Do you need to do cardio for fat loss?

When it comes to losing weight, most people imagine that they need to get on a cardio machine for hours at a time. If you walk into a gym at any time during the Spring season, especially before spring break at colleges, you’ll see tons of people running their butts off on treadmills.

Now that science and training have progressed, the common question is if people still need to do cardio to get that shredded body.

The short answer is no, you don’t get cardio to get a lean physique.

However, there are some things you should think about before you add it into your routine or cut it out completely.

How do you prefer to workout?

Knowing how you like to lift and exercise is essential to staying consistent in the gym. For myself, I’m not the biggest fan of cardio, but I do like to add it in for the mental clarity it gives me. Weights are my bread and butter at the gym, but there’s something so calming about doing cardio every now and then.

Most people, however, are not as obsessed with cardio as they are when they’re trying to lose weight.

If you dread cardio, you can keep in mind that it’s not essential. If you like cardio, you can keep it in your routine.

If you don’t like a type of exercise, you’re far more likely to quit. When I was training clients at my gym in college, the biggest thing was finding exercises they enjoyed instead of exercises I tried to force them to enjoy. I mean, some things were necessary (PLEASE STRETCH YOUR HIP FLEXORS, EVERYONE.), but for the most part, they were more likely to keep going if they enjoyed it.

Know that most people who look shredded lift weights

Cardio, while it has tremendous benefits for your heart, will rarely get you that ripped physique you’re imagining in your mind.

Fun activity: go to Google and search for “marathon runners vs sprinters”.

I’d bet a lot of money that the body you most likely have in mind as “goals” looks closer to the sprinter than the marathon runner. Most marathon runners are thin and don’t have a lot of muscles, because having a huge frame over long distances is not beneficial. (Also that much cardio will deplete a lot of your muscles.)

NOTE: I’m not saying all cardio will make you some small, tiny human that as lost all their muscles. A lot of bodybuilder bros are scared of cardio for that reason. It takes INCREDIBLE amounts of cardio over extended periods of time to hurt your muscles that much. Doing a handful of cardio to lose some weight is not going to take your six-pack and turn it into sludge overnight.

With that being said, cardio is not the most efficient way to lose weight.

Anyone who has done cardio and weight training knows that weight training can be far more strenuous. Yes, when you’re starting to get back into the gym, you’ll burn a ton of calories because your body is not an efficient machine yet.

Our bodies were designed to adapt quickly, so over time you need to make your cardio longer and more strenuous in order to receive the same benefits.

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After exercise benefits of cardio vs weight training

Current studies show that weight training helps your body burn more calories for the rest of the day (up to 38 hours!) after one good session. Sprinting is much closer to weight lifting, but rarely are people doing sprints in the gym.

When it comes to weight training, the more muscle you have, the higher your basic calorie maintenance needed to maintain that weight increases.

While building muscle takes time, if you stay consistent with it you’re going to see more benefits over the long term than you would with cardio.

Put simply, when you do cardio, your body becomes more efficient and you have to work harder. With weight lifting, your body becomes stronger and you burn more calories each day.

That’s not to say weight lifting is some easy thing you can breeze through and that it’s not hard, but the long-term benefits when it comes to weight loss are better.

When to use cardio

One reason I like to add in cardio when I’m losing weight is that I’m personally not a fan of sacrificing food to dropdown.

Every human has a certain amount of calories they need to maintain their weight every single day. This is called their basal metabolic rate.

To lose weight, you need to drop your total daily calories burned below that number. You can do this by either cutting your food below that line or increasing your exercise every single day.

I’m not saying that simply adding in cardio will remove the need for restricting food completely, but I am saying that between the two choices, I’m going to work out harder.

However, if you’re a person who is not as emotionally attached to food and cutting out your extra calories in the day through your diet doesn’t sound so bad, then you can go that route.

When you see the scale starting to get stubborn, adding in a dose of cardio here and there can help you move the needle again. A future article will be coming out on what to do when the scale gets stubborn, but for now all you need to know is that cardio can be a good tool on top of a solid program, but it shouldn’t be the entire basis of your program.

Types of cardio to consider

With all that being said, cardio is undoubtedly great for your heart. Just avoiding it completely to curl weights is not a good long-term strategy, either.

