Australia’s Anna McManamey is a certified personal trainer and sports nutrition expert who knows a thing or two about shaping her body and transforming her clients’ physiques. The 35-year-old from Sydney is a hit on social media, where she shares her fitness tips, recipes and a motivating back and shoulder workout.
M&F Hers caught up with the bodybuilding pro and the judge to find out more about her love of fitness and set off with a fantastic back and shoulder workout to build some serious muscle.
When did you fall in love with fitness?
I grew up in a very athletic family. Mine [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 big part of my life. I do not remember a time when I was not training for anything!
As a child, I was a very competitive swimmer, dancer and rhythmic gymnast with several Australian titles to my name. I retired from gymnastics when I was 20 and that was when I first discovered the gym. Within a few months, I became a group fitness instructor, and it eventually made me discover the world of body sculpting and competitive fitness modeling.
How do you go about improving your client’s fitness level?
I feel like I can really intervene in women’s body problems because even though I have always lived a very active lifestyle, I was certainly not always healthy and I used to be really good at not liking myself.
Throughout my teens and early 20s, I was extremely self-conscious and had a very bad body image, and that eventually led to a seven-year battle with anorexia and bulimia. I was never fat or overweight, but when I was the perfectionist and high performer I was, competing in sports like dance and gymnastics where there is so much value in body shape, I became extremely self-critical.
Discovering the gym and learning to live the “fitness lifestyle” literally saved my life and eventually took me on a new career path. I learned that you do not have to starve or punish yourself with hours of cardio to achieve the body you want. It is actually the opposite: Take care of yourself from the inside and it will be reflected from the outside.
Helping women avoid the same mistakes I made is why I am 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 to squeeze a lot of work into a shorter period of time and they are extremely useful for fat loss and hypertrophy. It is a method I often use for both myself and my clients during competition preparations. There are various ways you can structure a triset, but for a hypertrophy focus, the example of this back and shoulder workout (below) would provide significant stimulus and time under tension for the muscle group.
You will perform three exercises aimed at the same muscle group, one after the other, with minimal rest in between. I like to start with lower reps for the first exercise and then increase reps in the subsequent sets. This allows you to really gather volume and capture blood into the target muscle group.
And the drop will really increase the combustion !?
Dropsets are a favorite for bodybuilding, and for good reason! They involve performing a set for a given amount of weights and repetitions until you reach an error point, you immediately drop the weight by about 20% and you continue with another given amount of repetitions to failure. By lowering the weight and continuing to perform more repetitions, you are able to utilize the “deep” muscle fibers and exhaust the target muscle completely. This is a critical component for achieving muscle hypertrophy.
What’s next for you?
In terms of training, I am working my way back after undergoing two knee surgeries this year for torn meniscus on both sides. I still lean back gently in squatting movements, so right now the focus is on addressing
the underlying weakness that led to injuries in the first place. I aim to return to my previous training intensity without doing any further damage so I can avoid another operation down the field.
Competitively, I’m eager to get back on stage again. 2021 was to be my big return after 3 years off, but COVID had other plans. I would love to compete in 2022, but that will depend on business commitments. The stage will still be there in 2023! Next time I compete, I aim to step up in the WBFF Pro Fitness Division.
Anna McManamey’s back and shoulders workout
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 rope at the bottom 4 x 6-8
B2: Seated DB Side Lateral, subarea 4 x 10-12
B3: Standing DB Side Lateral, drop set 4 x 12/12 *
* (12/12 indicates a dropset. Perform 12 repetitions for failure, then lower the weight by about 20% and perform another 12 repetitions for failure)
The above back and shoulder training example is advanced as there is a requirement to maintain shape while you are tired. Performing an eccentric chin-up is also a great request for a beginner! So for beginners or those who want 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, middle pronated 4x 6-8
A2: Semi-kneeling cable row, high to low angle, center 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, middle supinated handle 4x 12-15