Monica Brant's Training Tips!

Learn the secrets on how to train correctly from abs to shoulders.
Everyone knows cardiovascular exercise is important during dieting. I try to work out every day, even when I don't have access to a gym (for example, doing sprints on the beach or running up the stairs at a hotel). Running is definitely a good idea if your knees can handle it. I enjoy interval training. According to conventional wisdom, you should aim for a target heart rate of 138-148 when you're performing cardiovascular exercise. I personally prefer 145-160 instead. When I'm interval training, my heart rate can hit the 180s. And during my routines, my rate is 180 the entire time. That's why conditioning is so important.

If you're trying to lose weight, you need to exercise for at least 20-30 minutes, minimum. What can you do in ten minutes except warm up your muscles? If I'm training legs, I'll get on stationary bike and do interval sprints. Whatever you do, the best time to exercise is in the morning before breakfast or at night after your last meal. I'd also recommend weight training for all women. Twice a week would be awesome. Resistance training definitely makes you feel better and lean mass burns more calories than fat. Besides, weight training is the only way you're going to get that toned look.

Abs
Aside from my gymnastic conditioning routine, I work my abs one to three times a week. I usually do supersets, or I don't take much of a rest between straight sets. The abs recover quickly so keep the fire (burn) hot. I will keep going until this area of my body is exhausted. Two of my favorite exercises are hanging leg raises in which I use "Ab Originals" made by Modern Body Design (In case you want to order your own: 310-392-6887) and crunches on a Swiss Ball. Keep in mind that many of the fitness magazines do articles about me regularly. You will glean many other training tips from them. Also, look for the book "Shape Training" by Bob Kennedy featuring a few other fitness competitors and myself. Highly recommended!

Arms
Generally I like to do biceps and triceps together/ alternating 3-4 exercises each. For biceps I train heavier with reps around 8-12 and triceps I keep reps around 15-20. I usually do a variety of exercises, changing each session. Sometimes I even do workouts from the other competitors in the magazines! It never hurts to try something different!

Back/Rear Delts
I usually work this area once a week. I use heavier weights and keep the reps between 10-15. I really enjoy doing wide grip pull-ups and if I don't have a spot, I will use the gravitron (assisted pull up/dip machine) to start my routine. I will continue to do 4-5 exercises with rear delt supersets! I train the same as back...heavier. I like keeping these together because they all are working in the same area! Also, if you are training in gymnastics the rest of your shoulders will be getting a lot of work and the rear delts won't be hit as much..so you want to make sure and get them in!

Chest
For chest training, I prefer to do a variety of pushups: Place hands higher and wider (hitting some front shoulders and more upper chest) than the normal position Normal ol' push-ups (on toes, not knees) Place hands close and lower (hitting slightly more triceps) Decline push-ups with my upper body on the floor and feet are elevated on a bench or box. For an intense stretch when doing the decline type, place dumbbells upright under your hands (helps if d-bells are flat sided), and go down between them for the stretch! Go slow so you don't pull anything. Pushups help build strength and I usually do them after gymnastics. Even when I am not practicing gymnastics, I still train with the push-ups 2-3 x weekly.

Legs
After doing gymnastics 2-3x weekly and running in the sand (sometimes with interval sprints) 2-5x weekly for cardio training, my legs are slightly (!!) exhausted. So, if I am capable of additional weight training in the gym, I perform 4-6 different exercises with light or no-weight, high reps of 20-50, sometimes 100! I prefer to do as many one- legged exercises as possible, i.e. leg press; lunges; extensions; leg curls; etc. to build each leg equally. Additionally, I like to do exercises as supersets or giant sets (3-4 exercises per set) to improve my heart rate and lung capacity. These sets also save time if I am in a hurry.

Shoulders
After my gymnastic practice, I perform one of my favorite exercises: handstand push-ups. For this my feet are balanced on a wall, legs together and tensed, toes pointed, glutes squeezed. Facing a wall, my hands positioned slightly outside of, or directly under my shoulders, I slowly lower myself as far down as possible and push up doing as many as possible in 3 sets. Challenge yourself and see what you can do! Once or twice a week, I also perform strengthening exercises for my rotator cuffs using lightweights or no weight at all. I also do side lateral raises with cables or dumb bells. Again, keep the weight down; but, focus on high reps. It is very important to always remember that your joints are delicate. Never overload on the weight! If I am not doing gymnastics I train shoulders 1-2 x weekly alternating handstand pushups with regular shoulder presses.

Cardio
I feel that my cardio part of my training is very important! I try to do a 45-60 minute session in the morning, before breakfast. My favorite (and seems to be most beneficial for me) is jogging to the beach and in the soft sand. Second most favorite is after my weight training in the gym on either the Gauntlet (revolving staircase) or a treadmill with the grade as high as possible. During my cardio sessions I wear a Polar Heart Rate Monitor to keep an eye on my heart rate without having to stop and check it by counting, etc. I feel this gives me an accurate and most profitable fat burning session. Sometimes I like to add interval sprinting to my aerobic activity and using the monitor gives me that easy heart rate accessibility!

I keep my low range at 130 bpm and the high at 148 bpm-going up to 180 for the intervals. Other activities I enjoy for cardio are: Jogging on the treadmill, stairmaster, Versa Climber, Precor FX, and occasionally the bike. During contest preparations my cardio is even more important for my overall conditioning. I will do an hour in the morning (4-6x weekly), and depending on my fat loss, physical state, and timing, 30-60 minutes in the evening before bed , after last meal. My tip for the best fat burning affects: Slow and Steady for a longer duration! Enjoy!

Rest
Sleep is very important! Don't sacrifice your rest time! Everyone needs different amounts, so make sure you are getting yours. Especially if you are trying to burn fat and even more importantly if you are trying to gain muscle! So try to get consistent amounts nightly! I personally need 6-8 depending on how busy I am and my workload! Yawn!

Thanks,