While just hopping on the treadmill or elliptical is the most common forms of cardio, there are some other types to consider:
Swimming – Swimming is considerably easier on the joints than running, especially on your knees.
HIIT – This is called high-intensity interval training and is essentially where you train at a high intensity (usually with weights) for short sprints at a time. For example, medicine ball throws against a wall for multiple rounds of 30-second spurts.
Team sports – when we’re younger, most of our parents sign us up for team sports. Whether you enjoyed it or not is one thing, but as an adult, they’re 10x more fun. Keep in mind, a lot of adult team sports include drinking, so that could easily damage your fitness goals, but there’s no doubt that keeping that competitive spirit alive can be a lot of fun.

That’s pretty much all you need to know. Cardio, just like other forms of exercise, can be a tool to help you hit your goals. It’s not an end-all-be-all to weight loss, so if you think you need to slave over your treadmill while watching GOT reruns, you can breathe easy knowing there are other ways.

Summer Shredding Workout

I’ll do more updates on this plan, but I signed up for the Alphalete Summer Shredding challenge. Mainly as a way to get myself focused and challenge myself in as many life areas as I can. It ends right at the start of my 30th birthday, so the timing is perfect. Anyway, onto the workout!

If you want it in Google Doc form (for easy download), here it is: click here.

Summer Shredding Workout

Every week: fit in 3 or 4 days of cardio. (30 mins)
Week 1: All exercises 12-15 reps
Week 2: All exercises 8-10 reps
Week 3: All exercises 6-8 reps
Week 4: All exercises 2-4 reps
Cycle through all the rep ranges as needed

All exercises, 3 sets. Unless it’s one you want to build up more. (For me, that means legs #chickenlegs)

Rest-pause for all sets: On last set, go to failure, wait 15 seconds, then go to failure again.

Monday – Legs + Abs
Front squat
Romanian deadlift
Ball hamstring curl
Step ups
Ab work

Tuesday – Chest + Triceps
Cable fly
Incline bench press
Tricep rope pressdown
Tricep rope overhead extension
Dumbbell bench press
Reverse tricep extension
Ab work

Wednesday – Legs + Booty
Lateral lunges
Split squats
Hip thrusts
Rope pull throughs
Donkey kicks
Forearm curls
Forearm reverse curls
Ab work

Thursday – Back, Biceps
Single-arm lat pulldown
Dumbbell bent-over row
Lat pulldowns
Straight-arm pulldown
Seated cable row
Dumbbell curls
Hammer curls
Reverse curls
Cable curls
Ab work

Friday – Shoulders, Traps, Calves
Reverse shoulder fly
Dumbbell shoulder press
Upright row
Lateral raise
Front raise
Trap shrug
Standing calf raise
Ab work

Saturday – Optional
Hip thrusts
Forearm curl
Forearm reverse curl
Good mornings
Preacher curl
Ab work

The Wonder Woman Workout – Gal Gadot Workout (And A Bonus Amazons Workout)

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Ah, Wonder Woman.

The movie that changed the lives of millions.

Every time I think of the scene of Wonder Woman putting on the crown from Antiope and marching into No Man’s Land… My body feels something very real.

I’m currently reading Women Who Run With The Wolves, and in it the author discusses the idea of the Wild Woman archetype. It’s something inside every woman that we’ve lost touch with through the years.

It’s a lot deeper than just a woman out in nature. It’s the basis of who we are when we’re allowed to get in touch with our deepest feelings.

“The archetype of the Wild Woman and all that stands behind her is a patroness to all painters, writers, sculptors, dancers, thinkers, prayermakers, seekers, finders–for they are all busy with the work of invention, and that is the instinctive nature’s main occupation. As in all art, she resides in the guts, not in the head. She can track and run and summon and repel. She can sense, camouflage, and love deeply. She is intuitive, typical, and normative. She is utterly essential to women’s mental and soul health.” – Women who Run With The Wolves

This is something I believe Wonder Woman touches on. That gut feeling. That story that we all feel within our bones but we’re unable to articulate. The reason we feel restless most days.

