This mini-guide is written specifically for women who want a lean, toned and firm body. My advice in this article is based on the lessons I have learned from coaching Fashion Models for campaigns, photoshoots and shows.

Yes, there is an infinite amount of aesthetically pleasing body shapes out there.. and every woman wants and needs something different from her body. I know so many women nowadays want a more strong-looking  ‘gym body’ look, and don’t think a lean, 90’s esq Supermodel model looks good… in that case, then this guide will NOT be for you.

My experience and expertise are more geared to creating athletic, lean and toned bodies. I also like building up my clients body confidence, self-love, and facilitating a healthy relationship with food and exercise. I think you can have it all; a lean, fit body that you are happy with, and be strong and conditioned without looking like you live in the gym.. all while enjoying an ‘athletic’ mindset that helps you transcend obsessive vanity and give you seriously high levels of sustainable body confidence!

In this mini-guide, I will share some of the training protocols I use with my female model and wannabe-model clients and give you some practical tips to help you train smarter and get superior results.

Lesson 1 | Blame Your Parents

Let’s start with the obvious. Can everyone get the body of a supermodel? Usually no. Nor is this a bad thing.

Global fashion industry standards have not yet caught up with the rest of the world and are skewed towards an ‘ideal’ of a young, white, tall and slim. Most women do not have bodies like this. So, most please should be careful with your goals and make sure they truly serve you.

Trying to look like someone else is potentially very toxic for one’s self-esteem, and I can assure you that looking a certain way just isn’t automatically going to create happiness. However, the process of training for a goal, even an aesthetic one. when done in a holistic and athletic way can often do wonders for self-esteem, self-love and general body image. That is why me must be honest with ourselves. If you really want to look like a supermodel, then that’s cool, Just think about it for bit and make sure the goal is your goal and that the process, and not just the result will make you happy.

So do you really want a fashion model-esq body? Then let’s hope you have model parents, as genetics is by far the biggest variable. So, this may be of interest; five years ago, I accepted a challenge from the Daily Mail to get Poppy Cross (one of their Journalists) into Victoria Secret Angel shape.

I looked after the exercise components, and it took us just under four months. Poppy worked very hard, but to be fair she was already lean, to begin with! If she were a size UK 14-16, it would have taken me 12 months of intense training to get her in that kinda shape. So yes anything is possible, with the right help and commitment,  but you have to weigh up what you’re willing to sacrifice. Click here to read the article. (And also check out her book – “Poppy’s Secret” about the experience. I wrote the foreword for it and it’s very detailed and full of photos etc).

A healthier goal is to want to learn the right practical applications for YOU and YOUR BODY. This brings me on to this little guide. It is designed specifically for women that already exercise and want a lean, ‘fashion-model’ figure. Now, I’ve had a very varied career as a coach and worked with all kinds of people with all kinds of body & fitness goals, however, if you’ve read this far, I’m guessing you like the long, lean, and toned mid naughties ‘Victoria Secret Angel” look; so the five mini-lessons in this guide shall be informed from my extensive experience helping Victoria Secret girls (when it was a thing!), Sports Illustrated Swimsuit models and leading Lingerie models get quick, targeted and precise results.

Lesson 2 | Gym time

Weight Training 

The young women I work with that need to get into shape quickly for fashion weeks, a campaign shoot, a movie role or for upcoming auditions, ALL lift heavy weights. Weight training is a shortcut to getting quick results, and being strong is the foundation of an athletic, well-functioning body.

The caveat is that the ‘fashion model look’ is rather specific and not in line with what most gym trainers think looks good nowadays. ‘Physique modelling’ is currently all the rage, which is fine if you’re into that, but for fashion models and women that like a more lean look, the popular ‘gym body’ vibe is just far too muscular and too bulky on thighs, upper back and shoulders. If you want an athletic, supermodel lean look, you need to train a little bit differently to how most trainers will advise.

