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Melissa Alcantara knows what it’s like to be at a crossroads. Four months after giving birth, she was tired of feeling bad about herself and her body. Rather than continue down a familiar path of self-criticism and stagnation, she turned the other way and started a fitness journey that soon became her entire life. Fast-forward a few years, and Alcantara had Kim Kardashian at her (metaphorical) doorstep, asking the fitness professional to be her own personal trainer. Now, the author, influencer and fitness coach has amassed more than a million followers on Instagram and is inspiring Hollywood royalty and suburban residents alike.
“It’s crazy how big a part of my life [fitness] is,” Alcantara told StyleCaster. “It rolls into my life. If I accomplished something in the gym, I know I can do that in my career, I can do that in my relationships. I literally feel like I can do anything, which sometimes gets me in a lot of trouble. You almost feel invincible.”
Feeling this confidence and letting it ride into facets of life outside of the gym took her a lot of time and a lot of practice, though. She said the biggest part of that evolution is having a “fake it ’til you make it” mentality. Especially when you’re feeling insecure or uncomfortable.
“You don’t have to know it all. You don’t have to know everything. You have to understand that most people you see, they don’t know shit either,” she said, advising new or returning gymgoers. “Even people who’ve been doing this for a really long time, they’re constantly evolving and changing even the way that they train. It’s just going in there and I always say, respect where you are in your journey. If you’re a beginner, you’re a beginner. You can’t move past that, you can’t fast forward it, you can’t do anything about it.
She said the trick is to keep going back—no matter how out of place you feel. Because once you keep going and repeating those moves that made you uncomfortable, it’ll all start to feel like second nature.
Now partnering with Degree and leading the brand’s Gray T-Shirt Challenge, Alcantara is working to get the word out that the sweatier the gym sesh, the better. She talked with us on everything, from Kim Kardashian’s workout routine to tips on how to grow the biggest booty possible. Check out all that our gym guru had to say below.
Kim Kardashian’s Workout Routine
Alcantara is as tough as it gets, and you better believe she doesn’t let up that intensity when she’s on the job, even when Kim Kardashian is her client.
“I approach Kim’s training just like mine,” she explained. “It’s always adding more weight, some days we lift heavier than others. We focus sometimes on form. We focus sometimes on strength. But I’ll be doing the same workout that she’s doing later on in the day—hip thrusts, reverse lunges, chest press, shoulder press.” Recently, Kim’s been documenting her gym time with videos from the Stairmaster, too.
Tips For Growing a Bigger, Buffer Booty
It seems like there’s one thing everybody in the gym is working towards, and it’s having a perky ass. You can do lunges all you want, but if you don’t diversify your routine, you’re not going to get too far growing your rear. There are a few moves Alcantara loves for getting glutes to feel the burn (in the best way possible), but she advises that focusing on other parts of your body—your arms, core, back and shoulders—is just as important as solely honing in on your booty.
“You can’t work solely on your glutes if the rest of your body isn’t strong,” she explained. “That’s something women should think about. You’re not going to get jacked. I workout and I lift really heavy and I’m muscular, but I still look feminine at the end of the day.”
For Melissa, hip thrusts are a must, especially when you add on more weight progressively each time you do the exercise. If you do 25 pounds one week, try out 27.5 or 30 pounds the next. It might seem small, but Alcantara promises that even a 2.5-pound addition makes all the difference.
“Everything that you want to do, if you want to grow your glutes or any muscle, is going to include progressive overload,” she said. “Make sure that you’re not lifting the same exact weight you’re lifting the previous week. Just a little bit more. You test yourself out. It’s a constant progression.”
Reverse lunges, stiff-leg deadlifts and weighted cable kickbacks are other stellar booty workouts she recommends.
If you’ve been doing the same few workouts for a while now, you probably know what it’s like to be bored of that routine. Plateaus happen—but that doesn’t mean you should ditch your entire regimen. In fact, sticking to it is one of the most important things that you can do.
“Follow a program. That’s very important,” Alcantara said. “Don’t just do stuff just because you saw some Instagram girl flinging weights around. The body likes to do the same movements over and over. Don’t think you need to change your program a month later. If you could do the same thing for six months, do it. Same program. Six months. Be consistent. Trust me, your body is going to thank you for it.”
See, when you do the same routine, your body has the chance to grow more familiar with those motions, so that you’re then able to move up the weight size and lift more.
The more you do it, the more efficient you become, the more the muscles respond to that,” she explained. “It makes such a big difference.”
Another thing to make sure of is that you use enough weight. A good way to tell if you’re lifting the correct amount is if you feel fine during every rep but struggle for your last three. This indicates that you’re not quite ready for the next weight level, and are still gaining benefits from this one.
Lastly, Alcantara says you should go into every single rep and every single exercise with an intention.
“That’s how you level up,” she said. “Trust me, give it like three weeks and your body’s going to change so much. Trust me.”
The pandemic has undoubtedly changed the way we live and work. Our living rooms have become our offices and personal gyms. If you, like me, switch between work and workout mode on the reg, you don’t need as much as you might think to build a fully efficient home gym. Alcantara says that so long as you have weights that range between five and 20 pounds, you’ll be able to create the kind of tension that builds muscle. Also essential? Booty bands and kettlebells.
Below, check out Melissa’s workout essentials and recommendations:
Degree Advanced Antiperspirant Deodorant
Deodorant is more important than you might think. Obviously, it can help shield smelly pits, but when you have a good deo, it can make all the difference at the gym and beyond, Alcantara said.
“There are so many people who go to the gym and they feel uncomfortable. It’s already intimidating going in there and you’re trying to figure out what to do. You’re trying to not look like an idiot. At the same time, you’re sweating,” she explained. “You create all this stuff in your head and you can’t even get to the next thing. What you want to do is be free and loose and do what you do without any of this stuff.”
She can use Degree’s Advanced Anitperpirant for up to three days without having to worry about re-applying the product. “Sweat, odor, all that stuff, it’s one thing you don’t have to think about,” she said.
Lululemon Align High-Rise Pants
Looking down in the middle of a squat session to notice crotch sweat never feels great. To avoid this uncomfy mishap, Melissa opts for dark leggings from Lululemon for her sweatiest sessions.
“They’re so costly but at the same time, they’re literally worth it,” she explained. “I wear the same ones over and over and over again. They fit well. They’re not see-through. Even if you don’t gym, they just look amazing. You’ll feel like you went to the gym. Plus, when I’m in them, my butt is just looking amaze-balls.”
Fidus Water Bottle
Chances are, you can probably afford to drink more water. A lot of stars like Addison Rae and Khloe Kardashian opt for big water bottles to accomplish this. Alcantara approves of this—in fact, she has her own FitGurlMel version.
“Honestly, if you can drink this whole thing, I commend you,” she said. “If you can drink half of it, that’s pretty good for the day. You can’t spend half of your day in the bathroom. It’s insane…. If you can get 90 ounces of water in you a day, you’re in the green. The more water you drink, the more you sweat, too.”
Our biggest takeaway from speaking with Alcantara? Fitness will always be a journey, no matter what stage you’re in. So long as you’re doing it for the right reasons, it’s a challenge worth the sore muscles, discomfort and even crotch sweat.