I’ve seen a lot of movies with women kicking ass. They’re tough, they can shoot guns really well, they are great with stunts… but Wonder Woman was something different in a way I’ve never seen in film.

While you read through this article, feel free to listen to the theme music. (Warning: It will make you want to run around and start jumping on top of every piece of furniture in your home.)

If you’ve followed any of my character workouts, you know I like to break these workouts down into different parts:

  1. What the actor said about getting in shape for the role
  2. My take on the workout (I worked as a personal trainer for years, so I combine that knowledge with what the actor said… also because finding the actual workouts always seems impossible)
  3. The diet
  4. The mentality behind their characters, so you can use it to become mentally stronger
  5. The gear you’d need if you wanted to become the superhero

Gal Gadot’s Workout

If you want to cut right to the chase, this is what her trainer said about the workout and here are two women going through that workout so you can see how it worked.

Gal worked out for six hours a day for six months. But keep in mind, that also included sword training, horseback riding, and other skills she needed for the movie. So although 6 hours sounds intimidating, you could easily do it in less.

Overall, it looks like a lot of high-intensity whole-body training. Every exercise had about 6-to-8 weight training and metabolic exercises.

Each day, you could pick between the following (but be sure to balance each exercise out throughout the week):

  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Push-ups
  • Planks
  • Burpees
  • Bear crawls
  • Mountain climbers
  • Tricep dips
  • Calf raises
  • Donkey Kicks
  • Overhead press
  • Romanian deadlifts
  • Goblet squat
  • Hanging leg raise
  • Bent-over rows
  • Bench press
  • Rope crunches
  • Pull ups (substitute with lat pulldowns if you can’t do them)
  • Overhead squat
  • Crab walk
  • Burpee broad jump

Gal said she works out with two minutes of exercise and two minutes of rest. (Be sure to warm up, too! Gal warmed up with rows, mainly to keep herself safe so there were no injuries before filming.)

So, theoretically, it would look like:

Monday: Squats, mountain climbers, overhead squat, tricep dips, planks

Tuesday: Bear crawls, burpees, tricep dips, overhead press, hanging leg raise, burpee broad jump

Wednesday: Bent-over rows, calf raises, donkey kicks, lat pulldowns (or pull ups if you can do them)

Thursday: Deadlifts, planks, goblet squat, rope crunches, crab walk

Friday: Push-ups, Romanian deadlifts, hanging leg raise, bench press

Then add more exercises as you become stronger. It’s up to you if you want to do things in circuits or one at a time. Doing them in circuits increases your endurance and usually helps with weight loss (depending on your diet), or do them in sets.

(Circuit means you do one exercise, pause for a few seconds, then go right into the next exercise and when you’re done you start at the first exercise again. Sets means you do something like deadlift, then wait about 30-60 seconds, then deadlift again for about three sets.)

The Amazons Workout

Between all of the characters, the Amazons are a little more #swole than Wonder Woman herself. Now, to be fair, Wonder Woman is an actual super hero. She’s given superhuman powers as gifts by the Greek gods.

Also, to keep it real, Gal Gadot would have needed a lot, a lot, a lot of time to get as big as the other women on set (spoilers: not everyone in the movie industry is on steroids, even though that’s the common narrative that people say because it makes them feel better for not working out).

Don’t get me wrong. Gal is in incredible shape, but you can see a lot of the Amazon women had been training for years before they were in the movie. They’re #swolegoals for me.

Overall, the women trained for about four months together. (That video breaks down a good overall idea how their workouts looked. ALSO WARNER BROTHERS PLEASE LET ME COME WORKOUT WITH ALL OF YOU FOR THE NEXT ONE. They’ll never see this but COULD YOU IMAGINE? Okay, nerd moment over.)

A few of the actresses who are fellow Amazonians in the film talked about their past experiences in the fitness world. (The workouts are toward the end.) A lot of them were professional athletes, cops, and fighters before they came on set, which gave them an advantage.

To look like the Amazons vs. Gal Gadot in the movie, you’d train in a completely different style. If you want that look, your best bet is Crossfit or Olympic/powerlifting-style training. Basically, lots of heavy weights and lots of food. You’d follow something much closer to the Emily Blunt – Edge of Tomorrow workout I posted or Jim Stoppani’s Shortcut to Size.

