On 17 April Jennifer Garner will turn the big five-oh, and to celebrate, the actress has been counting down to the big day on her Instagram Stories with a series she’s calling “50 before 50.” Garner started the countdown 50 days before her birthday, and has recorded a photo or video of something she’s loving or doing at the moment each day. Followers have had an inside look at the 13 going on 30 alum’s daily moments that she’s proud of or grateful for, including random acts of kindness and baking highlights.
The most impressive part of the whole thing (aside from keeping up with sharing something every day, which Garner admitted on day 19 “is a lot”) has been the videos of workouts the soon-to-be-50-year-old is doing. On day 46 of the countdown, Garner shared a clip of herself working out with celebrity trainer Beth Nicely, completing an exercise that looks challenging, to say the least.
In the clip, Garner and Nicely do a box agility circuit consisting of quick box jumps alternating between one and two legs. On day 40 of the countdown, Garner recorded herself jumping over a series of ascending boxes, with the final box measuring 24 inches in height. And on day 33, Garner recorded herself jumping onto a box that was 18 inches tall while holding a dumbbell, captioning the video “Something I believe: Use it or lose it.”
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A quick scroll through Garner’s Instagram shows that she prioritises health and fitness in her life, and there’s no denying that the intensity of her workouts is majorly impressive. “Jen is in such great shape that I love creating ways to challenge her heart rate,” Nicely tells Shape. “Jen is very busy, and the circuits we do on the box are both challenging and efficient, ensuring she maximises her time and effort.”
What is plyometrics training and what are its benefits?
The style of workouts Garner does is called plyometrics training (also known as jump training), confirms Nicely. Plyometrics involve quick, explosive movements that promote agility.
“At The Limit [Nicely’s workout company], we incorporate plyo boxes and Pilates boxes for plyometrics, because they allow our clients to develop strength, coordination, and cardiovascular stamina simultaneously,” explains Nicely.
Additional benefits of plyometrics include increased strength, improved running speed, agility, increased jump height, and injury reduction, according to the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).
“A lot of people worry about the impact on their joints and fear that it is dangerous to jump as they age,” says Nicely. “As a NASM-certified trainer and corrective exercise specialist, I can assure you that jumping is essential to bone health. Bones need to be stressed with impact to build density, which makes you less likely to break a bone or develop osteoporosis.”
How to incorporate plyometrics into your routine
The key to trying plyometrics safely is to slowly build up your intensity. “The fact is that your body adapts to whatever you give it (at any age), but you need to ease your way in,” says Nicely. “Jen is at a very advanced level now, but we started basic, and she worked her way towards more complex movements.”
If you’re interested in doing workouts like Garner, start by stepping up and down on a Pilates box in a forward and backward direction — that’s how Nicely proceeds with all of her beginner clients. “The key is to focus on toes straight with knees landing above second and third toes,” she says. “From there, we build to jumping on and stepping down, then jumping on and jumping down before introducing the plyo box, which increases height.” Every time you increase the height of your box, it’s best to start back at square one by stepping up and down before getting into jumping.
“At The Limit, we also incorporate functional training movements with the box work, which reduces the risk of injury, ensures you are building strength on a proper foundation, and promotes the longevity of your physical health and wellness,” adds Nicely.
To reap the benefits of plyometrics, Nicely suggests incorporating it into your workouts regularly. “How frequently you train with plyometrics and cardio circuits on the boxes will depend on your fitness level and consistency, but I recommend jumping some every day to expose your bones to positive, density-building stress,” says Nicely. If you’re a box workout beginner, start three times a week for about 10 minutes, and when that feels good, add another day and continue building as your body acclimates.”
As for how often Garner practices plyometrics, “Jen’s at an advanced level, so I incorporate box circuits into about 20 minutes of her 60-minute workouts six days a week,” says Nicely.
If you’re interested in giving Garner’s workouts a shot, more power to you. Just make sure you consult with your doctor before trying a new exercise, recommends Nicely. In the meantime, you can follow along with Garner’s countdown to 50 on Instagram to see what other workouts she has up her sleeve as she approaches her big day.
This story first appeared on www.shape.com
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