Victoria’s Secret models certainly know their stuff when it comes to working out. Of course, these lingerie models don’t quite look like the average person. Their tall stature combined with a curvy figure and leanness isn’t something that occurs naturally in every family. In a world where the average female height is 5 feet 4 inches, the fact that Victoria’s Secret models hover around 5 feet 6 inches tall is mind-blowing in and of itself.
That said, it’s not just genetics that account for Victoria’s Secret models’ success. It takes a whole lot of work to tone and tailor a body to be ready for the catwalk, especially when all you’ll be wearing is lingerie. If you’ve ever wondered what the most iconic models in fashion do to shape up before the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, here’s a glimpse into the collective workout routines these models swear by.
Josephine Skriver loves to hate burpees
It may come as a surprise, but many Victoria’s Secret models swear by strength training as their favorite form of exercise when shaping up for the annual Victoria’s Secret runway. Josephine Skriver is just one of the models who, in 2019, told Byrdie that she "[swears] by weight training." So much so that she and fellow Victoria’s Secret model Jasmine Tookes created a joint Instagram account dedicated to partner workouts, complete with strength training, yoga, and bodyweight exercises.
If you press Skriver to point to a single exercise that makes a difference in her regular routine, though, she’ll tell you all about the burpees she loves to hate. Or at least, that’s what she told Harper’s Bazaar in 2018 when she admitted that the popular exercise is her least favorite "because they hurt the most." That said, she also admitted that they’re "some of the most effective." She further revealed that burpees are "the perfect full-body workout."
Jasmine Tookes does squats to "build" her tookus
Jasmine Tookes, like Josephine Skriver, isn’t afraid to use strength training as a way to shape up for photo shoots in which she dons nothing but lingerie or swimwear. And when Tookes isn’t teaming up with Skriver to enjoy the perfect, partnered workout, she sticks with lower-body strength training as her go-to form of exercise. In 2018, she told Harper’s Bazaar, "My favorite workout leading up to the [Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show] is always squats, because that’s how you build the booty. … I am all about the legs and butt."
Tookes doesn’t share that same enthusiasm for upper-body workouts. "My least favorite workout, I hate doing arm workouts," she admitted. "Arms are not my thing, I am all about the legs and the butt."
That’s not to say squats are easy, though. In fact, they’re tough, especially when adding weight to the exercise. But they function as an option that targets all the major muscle groups of the lower body. So, when executed properly, you can build strength and stamina while simultaneously shaping your lower half.
Maria Borges stays fit with Zumba
Zumba, the dance fitness craze that took the world by storm in the 2010s may not be the trend-setting workout of today, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still effective. In fact, according to a 2017 interview published in Vogue UK, the stunning supermodel Maria Borges swore by dance-based fitness to keep her body toned and tight. She told the publication, "I work out a lot actually. I really like exercise. I really love to dance, so I like to do Zumba."
Of course, this self-proclaimed fitness lover doesn’t just do Zumba. She also enjoys yoga and boxing and, ultimately, she likes to mix up her routine to help keep things fresh. And really, for anyone looking to start a new workout routine, testing the waters with different styles of exercise is a good approach.
What works well for one person won’t necessarily work well for another, and consistency in your routine is more important (especially when starting out) than a workout that will make you sore for days. That’s why finding an exercise routine you really enjoy is vital to long-term commitment and results.
Bella Hadid and Adriana Lima fight their way fit
There’s something undeniably empowering about donning a pair of boxing gloves and punching the crap out of a heavy boxing bag. And at least two well-known Victoria’s Secret supermodels, Bella Hadid and Adriana Lima, swear by boxing as a way to stay fit. In fact, in a 2016 interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Hadid admitted her favorite exercise was boxing "because it takes all my energy out and I can punch something." Which, to be fair, is a really good reason to break a sweat (as long as you’re not punching another human, of course). And in a 2017 interview published in Vogue, Hadid stated that boxing is included in her daily workout routine.
As mentioned, Hadid isn’t alone in her love of the aggressive sport. Adriana Lima swears by boxing as a go-to workout, even sharing with Shape that she trains with George Foreman III and loves the "challenge" of the sport, even though her agent isn’t a big fan of the bruises or "battle scars."
Gigi Hadid loves working out in the sand
Bella Hadid may be fond of breaking a sweat in the boxing gym, but her sister, Gigi, is likely to be found in the sun and sand, playing beach volleyball. According to a 2018 interview published in Elle, the older Hadid sister admitted to "random" workouts that vary drastically from one day to the next, including running on the beach, boxing, and horseback riding. That said, Gigi went on to point to volleyball as one of her favorite workouts.
"I play volleyball — sometimes I’ll find my volleyball coaches that I still talk to once in a while and go train with the kids they coach now." Gigi emphasized that this type of enjoyable workout allows exercise to be a natural part of her daily routine rather than a chore she dreads. "Workouts change so I do what I’m feeling like, what makes me happy, and how I’m having fun. I just do it naturally and let it be a part of my life."
Sadie Newman stays limber with yoga
The beautiful thing about exercise is that there are dozens of forms of fitness — all of which carry benefits. So with time and experimentation, practically everyone can find at least one thing that resonates with their psyche and allows for an all-around healthier lifestyle when incorporated consistently. For one person, that might mean running; for another, strength training.
Victoria’s Secret model Sadie Newman is the perfect example of someone who didn’t like exercising until she found the right workout for her: yoga. In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Newman stated, "Now, working out, I love fitness which is really surprising because I really hated it. As for my favorite, I’m a big yoga person. I do love my yoga."