The Diet

When sites break down food for actresses, it always kills me. They almost never take into account someone’s height or muscle mass.

Gal Gadot is 5’10” and every website pegs her around 128 lbs. There’s just no. way. she’s only 128 lbs for this role. It creates an unrealistic expectation for women when they step on the scale. Gal herself said she gained about 17 lbs for this role, so she was closer to 145, so keep that in your mind.

Gal also said she focused on three main things: meals based on green veggies and protein, drinking 1 gallon of water each day, and reminding herself that food is fuel.

I love this approach.

Before you eat something, really analyze how something is going to make you feel.

Those cookies are not going to make you feel well in a few hours no matter how good they sound in the moment (I’m writing this while I’m on a cookie hangover and feeling horrible today, so it’s more of a personal reminder).

Food IS fuel. It’s the basis of everything. Start eating healthy and then have a day of binging and see how you feel the next day.

The water tip is genius, too. Most people do not drink as much water as they should. Period. I thought I drank a lot of water until I started measuring and realized it’s barely even 1/3 of a gallon.

If you want a run-down on different diets from the Amazon warriors: here’s a good overview. Basically, lots of protein, don’t be scared of fats (seriously, ladies, fats are just fine), and timing carbs around workouts.

The Mentality

Wonder Woman is an extremely complex character while at the same time being an extremely simple character. This is going to dive into the complexity of our world, and if you’re just here for the workout and diet, you don’t need to read any further. However, if you’re like me and you love to dive into the complexity of embodying a character you want to workout like and become, keep reading.

To get into Wonder Woman’s state of mind, you have to pursue truth, honesty, love, justice, and compassion before anything else. There’s a reason she struck such a cord with so many people: because we see these values as something lacking around us and within us.

This sounds like an easy idea, but to apply it at every given moment is not always easy. For example, in the movie we see her in a state of panic when she sees men injured from battle, a horse struggling to get through mud while is owner whips him hard (something she struggles to understand), and a mother and baby crying.

She’s overwhelmed.

This is so far from the world she came from where everyone took care of one another.

Look, I’ll keep this from getting too political, but it is politics/greed/fear/anger/etc that has made the world the one she wouldn’t recognize compared to her home. She loves everyone who is struggling and shares that love with the world and those around her. You can’t love Wonder Woman and consider her a role model without at least attempting to embody the traits she believes in the most.

Wonder Woman is ready at any given moment to give everything for the sake of helping someone.

When Steve lies to his bosses, she’s complexed. There is no lying where she comes from. They say what they feel and believe. Although he is a spy and uses it for the greater good, as you go throughout your life, simply think about the times you want to use a white lie to make something easier instead of speaking your truth.

Wonder Woman never backs down from a fight. She will always stand in her truth, no matter the consequences. She walks onto No Man’s Land because she sees no other option. It’s what she must do.

You can use the Wonder Woman mentality in your every day life.

Every day you can choose love over fear.

Every day you can get yourself to the gym because it’s what you must do.

Granted, going to the gym doesn’t feel as life-and-death as saving the world, but it’s also important.

The Gear

The Lasso of Truth. Unfortunately this isn’t something you can buy at the corner store (could you IMAGINE if there was a real lasso of truth?). However, it’s something you can mentally create by learning how to tell when people are lying. An interesting fact about the lasso is that it only breaks when Wonder Woman won’t accept the truth she’s been told. Accepting the truth when you’re told it is important when it comes to embodying everything Wonder Woman stands for.

Bracelets – Technically called the Bracelets of Submission, these bracelets are used to absorb incoming attacks, which is why she can use them to deflect bullets and anything else that intends to harm her. According to Wikipedia, “They were an original creation by William Moulton Marston as an allegory for his philosophy on loving submission and the emotional control associated with it in order to balance out the strength of the human ego.” Meaning, you have the power inside of you to absorb any attacks that come your way. (Okay, it can’t stop bullets, but emotional/verbal attacks aimed at you.)

Tiara – In the movie, the tiara is given to her by her aunt, Antiope. Diana only puts it on before walking into No Man’s Land. Meaning, she only puts it on when she’s ready to embrace who she really is and to pursue her mission in life. There are a million ways you could apply this lesson to your own life, but if you truly want joy, you must find your purpose and pursue it relentlessly.


