With summer just around the corner, it’s time to get moving and kick off your fitness routine so you can look and feel fabulous. If you’re not sure where to start or how to workout without a gym membership, celebrity personal trainer Neil Russell is here to help. Neil shares all the workout tips you’ll need to get going now.
Image via 30DayFitnessChallenges.com
Neil Russell, celebrity personal trainer
RESCU: You’ve trained a lot of celebrities, how do you keep them motivated?
Neil Russell: Celebrities are usually highly motivated individuals and like to get the most out of their training sessions. Whether they’re working towards an aesthetic goal or their training for stress relief and general health, the key to success is mixing it up. A repetitive workout fast becomes boring and I always want to be challenging my clients with new exercises. With this in mind, I like to use a combination of weights, HIIT, RTC and cardio training to keep my clients feeling motivated and challenged with their programs.
RESCU: Which celebrities are you currently working with?
Neil Russell: Over the years I have been lucky enough to train some incredible people, along the likes of Russell Crowe, Courtney Eaton, Jules Lund, Laura Dundovic, Maz Compton, Roxy Jacenko and Jarryd Hayne.
RESCU: What is your ‘how to guide’ on cheat days that won’t wipe out your efforts?
Neil Russell: Cheat days aren’t something I’m big on, examine what cheating is, and what it means for your results and routine; you’re ultimately cheating yourself of your results, health and good behaviours. If you are going to have days when you eat more energy dense foods that are high in processed sugars and saturated fat, try to do it following a big resistance workout, there’s no positive that comes out of it, but at least you’re better positioned to metabolise it following a big work out. If you feel you have have a cheat day, try making your cheat meals yourself form all natural ingredients, that way you can see what goes into them. Try to only eat for performance, health and to feel good, if you are following a nutritional plan where you feel you need cheat days, then you have to question the balance of your nutritional plan.
RESCU: When is the best time to kick off a new training regime?
Neil Russell: Today! There’s no excuse not to implement a little positive change in your physical activity patterns starting today. Generally we start when our short term motivation is at its peak, this is often brought on by a trigger, either positive (e.g. inspired by others achievements) or negative (e.g. health scare). The most common times are just after the New Year and coming out of winter and into spring/summer. A lot of people use these opportunities to examine their lifestyle behaviours and set goals for the year ahead or for the upcoming summer (and beach activities that may go with it). Try starting today even if it’s just a tiny step in the right direction.
RESCU: How important is your diet when you are training?
Neil Russell: Everyone knows the saying “you can’t out-exercise a bad diet” and this is exactly the case. It is important to support your training efforts with a healthy and balanced nutrition plan. The key to good health is being physically active and eating fresh produce to nourish the body every day. I believe a formulated morning routine is crucial to this.
A healthy breakfast should provide you with the energy to start your day off right and include carbohydrates, protein, fiber and contain a variety of antioxidants. I make sure that fruit with high Vitamin C content is a part of my breakfast routine every morning.
RESCU: What’s the best time of day to work out?
Neil Russell: The mornings are a great time to claim as our own; no distractions have suddenly arisen and we can dedicate some time for ourselves before others start asking to share it. This means that if you are planning on exercising, the morning is your best bet for making it part of a consistent routine. Additionally, morning exercise is a great way to prime the body for the day ahead, optimising your energy levels, mental wellbeing and performance throughout the day.
RESCU: Do you need to be a member of a gym to be serious about fitness?
Neil Russell: Absolutely not! Some of the most effective ways of training can be done outside the gym, in fact body weight exercises and interval training can be just as effective as any work out that can be done in the gym. Some training styles that can be enjoyed outside the gym include HIIT and RTC. HIIT or High Intensity Interval training, as the name suggest utilises periods of high intensity exercises followed by low intensity exercise or rest. RTC or Resistance Toning Circuits are a series of exercises performed back to back designed to give the full body a workout. Performing a RTC will increase your lean muscle mass (muscle tone) and increase your metabolism (so you burn more energy throughout the day). By completing each of these workouts 2-3 times a week you will go a long way toward looking and feeling great every day.
RESCU: What’s the best way to start fitness training?
Neil Russell: Find a basic program which targets your exercise goal and is appropriate for your fitness level. It’s with general health, fitness, strength and toning in mind that I have designed the 7 day exercise plan below that is accessible to those starting out or looking to advance form basic exercises.
RESCU: What mix of training do you recommend to include each week and why is it important to include different training activities?
Neil Russell: The key to success is to mix it up! Keep your training routines fresh and interesting by rotating them and focusing on different body parts each day (this will give your muscles time to recover in between workouts as well). My mantra to staying active and leading a healthy life is to do some form of exercise once a day (e.g. run, walk, resistance training, swim, yoga, gym class etc.), it doesn’t even have to be too structured (surfing, hiking, hobby/sport). The key is to elevate your heart rate and get the body moving every day.
RESCU: Can you explain High Intensity Intermittent Training, Resistance Toning Circuits and their benefits?
