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HOW TO GET A BODY LIKE JESSICA BIEL: ATHLETIC FIGURE FULL-BODY WORKOUT

Jessica Biel is the envy of women everywhere.

She’s a superstar actress, model, singer and award-winning producer… and she has an incredible body, to boot!

The 37-year-old star and wife of Justin Timberlake is known the world over for her lean and toned physique.

Magazines from Malibu to Mumbai marvel at her washboard abs, long limbs and equally curvaceous look. And the question everyone wants to know – how does she achieve this athletic look?

The key to recreating this aesthetic is simple… Resistance training!

The team at Ultimate Performance have helped countless women achieve the body of their dreams using our tried-and-tested weight training method and, ladies, you needn’t be scared of lifting heavy!

The good news is you do not need to fear looking bulky through weight training. The deciding factor? Diet and body composition.

Why This Workout Works

This full-body routine uses our tried-and-tested German Body Composition training method to hit all body parts, key for achieving Jessica’s lean and athletic physique, with a strong emphasis on developing the glutes, shoulders (creating the illusion of a smaller waist) and abdominals.

This workout should be performed as supersets – so A1 and A2, for example, are paired sets where you perform one exercise immediately followed by the next. This allows you to perform a greater amount of work volume in a shorter amount of time. The exercise pairings should not impede your ability to work as hard when you return to the first exercise.

The Workout

How to Perform the Exercises

This guide is aimed at trainees with a good knowledge of the exercises and how to train safely and effectively.

If you are unsure and want access to training programmes, nutrition information and over 250+ demonstration videos, sign up for LiveUP online coaching today or consult a qualified PT.

The Set-Up 

  • Stand in an open space with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Place your hands on your hips and tuck your elbows in if using bodyweight. If using dumbbells, allow them to hang by your sides with the palms facing inwards.
  • Step backwards and place your toes on the floor, with shoelaces facing down and heel raised (stepping backwards is more stable than stepping forwards when using heavy loads).
  • This is the start and end position for each rep.

The Movement

  • Drop your back knee down towards the floor and drive your front knee forwards to close the gap between your hamstrings and calf (elevating the front heel with a wedge may allow a greater degree of motion if you do not have a great deal of ankle flexibility).
  • In the bottom position, your front foot should be flat and your back knee bent at 90 degrees and one to two inches above the floor.
  • Pause for a moment at the bottom, keeping the upper body braced and tension in your legs.
  • Push through the front leg to reverse the motion (imagine closing a pair of scissors) to return to the start position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps. Pause for 30-60 seconds before switching sides.

Trainer Tips

  • Start with your weaker leg forwards first and perform the same number of reps on both sides.
  • The greater the forward lean of the torso, the more you will emphasise the glutes.
  • Pick a stride length that allows you to keep your front foot equally placed on the floor throughout without the heel lifting. The back foot should not be so far back that you cannot fully flex the back leg or the hips are pulled forwards.
  • Make sure to keep the range-of-motion consistent throughout. Try placing a small block under the back knee if you are unable to reach the floor.
  • Only pause briefly at the top position and do not rock backwards onto the back foot.
  • Use straps to prevent grip becoming a limiting factor when using dumbbells.

The Set-Up

  • Pick up the dumbbell using a neutral grip and sit on the bench with them resting on your thighs, close to your hip crease.
  • Position your feet shoulder-width apart, under or behind your knees and flat on the floor.
  • Lean back against the bench, using your thighs to help get the dumbbells into position, level with your chest and then up to a stacked position, with the wrist, elbow and shoulder all aligned.
  • Point your chest upwards (but keep the ribcage tucked down) towards the ceiling and tuck your shoulder blades down into your back pockets.
  • Your shoulders and glutes should be touching the bench and there will be a small gap between your lower can and the bench.
  • This is the start and end position for each rep.

The Movement

  • From the stacked position at the top, “pull” the dumbbells down towards your chest with the arms at an angle of 45-60 degrees to your torso.
  • You have reached the end of your range-of-motion when you can no longer lower the dumbbells without the shoulder rounding forwards.
  • Pause before reversing the motion, under control, to return to the start position.
  • Pause again before repeating for the desired number of reps.
  • On the last rep, lower the dumbbells to the start position, tuck your elbows in and sit forwards using your legs to generate momentum. You can also ask a training partner to take one dumbbell from you at a time.

Trainer Tips

  • The set-up and movement are the same as other versions of the dumbbell bench press but this angle places more emphasis on your shoulders.
  • Make sure that the dumbbells do not clang together at the top of the movement.
  • Ensure that you do not ‘shrug’ the weight up at the top. This reduces shoulder stability and increases the risk of injury. Focus on keeping the shoulder blades tucked down throughout.

