Because she's an actress and a Dymatize athlete, Alicia Ziegler—or "Ziggy," as she likes to be called—knows a thing or two about how to look great. You can't wear a tank top on screen or represent a brand without always being in tip-top shape. Her upper body and abs are especially on point!
To help you reach your fitness goal, Ziggy brought her AAA (Awesome Abs and Arms) tips and workout to Bodybuilding.com! If you are up for the challenge, try one of her workouts listed below after following her result-boosting tips.
Stay consistent, and you'll be able to rock a tank top or sleeveless dress regardless of the season!
AAA Tip 1: Don't try outtraining a poor diet
Many people think that if they exercise a lot, their abs will just pop out. But visible abdominals are the product of having a low body-fat percentage, not from doing thousands of crunches.
Exercise certainly helps create a lean body, but your diet should be priority number one. "If you eat foods that bloat you; cause digestive disruption; or are full of sugar, additives, and artificial ingredients, you'll probably see more fat accumulate around your midsection," explains Ziggy. "Want visible abs? Cut the garbage and eat clean."
Building a nutrition plan full of healthy, whole foods will take you a lot further toward your goal of having a six-pack than anything else.
AAA Tip 2: Increase the difficulty
Higher-intensity, more-difficult exercises usually pack the best fat-burning and muscle-building punch. For example, Ziggy suggests doing hanging leg raises with legs straight instead of knees bent. "This will increase the challenge of the movement because the range of motion is longer and the weight is actually heavier," she says.
A great way to increase the difficulty of all of your lifts is to make sure you're always doing them through a full range of motion. By allowing your muscles to stretch fully and then contract hard, you're providing your muscles all the stress they need to grow efficiently. If you always take the easy route and shorten the repetitions, you'll be disappointed in your results.
AAA Tip 3: Quality over quantity
No need to devote hours to training your abs. "Truth be told, I don't train my abs often at all," says Ziggy. "I really only perform 2-4 ab-specific exercises per week. I don't have to train them as an individual muscle group because I keep them activated throughout my training sessions all week long, no matter what body part I'm working."
Like any other muscle in the body, abdominal muscles need stress to grow. However, your abs are different than any other muscle group because they're active in almost every other exercise you do. From squats to shoulder presses, your abs are turned on. Otherwise, you'd crumple under the weight.
Instead of spending 20 minutes training abs after she lifts, Ziggy often chooses cardio-based moves that work the core. She names bench jumps, sprints, mountain climbers, and burpees as favorites.
AAA Tip 4: Hit up the heavy weights
Ziggy is no stranger to the heavy weights. "Don't be afraid to lift heavier than you think you can!" she says. "Challenge yourself. I constantly hear gym-goers caution against going heavy because they don't want to look bulky, but pushing yourself is what produces maximal results."
"Lifting heavy" will be different to each individual. The point, though, is to challenge yourself. Muscle growth and shape comes from intense effort, not from doing as little as possible. "Remember," says Ziggy, "you can sculpt your physique by playing with sets, reps, and speed of lifting, as well as techniques like supersets and pyramids."
AAA Tip 5: Use machines and free weights
While you may have heard that using free weights is key to a standout physique, Ziggy doesn't eliminate machines from her plan. "If you're partial to free weights, challenge yourself with machines, and vice versa," she says. "Don't just stick to what you know. Outside of your comfort zone is where you will usually see the most change."
Using free weights and machines will each hit your muscles in different ways. Machines can often help you isolate a particular muscle group, while free weights are usually better for full-body lifts.
AAA Tip 6: Have fun!
When Ziggy trains, there's no such thing as a boring exercise. "Play!" she exclaims. "I include interesting movements like Spiderman push-ups, burpee pull-ups, and walk-outs to keep my arms fatigued and my brain engaged. I also like to pair exercises like the Arnold press and push-ups. Not only does doing one exercise immediately after another work my whole upper body, but it raises my heart rate as well."
Making your workouts fun is often one of the best ways to stay motivated. If you enjoy going to the gym and enjoy what you do when you're there, you'll be more likely to continue working out for years!
AAA Tip 7: Try something new
Going through the same workouts week after week can be effective, but throwing in a new challenge can breathe new life into your training and create awesome new changes in your physique.
Ziggy took a chance and tried boxing. It's now become a big part of her exercise routine. "There's nothing better for my upper body than punching a bag for an hour!" she says.
If you've been secretly dying to try Zumba, powerlifting, or CrossFit, then do it! You never know what kind of impact it'll have on your physique and your attitude.
AAA Tip 8: Make no excuses!
There's really no excuse for not exercising. "Pull-ups and push-ups can be done anywhere, and there are a million exercise variations you can do without any equipment," says Ziggy.
If you want to get in shape, you can. No need for a gym or fancy equipment. All you need is your own two feet and a positive outlook.
Alicia Ziegler's AAA Workouts
Now that you know the importance of working hard and staying consistent, here are Ziggy's ab and arm protocols! Implement the ab routine 1-3 times per week and the arms workout 1-2 times per week.