There are three exercises I return to time and time again, and there are also three popular exercises that I pretty much never use with my female clients who want a fashion look or are preparing for a shoot/campaign/event

The three exercises I never use: 

  1. Barbell squats (too much emphasis on quads)
  2. Wide-grip lat pull-downs (Builds too wide a back)
  3. Shrugs (build up neck too much)

My Top 3 Weight-Lifting Moves

1. Romanian Dead Lifts – help to raise glutes and tone hamstrings (and strengthen lower back)without any thigh bulking.

2. Sumo Squats – firm your inner highs and shape the side of glutes, helping the ‘sweep’ (a.k.a. a strong and round) glute look. (without working the front of thighs)

3. Posterior Deltoid Flies – improve posture and help give the top of arms and upper back more definition.. again, without the bulk of saying lateral flies or excessive (cross-fit style) pressing.

Cardio 

Weights are great for burning fat as well as building muscles, so where does that leave cardio? Well, cardio is also good for fat burning… and the body needs variety or else the chance of in injury raises. Cardio also fantastic for the heart and lungs and just feeling energised! thankfully, unlike bodybuilding and ultra endurance sports, if we aim for an athletic, toned and lean look, we do not have to make choice between feeling fit & healthy and looking fit & healthy.

With cardio, I mix up HIIT (high-intensity interval training) with long LSD (long steady distance) training, and generally, I work to a 50/50 ratio. When done in the same gym session always do HIIT first then LSD straight after as its better for mobilising the fat out of the body – and mentally it feels nicer too. To achieve the model look, I tend to avoid too much uphill running, resisted cycling and rowing as these are all very quad dominant activities.

In addition to weights and cardio, as you know, we have other ways of moving. Our client programs usually include a wide range of movement drills taken from athletics, parkour, stunt-training, ballet and numerous martial arts. The key unifying factor is that no fitness equipment is needed. Using your body as a gym is psychologically satisfying, and I would argue, inherently empowering for you.

My Top 4 Cardio Activities

1. Versa-climber

2. Running / Treadmill

3. Cross Trainer 

4. Assault Bike

Treat your body with love by training it hard and feeding it well

Any exercise or movement is ’good’ for you in the general sense or being far better for the soul, brain and body than not moving. But if you want to achieve a long, lean, model-esque body similar to the Victoria Secret Angels, there are four principles I recommend you adhere to:

Principle One
Pick exercises that focus on posterior chain development. Your posterior chain is the important muscles on the back of your body, namely the hamstrings, glutes and lower back. Working these helps to drop body fat and determines the way the glutes look.

Principle Two
Pick exercises that challenge the core. Getting strong from the inside out reduces injury and builds solid foundations for more advanced training.

Principle Three
Pick exercises that improve body awareness and athleticism. Essentially, when we train mindfully and athletically, we treat our body more like an instrument than an ornament. While you want to look like a model, I want you to FEEL like a superhero with real self-confidence and zero body hang-ups.

Principle Four
Pick exercises that improve posture. Improving posture reduces headaches, the chance of back injuries down the line, and gives a taller, slimmer more confident appearance. Your physiology directly affects your emotional state, so having an amazing posture can also truly help you face the day and make it your own.

Lesson 3 | Online Fitness

There are so many, and they can be a lot of fun! Well-known workouts such as Zumba™, Kayla’s BBG™, Methodology X™,  Barrecore™,  Bodycombat™, Insanity™ and P90x™ – all can have benefits to women, but whats best for you? There are many new workouts dedicated to female wellbeing launching every year as well as more generic classes that focus on boxing, Pilates, ballet or yoga – so how do you know if they are any good for you and your body?

Give everything a try as you don’t know what you like until you try it! But the number one rule is to do your research.

Trial and error is one way of finding out, but if your time is precious, I recommend reading up about the philosophy and credentials of those who created them and seek out real feedback about the workout. I never recommend doing regular cycling, incline sprinting and rowing-based workouts as the vast majority of women I’ve worked with are very quad dominant, thus doing more quad-based work is nonsensical from an athletic, functional and aesthetic standpoint.

 MX Home Workout Club  (online membership)

The Methodology X™ system is designed specifically to achieve a long, lean and figure and athletic mindset. The online workout guide uses specific bodyweight moves taken from boxing, ballet, yoga and pilates and is endorsed by modelling agencies, top models, physiotherapists, doctors and well-known ‘celebrity trainers in the US and UK. The MX Home Workout Club has thousands of happy members and has been called ‘the bible for fashion models’ by the fashion media.

