Here's how the high-energy performer stays strong when she's on the move.

By Rebecca Norris
October 09, 2019
Rick Kern/Contributor/WireImage/Getty Images

There are about a million and two reasons to love Lizzo (and everything she represents). But one of her most swoon-worthy traits is her unapologetic devotion to self-love.

What's more, Lizzo has always been candid about the fact that self-love takes hard work. In a recent interview with Paper Magazine, the "Truth Hurts" singer admitted there was a time when she wasn't taking care of herself, mentally or physically. (Related: Lizzo Opened Up About Loving Her Body and Her "Blackness")

"I remember I was the smallest I'd ever been," Lizzo shared. "I was working out a lot and not eating. I took a picture and sent it to my mom and she was like, 'Are you OK? You don't look OK.' I remember I was talking to this guy and he told me, 'You know what, I showed my friends your picture and they were like, 'Your face is cute, but your body needs work.' And I was like, 'Bro you didn't know me in high school when I was super overweight. You didn't know me in college. This is the smallest I've ever been,' and I still have criticism from somebody who's supposed to really like me. And that just made me feel that I'm never going to be happy until I actually am happy with myself."

As part of her journey toward nurturing a healthy relationship with her body, Lizzo has been working with certified personal trainer Marcus Ely and sharing her workouts on her Instagram Stories. (Related: Lizzo Called Out a Troll Who Accused Her of 'Using Her Body to Get Attention")

In one recent clip, Lizzo can be seen kneeling in front of a double-cable machine performing wide-grip lat pull-downs. In the video, Ely is heard coaching the singer to isometrically hold each pull for two seconds at the bottom, with the final pull being held for 12 seconds.

Instagram/@lizzobeeating

As the name suggests, kneeling lat pull-downs work the latissimus dorsi muscle, giving you that tapered "V" shape from the shoulders to the waist, says Nick Poulin, certified trainer and CEO/founder of Poulin Health & Wellness in New York City. Plus, isometric holds not only amp up the overall intensity of the workout, but they also help to build tendon and ligament strength, encouraging the body to learn the right form of the exercise, Jeremy Frisch, owner and director of Achieve Performance Training in Clinton, Massachusetts, told us in a previous interview.

When performing lat pul-downs, it's essential to keep your neck and back neutral, explains Poulin. "Pull with your elbows, not with your biceps," he says. "The double cable neutral-grip lat pull-down is a brilliant exercise with which you can build your back and arm muscles and develop upper-body strength."

Poulin also notes that this exercise can be performed unilaterally (meaning one side at a time). "Therefore, to get the [most] benefits, you should sometimes perform it unilaterally," he suggests.

In another Instagram Story, Lizzo is seen doing barbell back squats on a Smith machine while Ely encourages her through each rep, reminding her to breathe along the way. (Related: These Breathing Techniques Will Change the Way You Exercise)

Instagram/@lizzobeeating

Squats of any kind are great to add to your workout routine. But barbell back squats, specifically, allow you to use heavier weights compared to a front squat, overhead squat, or squat variation using a different piece of equipment (such as kettlebells, dumbbells, or sandbags), Jordan Feigenbaum, M.D., founder of Barbell Medicine and a certified strength and conditioning specialist, previously told us. "Additionally, the range of motion used in the back squat is relatively large," he explained. "That, plus the potential to load a lot of weight combine to produce an exercise that effectively trains a lot of muscle mass at the same time."

FYI, though: You don't necessarily need to do back squats on a Smith machine. While the machine can certainly be helpful for safely performing heavy squats without a spotter, some trainers are adamantly against doing Smith machine back squats. When you lower into a squat using the machine, your back tends to stay straight and almost perpendicular to the ground, compressing (and stressing) the vertebrae, Lou Schuler, C.S.C.S., co-author of The New Rules of Lifting Supercharged, told us in a previous interview. Plus, since using the Smith machine requires leaning back into the bar, you run the risk of overly stressing your knees, never fully contracting your glutes or hamstrings, and you're probably not training your core as much as you could be, explained Schuler. (Looking for an alternative to Smith machine squats? Here's how to do bodyweight squats correctly once and for all.)

In another IG Story clip, Lizzo can be seen pushing her way through a set of Russian twists, bouncing a medicine ball on each side.

Instagram/@lizzobeeating

Russian twists incorporate nearly all of the muscles that make up your core: the lower back, abs, obliques, diaphragm, and inner thighs, Jodi Sussner, director of personal training for Snap Fitness 24/7, previously told us.

When performing Russian twists, make sure your back is straight (not curved) and that your stomach is engaged at all times, says Poulin. "Try focusing on the contraction, [and] hold on to the ball throughout the range of motion, trying to touch the ball to the ground each time without letting go," he suggests, noting that performing this exercise slowly and with control can improve not only abdominal health, but cardio health as well. "It helps because over time it can improve cardiovascular endurance which then improves heart function," he says.

Lizzo doesn't just post her workouts, though. In a now-disappeared Instagram Story, the singer is shown getting what looks like a Theragun massage.

Instagram/@lizzobeeating

ICYDK, Theraguns are innovative recovery tools that offer rapid deep-tissue massage through a pummeling movement. While it might look somewhat violent, it's actually great when it comes to promoting blood flow and muscle recovery, says Poulin. "It also provides a gentle stretch that, in turn, enhances flexibility, performance, and physical response," he adds.

"Percussion therapy accelerates and enhances the repair of the muscle fiber by providing rapid bursts of pressure in concentrated, short-duration pulses deep into the tissues of the body," explains Poulin. "This enhances the flow of blood to different critical areas, allowing for pain relief and subsequently improving function and range of motion."

While percussion therapy is great for recovery, it's also used by world-class athletes as a pre-competition warm-up. "Since percussion therapy is utilized to aggressively work and treat deep-tissue muscles, it helps to increase blood circulation and oxygen distribution to various parts of your body, especially on the local topical area," explains Poulin. "This decreases post-workout muscle pain and cramps, which accelerates the body's ability to heal and recover." (Not ready to drop $400 on a Theragun? Check out these other recovery tools for when your muscles are sore AF.)

However Lizzo is using her Theragun (and her workouts), her routine seems to be working not just for her body, but her mind, too. In a recent interview with NPR, the singer shared how she's learned to grow more comfortable with her body by finding what works for her.

"At a certain point I kind of realized that my body wasn't going to change unless I did something drastic, which I didn't have money [for]," she said. "When I started discovering my self-love and trying to be more positive about my body, this was like 10 years ago, and I was broke. I was like, I have no plastic surgery options, there's no crazy dieting options; I've been big my whole life. 'Just deal with it! Just accept your body!' I made a decision that I would eventually be happy about it, and it took a long time. Ten years later, I have a healthy relationship with my body."

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