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Playing badass Harley Quinn in Warner Bros.’ Suicide Squad (now in theaters) was no easy feat, but Margot Robbie was prepared — especially when it came to getting fit for the film adaption of the popular DC Comic.
The Australian actress geared up for the flick in no time, thanks in part to her trainer, Ballet Bodies founder Andie Hecker, who recently opened a no-name studio on 7916 Beverly Blvd. (a play off of No Name bar in West Hollywood). With much of the film featuring Robbie in tight booty shorts and one scene showing her shirtless, Hecker (whose clients have included Miranda Kerr, Ginnifer Goodwin and Kristen Bell) worked with the 26-year-old star to tone her booty and define her abs by using the Pilates reformer and incorporating a lot of cardio (running, swimming and trampoline jumping).
Here, the former ballet dancer, who trained Robbie two to three hours a day when she visited the film set in Toronto, reveals the exercises she implemented to help the actress achieve her kick-ass bod.
What were some areas that you focused on with Margot for Suicide Squad?
I was doing a lot of abs, but also full-body toning because that way, everything is pulling together and more calories are burned when you’re working the entire body. We did a lot of personal training on the Pilates reformer, so more tension, higher reps.
We did a lot of planks on the machine. You can do planks facing the front or back of the machine. There’s a ton of different types of planks. It works in an elongated fashion so it’s not just crunching, you’re keeping the abs and waist long. We also did a lot of leg lifts using the handles.
Can you break down these ab exercises that you had her do?
I would do a whole series of planks on the reformer, so for example, I’d have her facing the back of the machine and doing planks on her elbows and then having her lift up into a pike, where she lifts her hips up to the ceiling as if she’s pushing up into a handstand, and then back down into a full plank. I’d say she did about 30 of those [each time].
Then she’d hold a plank, keeping her body weight stable and stationary in that plank position, and reach her arms forward and back, so pressing the elbows away from her and then bringing them back under her. About 20 to 30 of those — break if needed.
Keeping that plank still, she then lifts from the foot bar so her legs are moving up in the air one foot at a time. You can get to 40 to 50 of those.
She’s really advanced (laughs), but I would really cut those up by half for anyone doing them. You can also do these things on the mat.
BAD TO THE BONE: Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad. (Photo: Warner Bros.)
What other movements did you have her work on?
Because of her costume, the butt was really important to focus on because the shorts were so short. She had to look sexy and strong. For the glutes, we did heavier resistance and lower reps to work on building that muscle a little more. I included heavier ankle weights than I would normally give someone — I would give her 5-pound ankle weights. We’d do lower reps, so 20 leg lifts with that ankle weight on and then take a break to move on to the other leg to do another 20, making sure her glutes were doing it and not her hamstrings.
Again you can do things on the Pilates reformer, hooking the ankles into the ropes that are attached to the pulleys and you can do a lot of different ranges and motions. But for someone at home I’d say [to use] ankle weights if they want to work on lifting the glutes.
Personally, I’m not super into doing squats because they’re really quad dominant, so I like to focus the glutes by doing isometric exercises.
Any leg exercises?
For that I really worked on inner and outer thighs to pull the legs tight, as opposed to working the quads and hamstrings, which are generally bigger muscle groups.
An outer thigh exercise that you can also incorporate the entire body is holding a side plank on the elbow with a lighter ankle weight (2.5 pound), lifting the outer leg up toward the ceiling. It’s really challenging for the core, obliques, bottom hips, top outer thigh and outer glutes. I’d say to do 30 to 40 reps if you can keep it. Then keeping that plank again, you’d sweep that top leg forward and then bring it back.
What would you say is Margot’s favorite exercise?
You mean the one she gets the least mad about? (Laughs.) I think that she likes things when she’s on her back, holding on to the handles — moving the legs in variations, so knee tucks or keeping her legs up.
Any easy at-home exercises that you’d recommend?
I’d say to do a series of planks — those are really effective, whether it’s holding your plank or alternating hip dips, where you’re holding your plank and then dipping your left hip down the floor and then your right hip. You can also do planks on your hands.
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