Lee Mullins, who has trained the likes of Rita Ora, Cressida Bonas, and Zara Martin, shares the workout moves and meal plan to get in the best shape of your life
Situated in the luxury Bulgari Hotel in London, Milan and Bali, is Workshop Gymnasium, a gym being recognised as one of the best in the business across the board. Founder Lee Mullins is even more highly regarded as an elite trainer for Nike, who, in between posting pictures of his adorable dachshund on Instagram, is working one-to-one with Cressida Bonas (Prince Harry’s ex girlfriend), model and DJ Zara Martin, actress Clara Pagot and previously, singer Rita Ora.
With a heavy female clientele, Lee knows a thing or two about what women want from their physique. ‘Lee will shape you so that you’re lean and taut and strong, but not bulky’, TV presenter Claudia Winkleman told Tatler. ‘Lee is truly the only trainer I’ve met who knows how to train a woman’s body’, Zara Martin, probably one of the coolest and long-legged gals on the planet, says.
Voted best for ‘First Class Futuristic Fitness’ in the Tatler Spa Guide, Workshop has experts in methods such as boxing, swimming and Pilates. But despite its high class status, Lee is uber chilled and willing to share his best advice for how to lose weight and keep it off, build lean muscle and eat well with Healthista.
How to lose weight
Sort out the diet: The quickest way to lose weight is to tidy up nutrition and get good quality sleep. The training on top will help speed up the process. It’s a cliché saying but, you can’t out-train a bad diet. Anyone who tells you otherwise is bullshitting you. It doesn’t need to be restrictive or boring. You can still have enjoyable foods that are flavoursome and nutrient rich.
Eat good mood foods: There is something that happens when you eat the right foods in the chemicals in the gut and brain. With carbs and sugar, a serotonin release makes you feel satisfied and happy but lethargic. Or you can create dopamine in the body, which gives you energy, focus and drive to be active. This comes from foods protein and healthy fat based foods, such as eggs, grass fed beef, wild fish such as salmon, mackerel and kippers, avocados, nuts and seeds.
Start the day right: Start the day with protein and fat based breakfast (see example meal plan below). That, with a good night’s sleep, will set your motivation up for the day. If your breakfast is cereal, toast, lots of fruit or yoghurt, all with sugar at the core, it makes it hard to be active. It sets you off on a rollercoaster of blood sugar fluctuations, which makes people fat.
I don’t know many people who want to go and work out after a large bowl of pasta
Cut down on carbs: What we see work for everyone initially is cutting back on carbs. Often, they are the reason that person has gained weight, especially the processed carbs. Reducing them will help reduce body fat and inflammation in the body. The time you eat them is important too. I don’t know many people who want to go and work out after a large bowl of pasta. They want to curl up and sleep! Save carbs, in the right form such as vegetables, some low GI starches such as potatoes and rice, for the evening.
Be more active: Activity and training are two different things. Everyone should be active every day as much as they can by walking, for example. Training is doing something with an end goal such as getting stronger.
How to maintain weight loss
Allow flexibility: When people have lost weight certain things happen in the body – less inflammation, less body fat, better digestion and sleep – those things are addictive. To maintain, we say continue what you are doing that got you to the rodeo, but allow more flexibility and variety. You will have already learnt a lot in the weight loss phase, such as portion control and what food makes them feel good.
There is a saying, ‘you are what you eat’, but you are also your habits
Say bye to the ‘diet’: Diets notoriously don’t work . The first thing people need to understand is that they aren’t on a diet because a diet has a start and end date, and when you reach that end date, you go back to what you were doing. There is a saying, ‘you are what you eat’, but you are also your habits. Whatever you do daily will show.
Welcome back the carbs: When maintaining, you are a little more deserving of carbs in the diet because your body has become a better self-regulator; so you can afford to have a few more. Your cravings are lower and you have the drive to be more active. People say ‘listen to your body’, but that’s only true if your body is in a good place and the message is right.
How to get lean muscle
Stress the muscle: You need to get some sort of training plan to give your body stimulus to grow lean muscle and therefore definition. Anyone who says weight training is the only way is lying. There are many ways to skin a cat. Look at Olympians – they are all in great shape but have used different sports and training methods, whether that be weights, gymnastics, yoga, pilates, swimming or boxing. They all work.
Carbs are now your best friend: Your diet and training evolve together as you get in better shape. At the root of it, the type of foods you should be eating are the same as when losing weight. However, I see a lot of people get in good shape, but to get in great shape, you need to eat carbs for energy. Your body should be able to utilise them better, and the most common mistake is not having them (in the right form, at the right time).