If you liked this post, you’ll like my emails even more! Sign up here so you don’t miss any future workouts: SIGN UP!

(Generic disclaimer: *As always with any fitness program, talk to your doctor first / see a trainer / it’s not my fault if you hurt yourself / please don’t sue me / you assume all risk / etc etc. Also, if any exercise ever hurts in a bad way, stop doing it immediately.)

What superhero workout do you want to see next? Leave a comment and I’ll add it to the list!

Tips to Start Working Out When You’re New to the Gym



Starting a workout can be daunting when you’re still trying to learn your way around the gym.

There’s muscle heads all over the weights section and you feel so awkward and out of place. Plus, they’re intimidating. It’s hard to lift next to someone curling 30 lb. dumbbells when you’re there with your 10 lb. weights trying to not hurt yourself.

At least, that was my experience.

I felt like a tiny little delicate toothpick in this sea of muscle trying to not get in anyone’s way, so I know how awkward that beginning can be. Not to mention, I made every single beginner mistake possible, which helped when I was trying to guide clients to avoid the same mistakes.

How beginners approach the gym can make or break their gym habits from then on, so let’s discuss how you can do it right.

Find someone who can show you the ropes

This isn’t always easy, because finding someone reliable to work out with is a borderline impossible task, but if you can find someone who can go with you even just a few times to show you the basics, that can be a huge help.

An alternative to this is to hire a trainer. Trainers are rarely cheap, but if you want to force yourself into a commitment and stick with it, it’s a good idea. A lot of big gyms will give you one free training session to test the waters. Be ready for a heavy pitch at the end, but at least it’s a way to get you going.

Commit to the small

While most beginners want to start off with the “best” program available (and it’s a good intention!), the problem is that most of those programs are extremely complicated for a beginner.

Through the years, I’ve discovered that most beginners rarely stick to a program that requires them to spend an hour or more in the gym. Once someone is too sore from a strenuous program, they quit. Instead, focus on simple movements that build up your stamina as you go.

My first program only had about three exercises, which I followed for two months. Then, I went to a program with about six exercises for a few months. That’s how I finally stayed committed. Before that, I’d make it complicated, get sore or injured, quit, and do it all over again in a few months.

Learn one substitution for each muscle area


For example, if the 20 lb. weights you need for a dumbbell curl are taken, you can go to the rope curl.

It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a good way to start. One awkward part of starting in the gym is working around people, asking for weights, and waiting your turn. When you can bypass that and get right into another exercise, it won’t get in the way of your flow.

I was also a little more awkward starting out than most people might be. Imagining asking some dude who was 250+ lbs. when he was done with the 25 lb. dumbbell was just too much for younger me, so I kept it simple. You might not be as awkward as younger me was, so do what works for you.

However, the substitution trick helps no matter your experience level because sometimes equipment will be taken or broken and you’ll need to switch it up.

Mentioning that, my stair climber broke at my gym and I’m heartbroken, you guys. Heartbroken.

Find off times and off seasons

After working at a gym, I can tell you the busiest times: First two weeks of January, two weeks before any local college’s spring break, before summer, and before Halloween.

Those were always the times that the cardio machines would be packed, we’d need extra staff on hand, and it was just a zoo overall. From there, after work hours were always crammed until about 7 pm.

When you’re starting, going into a gym where you have to wait 10+ minutes for a bench can be daunting, so if possible go in the off times. When I was first starting out, I started going to 24 Hour Fitness at 11 pm because I had almost everything to myself.

Do not ego lift

This is the top mistake I see new lifters make: they want to impress that hottie in the gym, so they lift way beyond capacity and hurt themselves or make some other silly mistake.

I’ve ego lifted a few times in my life and I certainly did not forget them because they all ended up embarrassing. Having to crawl out from a weight you are failing at lifting is a horrible feeling, especially when you were way off.

Those are my biggest tips for any new lifter. Don’t be scared. Go get it.

– Jackie


The Edge of Tomorrow – Emily Blunt Workout

Another movie starring Tom Cruise fighting aliens?

