Australian personal trainer David Higgins knows how to sculpt an A-list physique. Margot Robbie, Gal Gadot, Samuel L. Jackson, Claudia Schiffer, and Naomi Campbell are just some of his famous clients.
He trains the Hollywood elite in the lead-up to and whilst filming blockbuster movies like Kingsman, Fantastic Beasts, Mission Impossible and Mary Queen of Scots, while also running several fitness studios.
The London-based trainer has just released The Hollywood Body Plan, a book in which he shares his secrets on exactly how he preps these phenomenal bodies – and his approach is probably a lot simpler than you thought.
He says that by spending just 21 minutes exercising (moderately) each day for 21 days you can reset your body and correct the way you move long-term, which makes the perfect basis to transform your body aesthetically.
"It's nice to finally articulate what I’ve been doing," he tells the Standard. "I always reset everyone, whether you're male or female, active or not. It gives a good base level and education that you can implement everyday, to make you far more conscious and start to self correct [the way you move]. Once I get you paranoid about that you're on the right way!"
The so-called 21-day "body reset" he refers to is essentially 21 minutes of corrective exercises like stretches and floor work each day, that you're guided through in the book with detailed explanations of exactly how to do hold each movement, down to how to grip your feet. Call it mindfulness movement, LIIT, prehab – Higgins has a few fancier phrases for it like – "conscious control" and "postural hygiene" – but, he says, ultimately it's all about self-care.
"So you're not a fan of HIIT?" I ask him.
"I'm a big fan of HIIT!" Higgins says. "However I'm a bigger fan of preparation and solving your imbalances first. A large majority of us are living a lifestyle of convenience and chronic stillness, we're almost trained to move as little as possible," he says. "If we have postural imbalances and load it with weight and jump around, we're running towards inevitable injury," which, he adds, is totally avoidable.
"The Hollywood Body is about taking back control and reconnecting with how you move."
His back-to-basics approach resonates in a city that's been taken over by high-intensity classes, where you're constantly encouraged to lift heavier weights and cram workouts into shorter bursts. In its holistic approach to health and fitness, The Hollywood Body Plan seems to fit better with 2019's wellness vibe.
Higgins has also created a recommended nutritional plan, which features dishes like miso salmon with black bean noodles, pictured above, to run alongside the exercise. There are a few caveats, of course: you'll have to cut out alcohol, fried food and refined sugar. And once you've completed the reboot, you're encouraged to move on to the "transformational process," in which the workouts step up a gear to more dynamic movements.
Before you even begin the programme, you're asked to set goals for what you want to achieve - which are not weight related - such as run that 10km race or lower your cholesterol. You'll also carry out a series of tests, which assess your posture, flexibility and strength.
"I want to hopefully get the message across that you’re not far away from [your goals], you just need to tweak a few things. Don’t be too hard on yourself, a year of self-care and correction is a nice place to build from, rather than just jumping in. Regain control and take out as many obstacles as possible," he says.
MISO SALMON WITH BLACK BEAN NOODLES
Miso paste has an umami quality that pairs perfectly with the fattiness of salmon, while also keeping the fish tender and succulent. Look for tenderstem or purple sprouting broccoli if you can find it, and baby broad beans or even peas make a good alternative to edamame. The salmon is better if prepped the night before.
- 6 tbsp white miso paste
- 5 tbsp mirin
- 5 tbsp soy sauce
- 2½ tsp minced fresh root ginger
- 1 tbsp agave nectar
- 3 tbsp groundnut oil
- 4 x 150g salmon fillets
- 680g tenderstem broccoli florets,
- ends trimmed
- 680g edamame
- 340g young carrots, washed and
- 400g black bean noodles
- a small handful of fresh
- coriander leaves
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
- sea salt and white pepper
1. In a large bowl, combine the miso, mirin, soy sauce, ginger, agave and 2 tablespoons of the groundnut oil. Add the salmon and coat with the mixture. Cover and place in the fridge to marinate overnight, or for at least 20 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C and line a roasting tin with baking paper. Remove the salmon from the fridge.
3. Place the broccoli, edamame and carrots in a large bowl and dress with the remaining oil. Season with sea salt and white pepper.
4. Lift the salmon into the roasting tin and arrange the vegetables around the fillets. Roast for 15–20 minutes, until the miso has baked to a rich, golden brown and the salmon is just cooked through. There should still be a little bite to the vegetables.
5. Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the noodles, reduce the heat and simmer for 7–8 minutes, or until tender but still retaining their shape. Remove from the heat and strain. Set aside to cool slightly.
6. Divide the veg between 4 plates, top with the salmon and noodles and finish with a little coriander, a squeeze of lime and a scattering of sesame seeds.
Mirin is a Japanese sweet rice wine that makes a dish slightly acidic. You can use rice vinegar, sweet Marsala wine, dry white wine or even dry sherry as substitutes