For millions of fans worldwide, superstar songstress Gwen Stefani’s music and midriff are workout motivation. After a break from her fanatical fitness regimen, Stefani has resumed a workout schedule that balances with the rest of her life. And she’s been quite busy. She recently wrapped up her stint as a vocal coach on NBC’s singing competition “The Voice,” flaunted her flawless figure during a show-stealing performance at the Grammy Awards and appeared on the cover of the March 2015 issue of “Cosmopolitan” magazine. Having learned to juggle family with a music career and clothing lines, Stefani’s fitness motivation has made a comeback via a 20-minute, high-intensity interval-training circuit designed by her trainer Mike Heatlie.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when training is that [they] do not stress the body enough in order for it to change in terms of developing lean muscle tissue, which burns fat.
Mike Heatlie, MSc, CSCS
Exercise Like a Rock Star
Heatlie, who holds a master’s degree in strength and conditioning from the University of Edinburgh, met Stefani when she was visiting Scotland promoting the hit song “Don’t Speak.” Since then, Heatlie has joined Stefani as her trainer on several tours. He designed the following supergroup of exercises, which has the timesaving advantage of toning the abs without directly isolating stomach muscles.
“One of the biggest mistakes people make when training is that [they] do not stress the body enough in order for it to change in terms of developing lean muscle tissue, which burns fat,” Heatlie says.
To create the change you want to see in your body, both varying intensity and including exercises that use multiple muscle groups are crucial. “They create metabolic stress and use more energy [than isolation exercises], so more calories are burned, and they stimulate greater fat-burning hormones, such as growth hormone,” he says.
Do the following circuit four times, with a rep range of 15 to 20. “The last two to three reps should be difficult, otherwise the load should be increased,” Heatlie says. The rest period between each exercise is one to 10 seconds. “Complete all exercises, and then rest for one to two minutes, but try not to rest between exercises,” Heatlie encourages. Do this routine three to four times per week and try the flat-abs diet to cut a stylish, toned figure like Stefani’s. You’ll be looking and feeling “Hella Good.”
1. Dumbbell Squat With Shoulder Press
During concerts, Stefani’s upbeat and energetic performance means her legs are in constant motion. She recruits explosive body-weight power when jumping, so she needs to train her glutes, thighs and hamstrings in a way that also develops joint integrity and balance. The shoulder press develops her upper-body endurance needed for holding the mic when she’s singing for hours. HOW TO DO IT: Stand up straight with feet hip-width apart and a dumbbell in each hand. Swing the dumbbells up to rest on each shoulder. Hinge at the hips and knees and squat down, sinking your hips back as if you were sitting in a chair. Stand up and press the dumbbells overhead. Lower the weights back to your shoulders for one rep.
2. Push-Up With Renegade Row
This combo move strengthens the back, shoulders and core muscles as it improves posture. Good posture helps Stefani stand tall and open her airway, making deep breathing for belting out the high notes easier. HOW TO DO IT: Start in a plank position with your body in a straight line from head to toe and a dumbbell in each hand. With your shoulders directly over your wrists, bend at the elbow to lower down into a push-up. When you push back up to the top, lift the weight off the floor and row it back to your ribs, keeping your elbow into your side. Lower the weight back down and repeat on the other side for one rep.
3. Wheel Rollout
Whether done with the power wheel or ab wheel, rollouts force Stefani to keep her torso stable, even as the wheel rolls forward, backward or sideways. That means her hips, lower back, obliques and abdominal muscles all work to keep her spine stable. When Stefani dances, her core twists in many directions (like when she gyrates her hips), so to stabilize the trunk and pelvis and prevent back injury, this move keeps Stefani’s core strong, allowing for the powerful rotational movements of her reggae-punk-funk dance style. HOW TO DO IT: Begin kneeling with both hands on the handles of the ab wheel. Slowly and with control, roll out so that the wheel is just beyond your shoulders. Don’t allow your back to sink or arch during the entire range of motion. Contract your abs to pull the wheel back to the start.
Gwen Stefani’s Flat-Abs Diet
Stefani’s visible and defined abs are cause for body envy. To get visible six-pack definition like Stefani, Heatlie recommends reducing body fat to less than 15 percent. A lean, green diet accelerates results faster than shaping up with exercise alone, he says. “Leave four hours between meals and three hours before training if fat loss is your goal,” Heatlie advises. “Avoid being very hungry.” Free of starchy carbs, here’s a nutrition plan with built-in portion control that incorporates Stefani’s love of organic foods.
Sample One-Day Menu
Breakfast: omelet with vegetables (no cheese)
Lunch: fruit smoothie (water, ice, one scoop of protein powder, one cup of blueberries)
Snack: small handful of mixed nuts (almonds, cashews and pistachios are your best bets)
Dinner: salmon with vegetables
Drink: water, tea or coffee (no fluid calories)