Harley Pasternak: Trainer to the Stars


Why this top Hollywood trainer is more old school than trendy when it comes to fitness

Harley Pasternak has trained just about everybody in Hollywood, from Lady Gaga and Bono to Alicia Keyes and Kanye West. So you'd figure that he must have a special technique, some magic that only the rich and famous have access to. Nope. Because while Pasternak may be one of the most successful health gurus in Hollywood, he is anything but trendy. "I've had a scientific background that includes 11 years of health science nutrition study at university, and I've applied that knowledge to myself and my clients for 20 years," he says. "I'm not interested in fads. I'm interested in three things: doable, sustainable, and effective."

"Fifty-two percent of Americans think it's easier to do their own taxes than to figure out what to eat. I try to make the whole thing very user-friendly."

Make Exercise User-Friendly
Take Halle Berry, for example. "With Halle, we would start with five minutes of cardio, then an upper-body circuit, a lower-body circuit, some abdominal exercises, and a five-minute cooldown." This led to Pasternak's new book, 5 Pounds: The Breakthrough 5-Day Plan to Jump-Start Rapid Weight Loss (and Never Gain It Back!). "Fifty-two percent of Americans think it's easier to do their own taxes than to figure out what to eat," he says. "I try to make the whole thing very user-friendly. With Halle, it was five short phases, done five times a week. Period."


Focus on Two Key Muscles
"Most of us have the same muscle imbalances," says Pasternak. "We sit, we drive, we do push-ups-all stressing the front side of the body, what we call the ‘mirror muscles,' because that's what you see when you look in the mirror. So with almost everyone, I pay special attention to strengthening the anterior (rear) muscles-like the back and hamstrings."

Keep it Simple
"Look, if you do several things with moderate intensity, the overall impact is going to be greater than doing one thing at 100 percent intensity," says Pasternak. "I used to do Olympic lifts, fartlek training, interval training-all these great, effective things. But as I got older, I started asking-how many clients have pulled hamstrings running sprints with me? How many clients have thrown up after doing super-intensive training with me? What's the hunger factor after doing ultra-intense workouts? (It's high.)" Pasternak sums it up this way: "Do I need my clients to be in pain in order to feel like they got something done? No. I want them to think ‘Hey this was easy and I can't wait to do it again.'"



An Ounce of Prevention

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