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Australia’s Anna McManamey is a certified personal trainer and sports nutritionist who knows a thing or two about sculpting her body and transforming the physiques of her clients. The 35-year-old from Sydney is a hit on social media, where she shares her fitness tips, recipes, and a motivating back and shoulders workout sessions.
M&F Hers caught up with the bodybuilding pro and judge, to find out more on her love of fitness and came away with and awesome back and shoulders workout for building some serious muscles.
When did you fall in love with fitness?
I grew up in a very athletic family. My [mother] was a sprinter and represented Australia at the Commonwealth Games, and my dad still plays field hockey at the age of 65! Fitness has always been a huge part of my life. I don’t remember a time where I wasn’t in training for something!
As a kid, I was a highly competitive swimmer, dancer and rhythmic gymnast, with several Australian titles to my name. I retired from gymnastics when I was 20 and that’s when I first discovered the gym. Within a few months, I became a group fitness instructor, and this eventually led me to discover the world of body-sculpting and competitive fitness modelling.
How do you approach improving your client’s fitness levels?
I feel that I can really tap into women’s body issues because, while I have always lived a very active lifestyle, I certainly wasn’t always health, and I used to be really good at disliking myself.
Throughout my teens and early 20s, I was extremely self-conscious and had very poor self-body image, and this ultimately led to a seven-year struggle with anorexia and bulimia. I was never fat or overweight, but being the perfectionist and high achiever that I was, competing in sports like dance and gymnastics, where there is so much value on body shape, I became extremely self-critical.
Discovering the gym and learning to live the “fitness lifestyle” quite literally saved my life, and ultimately took me on a new career path. I learned that you don’t need to starve or punish yourself with hours of cardio to achieve the body you want. It’s actually the complete the opposite: Look after yourself from the inside, and this will reflect on the outside.
Helping women avoid the same mistakes I made is why I’m so passionate about educating and inspiring them to achieve a healthy relationship with food, exercise and body image.
You like to incorporate trisets. What are some of the benefits?
Trisets allow you squeeze a lot of work into a shorter period of time, and they are extremely useful for fat loss and hypertrophy. It’s a method I frequently use for both myself and my clients during competition preps. There are different ways you can structure a triset but for a hypertrophy focus, the example, this back and shoulders workout (below) would provide substantial stimulus and time under tension for the muscle group.
You’ll perform three exercises targeting the same muscle group, one after the other, with minimal rest in between. I like to start with lower reps for the first exercise then increase the reps in the subsequent sets. This allows you to really pile on the volume and trap blood into the target muscle group.
And the dropsets will really add to the burn!?
Dropsets are a bodybuilding favorite, and for good reason! They involve performing a set for a given amount of weight and reps until you reach a failure point, you immediately drop the weight by around 20%, and you continue for another given amount of reps to failure. By lowering the weight and continuing to perform more reps, you are able to tap into those “deep” muscle fibers and completely exhaust the target muscle. This is a critical component for achieving muscle hypertrophy.
What’s next for you?
As far as training goes, I am working my way back after undergoing two knee surgeries this year for torn meniscus on both sides. I am still cautiously easing myself back into squatting movements, so right now the focus is on addressing
the underlying weakness that led to injuries in the first place. I’m aiming to get back to my previous intensity of training without doing further damage so that I can avoid another surgery down the track.
Competitively, I am eager to get back on stage again. 2021 was going to be my big return after 3-years off, but COVID had other plans. I would love to compete in 2022 but it will depend on business commitments. The stage will still be there in 2023! The next time I do compete, I am aiming to step up into the WBFF Pro Fitness Division.
A1: Eccentric Chinup, 10 sec to lower 4 x 1
A2: Lat Pulldown, pronated grip 4 x 8-10
A3: Seated Cable Row, close neutral grip, dropset 4 x 12/12
B1: Seated DB Press, 1¼ rep at bottom 4 x 6-8
B2: Seated DB Side Lateral, partial range 4 x 10-12
B3: Standing DB Side Lateral, drop set 4 x 12/12*
*(12/12 indicates a dropset. Do 12 reps to failure, then drop the weight around 20% and do another 12 reps to failure)
The above back and shoulders workout example is advanced as there is a requirement to maintain form while fatigued. Performing an eccentric chin-up is also a big ask for a newbie! So, for beginners or those who would like to gain more experience under pressure, McManamey has provided a modified workout as follows. Keep the same rest periods but drop sets are not included in this plan:
A1: Lat Pulldown, mid pronated 4x 6-8
A2: Half-kneeling Cable Row, high to low angle, mid neutral 4x 8-10
A3: Flat DB Press, neutral grip 4x 12-15
B1: Seated DB Press, neutral grip, unsupported 4x 6-8
B2: 60d Incline Arnold DB Press 4x 8-10
B3: Seated Cable Row, mid supinated grip 4x 12-15