walk slowly for 50 feet. Start off with three or four sets at this length, and slowly increase the distance to 75 and 100 feet per set. It’s great for adding size and strength to your shoulders and traps.
Lastly, you should do the dumbbell press 21s, which hit the shoulders through various angles while maintaining constant muscle tension. To do it, perform seven reps at a time from each of these ranges of motion—bottom half, top half, and full range. Start with very light weights, and press seven reps from your shoulders to the midway of full extension. Then press seven reps from midway to full lockout. Then do seven reps of full-range overhead presses. Two or three sets should be enough to blast your shoulders.
7) Build Bigger Biceps
They may not be the most functional muscles you need to grow, says Murphy, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want to look great at the beach. Here are three moves to add to your routine twice a week.
The first is the towel pullup. Drape two towels evenly over a pullup bar, take hold of both ends (palms facing each other), and perform pullups. You’ll activate a ton of muscle fibers with this and because the towels are thick and you have to constantly squeeze them, you’ll also smoke your forearms and develop an iron grip. Perform 50 total pullups in as few sets as possible.
“Hammer curls are also an outstanding exercise for biceps growth,” Murphy says. “Everybody focuses on the biceps brachii—or the biceps itself—but the brachialis runs beneath the biceps, and hammer curls work the brachialis in particular. A bigger brachialis pushes the biceps up farther, making them appear bigger.” Working the brachioradialis also increases the size of the forearm, which makes the arm appear more full. Using a weight that allows 10 to 12 reps on your first set, perform five sets in total, pushing each one until you’re one rep shy of failure.
Finally, work in some barbell chain curls. The chains make the lift more difficult at the bottom of the exercise, and lighten as you curl up. This allows you to overload your biceps with more weight. Do five sets of eight to 10 reps.
8) Tease Out Your Teardrop
THE VMO, or vastus medialis oblique, is the most impressive leg muscle to define, if only because it’s the only quad muscle visible when you’re rocking boardshorts. Located in your lower quad, a fully developed VMO not only creates a tear-drop-shaped cut just above your knee, but it also acts as an important stabilizer that guards the joint against injury. For his part, trainer Nick Tumminello recommends focusing on exercises that hit the entire quads hard. “If you develop the quads overall,” says the trainer and founder of Performance University, “you’ll get the coveted teardrop.” Mix these exercises into your regularly scheduled leg workouts once a week for a teardrop that would make any pro cyclist jealous.
Start with the leg extension, Tumminello says, “which complements squats and lunges because it loads the quads in part of the joint range you don’t get from those movements.” When you’re standing at the top of a squat or lunge and your knees are extended, you’re not getting any force through your quads, but the leg-extension machine keeps the tension on through the entire range.
Expert tip: You can work the quads harder by elevating your heels with five-pound plates during squats. Set up as you would for a normal squat, only elevate your heels 1 to 2 inches using weight plates. Bend your knees and lower your body in a controlled manner until your hamstrings touch your calves and your glutes are below your knees, then return to starting position.
9) Grow Your Glutes
To really fill out a pair of jeans with an amazing rear, Toronto-based coach and personal trainer Lee Boyce, C.P.T., put together this stand-alone workout you should add to your routine up to two days a week. Stick with the order described here—from most isolated to most dynamic—so you start with the heavier lifts. That way your body will recruit more fast-twitch fibers, which is key to building strength.
But a few ground rules to ensure you’re doing them right: 1) Always maintain a neutral spine, and don’t round or arch your back; 2) Press through your heels; 3) Make sure your hips are always the pivot point; 4) Start light, and make small progressions.
First: the barbell hip thrust, a building-block exercise that helps train the hip-hinge movement without having to coordinate other joints for an effective workout. To do it, sit on the floor and roll a loaded barbell into your lap. Lie back with your shoulders against a bench, bend your knees, and plant your feet on the floor. Then drive through your heels so you raise your hips off the floor to full extension.
