At 41, Candace Cameron Bure is in the best shape of her life, as evidenced by the photo her personal trainer, Kira Stokes, recently posted on Instagram to celebrate the actress's birthday:
Candace stands next to Kira, 42, creator of The Stoked Method, who makes a living off her abs by sharing the exercises she's used to define them. Of course Candace is an actress, not a fitness guru - but her core looks toned AF.
It's no secret that Candace has worked damn hard at the gym to define her midsection: "She trains like an athlete," Kira says of the client, who's since become her good friend. "She loves a challenge."
Here are the core-tightening workout tips that worked for Candace, according to Kira:
1. Squeeze in "sneaky" cardio. When Candace came to Kira about a year and a half ago, she wanted to tighten her triceps, lift her butt, and tone her core. She'd been lifting weights without doing much cardio. Because body fat can conceal abdominal definition, and cardio, which sparks the metabolism, can help already slim people peel off the last few pounds, Kira snuck cardio into Candace's routine. During their 75-minute training sessions, Kira would plan five, four-exercise circuits. They'd go through each circuit three times, and Candace would jump rope for three to five minutes as Kira demoed the next set of moves. "Jumping rope became something she fell in love with," says Kira.
2. Combine core work and cardio. In addition to jumping rope, Kira works cardio-core moves like jump squats, quick mountain climbers, and switch jumps into all five of the four-move circuits that comprise Candace's typical, 75-minute workout sessions. They're not crunches but they do involve core activation to achieve proper form.
3. Start with planks, not crunches. Kira doesn't think crunches are the worst - so long as you raise one vertebrae at a time off the floor, then lower down just halfway without dropping your head and shoulders, you'll definitely feel the burn in your abdominal muscles. However, Kira's approach to core work involves engaging all the muscles in the core - not just the abs - and crunches just don't tap into back and booty, which is a part of your core, according to Kira. It's why she and Candace first worked on mastering stability moves like holding a plank - butt clenched! - before they progressed to crunches. Stability work also activates the deepest abdominal muscles to build strength - a good thing, according to Kira. "Without the strength, you can't get the good stuff - a six-pack - on top," she says.
Besides planking, another good way for beginners to ignite the entire core is to lie on your back with your feet up and knees bent 90 degrees. Place your hands on your quads and push them away from your body as you engage your core to keep the knees over the hips. (Candace started with this one too.)
4. Work your abs every day - but switch it up. The muscles of your core recover quickly, so you can get all up in there on the regular without rest days. Still, Kira recommends mixing up exercises to keep the body guessing. So if you did planks today, tomorrow, try C-curves, a move Candace has grown to love now that she can hold the position for a minute and a half, according to Kira. To try it, sit with your knees bent and soles of the feet on the floor. Prop your upper body up on your forearms. Without changing the angle between your upper body and the floor, place one hand at a time behind each thigh. Hold as long as you can.
5. Eat for awesome abs. Candace has opened up about her super-clean, mostly vegan diet, and most fitness experts credit A+ eating habits, at least in part, for flat abs. Although Kira is Candace's trainer, and she's not a dietitian, but she still encouraged Candace to drink a protein shake 15 to 30 minutes after each of their workouts since "the quickest way to recover from tearing muscles as you do during a workout is to get protein in your body quickly," Kira says. She adds that the protein shake isn't a meal replacement - it's just a scoop of protein powder you shake with ice water or almond milk - but a supplement to hold you over until your next real meal. Kira also encouraged Candace to pack snacks when she's out and about instead of defaulting to whatever foods are served on the Fuller House set. "She's really figured out what works for her," Kira says.
I'll have what she's having.
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