As I sit here sipping my protein shake, cooling off after an intense hour long workout, a Jersey-shore knock-off approaches me. He's primped, tanned, primed, been at the gym since I arrived and still hasn't touched a weight. He looks me up and down and proudly lays down his best pick-up line…"So, how much do you bench?" Here we go again. I pull out my best flirtatious smile, dab the sweat on my collarbone and retort, "More than you." Zing! Listen boys, the moral to my story (which truthfully has happened more times than I care to remember) is you have to do better than that! The same mantra goes for fitness. You can't get the body of your dreams by just sliding on by. You have to work harder than that!
When I look around the locker room at all of the WWE Divas, I definitely would call myself unique. However, just like a great number of men and women that struggle to get and remain fit, I have to work very hard to be strong and lean. The very same qualities that have earned me the moniker, "Glamazon" have given me the drive to strive for a better body. The following blog is about building a stronger YOU. I am not a body builder or powerlifter, nor have I ever been. I am a strong natural athlete that has learned through experience (trial and error) that absolutely ANYONE can build the strength and confidence to become a better version of themselves.
Some people are not born athletes, but you can become one. When I began my career with WWE I trained very rigidly and repetitively with weights. Simple exercises organized into a five day split. 1: Chest, triceps 2: Back, biceps 3: Shoulders 4: Legs. (5: Cardio). I would incorporate additional cardio into every workout, sometimes upwards of 45 minutes a day. This coupled with 3 square meals a day made me strong but got me very limited results and took up a great majority of my day. About 5 years ago, severe neck and lower back pain started to creep up on me as the heavy weights, brutal travel and wear and tear of the ring began to take its toll. I sought out advice from a highly recommended Strength and Conditioning Coach, named Rob MacIntyre, who introduced me to Olympic Lifts and athletic strength training.
Rob said that my back pain came from weakness in my glutes and hamstrings. Literally, my pain in the neck came from my bogus booty. So, he took me out of my comfort zone and began teaching me the power and Olympic lifting basics: cleans, push press, jerks, deadlifts, squats, and snatchs. This particular style of training uses exercises that require your entire body working efficiently in one fluid motion. The exercises are simple, and not necessarily concentrated on one group at a time. In fact, these movements, performed repetitively, can get your heart rate up in such a way that your body enters a fat burning zone that no elliptical machine can match! I was stoked to find that I would never again need to toil away at mundane mediocre cardio. My strength training workouts left me out of breath, feeling strong and most of all accomplished!
Every workout began with a couple of big exercises followed by various smaller muscle groups. Beginning your routine with an explosive exercise such as cleans not only warms up your entire body and pushes the cardio envelope, but it enhances flexibility and strengthens the ligaments and tendons which can be neglected in traditional target muscle training. My workouts are designed like interval training. I "sprint" through my sets of lifts, and take short breaks in between.
But let's be honest. What about the results? I wasn't looking to become the She-Hulk, and I wasn't looking to step on stage at the Arnold Classic. I simply wanted to be a stronger, leaner, healthier and pain-free version of ME. Granted I have an extraordinary job which involves hoisting Divas above my head on a nightly basis, but I wanted a style of training that could stick with me, forever. I wanted something that I could continue to do for decades, when the Glamazon someday becomes the Grammazon. So, coupled with a diet of lean protein and leaning heavy on the veggies for the staples in my diet, traditional strength training has made me the strongest and leanest I have ever been. AND, I never step foot on a cardio machine! Let the treadmill smashing commence!
SO, now that I have completely sold you on wanting to build your very own Glamazonian body with the help of strength training and a great investment in sparkly warrior spandex, you may be asking yourself the biggest question of all, “HOW can a lowly person such as myself accomplish this?” Well you are in luck! A new trend in fitness happens to be sweeping the nation! CrossFit has its foundations in strength training and uses many of the very same motions and exercises to take their members to the next level. All shapes and sizes participate and are pushing their bodies to new heights of personal best. There are even CrossFit competitions for those that enjoy the thrill of leaving others in the dust. (Hey, I get paid to do that!) Other than seeking the advice and help of a strength and conditioning coach, CrossFit is a great, accessible, affordable option that will help you meet your fitness goals.
In the meantime, if you are seeking a little bit of inspiration, keep tuning in to Raw to see what strength training has done for my career. I am the Divas Champion (4x time champion I might add) and I didn't win a title by doing things halfway. I knew when I wasn't getting the results I wanted, I had to do better. So, Jersey-shore boy in the Shmedium t-shirt with the lame-o lines, at least show me a little more effort next time you hit on me. Until you do, I'll be forced to keep breaking your heart, while I'm breaking my records in the gym.
Lots of love, Beth Phoenix!