You might be eye-rolling, and to be honest, I did too. However, after just finishing the movie I have to say it far exceeded my expectations. Let me explain why.

First off, Tom Cruise is not the main badass role.

Emily Blunt is.

She plays Rita Vrataski, or who everyone in their world calls both “The Angel of Verdun” and “Full Metal Bitch”.

This is her:

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Yeah, that’s her suit.

Instead of just a tank top and short-shorts like 99% of female-lead action movies, she actually has serious armor.

I won’t go into too many spoilers, but we learn that she is quite the tough ass.

For once, it was nice to see the woman be the badass who had a no-apologies approach to everything. She sacrifices at every turn and takes constant risks.

What really got my attention was that Emily Blunt actually looks believable as a warrior.

Most movies with a female-lead are always running around with not a single ounce of muscle to their frames.

They climb walls with ease and supposedly are strong enough to take down really buff dudes? Please. They rarely have any muscle, so it’s hard to believe they just overhead pressed 150 lbs. and threw that guy across the room.

Emily Blunt clearly worked insanely hard to add some size to her frame. I actually believe she is the badass character, Rita Vrataski. She has the physical frame to lift heavy weights, run through alien-infested fields, and throw around the huge sword she carries.

She looked pretty ripped, but there’s one scene where we really see her impressive size:

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Shout out to Emily Blunt for putting in that much hard work. I rarely ever see women with actual built traps or shoulders in movies. Ever.

The suits they wore could weigh anywhere between 85 to 125 lbs. That’s a serious amount of weight to be carrying around.

According to Emily Blunt, she trained 6 days a week for 2 and a half hours every day doing everything from yoga, Krav Maga, gymnastics, weight training, to sprinting. She was able to accomplish her transformation in 3 months. Even Tom Cruise said he never had worked with anyone else who came to set that prepared and in shape.

“I wanted her to look lethal,” she said about her character Rita.

She mentioned that she also wore a weight vest to prepare for the giant suit she was going to wear in her action scenes.

The best part about Rita is that she doesn’t need anyone to “save” her like we all see in most movies. She can hold her own. She doesn’t spend any time feeling sorry for herself or whining over her circumstances. I have to applaud Emily for bringing such a real soldier spirit to Rita and making her a warrior to her core. We don’t see her have any emotional breakdowns or need approval from anyone. She does her job and fights like hell to the end, and is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice at any moment.

There’s no time for romance and there’s none of that “Oh let me assist you because you might not be strong” element. She is the strong one and she is using her gun more than anyone else in the movie. (Emily also said she laughed every time she shot Tom Cruise, which is funny to imagine.)

Of course, I don’t know her actual workout, but here would be my closest guess to her weight training routine. (Keep in mind, she worked out for over 2 hours every single day. This would not be a easy workout by any stretch of the imagination.) The workout I’m creating will not be that intense since most of us do not have that kind of time.

Also, I couldn’t find the actual workout online, just what people assume it is.. The trainer is hush hush so he can keep his business going. 100% understandable. I’ve heard that it’s a three-part circuit workout, but I’ve heard a few conflicting articles out there about the specifics, but we do know she trained for two and a half months. She also did all of her own stunts.

We do know her cardiovascular endurance was impressive, but so are her muscles, so we’ll look at a combination of both.

FYI: “sets” mean do the exercise three times. “reps” means how many you do.
So, 3 sets 12 reps mean do the exercise 12 times, then rest, then do it 12 times, then rest, then do it 12 times.

Also, if you want to burn fat, keep the rest times between workouts short. If you want to build muscle, keep the rest times a little longer. It’s been said that Emily’s trainer kept her at around 60 seconds of rest, so you can use that if you want.

The workout:

Monday: Chest, Lats, and Back

Dumbbell Bench press – 3 sets 12 reps

Reverse-grip bent-over row – 3 sets 12 reps

Dumbbell flyes – 3 sets 10 reps

Wide-grip lat pulldown – 3 sets 12 reps

Push-up variations particularly the dive bomber/Hindu push-up – 3 sets of however many you can do. If you’re not strong, do them on your knees until you build up the strength.