Next: sumo deadlift, a deadlift variation that uses a wider stance—with toes rotated farther out—to better activate the glutes. Be sure to use a narrow grip (inside your legs), push your hips back, and lean slightly forward to grab the barbell. Keep the barbell close to your body as you lower it back down.
Finish with the dumbbell stepup, which works the posterior chain even harder. Start by standing behind a bench that brings your thigh parallel to the floor when your foot is on top. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and step up onto the bench, but leave your trailing leg hanging off. Return to the starting position.
- Set the weight down, or rerack it at the end of each subset, but remain prepared to go again.
- Rest-pause is great for overcoming strength plateaus.
- Use a clock’s second hand or a smartphone timer to time your pauses.
- Combine rest-pause with clusters to boost intensity.
- Divide reps into three subsets. Rest 15 to 20 seconds between sets.
- Cluster sets allow you to total more reps than you could with continuous reps.
- Stay in the three-to-five rep range.
- Take the final set to failure.
Edgar Wright doesn’t always make the films you expect him to make.
This is immediately apparent in the latest trailer for his new film Baby Driver, which is a big departure from his previous filmography (which includes Shuan of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World). This time, humor has taken a backseat in favor of the kind of breakneck action you’d see in films like Drive and John Wick.
Baby Driver stars Ansel Elgort as Baby, a quiet young man who happens to be an incredible getaway driver; however, he needs to listen to music in order to focus. He falls in love with a waitress named Deborah (Lily James), and decides to take a job from an enigmatic criminal (Kevin Spacey) in hopes he can find a new life. Of course, nothing ever goes as planned. Check out the trailer, backed by the classic ’50s rock song “Tequila,” above.
The film has already gotten rave reviews from preview screenings, leading to Sony actually moving up the release date from August to June to capitalize on all of the positive press. If the trailers are any indication, the film looks likely to live up to the hype.
Baby Driver, directed by Wright and starring Elgort, Spacey, James, and Jamie Foxx, releases nationwide on June 28, 2017.
You can’t overstate the importance of rest. A break of a minute or more between sets allows you to regain enough strength for your next set, and days between working a body part foster recovery and muscle growth. There is also a third potential benefit of loafing—rapid recovery during sets. There are two ways to do this: the old but neglected technique of rest-pause and the trendy system of cluster sets. Rest assured, both will enable you to compile more growth-inducing reps. Here’s how.
The rest-pause technique is one of the more overlooked training intensifiers. Maybe that’s due to bad branding, as the name insinuates an easy workout ahead. But trust us, despite the name, there is nothing easy about it.
Rest-pause has always been associated with high-intensity training, made popular by goldenage bodybuilder Mike Mentzer, and HIT has never been very fashionable due to its ultralow-volume approach. Often, sets dips as low as one to two, with reps in the four-to-six range. But you don’t have to be a HIT man to benefit from rest-pause. As with supersets and forced reps, anyone can use it as a means of pushing sets beyond failure.
Let’s say you reach failure on a set of shoulder presses at 10 reps. You’d rerack the weight, keeping your hands on the bar, and wait 10 to 15 seconds before going again. The rest allows you to pump out another three reps. Then you rest again and get another one. Therefore, rest-pause has not only allowed you to scrape up four extra reps, but those reps were all at near failure, and instead of one failure point (at 10 reps), you’ve had three (at 10, 13, and 14 reps), meaning you’ve extended your set by racking up the sort of reps that best stimulate growth. That’s why rest-pause should be in your workout arsenal.
Cluster sets are similar to rest-pause, as they’re a type of intra-set break, but they differ because they have only one true failure point.
