When actress Jennifer Garner stepped onto the Oscar’s red carpet last spring, everyone was buzzing — not about who was on her arm, but about her arms. Having just completed three months of intensive fitness training for her new role as a vigilante mom in the action-thriller Peppermint, the attention was well deserved. To prep for the film, which releases in September, Jennifer partnered with A-list fitness guru Simone De La Rue.
The real-life mama of three trained with Simone six days a week and worked with celeb nutritionist Kelly LeVeque to create a 360-degree program for her best body ever. We’re dishing with Simone below about Jen’s entire – impressive – process. You want fitspo? Get it all below.
If you’re looking for your best body ever, we swear by Simone and Kelly’s Body By Simone app. The ladies’ work with Jennifer Garner proves just how effective their combo of fitness and nutrition can be.
Q: What was the training program like to get Jenifer Garner ready for this role?
A: It was a really intense 3-month period that Jennifer really upped her game for. Basically, we worked out six days a week. She worked with me for one hour every morning, then she did some stunt training for an hour after that.
We wanted to create a strong and powerful physique, especially upper body, so we had to lift large weights and really build up her shoulders and her biceps and triceps and her upper body strength. At most, she was lifting 15 pound weights but we were doing high-repetition sets to fatigue the muscles and then supersetting that with her own body weight.
We were using resistance bands too.
We also combined in the cardio — she loves to dance and she’s a great dancer. Some days we just danced for an hour or used the mini rebounder which she also did cardio on. She is honestly the strongest, most dedicated and driven client that I have. At 46, with three kids it’s just incredible seeing the shape she got into. I was impressed myself.
Q: When and where did you start to see the transformation?
A: The real moment was when I saw her on the red carpet for the Oscars and she had that royal blue dress on. She was photographed and the next day everyone was like “OMG, look at Jen’s arms!” or “Look at Jen’s body!” For me, that was a really proud moment. I felt like a proud mother. It was also like a coming out for her to show the Hollywood community how hard she had been working since the divorce. I think she just looked so toned and so ripped — she looked incredible and she earned it!
Q: What are some routines you used to get Jen in such great shape?
She was actually doing sort of a push-up challenge. She was doing up to 100 push-ups in a day just on her own in different segments, like ten at a time throughout the day. We did a lot of supersetting and bodywork. For example, she would do basic push-ups but then we would add weight onto her back while she was doing the push-ups. We mainly used free-weights, but I still really incorporated the dance element for the stability and balance aspects of my Body By Simone training method.
Q: How did you two start working together?
A: I’ve been working with Jen for four or five years and we have a wonderful relationship. When this opportunity came up, the director called me and said ‘This is the physique I want her to have.’ and he was insinuating that there’s specific training that she needs to have. I said ‘Look, you need to trust me on this, we will get there in our own way.’ — and we did! It was quite satisfying with the whole Time’s Up and female empowerment era that we can really just show the men that we can do it ourselves and do it well.
Q: What was the most challenging part of this whole process?
A: The time restraint and long hours that we had to work around were very challenging. We were still training while she was filming. Some mornings I was at her house at like 5am and we would train and then she would go and be on set and film all day and then be absolutely exhausted and not get a lot of sleep and we’d have to go again in the morning. There are not many people that would get me out of bed at 4:30am for a 5am training – she’s probably only one of a handful. Her commitment alone to that was inspiring — being a mom and filming 12 hours a day and still making time for her workout. The hard work paid off for her because she is essentially a walking billboard for the work that we did.
Q: What was the most rewarding part of this process?
The thing that I loved was that, originally, the producers and the studio and everyone were saying that she needed to have a male trainer and it has to be in a traditional gym and this is what she has to be doing. She was like, I don’t want to do that, I won’t be happy doing that. I’m so glad that we proved to everyone that a female can train a female and use 15 – 20-pound weights and use your own body weight to really create that physique. And as Kelly would attest to, you don’t have to just be eating chicken breast and broccoli. Check out Jennifer’s Instagram for an inside peek.
Q: Do you have any motivation tips for hitting a challenging training goal?
A: Find whatever you can to get through it. I loved working with Kelly LeVeque because I love everything she is and does and you have to fuel your workout as well. You can’t just starve yourself completely or limit your food. You need those proteins to really build and repair the muscle, so diet plays a huge part in it — and when I say diet I mean ‘eating plan’ because she was burning so many calories and building so much muscle that she had to make sure she was keeping up her nutrient intake and protein intake.
I think for getting motivated, you just have to have a goal. You have to set it and just work towards that goal. As humans, many of us are all or nothing, so if you have something to aspire to we work a little more consistently. Set a goal, keep yourself accountable and just try and stay focused. I always wondered why people have trainers and there’s a reason — because there is someone there saying to you ‘Come on you’ve got to go!’, even when you don’t want to. They’re pushing you when you’re too tired.
Q: Did you give her any fitness homework to do outside of your sessions to continue building towards the end goal?
A: We mixed up a lot of the recovery — she was going to the Stretch Lab where they’re working with people and really stretching them out. She was constantly getting massages. She was doing cryotherapy which is basically an ice bath, to try to repair the muscles. She did a lot of stretching and a bit of yoga. On set, when she had to look winded for a scene, she’d have a jump rope with her on set so she would do a speed jump rope to really make herself look fatigued. She was honestly just beyond motivated, driven, just the perfect client to have. A lot of the work outside of what we were doing was muscle repair and self-love.
She also used our app, Body By Simone that Kelly is part of as well. When she was on set, or there were a couple of times she had to go do press so she wasn’t with us, she did the workout from the app. She said it was like having the two of us in her pocket.
Q: Can you speak more to the importance of rest days and recovery efforts when training intensely?
A: It’s so important to have at least one rest day. Your body, your mind, your soul — everything needs time to rest and recover. You can’t work the same muscle group day after day. You really need to pick one muscle group on a Monday, and do an opposing muscle group on the next day because otherwise you can over-train and over-strain. Some days we would just do cardio-focused exercises, other days would be strength training-focused.
I think sometimes we get caught up in the idea of ‘I’ve gotta just do something and I’ll do a lot of things and I’ll do it all at once’, but you really want to focus on a specific muscle group and work it until fatigue and then allow it to rest and recover. Especially as women, we give so much of ourselves — physically, emotionally, spiritually — that you also need that self-love, you need that time.
I’m also a big believer in sleep – sleep, sleep, sleep. Whenever you can get your sleep, get your sleep. If you limit your sleep, that’s really challenging for weight loss. It’s really taking care of yourself with little things, like making sure you’re hydrated, making sure you sleep, adding in some meditation and some yoga or whatever that self-love is for you, but your body does need time to relax and heal and repair. It’s crucial.
In terms of hydration, you should have 6-8 glasses of water a day, but when you’re working this hard and sweating, I say add another 4 glasses to that. When you’re dehydrated your body often tricks you and thinks that it’s hungry. I always say to clients if you’re feeling hungry but you realize you only ate a short while ago, have one or two glasses of water and usually that hunger subsides. One of my big messages is just to listen to your body. We are, as humans, very in tune to our bodies if we chose to listen to them.