Seated Cable Row – 3 sets 12 reps

Planks – hold them as long as you can or up to a minute. Keep your back straight and clench your butt (that’ll help keep your back straight). If you feel any part of your head, back, or hips start to get out of alignment, stop.

Prone cobra – Hold for 10 seconds, relax for five seconds, and repeat four more times.

End the workout with HIIT – high intensity interval training. This means you work out really hard for a length of time, then go slow, then push yourself, then go slow. It’s up to your current endurance on what you can handle. Ideally, you do between 15 and 30 seconds of intensity and between 30 to 60 seconds of rest, then rinse and repeat. Push yourself, but don’t hurt yourself. Do it for just a few minutes and leave the gym like a champion.

(You can read why HIIT is better than long-form cardio: click here.)

Tuesday: Shoulders, Trapezius, Abs, Booty

Dumbbell arnold press – 4 sets of 10 reps

Dumbbell bent-over lateral raise – 3 sets 10 reps

Dumbbell shrug (Do not skip these, these are the magic behind Emily’s shoulders looking so good in her famous push-up scene) – 4 sets 10 reps

Hanging leg raise – 3 sets to failure. (Meaning, for every set do it until you can’t any longer.)

Incline sit-up – 3 sets 15 reps

Single-leg glute bridge (or do regular bridge if it’s too hard) – 3 sets of 10 reps

Glute kickbacks (you can do these with or without cables. It’s up to you and what’s available) – 3 sets 10 reps

P.S. if you’re not a fan of either of the above two exercises, here is a list of more glute exercises and the rating for how well they work.

End the workout with HIIT

Wednesday: Quads and Calves

Squats (I prefer front squats, but do what you like) – 4 sets of 12

Walking lunges (you can do regular standing lunges if you don’t have space) – 3 sets 8 reps

Standing calf raise – 3 sets of 10

Bonus calf exercise (I have chicken legs so I add on extras for the people out there in the same position): Donkey calf raise – 3 sets of 12

Leg Extensions (if you don’t have this machine, switch it for a rear foot elevated split squat or a natural standing leg extension) – 3 sets of 10

I don’t end leg days with any HIIT because normally my legs are jello and they’re like “pls stop”. However, I absolutely make sure to foam roll and stretch after leg day. Actually, you should do that every day, but especially on leg day. Get to know the foam rollers at your gym, they will be your best friend to combat any soreness.

Thursday: Biceps, Triceps, Forearms

Wide grip dumbbell curls – 3 sets of 10

Tricep rope pulldown – 3 sets of 12

Hammer curls – 3 sets of 10

Dumbbell tricep extension (you can do lying, seated, or standing) – 3 sets of 10

Bonus tricep exercise (Emily’s are great and you can see that in her famous yoga pose) Reverse-grip cable pressdown – 3 sets of 10

Wrist curls – 2 sets of 10

Reverse wrist curls – 2 sets of 10

End the workout with HIIT

Friday: Hamstrings, Abs, Obliques

Step ups (be sure to do it like: this so it targets your hamstrings and butt better) – 3 sets for each leg, 10 reps

Romanian deadlifts – 4 sets 12 reps

Oblique cable crunch – 3 sets 15 reps

Dumbbell hamstring curl (or, lying leg curl on a machine) – 3 sets of 10

Sumo deadlift – 3 sets of 8

Weighted cable crunch (or planks) – 3 sets of 15

End the workout with HIIT


Saturday: Optional

Anything you want. If you like yoga, do that. If you want to sign up for Krav Maga (we’ll cover it below), do that. This is her famous pose, which is a result of strength training and flexibility:


Alternatively, you can work on your speed and agility. Running up hills, ladder work, anything that works your speed, basically.

Bonus: wear a weighted vest while you do so (like this one: click here).

The Ultimate Move:

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If you want a video how to do this, this will help: click here. Every time I’ve tried to do it my face smooshes into the mat, so I can’t provide a lot of help there. And yes, Emily said for the longer shots she needed foot wires to hold it, but she can absolutely do the pose.

The Diet:

You can read details on her diet: click here.

That might work for you, that might not. Just off ballpark without looking it up that sample meal plan would come out to 1,400-ish calories, which simply isn’t enough.