Neil Russell: HIIT or High Intensity Interval training, as the name suggest utilises periods of high intensity exercises followed by low intensity exercise or rest. It is a great exercise technique for boosting your fitness and decreasing fat mass and can utilise a variety of exercises to get results. RTC or Resistance Toning Circuits are a series of exercises performed back to back designed to give the full body a workout. Performing a RTC will increase your lean muscle mass (muscle tone) and increase your metabolism (so you burn more energy throughout the day). By completing each of these workouts 2-3 times a week you will go a long way toward looking and feeling great every day.
RESCU: Any other tips for keeping fit and healthy?
Neil Russell: Find happiness in the routine and progression of healthy eating and being active, rather than hoping to find it after “success” is achieved. Success is a movable goalpost, positioning happiness just beyond it will leave you constantly searching for something more, and eventually your motivation, consistency and results will begin to suffer. This is applicable from elite athletes to those just starting out. A positive mindset will prevent routine from becoming a burden, more importantly become the parts of you day you enjoy and look forward to the most.
Neil Russell’s 7 DAY EXERCISE PLAN:
1. Resistance Toning Circuit (RTC) x 3 sets (or pump/circuit class)
2-3 x Resistance Toning Circuits: This workout is designed to increase your strength, muscle tone and resting metabolic rate (the amount of energy that you consume during physical rest, so most of the day). It is structured such that it can be completed quickly and activates a large number of muscle groups to optimise results.
- Squat and Press x 20
Stand tall, holding your weights at your shoulders, feet shoulder width apart. With your weight towards your heel and tummy drawn in, slowly lower into a squat keeping your chest high and gaze forwards. When your thighs are parallel to the ground, pause and return to standing position then press your weights up over your head, keeping your knees slightly bent.
- Back Lunges with Curls x 20
Stand tall with your weights down by your side and a split stance (such that if you lower your knee straight to the ground, your back knee lines up with your hips and shoulders and your front knee is at 90 degrees). Slowly lower yourself, keeping your weight even between both legs (in the toe of your back foot and the heel of your front foot) until your back knee is just off the ground. Pause and then push up through your front heel and perform an arm curl keeping your elbows close to your sides, lower your hands and repeat. Perform 10 on one leg then 10 on the other.
- Push-ups x 15
Start in a full plank position (push up position), keep your spine straight and your core switched on so that your tummy doesn’t drop. Your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart, hands below the line of your shoulders and elbows at less than 45 degrees to the body. Slowly lower yourself as far as you can, keeping a long straight spine. Then push back up to the starting position ensuring that your elbows don’t swing out too wide and your hips don’t drop. If you are just beginning, start by performing our push-ups on your knees.
- Reverse Flyes x15
Stand with your hips bent so that your upper body is about 30 degrees to the ground and your knees slightly bent. Your weights should be just below and in front of your knees. Draw your shoulder blades back and down and slowly bring the weight round leading with your elbows, squeeze your glutes (butt) to support your lower back. Keep the movement slow and controlled as you slowly lower the weights back down to the starting position.
- Bicycle Crunches x 20
Lying on your back with your hands behind your ears and legs up in the air and knees bent at 90 degrees, crunch your elbow diagonally across to touch the opposite knee whilst straightening the other legs out and down so that your heel almost touches the ground. Return to the starting position and then repeat on the opposite leg. Focus on drawing in your belly button through the movement.
- Plank x 1 minute
Start laying on your tummy with your elbows on the ground directly under your shoulders, engage your tummy muscles and slowly lift to your knees and then one leg at a time to your toes. Draw in your belly button and think of lengthening out your spine as if you are trying to stand up tall (just horizontally). Focus on slow controlled breathing and staying really still. Try to build it up to 1 minute, beginners start with 20-30 seconds.
2. Walk/Jog and Stretches (or yoga class)
2 x walk/jog and stretches (or yoga): It’s all about balance! Planned activity should be part of your daily routine, but that doesn’t mean that you have to push your body to its limits every day. During this session listen to your body and nourish it, if you feel like going for a quick run then by all means do it, however if your body is tight and fatigued from the other sessions this is a great opportunity for a walk. Your walk or run should last about 20 minutes and then be followed by a series of stretches to ensure that your body is functioning at its best.
- Take a 20 minute brisk walk or light jog then perform the following stretches (2 x 40s each):
- Calf stretch
- Hamstring stretch
- Quad stretch
- Hip-flexor stretch
- Gluteal stretch
- Chest stretch
- Shoulder stretch
Warm Up/Dynamic Movement Preparation (before each session)
- Take a brisk walk/light jog for 5 minutes, then the following stretches, 30s each:
- Hamstring walkouts
- Deepening Squats
- Back Lunge with rotation (resting knee)
You can also use this time to stretch any areas that feel tight.
Cool Down (after each session)
- Take a brisk walk for 5 minutes then the following stretches, 30s each:
- Calf stretch
- Hamstring stretch
- Quad stretch
- Hip-flexor stretch
- Gluteal stretch
- Chest stretch
- Shoulder stretch
* Neil is the ambassador for Zespri Gold Kiwifruit and believes a healthy lifestyle doesn’t stop with exercise. “Including one Zespri Gold Kiwifruit as part of your daily breakfast is a nutritious way to wake up and fuel your body for the day ahead,” says Neil.