I worked out like Britney Spears for a week and my abs have never felt so sore
- Over the course of seven days, I attempted to replicate moves from Britney Spears' workout routine, which consists of things like difficult core-focused moves, walks on a treadmill, and many yoga poses.
- The experience taught me that working out like Spears is no easy feat and that yoga isn't actually so bad.
- I struggled for parts of her workout because I'm not as flexible as she is and throughout the week my abs felt incredibly sore.
- By the end of my seven-day trial, my abs looked and felt pretty toned but I don't think I could keep realistically keep up with this routine.
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Britney Spears is a pop icon who has been open about her fitness journey for years - so, I decided to try out some of her go-to workouts for myself.
For this challenge, I referenced her abs-blasting "Slave 4 U" workout from her former trainer Bobby Strom, some of her Instagram videos, and parts of a yoga routine from her instructor.
Here's what it was like working out like Britney Spears for a week.
Also, keep in mind that just because a certain routine works for a celebrity doesn't mean it will work for you (or me).
Day one: I start by focusing on my core.
I'm feeling pretty confident as I kick off the week and I even listen to some of Spears' hits from the early aughts to get myself in the mood to jog on the treadmill for about 20 minutes (something I normally shy away from).
After my cardio, I decide to focus on one of the features that the singer is known for showing off: her killer abs.
I don't tend to do a lot of core exercises other than a few sets of 30 alternating-bicycle crunches to tone my obliques, so I was pretty excited for the challenge and to hopefully end the week with some "Slave 4 U"-level abs.
For inspiration, I referenced an interview with Bobby Strom, a trainer who worked with Spears when she was in her late teens and early 20s.
In a 2018 interview with Life & Style, Strom - who helped Spears get ready for her now-iconic "Slave 4 You" music video - said he used to have Spears do "somewhere between 750 to 1,000 variations of crunches a day" in intervals.
He also explained that he'd have her start her workout by running on the treadmill before having her do bicycle crunches.
I knew there was absolutely no way that I could even do close to 750 crunches in one day, so I aimed to make doing 300 my goal for the end of the week.
For today, I decided I'd try to hit 100 bicycle crunches in addition to 50 regular crunches and 60 leg lifts.
To help break things up during the crunch variations, Strom told the publication that he and Spears would work on training with light weights, doing moves like "bicep curls, kickbacks for the triceps, and lateral raises."
As someone who doesn't have a lot of upper-body strength, I was grateful that Spears seemed to favour doing more reps with lighter weights instead of fewer reps with heavier ones.
I did the 10 reps on each side of bicep curls, triceps kickbacks, and lateral raises in between doing a ton of ab crunches. I was surprised by how sweaty and tired I was only halfway through.
I was planning to end by trying to lift a 45-pound (20 kilograms) barbell over my head (which Spears recently did for what she said was the second time ever), but I felt faint, tired, and dizzy so I decided to end my workout so I wouldn't be too sore tomorrow.
I'm definitely going to have to work on strengthening my upper body if I want to get through this week.
Day two: I look to her "Piece of Me" tour workout routine to tone my lower body.
When I wake up, my abs are on fire. It hurts to laugh or sit up and I'm definitely looking forward to giving my core a break to focus on my legs and butt today.
As someone who's not really into cardio and tends to avoid the treadmill, I find that I have a lot more in common with Spears than I thought.
In a July 2019 Instagram post, the singer said that she would purposefully try to challenge herself to stay on the treadmill for longer.
"It's a big a deal for me to stay on the treadmill, cause I literally hate it," she wrote, adding that she was able to stay on for 40 minutes and then spent 20 minutes doing yoga, stretches, and light weight lifting.
In a similar vein, I decided to try running for 20 minutes before attempting the lower-body workout that Spears did to prepare for her "Piece of Me" tour, which she shared in an Instagram post in April 2018.
Since my abs are on fire, I skip the single-leg bicycle crunches, but I'm happy to start out with a few sets of jump squats, kettlebell swings, glute kickbacks (which I try with a light resistance band), and some good old-fashioned squats with my feet turned out to really engage my glute muscles.
My lower body is much stronger than my upper body and my core, so I feel good by the time my workout is over, and I end with some light stretching.
Day three: I attempt a yoga workout followed by a freestyle dance party
As someone who does not do yoga and has never been able to do a split or a handstand, I felt the most uncomfortable and apprehensive about today's routine since it really seems to focus on flexibility.
EQI Yoga Studio owner Elizabeth I., who's trained Spears in the past, told Shape magazine that the singer does a 60- to 90-minute yoga session twice a week.
She said some of Spears' favourite positions are the camel, boat, crescent lunge, warrior two, and bow positions.
So I started with those poses as well as the side-plank pose that Spears modeled in a since-viral Instagram workout video back in May (minus the leg lift, because I'm definitely not that flexible).
I also added some other yoga moves I'm familiar with, like the downward-facing dog, seated forward bend, low lunge, lizard lunge, and half-split pose to get me a little closer to doing the splits that Spears does.
To be honest, all of this was a little demoralising because I don't have the flexibility that Spears has, and it definitely shows. I also realised that yoga is a lot harder than it looks, and I think it would take me many years to get to her level in terms of core strength.
I close out the workout with another concept I'm deeply uncomfortable with - doing a freestyle dance for 20 minutes to "let go," like the singer said she did in a recent Instagram post about her new routine.
Blasting some of the singer's best hits definitely helped me get in the zone, but I feel pretty silly and only kept my energy up for two songs before deciding to call it a day.
