Australian Anna McManamey is a certified personal trainer and sports nutritionist who knows a thing or two about shaping her body and transforming her clients’ physiques. The 35-year-old from Sydney is a hit on social media, where she shares her fitness tips, recipes and motivational back and shoulder workouts.
M&F Hers spoke to the bodybuilding pro and judge to learn more about her love of fitness and came away with a great back and shoulders workout to build some serious muscle.
When did you fall in love with fitness?
I grew up in a very athletic family. Mine [mother] was a sprinter and represented Australia at the Commonwealth Games, and my father is still playing hockey at age 65! Fitness has always been a big part of my life. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t training for something!
As a child I was a very competitive swimmer, dancer and rhythmic gymnast, with several Australian titles to my name. I stopped gymnastics when I was 20 and that’s when I first discovered the gym. Within a few months I became a group fitness instructor, and this eventually led me to discover the world of body sculpting and competitive fitness modeling.
How do you approach improving the condition of your client?
I feel like I can really tap into women’s body issues because while I’ve always had a very active lifestyle, I certainly wasn’t always healthy, and I was always really good at not liking myself.
During my teens and early twenties, I was extremely self-conscious and had a very poor self-esteem, which eventually led to a seven-year battle with anorexia and bulimia. I was never fat or overweight, but being the perfectionist and achiever that I was and participating in sports like dance and gymnastics, where body shape is so important, made me extremely self-critical.
Discovering the gym and learning to live the “fitness lifestyle” literally saved my life and eventually set me on a new career path. I’ve learned that you don’t have to starve or punish yourself with hours of cardio to get the body you want. It’s actually the opposite: take care of yourself from the inside, and this will reflect on the outside.
Helping women avoid the same mistakes I’ve made is why I’m so passionate about educating and inspiring them to have a healthy relationship with food, exercise, and body image.
You love to record trisets. What are some of the benefits?
Trisets allow you to squeeze a lot of work into a shorter amount of time, and they are extremely helpful for fat loss and hypertrophy. It is a method I often use for both myself and my clients during competition preparations. There are several ways you can structure a triset, but for a hypertrophy focus, the example, this back and shoulders workout (below) would provide significant stimulus and time under tension to the muscle group.
You perform three exercises that target the same muscle group, one after the other, with minimal rest in between. I like to start with lower reps for the first exercise and then increase reps in subsequent sets. This allows you to really pile up the volume and retain blood in the target muscle group.
And the drop sets will really contribute to the burn!?
Dropsets are a favorite of bodybuilding, and for good reason! They involve performing a set for a set number of weights and reps until you reach a failure point, immediately dropping the weight by about 20%, and then continuing for another set number of reps until failure. By lowering the weight and continuing to do more reps, you can tap into those “deep” muscle fibers and completely exhaust the target muscle. This is an essential component for achieving muscle hypertrophy.
What’s next for you?
As for training, I’m working my way back after having two knee surgeries this year for a torn meniscus on both sides. I still gently let myself back into squats, so for now the focus is on addressing
the underlying weakness that led to injuries in the first place. I aim to return to my previous training intensity without causing further damage so that I can avoid another surgery.
Competitively, I’m eager to get back on the podium. 2021 was going to be my big return after 3 years of absence, but COVID had other plans. I would like to join in 2022 but it will depend on business commitments. The podium will still be there in 2023! The next time I compete, I aspire to progress to the WBFF Pro Fitness Division.
Anna McManamey’s Back and Shoulder Workout
A1: Eccentric Chinup, 10 sec at 4 x 1 . to lower
A2: Lat Pulldown, pronounced grip 4 x 8-10
A3: Seated Cable Row, close neutral grip, drop set 4 x 12/12
B1: Seated DB Press, 1¼ rep bottom 4 x 6-8
B2: Seated DB Side Lateral, Partial Reach 4 x 10-12
B3: Standing DB Side Lateral, drop set 4 x 12/12*
* (12/12 indicates a drop set. Do 12 reps to failure, then decrease weight by about 20% and do another 12 reps to failure)
The back and shoulders exercise example above is advanced because there is a requirement to maintain form while fatigued. Performing an eccentric chin-up is also a big question for a newbie! So for beginners or those looking to gain more experience under pressure, McManamey has provided custom training as follows. Keep the same rest periods, but drop sets are not included in this plan:
A1: Lat Pulldown, Mid Pronation 4x 6-8
A2: Half Kneeling Cable Row, High to Low Angle, Center Neutral 4x 8-10
A3: Flat DB Press, neutral grip 4x 12-15
B1: Seated DB Press, neutral grip, unsupported 4x 6-8
B2: 60d Ramp Arnold DB Press 4x 8-10
B3: Seated Cable Row, mid supinated grip 4x 12-15