The Set-Up

  • Position a flat bench in an open space (or in a rack/cage) and secure it with something heavy to prevent it sliding forwards.
  • Sit straight legged on the floor with your upper back resting against the bench. The edge of the bench should be just underneath your shoulder blades or bra line. If the bench is too high, it may be useful to place a plate underneath your buttocks to position you correctly.
  • You can perform this exercise with bodyweight only, use a single dumbbell or barbell for added resistance (if you’re a beginner, we advise progressing in this order).
  • Make sure you’re using a hip pad or folded up matt over the hips and roll the barbell into position so it is situated directly over your pelvic bones (not over the abs or upper thighs).
  • Tuck your feet in towards your buttocks and keep your feet roughly shoulder-width apart (a slight external rotation of the knee favours the abductor muscles).

The Movement

  • Drive your hips upwards towards the ceiling, pushing through your heels and squeezing your glutes. Keep your knees in line with your toes.
  • In the top position, your hips should be fully extended and your torso parallel to the floor.
  • Pause for a moment and focus on contracting your glutes (imagine you are trying to crack a walnut between them!), with a slight upwards rotation of the pelvis.
  • Lower your hips down towards the floor. You have reached the end of your range-of-motion when you cannot move any further without your lower back rounding or knees rocking backwards.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Trainer Tips

  • If the bottom of your range-of-motion is higher than floor-level, place blocks or plates underneath the barbell plates to standardise the range-of-motion.
  • Keep a solid brace throughout and do not relax the tension at the top or bottom of the rep.
  • Focus on ‘pivoting’ on and off the bench, do not allow your pelvis to rock backwards and forwards as this will strain the spinal erectors.
  • Be careful not to overextend at the top of the movement and you should not feel this in the lower back.
  • Keep the head in a neutral position by keeping your eyes on the bar pad at all times.

The Set-Up

  • Grip the cable attachment with a neutral grip and sit down on the bench with your upper thighs securely positioned under the padding.
  • Sit up as tall as possible (keeping the ribcage tucked), with your arms fully extended above your head but avoid shrugging your shoulders up to your ears.
  • This is the start and end position for each rep.

The Movement

  • Keeping your torso still, initiate the movement by dropping your shoulder blades down into your back pockets (closing the gap between your armpit and your hips). Think ‘taking the elevator down’ not ‘pinching’ when it comes to the shoulder blades.
  • Draw the elbow downwards vertically (not backwards), maintaining the same torso position and high chest throughout.
  • You have reached the end of your range-of-motion when your elbows cannot travel any further without your shoulders rotating inwards and upper back rounding.
  • Pause for a moment and focus on contracting the lats by squeezing your elbows into your sides.
  • Reverse the motion, under control, to return to the start position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Trainer Tips

  • Imagine you are taking your shoulder blades up and down like an elevator; allow them to move through their full range-of-motion rather than yanking the bar with your arms.
  • Avoid using cable attachments that are narrower than your shoulders as this can restrict your range-of-motion.
  • Use lifting straps to avoid grip becoming a limiting factor in the movement.
  • Watch how far the weight stack travels on each rep as a reference point for your range-of-motion. If this shortens significantly between the first and last rep, the weight is too heavy.
  • The arm muscles will contribute to this movement but they should not be doing all the work. Focus on drawing the weight down using the back only, the arms should simply assist in the movement.

The Set-Up

  • If the station angle is adjustable, set it to a 45-degree incline. This can also be achieved by placing plates underneath the station if it is non-adjustable. The lower the angle towards the floor, the more difficult the exercise will become.
  • Climb onto the machine and lie face down with the ankles pressed firmly against the foot pads. Keep a hip-width foot stance, with the feet slightly turned out.
  • Squeeze your glutes to fully extend your hips so that your body makes a straight line with the angle of the station, keeping the chin tucked.
  • Cross your arms over your chest if using your bodyweight for resistance (get strong at performing the exercise like this before progressing to using dumbbells). If using dumbbells, allow them to hang below the shoulders with the palms facing inwards.
  • Look at the floor just in front of you (or your feet); the aim is to maintain a neutral spine throughout, including your head.
  • This is the start and end position for each rep.

The Movement

  • Focus on driving the hips upwards towards the ceiling and bend at the hips. It is important that the movement comes entirely from the hips and not the spine. You should feel a noticeable increase in hamstring tension.
  • You have reached the end of your range-of-motion when you cannot push your hips any further backwards without your lower back rounding or knees bending.
  • Pause for a movement at the bottom position and drive the hips forward, squeezing the glutes to the start position (visualise closing the gap between the bottom of your bum and your knees).
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Trainer Tips 

  • Imagine pushing your feet through the foot plate to avoid swinging your torso.
  • Do not worry about falling off! Practise with bodyweight first and progress to using resistance once you are confident and do not feel it in the lower back.
  • Be careful not to overarch at the top; your lower back muscles will be engaged but you should not feel them working significantly.