Let’s return to our example of shoulder presses done with a weight that limits you to 10 continuous reps. Cluster sets break your set into more manageable subsets. Per our example, you’ll perform three subsets of four reps each to total 12 reps. You’d perform four reps, rack the weight but keep your hands set, wait 15 to 20 seconds, do another four reps, rack the weight again, and then do a final subset of as many reps as possible, typically getting three to five. If you get four reps on each of the three subsets, you’ve done 12 in an extended sequence, with two breaks, instead of 10 continuous reps. Because they enable you to get one to three more reps versus a typical set, clustering is an excellent way of breaking through strength plateaus as you accumulate more total volume. Your mind and muscles grow accustomed to totaling more reps with the same weight, or the same reps with more weight. This requires some planning. If you can get eight continuous reps, break your three subsets into three reps each. If you can get 10 continuous reps, try for three subsets of four reps. And if you can do 12 continuous reps, aim for three subsets of five reps. In each case, push your final subset to failure.
Putting it together
To supercharge intensity (and muscle growth), you can combine cluster sets with the rest-pause technique. Let’s stick with the shoulder press example. If you were pressing with weight that you can hoist 10 continuous times, you would get four reps, rest 20 seconds, get four more, rest 20, go to failure (four). Rest 15 seconds, then start rest-pause by doing as many reps as you can (two), rest 15, and go to failure one last time (one). With a total of 70 seconds of rest, you’ve totaled 15 reps, 50% more than you could do without pausing. Combining cluster sets and rest-pause is a double-barreled assault, so utilize this no more than three times per workout. Resting may be the key to cranking up your intensity.
Regularly eating garlic can help ward off common colds, thanks to its antibacterial and antiviral properties. Garlic can also lower blood pressure, which goes (ahem) hand in hand with healthy erections.
Research suggests that adding spices like paprika to a high fat meal can prevent your triglycerides from rising, which could mean better protection for your heart. All the more reason to make sure your rub features this bright red spice.
Try it on: steak, hamburgers, ribs, white fish, or shrimp.
The hallmark of fitness is a nice six-pack, because it not only represents a certain level of effort in the gym, but also maintaining a relatively low bodyfat percentage.
For this, both diet and exercise play important roles, but the reward is a set of abs that are the envy of everyone you know. Here are six abs exercises to get you that highly sought, but rarely achieved, holy grail: the six-pack.
The workout program
Perform one set of each exercise three times a week. These exercises are of sufficient difficulty that one set will be a good start. Shoot for a rep range of 8-12. Once you can consistently get 15 reps with good form, and still make it through the workout, add another set.
Rest: 90-120 seconds
1) The pike
Lie face-up with your legs straight, arms at your sides, palms facing down. Raise your legs and torso 45° off the floor. (You should look like a “V”.) Reach your hands alongside your legs as high as you can without rounding your back.
Key point: This one is tough, but focus on contracting the abs to move your body.
2) Cable side bend
Attach a D-handle to a low-pulley cable and stand so your left side faces the weight stack. Grasp the handle with your left hand, keeping your arm by your side, and place your right hand on your hip. With your head facing forward, slowly bend to the left. Return to standing, repeat for reps, then switch sides.
Key point: Granted, obliques aren’t abs, but this movement is an integral part of any abs workout.
3) Weighted crunch
Lie face-up with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Extend your arms toward your knees, holding a lightweight plate with both hands. Keeping your arms extended, slowly lift your head and shoulders off the floor moving into a full crunch.
Key point: Again, focus on contracting your abs to do the work. Use a light weight and anchor your feet if needed.
4) Overhead crunch
Lie face-up with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor and arms extended overhead with your hands clasped together. (Your upper arms should be alongside your ears.) Keeping your arms straight and alongside your head, curl your torso forward, raising your shoulders off the floor. Pause, then return to the start.
Key point: Another great way to hit the abs with extra overload: perform shortly after the weighted crunch for a deep burn.
5) Ball planks
Get into a pushup position on an exercise ball: hands shoulder-width apart on the floor and your legs extended behind you, feet up on a ball. Maintain a straight line from head to toe, and push back slightly such that your arms are out in front of you. Hold this position for up to 60 seconds.
