Halle Berry via Getty/Instagram
- Halle Berry trains her core in every workout.
- She credits martial arts, strength training, and weighted abs exercises with helping her get her most ripped abs ever.
- These days, she uses dumbbells, wrist weights, and ankle weights to make her go-to core moves more challenging.
I grew up doing gymnastics, so core training has always been a big part of my workout routine. But since having children, I’ve had to work harder to keep up my abs flat and toned than ever before.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout the years, it’s that you have to constantly switch things up—otherwise you don’t see change or definition. It’s a never-ending process, but my trainer, Peter Lee Thomas, is always challenging me with new core exercises.
Over the years, I’ve done my fair share of crunches and situps, but one of the biggest game-changers for my abs over the years has been martial arts. Depending on the week, between 30 to 50 percent of my workouts focus on mixed martial arts (MMA) like jiu jitsu, Muay Thai, and capoeria. When you’re practicing MMA, you’re using your core the whole damn time. You’re constantly bracing, twisting, and ducking. It’s a recipe for really strong abs.
It wasn’t until last fall, though, when I was preparing for my film Bruised, that I set the goal to build really visible, muscular abs.
I had to look (and perform) like a professional MMA fighter, so, in addition to practicing MMA for four hours every day, I was also doing about 45 minutes of general strength training and 15 minutes of work just on my abs. We threw the kitchen sink at my core and, let me tell you, it took serious dedication.
What really made a difference, too, was that instead of doing bodyweight abs exercises, we added weight to everything. As a result, my abs muscles really started popping.
During my daily 15 minutes of core work, I did situps holding a medicine ball or dumbbell, leg raises wearing ankle weights, and hollow holds with dumbbells or wrist weights and ankle weights. The extra resistance made all of my already-hard workouts even tougher, and, little by little, I developed more defined, hardcore abs than I’d ever had before.
After wrapping up Bruised, my workout regimen calmed down a bit. I settled into a routine of four hour-long workouts per week—and about 50 to 70 percent strength training.
I no longer had to look like a pro fighter, so my number-one goal was to focus on full-body training and to maintain optimum health and overall fitness. I wasn’t too worried about keeping my abs as ripped as they were last fall. (This is especially true now that I’m exercising from home.)
These days, my midsection may not have as much visible muscle as it did during filming—and I don’t need it to! However, a lot of the general strength moves I still do (like weighted step-ups with dumbbells, wrist weights, or ankle weights) work my core enough to keep it strong and flat.
Plus, I still sprinkle in martial arts whenever I can (once you try it, it’s like you get bitten by a bug; you can’t stop!) and incorporate a dedicated abs move or two (like planks or lying leg raises with ankle weights) into every workout.
Halle Berry is a producer, director, and actress. Now known as one of the fittest women in Hollywood, Halle recently launched rē•spin, a community for stories, conversations, and products for health and wellness seekers. In her weekly WH column and #FitnessFriday Instagram posts, she shares a personal look into her own health and fitness—along with the tips, tricks, and advice behind her famously fit physique.