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.
Why she ditched cardio
“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. Adds Walsh: “Alison received enough conditioning from the work we were doing with weights.”
As Sidney Glasofer, MD, FACC, a board-certified cardiologist with New Jersey-based Atlantic Medical Group, previously told Well+Good, strength training that uses lower weights at a higher number of reps can give you the aerobic exercise you need. “Strength training this way will give you a cardio workout,” he says, “This also allows you to vary your workout so you don’t get bored, while keeping your heart rate up.”
How she kept up her stamina
Still, Brie made a point to recover 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. This vertical climbing machine offers a serious full-body workout. SQUAY trainer Erin James previously told Well+Good, “You can use it three ways: climb with your hands and knees, just use your hands while standing on the ground for an arm workout, or just use your legs and hold the side bars with your arms for a more centralized workout on your legs.”
She ate “more than ever”
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.”
As athletic coach Kari Lansing, CSCS, previously told Well+Good, “When you don’t eat enough food, your body goes into ‘rebuild mode,’ and that’s not productive for a workout.” Not eating enough can undermine your workouts because you won’t have enough energy to make the most of exercise.
“Heavy lifting is so empowering—you really feel like a badass.” —Alison Brie
All of this not only physically prepped Brie 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.
Oh hi! You look like someone who loves free workouts, discounts for cutting-edge wellness brands, and exclusive Well+Good content. Sign up for Well+, our online community of wellness insiders, and unlock your rewards instantly.