I'm proud of myself for making the day's routine all about getting out of my comfort zone, but I don't feel too satisfied after my workout.
Day four: I am dreading the thought of adding more crunches into my life.
It's nice waking up and not feeling sore, which makes me wonder if I should try integrating a few yoga moves into my routine when I'm done with this challenge - I feel like they helped.
Still, I'm getting pretty bored of the treadmill at this point, and even playing "Work B----" on repeat doesn't help when all I want to do is lay in bed and sleep.
I manage to do 15 minutes on the treadmill, adding an incline to make it a little more interesting, which makes me a lot more tired when I'm done.
Next, I try to procrastinate my bicycle crunches by doing the lateral leg lifts that Spears can be seen doing in a number of her Instagram videos.
My abs are on fire again and I collapse on the mat after doing one set of 60 bicycle crunches.
As a break, I grab two 5-pound (2 kilogram) dumbbells and do some bicep curls and overhead triceps extensions to clear my mind before attempting the one-leg downward dog with crunches, which feels like a cross between a plank and the yoga move.
I'm only able to do eight before moving on to lifting the 45-pound (20 kilograms) barbell over my head. It's a lot harder than I expected and my arms are shaking the whole time, but I lift it three times before hitting the mat again for another 60 crunches.
At this point, I feel frustrated that I'm not able to do more ab exercises and I go back on the treadmill to walk it off while doing arm curls with two 5-pound (2 kilograms) dumbbells since I definitely feel like I have a stitch in my side.
I now get why Spears dislikes treadmills ... they can get really monotonous. I change up my music playlist to force myself to walk for 15 minutes.
Part of me wants to just call it a day, but I'm determined and I head back to the mat for 30 more bicycle crunches.
It's hard to stay motivated when I don't have a VMAs performance or music video to train for, but I power through then finish up my workout. I don't know if it's the extra time on the treadmill or the crunches, but I'm definitely feeling a little dizzy.
Day five: I'm so happy that today's workout is mostly about the lower body.
Unsurprisingly, my abs are the sorest they've ever been in my life but today I felt pretty confident because the routine I planned does not include bicycle crunches.
To postpone my treadmill time, I start with some leg and glute workouts. It actually feels so good to lift some weights after a few days of core-strengthening exercises and cardio, and I do three sets of 10 kettlebell swings with a 10-pound (4 kilograms) weight, jump squats with a medium resistance band, glute kickbacks with the same band, and squats on the squat machine with 10 pounds (4 kilograms) added to the weight of the barbell.
I'm feeling really sweaty and tired, but in a good way - I decide to call it a day without getting on the treadmill. I'll try to do more time dancing tomorrow to make up for it.
Day six: I'm starting to actually like the yoga part of her workout.
Even though I feel sore, I'm surprised at how good it feels to stretch out my back and my core with the bow and camel yoga poses. It also feels kind of relaxing and helps me feel less stressed.
Again, I do the crescent lunge, warrior two, and downward-facing dog, but I skip the boat position and the side-plank pose because I'm just not in the move for straining my abs today.
I don't know if I'm necessarily a huge fan of yoga now, but I have to admit that I'm definitely feeling more energised and less sore after doing a couple of poses for a minute each.
To close out my workout, I pull up a list of songs from Spears' "Blackout" album and get ready for my 15 minutes of dancing.
This time, I try not to look at myself in the mirror and I try to focus on just having fun. Surprisingly, the dancing made me feel less tense and I kind of had fun being silly while not worrying too much about what I look like.
Day seven: I'm more than ready to close out this challenge by doing 200 core-focused exercises.
Again, I wake up feeling noticeably less sore post-yoga, and I'm starting to wonder if I should actually start looking into making it a part of my regular routine.
I especially like the bow and camel poses because I feel like they help stretch out my abs to the point where I can at least imagine doing some more crunches.
I'm determined to finish out this challenge strong, so I start by hitting the treadmill for 20 minutes. Today, it's actually not that unbearable because I know that I won't have to do it again tomorrow.
After doing a few sets of lateral leg lifts, I head to the mat and do 60 bicycle crunches, trying to focus on breathing while avoiding straining my neck.
To shake off the soreness, I walk around while doing overhead triceps extensions and bicep curls with some 5-pound (2 kilograms) weights. I follow up with 50 regular crunches, which are not as difficult as the oblique-focused ones.
To break things up, I lift the 45-pound (20 kilograms) barbell over my head four times and then head to my mat to work on my abs.
My abs are screaming at this point, so I do 60 bicycle crunches (I definitely feel myself fading and doing them halfheartedly toward the end) as well as 50 regular crunches before calling it a day.
Looking in the mirror, I'm surprised because I think I can actually start to see some definition on my stomach, which is a rarity for me. I spend the last few minutes on the floor just stretching out.
After this experience, I am blown away at Spears' dedication but I know I could never stick to her routine.
After completing my week-long challenge, the biggest changes I noticed were to my mid-section and abs, which actually seemed significantly more toned after a few days of doing lots of oblique-focused moves.
However, I don't think I could realistically continue doing Spears' core-focused moves in the long run - it just doesn't feel sustainable for my lifestyle and my current capabilities.
That said, I didn't find the rest of her workout to be as challenging because of the fairly light weights she tends to favour, but I definitely had some issues with not being as flexible as she is when it came to yoga moves.
This isn't the most difficult or impractical celebrity workout I've ever tried, but after this week I definitely have more respect for the "Gimme More" songstress, especially when it comes to her abdominal workouts.
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