Lesson 4 | Eat, Sleep, Be Kind, Repeat

The next section is about eating. They say that 80% of results are diet-driven. This isn’t a 100% true for people who are already slim or already eat pretty well, but there are definite things you can eat or avoid eating which can maximize results.

Here we shall look at three areas of personal wellbeing that will help to achieve and sustain a ‘model body’.

Feed Yourself

This is a huge topic, and there is a plethora of real science, knowledge and informed opinion about correct eating for public consumption online. But alas, there is also a lot of pseudo-science, uninformed opinion and technically (and unethical) poor eating advice.

These are my top tips following my experience with female clients who are on the quest to get lean, fit and ready for bikini photo-shoots and the catwalk.

1. Sit down three times a day and eat a real, nutrient-dense, colourful meal.

2. Don’t make a habit out of snacking. ‘Healthy’ snacks are often very deceptive, e.g. gluten-free does not equate to healthy in any way (unless you are celiac) and the words natural, organic make us feel that its good but we can end up eating way more calories than we realise and need.

3. Aim never to be really full or really hungry – feeling a bit of both at times throughout your week is fine, but always try to avoid extreme feelings.

4. Drink more water and less wine.

5. Create a routine and be good 85% of the time and relax the other 15% of the time – this will help to create balance, reduce cravings and help you feel human!

6. Don’t miss out on any food groups unless you have allergies. Bread, pasta and dairy are not evil and cause zero problems for the vast majority of us.

7. Eat more veg. Go green when in doubt.

8. Learn how to cook. It’s empowering and useful to know exactly what you are putting into your body. You will improve the relationship you have with eating and food in general when you learn to make it with your own bare hands.

Sleep Well

We all need different amounts of sleep at night and actually, quality is more important than quantity. To improve your quality of sleep, go to sleep happy!

This means avoiding stressful situations, arguments and all those boring yet stimulating activities like reading work emails on your phone or mindlessly scrolling through strangers filtered lives on Instagram. Experiment with different tactics –  when you are training hard, I advise sleeping an extra 30 minutes a night but do whatever feels normal and right for you. (p.s Please see Episode 12 of my MX podcast with J-Lo’s Trainer Jay Cardelio about Sleep and Mindset and my recommended products list as the weighted sleep blanket is a game-changer!

Be Kind

Self-improvement can become self-indulgent if we are not careful. Some can commit so much to exercise, eating healthy and living strictly, that they can become self-obsessed and even judgmental about other people’s life choices.

We are all in different places when it comes to our wellness path, spiritual development and general adulthood-ness. We should strive not to judge. Be nice and support others so we can make the world and society more positive. No matter how ‘hot’ our bodies may get, narcissism is ugly, and kindness is the most attractive quality any person can possess.

We rise by lifting others

Lesson 5 | It’s All In The Mind

Think Like An Athlete

When You Next Train,
Enjoy The Struggle

Your Body Wants to be Challenged

Mindset

In this final part, I want to share with you the secret as to why some people make amazing changes and get great results while others do not. This secret is mindset – our decisions, our motivation and our focus all come from mindset.

My company has the tag line ‘Live the Athletic Life’ for a reason. Having an athletic mentality is a choice where we decide to love our bodies and focus on performance. This is far healthier, useful, truthful and effective than seeing ourselves as pieces of meat.

Work harder than the person next to you, work harder than everyone else in the gym, and most importantly, work harder than YOU did last week. Don’t count reps, go to your max and only start counting when you want to stop, and then do 5 more no matter what!  Don’t take too many gym selfies, concentrate on what is important, be focused, be intense and aim for perfect form and high energy in every single rep. This will get better results for you, and it’s more fun and is better for your own mental health.

I always remind my clients that they are athletes. They will be kickboxing, ‘methodx-ing’, lifting heavy weights and pushing hard, learning new skills and generally working their butts off. The truth is, you are an athlete; No matter what size or shape or current fitness level you are. Please celebrate this fact as you train for your goals.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this guide has given you some things to think about, and you will incorporate some of these exercise, nutrition and mindset ideas into your training.

This report was written in association with Methodology X™ – which is an award-winning workout system that specialises in helping women get fit, lean and toned.

Methodology X™  (which has an online members club, group classes and weekly podcast show) is championed by the fashion industry and models around the world rely on it to get acting results. Find out more here.