How easy is it to get Scarlett Johansson’s superhero body? Top trainers and a nutritionist weigh in
When most of us head to the cinemas today, to watch Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we’ll actually be keeping our eyes peeled for the sexy Scarlett Johansson, who kicks butt as the Black Widow. Her toned physique and quick reflexes are testament to hours at the gym. “I am forever wounded. But that’s part of the process, as I like to do as much of the stunt work as possible,” admits Johansson. Imagine a daily routine that includes 90 minutes of circuit workouts, mixed martial arts and specific exercises for the upper body and legs — care to give it a shot? Popular fitness experts design five workout plans for the wannabe Black Widow.
—Surya Praphulla Kumar
Use your weight
Before you start, check your endurance and percentage of fat and lean body mass, says Ajit Shetty, MD of Score Gyms. For stay-at-homes, use your body weight to sculpt a fab bod. Do 20 repetitions of jumping Jacks, push ups, free squats, ab crunches, mountain climbers and burpees. “Beginners can do two sets with no break, while intermediates can do three and the advanced, five,” he says. Gym buffs can start off with 20 minutes of interval training on the treadmill and move on to circuit training—with dumbbell chest presses, pull ups, dumbbell lunges, bicep curls, dumbbell kick-backs and dumbbell rowing. “Do 20 reps each, then up it to 25 reps and, finally, 30. Also, take 20-second breaks between sets,” says Shetty.
Get in the zone
Bangalore-based Anjali Sareen is the co-founder of The Zone Mind & Body Studio, where they focus on high intensity strength and cardio, core strengthening, functional fitness and Pilates. The key to flexibility and lean muscle definition is Pilates, says Sareen, suggesting two 45-minute sessions a week that concentrate on upper body work, lower body moves and torso work for abs, chest and back. She also recommends three days of high intensity workouts, which include lunges, squats, planks and push ups, plyometric moves (like burpees, frog jumps), and drills adapted from athletics, kickboxing, and martial arts. “A 45-minute workout will include three circuits. Each circuit will have three to four exercises (with 10 reps) that are done consecutively and the circuit is repeated two to three times,” says Sareen.
On the mat
If high-intensity workouts are not you, get in shape with yoga. Divya Rolla, a Pilates and yoga trainer, gives you a plan that will help build strength and flexibility. Start off with savasana and take 10 deep breaths through your nose. Warm up with three to six rounds of surya namaskar and then follow this sequence: utkatasana (chair pose), padangustthasana (standing forward bend), uthitha trikonasana (extended triangle pose), uthitha parsvakonasana (extended side angle pose), anjaneyasana (high lunge), adho mukha svanasana (downward dog pose), forearm plank, salabhasana (locust pose), dhanurasana (bow pose), sirsanana (head stand) and balasana (child’s pose). “Hold each pose for one to two minutes and, after the forearm plank, incorporate breaks between poses,” says Rolla, adding that you must do this with a teacher.
“You need to challenge your body and various muscle groups in different ways. Circuit workouts work best, with high rep volume and minimal rest,” says Mrinalini Sekar, the owner and program director at Blue Movement Circle.
For an ‘explosive’ routine, warm up first, then do weighted squats with a medicine ball, weighted push ups with a weight belt, lateral step moves, assisted bench pull ups, knee cycles, weighted calf raise, the Iron Man, followed by ab crunches and dumbbell rowing. “Start off with 20 sets, and then work up to 30. Repeat the circuits three times, with no rest in between. But make sure you take water breaks between circuits,” she says, adding that a cool down and stretching of all muscle groups is a must.
To be a superhero, you need determination, commitment and consistency, says Mumbai-based celebrity trainer Naadir Ali, who works with stars like Priyanka Chopra. He recommends a 10-day schedule. Day 1: upper body conditioning (push ups, pull ups). Day 2: metabolic conditioning—choose what you like to do, like walking, cycling, swimming. Day 3: lower body conditioning (squats, lunges). Day 4: Another round of metabolic conditioning. Day 5: full body conditioning (crunches, bicep curls, bench press). Day 6: this is a recovery day for your body, so practice yoga. Day 7: try a skill like mixed martial arts or Parkour. Day 8: More yoga. Day 9: More Parkour. Day 10. Rest your body. Then, on day 11, repeat sequence. “Master the exercises with a trainer,” concludes Ali.
Even as you burn fat, keep a sharp eye on your diet, says Delhi-based nutritionist Ishi Khosla. “Incorporate a lot of protein, in the form of eggs, fish, pulses and paneer. Salads will help improve overall well being. Give your body a boost of healthy fats with virgin olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds, and coconut. Reduce your salt and sugar intake, and add green tea and cinnamon to your diet,” she says.