When Alison Brie started training for the Netflix comedy GLOW—if you haven’t seen it, she plays a struggling actress who starts a side hustle by joining an all-female pro-wrestling squad (basically a kick-ass women’s circle with teased hair and leotards)—she put her SoulCycle membership on hold.
Sounds counterintuitive, right? But it was all part of a master plan outlined by her trainer, Jason Walsh, and dominated by serious weight training.
“I really wanted to gain strength and muscle mass, so the first thing I did was cut out most of my cardio,” says the actress, who was featured in Community and Mad Men before her breakout role in the hit Netflix comedy, which returns June 29 with season two. Adds Walsh: “Alison received enough conditioning from the work we were doing with weights.”
Instead, she recovered from endless rounds of pull-ups and Bulgarian split squats with a slow jog every few days. She also popped into a weekly class at Walsh’s Rise Nation studio, where she spent 30 minutes raising her heart rate on a VersaClimber.
Brie also credits “eating constantly” with getting her through those excruciating resistance training sessions—mainly protein, veggies, and good fats, according to Walsh. “A lot of women, especially in my profession, feel like they have to starve themselves to lose weight,” says Brie. “I’ve certainly felt that way in the past. But while training for the show, I was eating more than ever and I’ve never felt better.”
All of this not only physically prepped her to play a wrestler and throw down tons of drop kicks and pile drivers—yes, she did all her own stunts—but also gave her a major confidence boost. “Heavy lifting is so empowering—you really feel like a badass,” she says. “By the time we were shooting the show, I was deadlifting 165 pounds, hip thrusting up to 300 pounds, and doing multiple sets of 10 pull-ups.” You glow, girl.
Zoe Saldana’s another star who limits her cardio—here’s why. Into it? Try Scarlett Johansson’s favorite 20-minute strength-training workout instead.
Originally published May 17, 2017; updated June 26, 2018.
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