Knowing that Emily Blunt is around 5’7″ and around 120(ish) lbs, it appears she did a mini bulk for this program. That might have made her a little closer to 130 lbs with that lean muscle.

(I know because I’m 5’8″.)

Giving that she’s active and that she was adding a little size to her frame, she was maybe roughly around 1,800-2,100 calories. Maybe. Only because I hover around 2,200 when I’m bulking and she stayed pretty lean.

Plus, she’s incredibly active with her work/interviews/filming so I can imagine she needs more calories than someone who works a desk job (like I do) just to maintain her weight.

You can use my post: here to find your macros and why that’s a good approach.

Basically, find your maintenance calories/macros, then if you want to lose weight, subtract about 200-400 calories. If you want to build muscle, add about 200-400 calories.

Good job, Emily. You are definitely setting the bar high for action movies here on out.

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LOOK AT THOSE TRAPS. (For those who aren’t aware, traps refer to the muscle – trapezius – that connects your neck to your shoulders.)

For my own nerdy mind, I also love to dive into the lifestyle and daily life of the characters I imagine workouts for. Not that you’re going to become Rita, but if you wanted to, this will get you closer.

So, let’s dive in.



In the Edge of Tomorrow, Rita is a war hero. She single-handedly won the previously huge battle before we meet Tom Cruise, giving her the nickname of “Full Metal Bitch”. She’s been hardened by the years of war before her and the years of war ahead. She’s lost loved ones and you can see that in her overall attitude because she doesn’t get too close to people.

At the same time, her reputation is much tougher than we find out she is as a person. Although she’s tough, she’s not completely heartless. She just wants to win the war.

Like a true warrior, she also is mentally prepared to sacrifice her life at any given moment. She trains hard, but knows if it comes down to it, she’ll do what she has to do.

Every day, she focuses solely on how she can improve herself. She focuses on the tasks at hand and what she can do to survive.

Anyone can apply this to their own life: focusing on what needs to be done today and getting on with it. There’s no need to overanalyze or plan everything out perfectly. Focus on dominating the day and finishing what you need to do.

As Emily said about preparing for her role, “Put your head down and do your work.”


Weighted vest. In most of the scenes, we see Rita walking around with a weighted vest, probably to prepare for all the gear she wears in every battle. If you’re looking for one: this one is a great option that’s not as heavy and bulky as others.

Helicopter blade for a sword. Apparently, real helicopter blades run in the $4,000.00 ballpark, but you could possibly find some in a junkyard or government sale (if you’re lucky). Keep in mind, they might be hard to swing around, but if you do it I need to see a video of this.

Badass suit. I, unfortunately, can’t find much about the suit she was wearing but give technology a few more years and I might have to come back and update this post.

Tactical outfits. This is a pretty thorough breakdown of her pants, gear, clothing, guns, and other accessories.


Hand-to-hand combat. Although there are a lot of guns at her disposal, she also uses her quick combat skills to overpower a lot of enemies. Any local Krav Maga classes could get you started on this path. Here’s a good post to get you started.

Sword fighting. What she does is a little different than regular fencing, because her sword is insanely huge and heavy. She also swings it around while spinning and running through the field.

General war-time and tactical skills. To say Rita is extremely versatile is an understatement. She can fly planes, drive speeding cars, take down enemies with ease… These are not easily attainable skills, but I love all the articles the Art of Manliness has on tactical skills.

Endurance. She rarely gets tired or worn out and can handle hours and hours of combat. This requires years and years of training, but if you want to train like an athlete and keep your body in top shape, it’s important to build your endurance to the point where hours of strenuous activity won’t exhaust you for days.

Of course, this is a much deeper look than just a workout behind a movie role, but like I mentioned earlier, ever since I was a kid I have been fascinated by fictional characters and how they operate. There will be a lot more posts to come like this, so if you’re interested, feel free to bookmark this site or sign up to receive e-mail updates when new posts are released.

(Generic disclaimer: *As always with any fitness program, talk to your doctor first / see a trainer / it’s not my fault if you hurt yourself / please don’t sue me / you assume all risk / etc etc. Also, if any exercise ever hurts in a bad way, stop doing it immediately.)

What superhero workout do you want to see next? Leave a comment and I’ll add it to the list!