There are a lot of impressive things about the one and only Jennifer Aniston, but here’s just one of them: The Morning Show star is literally so in shape that her trainer, Gloveworx founder Leyon Azubuike, says it’s difficult to keep up with her.
“She works so hard, and I’ve never really seen anything like it,” he tells Women’s Health. “You constantly, as a coach, have to stay on your toes and make it challenging.”
Clearly, her effort in the gym is paying off—her sculpted arm and back muscles are all the proof you need. Here are the rules Jen and her trainer swear by for a strong upper body.
1. She always starts with mobility work.
“You can’t just hop into an explosive workout,” Azubuike says. “It’s very important that you get your mobility work in, and [work on] your range of motion” before you start to go hard.
“That’s where a lot of people get it mistaken, because they feel like if they’re sweaty, and their skin is warm, that they’re actually warmed up,” Azubuike says. So before Jen starts a tough upper-body workout, she stretches out with 15 minutes of yoga-based moves and then foam rolls before turning up the heat with cardio.
Here are her go-to warmup moves:
How to: Start on hands and knees, knees under hips and shoulders over wrists. Tops of feet should be flat on the mat. Inhale, bringing gaze up to the ceiling and belly button toward the ground. At the same time, open chest and move tailbone toward the ceiling. Then exhale and curve back toward the ceiling, pushing shoulders and chest away from the mat. Draw belly button toward spine, and tuck tailbone under.
How to: Start on hands and knees with toes tucked under, knees under hips, and shoulders over wrists. Reach left arm forward while reaching left leg straight back with foot flexed. Pause when foot and hand are in line. Return to center, and repeat with right arm and left leg. Keep back flat throughout.
How to: Start on all fours. Tuck toes and lift hips into air, extending legs to straight and shifting weight back into feet so body forms an upside down “V” shape.
How to: Start standing, core engaged. Bring right heel behind you to touch right glute. Bring right foot back down to ground, then repeat on the opposite side. Continue alternating sides, and speed it up for an added challenge.
How to: Start standing with hands by sides. Jump legs open, slightly wider than hip-distance, while bringing hands up overhead. Jump legs back together and arms down by sides, then repeat.
How to: Start with feet together and arms by sides, elbows slightly bent and hands clasped like you’re holding the handles of a jump rope. Keeping elbows close to ribs, start making circles with both forearms in one direction while hopping feet forward, back, and side to side.
2. She combines pushing and pulling exercises in each upper-body workout.
Jen is a longtime fan of boxing with Azubuike. “It’s the longest workout I’ve actually stayed with consistently other than yoga,” she told In Style. “There’s something about the mental aspect of boxing—the drills, your brain has to work, you’re not just sitting on a bike. It’s amazing.”
But to sculpt her entire upper bod, Azubuike follows up her time in the ring with moves that strengthen the opposite muscles she’s using to hit the bag. “With Jen, we like to focus on a lot of push and pull,” he says. “Boxing is a very front-dominant sport, so you want to pull it back.”
For the Friends star, that means rows. Rowing motions are great to counteract a boxing workout because “you’re pulling the arms back and you’re working on that posture, so now we have a good balance,” Azubuike explains. Jennifer has been known to knock out a plank sequence on the reg—holding a 2-minute plank is a breeze for her—so in the “pull” phase of her workout, she especially digs doing renegade rows.
How to: Start in plank position, holding dumbbells in either hand on the ground. Pull right elbow toward the ceiling until right wrist is near ribs, then lower it down. Repeat on opposite side.
3. She focuses on one move at a time.
While it may be tempting to do a bunch of similar arm moves like triceps dips and triceps extensions back to back, Azubuike says that he breaks his upper-body workouts with Jen into separate sets so she doesn’t tire out before she can get all her reps in.
“We want you to feel the burn at the top of the set, like the 12th or 15th rep, but you should always be able to complete it,” he says.
4. She sneaks abs into every workout.
Azubuike never finishes an upper body workout (or any workout, for that matter) without throwing in some core-focused moves. “Say it’s a Monday, we’re doing triceps. We might slow it down and work some triceps, and then we’ll put a core activity on the end of that,” he says.
As for the core moves Jen loves? You guessed it: more planks. “We love to incorporate all the various types of planks—forearm plank, low plank, high plank, side plank,” he says. “That’s one of those exercises that has all the abdominal regions firing together.”
5. She challenges herself.
Jen is always looking for ways to level up her upper body workouts. “She’s working so hard sometimes, she starts to change the move,” Azubuike says. “We might be in a traditional forearm plank, and she might start to do in and outs with her legs. She’s like, ‘It’s too easy!'”
Even if you don’t have plans to hit a red carpet anytime soon, Azubuike says it’s important to push yourself wherever you are in your fitness journey. “What a lot of people don’t realize is that it’s not necessarily how often you’re working out, but what your actual intensity level is,” he says. “It’s all about gauging where you are as an individual as opposed to confining yourself to, ‘Oh, I can only do this on Monday, Wednesday, Friday.'”
But it’s still fair to say that Jennifer Aniston is basically superhuman, according to her trainer: “She’s a very, very special athlete.”
Jennifer Aniston isn’t just driven in the gym. Watch this video to see how she’s used that talent to see serious gains on the big and small screens too.
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