Key point: This ain’t your grandma’s plank. Your abs and entire midsection will be screaming by the end of this.
6) Windshield wipers
Lie face-up and tuck your hands under your pelvis, palms down. Keeping your legs straight and feet together, raise your legs so your heels point toward the ceiling. With your head and shoulders flat on the mat, lift your glutes off the floor and lift your feet toward the ceiling. At the top of the movement, twist your hips to the left (your feet should point to the left). Lower your legs back to the start (feet suspended off the floor), then lift up and twist to the right. Alternate sides for reps.
Key point: A great way to finish off your abs. Start with your hips on the ground if needed, and progress to the exercise as described.
CrossFit athlete Brooke Ence is as close to a real-life Amazon as one could hope to be, so it only makes sense that she was cast to play one in Wonder Woman and Justice League. The former dancer has placed in the top 15 at the CrossFit Games and generated a massive social media following in just a few years, becoming an inspiration to female athletes everywhere in the process.
While she has a musical theater and dance background, Ence never planned on acting, and she never would’ve ended up playing the Amazon warrior Penthiselea if Warner Bros. hadn’t reached out to her at the request of Zack Snyder, director of Justice League. On the same day she checked in for the 2015 CrossFit Games, the Nobull-sponsored athlete drove over to Warner Bros. to read for the movie. With Wonder Woman in theaters on June 2, Justice League set for November 2017, and keeping fans in the loop on her Instagram and YouTube channel, Ence has a lot on her plate.
But she hasn’t forgotten about CrossFit. She had to drop out of the 2017 CrossFit Games due to an injury, but she’s already back in action, prioritizing recovery and training to get back to the top.
Muscle & Fitness Hers caught up with Ence to talk training, overcoming injuries, and being an Amazon.
M&F Hers: What was it like to train and film with so many other strong women on the set of Wonder Woman?
Brooke Ence: I had never experienced anything like that before. The energy was really great because everyone was there to work hard, but the level of training that I, and some of the other girls, come from was pretty crazy to everyone else. It was fun for a lot of them to watch me because I was training for the 2016 CrossFit Regionals, and it was something they had never really seen before. It was also cool for me to see so many people willing to work really, really hard. When it was time to film, everyone looked stronger and carried themselves like Amazons, and it really shows in the movie.
The message Wonder Woman sends is similar to what you try to show on your social media—that women shouldn’t be afraid to be strong. Was it always a goal of yours to spread that message?
It’s definitely my goal now, and it has been for the last two years. I think that getting to the position I’m in now was a natural progression. I work really hard, I set goals, and I try to meet them. Being vulnerable and honest with people and genuinely wanting what’s best for people helped me get to a place where I was naturally starting to be a person that people look up to for strength, helping people have confidence and conveying the idea that strong is beautiful.
I just couldn’t say no to doing the movie because I know that I need to do what I can to make that message last and affect more people in a positive way. What better way than to be an Amazon in Wonder Woman?
When you were contacted to do the movie, was it a no-brainer?
It wasn’t, because when I found out that they filmed in Europe, I knew that it would really disrupt my career, because I train year-round. It took me a while to decide if I was going to do it, but I realized it was a really great opportunity and something I would never forget.
Do you think your background in CrossFit and dance helped you with learning swordplay and stunt choreography for the movie?
Definitely, especially because I was the last person to get there. Everyone else had been training and doing all of this stuff for weeks, then I showed up and I hadn’t learned any of the choreography. I was like, “oh, no.” But someone took me off to the side to teach me, and then they just threw me in. Because of my experience with dance and sports and my body awareness, I caught on fast.
Ence (left) with fellow CrossFit athlete Hari James.
So, do you think you’ll continue acting?
I’m actually already doing it! Some close friends of mine who are producers on Wonder Women recommended that I start, so I’m taking some classes. I’ve been told that there’s a good chance that more opportunities will show up, and I just want to be prepared if that happens. I recently had an ACDF spinal fusion. I had surgery about nine weeks ago, and since then I’ve been recovering, taking acting classes and doing my YouTube channel.