There is a perfect window of opportunity to kickstart recovery with food or a good quality protein shake
Recover with post-workout: Often people finish a workout and don’t renourish the body. There is a perfect window of opportunity to kickstart recovery with food or a good quality protein shake. I have worked with clients who may train 3-4 times a week and not eat anything for an hour after and ultimately overload on sugar later and be tired working out. When people trust the process, they have felt 100% better. Another problem is that women are often put off by most protein products which have huge bulky men on the front. We are launching our own line of nutritional supplements on workshopgymnasium.com in April, such as a vegetable based no-sugar protein powder, and we have been mindful of the branding and packaging.
Sleep well: Sleep is your best and cheapest tool for recovery and for your hormones to re-regulate. It’s not just about the quality but the quantity – most people don’t sleep well.
Try a genetic test: Once a year, it’s worth getting a body MOT to see exactly what you’re working with. We do a range of assessments with our clients for better results, looking at hormones, any intolerances, metabolic levels, stress levels, everything! You can get similar home testing kits such as 23andMe or go to an integrated medical doctor. This takes out the guess work and gives you a more customised plan.
The best workout moves
Bum – Hip thrusters
It’s next to impossible to work just the butt. But a hip thruster gets a lot of volume in the glutes and is great because it can be progressed from body weight (which I recommend starting with) to resistance bands or a barbell with weights that lies across the hips. You simply move the hips up and down.
Arms – Chaturanga
Women tend to store more fat on the back of the arms because of female hormones. You don’t need to do cliché moves such as tricep dips which only work in isolation. Chaturanga is a yoga move that’s like a push up or high plank into a downward dog. This is great for working the arms but not overdeveloping them. It has many multifunctional benefits.
Waist – Pull off press
You can use a cable system or resistance band attached to a pole. Stand sideways and hold the handles level to the chest so you can feel the resistance on the cable. Press it out in front of you, hold for a couple of seconds then bring back to the chest. Your body will want to twist, so the anti-rotation really works the core with emphasis on the sides.
Legs – Side plank with one leg abduction
This works both the inside of the legs and the abdominals. Hold the move for 30 seconds both sides/legs. We are often mindful of movements that don’t add more muscle than is already there, as we get a lot of women who would like to lose body fat on their legs, but not necessarily add more muscle.
Abs – Reverse crunch
Lying on your back, hands flat on the floor, bring your knees to your chest and allow the hips to curl up. The lower back can come off slightly. Traditional crunches can put unnecessary pressure on the spine by bending it back and forth.
Healthy eating meal plan
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with half an avocado, spinach and a handful of nuts and berries. It’s quick, inexpensive, nutrient dense and high in protein and healthy fats. There are no inflammatory foods such as wheat or dairy and its relatively low sugar.
Lunch: For me it’s a salad with a choice of protein such as chicken, lamb, beef, venison, fish, tempeh or tofu. I always have some healthy fats such as olive oil, walnuts or seeds.
Dinner: A different protein from lunch with steamed or grilled vegetables. A small serving of starchy carbs such as potato, rice, quinoa, butternut squash, parsnips.
Snack: A post workout shake for after when you train. Use a serving (or two depending on level of activity) of good quality protein such as pea protein and a choice of milk alternative such as rice milk, almond milk, cashew milk or coconut milk. I would always go for those because it gives your system a rest from dairy. Diary is not the devil but I’ve always seen good results when people limit it. I put a few mint leaves in there which helps with digestion and a handful of ice.
Supplements: The reality is people’s lifestyles and commitments mean people need more convenient items aside from food. We can now can get really good quality supplements without sugars or preservatives.
If you live in the UK, the staple supplement you probably need is vitamin D. The majority of people are also deficient in magnesium, which, if you are training and stressed is one of the first minerals depleted in the body. I think everyone could benefit from more omega 3 as we know from research that our intake of omega 3s today compared to hundreds of years ago is significantly less. Also our intake of fibre is less. You can get more from your diet or a good quality fibre supplement includes psyllium husk, inulin and flaxseed. Look into them – some can aggravate people’s gut.
Lee Mullins has more than 10 years experience in the health and fitness industry. He opened Workshop Gymnasium in October 2014 and is an Elite Trainer for Nike. Lee specializes in designing sessions that empower clients to be mentally and physically stronger than when they arrived.