The Set-Up

  • Perform this exercise with your chest supported on a bench. This allows you to maintain a stable position and focus on the movement. Use the closest setting if the bench does not allow you to set it to a 75-degree setting.
  • Pick up the dumbbells, straddle the bench and lean into it so that your torso angle matches the bench angle.
  • Hold the dumbbells with a neutral grip and let your arms hang just outside of your thighs (to maintain a slight level of tension throughout) with a small bend in your elbows.
  • This is the start and end position for each rep.

The Movement

  • Push the dumbbells out to your sides while keeping your shoulders depressed. Your elbows should travel just in front of your shoulders.
  • You have reached the end of your range-of-motion when you cannot lift the dumbbells any higher without your shoulders shrugging upwards.
  • Pause for a moment before reversing the motion, under control, to return to the start position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Trainer Tips

  • Do not use momentum to ‘swing’ the weight upwards. Keep control of the dumbbells at all times.
  • Keep your little finger slightly higher than your thumb throughout the movement to keep maximal tension on your medial deltoid.
  • If you cannot pause briefly at the top and bottom of the rep, the load is too heavy.
  • Single-joint exercises like the lateral raise require less effort than multi-joint movements but make sure to stick to the prescribed rest period to ensure you can maintain performance.
  • This is a complex exercise so start light and only increase the load when you are happy with your technique. Use a mirror to monitor your form.

The Set-Up

  • Adjust the cable to the highest setting and attach two standard-length rope attachments.
  • Hold the ropes with a neutral grip and take three to four steps back from the station.
  • You can perform this as a standing or kneeling version (slightly more stable). For the first version, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, push your hips back and lean forward slightly. For the kneeling version, kneel with your legs shoulder-width apart, push your hips back and lean forward slightly.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades back together and pull your elbows back behind your shoulders.
  • This is the start and end position for each rep.

The Movement

  • Keeping your upper arms and torso still, extend your elbows to straighten your arms.
  • You have reached the end of your range-of-motion when you cannot move any further without your upper back rounding and shoulders rotating inwards (and the elbow fully straightened but not locked out).
  • Pause for a moment and focus on contracting (squeezing your triceps).
  • Reverse the motion, under control, to return to the start position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Trainer Tips

  • Make sure to move through the fullest range-of-motion possible, fully flexing and extending your elbows.
  • Keep your upper arms still and do not let the weight pull you out of position. The movement should only come from the elbow.
  • Do not allow your wrist to move or ‘flick’ at the end of the movement.
  • Single-joint exercises like the lateral raise require less effort than multi-joint movements but make sure to stick to the prescribed rest period to ensure you can maintain performance.
  • Start light and only increase the load when you are happy with your technique.

The Set-Up

  • Lie face up on a bench with your knees tucked all the way into your chest.
  • Hold onto the head of the bench with both hands.

The Movement

  • Engage your abdominal muscles and curl your lower back off the bench. Visualise closing the gap between the bottom of your ribcage and your pelvis.
  • You have reached the end of your range-of-motion when you cannot move any further without rolling up onto your upper back.
  • Pause for a moment and breath out in a long stream as if blowing up a balloon to achieve an extra contraction in the abdominals.
  • Reverse the motion, under control, to return to the start position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Trainer Tips

  • If you cannot feel an intense sensation in your abs, you are likely using momentum and other muscles, like the hip flexors, to swing upwards. Try slowing down the movement until you can feel it.
  • If you are unable to perform the exercise effectively flat, try a slight decline with your head at the bottom to allow gravity to help you.
  • Once you are able to complete the movement flat, you can progress the exercise to a slight incline with the head at the top of the bench.

The Set-Up 

  • Select a medicine ball heavy enough that it requires your full body to slam it onto the ground (3kg and over).
  • Adopt a shoulder-width stance and ‘root’ yourself into the ground.
  • Adopt a squat position by driving the knees out over the toes and keeping the back straight.
  • This is the start and end position for each rep.

The Movement

  • Use your legs to press up from the floor and bring the medicine ball overhead until your arms are straight.
  • Slam the ball as hard as you can onto the floor, squatting slightly as you do so and keeping the abdominals engaged.
  • Pick up the medicine ball and repeat as many times as possible for the full duration of the set (thirty seconds).

Trainer Tips

  • Although this is a timed exercise, do not allow your form to become sloppy.
  • Focus on using the legs to drive the movement, not the upper back or arms.
  • Try and generate as much power as possible when slamming the ball down and keep the abs tight throughout.
  • Rest for the prescribed amount to ensure you can work consistently hard throughout all the sets.

By Emily Servante

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