Do you have any advice for people who are dealing with injuries?
While we were filming, I was training as much as I could along with things like horseback riding every day. I ended up with bad tendonitis in my knee, and I couldn’t do as much work as I needed to at the 2016 CrossFit Regionals. I missed qualifying for the 2016 CrossFit Games by one spot, which was really rough for me. I climbed out of that dark place and grew from it, and I was ready for 2017 to be my comeback year. Then, the day that our season started, I found out that I had a severely herniated disc and needed to have surgery, so I have to sit out 2017.
It was devastating, but it’s an opportunity to try new things and come back even stronger. Having to sit out a whole year and not do anything at all for about six weeks was awful, but there’s so much more to life than rushing an injury due to your fear of missing out. You have forever to work out really hard, and once you’re healthy, there are no excuses.
What’s your approach to diet and training?
Typically, I train Monday through Saturday, usually twice a day or so. Depending on the time of year, I’m training for four to five hours a day.
As far as diet, I track my fat, protein, and carb intake, and I stay very consistent, which is key. But if I could tell anyone just one thing that they could do to help improve their training and diet or lose weight, I would tell them to stop eating out and to meal prep. Eating out is the worst thing for you, even though it’s the most fun. If possible, work with a company like Trifecta that will send them food, too. That just makes meal prepping even easier.
What’s your dream role as an actress?
I’ve decided there are two roles that I know I would be good for. The first is the female Thor. The other would be She-Ra, the Princess of Power. I’m obsessed with the idea of them making a He-Man and She-Ra.
The benefits of hiking extend as high as Everest—it’s a lower-body punisher, cardio blaster, even mood enhancer—making it an ideal cardio workout all on its own. But imagine—with your quads and lungs already screaming—your hands then being asked to max out for three minutes of jabs, upper cuts, and hooks…for five rounds.
You’ll probably feel as if you’d been knocked out, which is the goal after completing this full-body blasting HIIT workout designed by celebrity trainer and former super-middleweight champion Danny Musico. A heavy bag or Aqua training bag plus an Alpine Runner, True Fitness’ latest treadmill, which has a max incline of 30%—nearly twice the grade of regular treadmills—are the tools needed for this high-impact, calorie-burning workout. “The extra incline makes the difference between going to the hospital and the cemetery,” Musico says, jokingly (we think).
Musico says you can do this workout up to three times a week by itself or in addition to your normal workout routine. Just make sure you hydrate well, because you’re gonna sweat, he adds. “The best time for the workout is when your body says it’s ready to work out,” Musico says. You’ll notice that each round gets more difficult—your incline increases, making it feel as if you’re climbing a ski slope. And each punch isn’t just hitting the heavy bag—your arms, shoulder, and back muscles will benefit from the rapid-fire motion.
“Your glutes, abs, and legs are gonna get shredded from the Alpine,” says Musico. “You’re burning fat with the Alpine while you’re building lean muscle mass with the continuous punching.”
Alternate treadmill climbs and punch sequences for three minutes each, equaling one round. Rest for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat for five rounds. If an Alpine Runner is unavailable, use a normal treadmill at max incline for all five rounds. The workout should take about 35 minutes. “Each round is getting more intense, so by the time you get to the end, you’re exhausted because throwing one-two combos is a lot less intense than one-two-three-four-five combos,” Musico says.
Incline treadmill climb: Increase steepness by 3-5%
Incline treadmill climb: Increase by 3-5%
Punch: Jab, followed by straight right
Incline treadmill climb: Increase by 3-5%
Punch: Jab, straight right, left hook
Incline treadmill climb: Increase by 3-5%
Punch: Jab, straight right, left hook, right uppercut
Incline treadmill climb: Increase by 3-5%
Punch: Jab, straight right, left hook, right uppercut, left uppercut