Refreshingly, their goals in preparing for the show were all about athletics—not aesthetics.

By Lauren Mazzo
November 11, 2018
Photo: Performix House / Taylor Hill / Contributor / Getty Images

Understandably, people have a lot of feelings about the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. (Women walking on a runway in their underwear is controversial on its own-and that's before you even add the body-positivity movement to the mix.)

One thing's for sure, though: The VS Angels have been upping their training game. For starters: Gigi Hadid has become a boxing badass; Karlie Kloss can do some insane stuff on top of medicine balls; Romee Strijd crushes this killer mini-band butt circuit on the reg; Josephine Skriver and Jasmine Tookes make tough upper-body strength workouts look easy.

Going into this year's Victoria's Secret Fashion Show (airing on Sunday, December 2, at 10 p.m. ET on ABC), however, some Angels were working toward some serious performance goals-and there's absolutely no room for hating on that.

Georgia Fowler's goal? Run a mile in less than seven and a half minutes. Sadie Newman's: To successfully climb to the top of the rope at Performix House (the exclusive performance gym in NYC where many of the VS models train). Alexina Graham wanted to improve her strength and push 2x her body weight on the weight sled. Sara Sampaio's goal was to do a strict pull-up. Devon Windsor's was to box jump 36 inches.

Read on to see how each angel worked her wings off to get strong, fit, and crush her performance goals.

What's behind the shift from aesthetics to athletics? For one, it's part of the overall trend of women trying to gain strength and muscle. (Not to mention, tuning in to non-scale victories is a great way to keep your health and fitness motivation high.)

It's true: "Having a measurable performance goal always adds motivation," says Andy Speer, one of Windsor's trainers at Performix House. "Athletes don't train to look good; it's a by-product of training for their sport."

"Having a performance goal is really fun because it gives you something to work for in every single session," says Devon Windsor to Shape. "As opposed to just thinking 'okay, I want to have abs,' you can build your way up through having performance goals to get abs and to get stronger all over!"

"The mindset of an athlete-working hard individually for the betterment of the team, whether it's the field or the runway-it's a mindset with a greater purpose in mind which Devon and her Angel (teammates) have embraced," says Speer.

"One of the reasons we chose box jumping as my goal is because I actually used to high jump in high school," says Windsor. "I attempted different heights and 36 inches was the highest point that I couldn't reach."

Angelo Grinceri, Windsor's other trainer, and Speer worked on improving the biomechanics of her jump, as well as core strength and lower-body strength and power. Her training included both two-legged and single-leg stability and power drills, such as power jumps, skips, single-leg jumps, vertical jumps, and box jumps, says Speer. (Here's more on how to master the box jump even if it feels impossible.)

She doesn't just train hard-Windsor recovers hard, too. "Recently I've incorporated new technologies like infrared sauna and cryotherapy a few times a week," she says. "This helps my muscles recover faster and helps me detox, reduces inflammation, and brightens my skin, which is super important before any big show."

As for the other Angels, training was just as athletically focused, according to Joe Holder, a Nike trainer who works with Fowler, Sampaio, and Newman. "Each has different performance goals leading up to the @victoriassecret show, including running faster or improving pull-ups, so adding in some exercises that not only work on body composition but also have cross-over to the distinct goal is key," he wrote in an Instagram caption about training the models.

He had Fowler doing everything from jump roping and sprints to pull-ups, deadlift variations, and TRX work (all of which she showed off in an Instagram post just a few days before the show). Holder also posted videos of her killing it on the assault bike (no easy feat) and doing glute bridges, heavy ropes work, mini resistance band exercises, and some badass medicine ball toss drills.

As part of Graham's training, Holder posted on Instagram about having her do a deadlift to plank to goblet "Buddha" squat strength pattern flow to build core strength and get her used to controlling her body in and out of different positions-both important to reach her goal of pushing a heavyweight sled.

Sampaio's goal was to do a strict pull-up-which she totally nailed (above), even though pull-ups are hard AF. Meanwhile, Holder had Newman (below) implementing heavy weight training like prowler marches to build strength all over and correct movement patterns to work toward her epic goal of completing a rope climb.

Whether or not you can get behind the brand's annual lingerie parade, you have to admit: These ladies are putting in serious work in the gym.