While some diehard fitness fans may scoff at yoga as being "easy" because it’s considered a low- to moderate-intensity form of exercise, the health benefits extend far beyond its ability to help you break a sweat. In fact, an article published in Yoga Journal highlighted 38 different health benefits of yoga, including improved flexibility, posture, bone health, and lower levels of stress.
Karlie Kloss learned to love running
Running is one of those forms of exercise that people tend to love or hate. Either way, running can be an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise that helps develop leg strength, bone health, and improve mental health, too. And, believe it or not, it is possible to learn to love running — even if you start out hating it.
Victoria’s Secret supermodel Karlie Kloss is the perfect example. Kloss told Runner’s World that she once hated running. Her attitude toward hitting the pavement dated back to school when athletes were forced to run a timed mile every year. This annual event stood out to Kloss as the worst day of the year. But in 2015, she decided to train for a half marathon, and while training, her perspective on running changed. She told the publication, "I like to do things that take me out of my comfort zone, and the idea of running a half marathon was beyond scary."
After completing her half marathon, Kloss went on to run the New York City Marathon in 2017. She continues to lace up her sneakers whenever she travels for work, specifically noting that she loves running in the rain.
Grace Elizabeth breaks a sweat jumping rope
Grace Elizabeth admitted to Harper’s Bazaar in 2016 that she’s not a fan of cardio — "especially running" — but that it’s more or less a requirement of the job.
Fast forward to 2018 and Grace Elizabeth was singing a very different tune, stating, "My favorite workout is actually jumping rope." This is interesting given that jumping rope is a form of high-intensity cardiovascular exercise. The one thing that sets jump rope workouts apart from most running routines, though, is that it is often incorporated into high-intensity interval training (HIIT) while running workouts are often a form of steady state cardio.
Engaging in a HIIT jump rope workout basically means that you go all out with jumping rope for 10 seconds to two minutes, then follow the burst of high-intensity exercise with a short break. Experience Life offers one such example of a HIIT routine featuring jump rope. While the Victoria’s Secret model didn’t say what type of jump rope routine she likes most, chances are if she loves jumping rope and hates running, it’s because the styles of exercise she’s performing are very different.
Sara Sampaio hits the treadmill at the gym
Sara Sampaio was quick to admit in an interview with Elle that her typical week of workouts varies pretty substantially from one day to the next, especially when preparing for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Leading up to the big day she’ll focus on a "lot of booty" exercises and "heavy weights." Additionally, she’ll work with her personal trainer and get in some cardio. She also revealed that she takes running classes at a Mile High Run Club.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, think of it as a treadmill version of a group cycling class. Classes range from 30 to 45 minutes and include running interval training as well as strength work or yoga, depending on the focus of the class.
According to Healthline, this type of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is an excellent way to increase cardiovascular capacity while burning major calories during and following a workout, so you can see why it would be appealing to a model who needs to look killer in a bikini.
Kelsey Merritt makes her legs burn at SoulCycle
Kelsey Merritt isn’t afraid to work out or work hard, especially before the big annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. In an interview with Elle, she shared that she sometimes works out twice a day. But this type of routine can get stale quickly if it only involves one type of exercise. Perhaps that’s why Merritt likes to mix things up.
Sometimes she’ll do Pilates, sometimes she’ll strength train with a personal trainer, and sometimes she’ll add in some boxing. But one thing she always includes in her routine is cardio: "I always make sure to put cardio in my workouts," she told the publication. "I’ll do SoulCycle, then I’ll go on the treadmill."
Merritt isn’t the only celebrity who points to SoulCycle as their preferred form of cardio. The boutique fitness cycling class has a long list of celebrities who frequent their studios, including Kelly Ripa, Anderson Cooper, and Brooke Shields. Performing high-intensity cycling intervals is a great way to burn calories, and all that leg and butt work can help shape up the lower body — something Merritt is bound to be thinking about before donning lacy boyshorts and strutting down the runway.
Alessandra Ambrosio uses Brazil Butt Lift
Alessandra Ambrosio is one of the elite supermodels who continues to kill it on the runway and wow her fans when donning nothing but a bikini (she even has her own swimsuit line). So how does the Brazilian supermodel keep things tight?
"Alessandra was looking for a program to specifically target and tone her butt without bulking up her legs. She wanted her legs longer, her thighs thinner, and her butt toned and tightened," Leandro Carvalho, fitness expert, told Shape. And so, he invented the now-famous Brazil Butt Lift. The idea behind the workout to keep participants moving and working while putting their legs and glutes through the wringer.
Brazil Butt Lift is actually part of the Beachbody company of fitness programs and can be accessed via Beachbody On Demand. This means the model — and anyone else for that matter — can continue a butt-lifting routine from anywhere with an internet connection.
Jourdana Phillips isn’t afraid to pump iron
Jourdana Phillips may have a long, lean body that looks striking on a larger-than-life runway, but it doesn’t come without a lot of hard work. In an interview with Elle, Phillips shared that because she’s naturally lean, she has to work hard to keep weight on. As such, burning excess calories with hours and hours of cardio doesn’t make sense for her body. Rather, she turns to strength training as her primary workout.
She told Elle, "One week of workouts includes a lot of weight lifting because I try to keep weight on because I’m naturally really thin. A lot of leg lifts with ankle weights. A lot of stretching and a lot of resistance band workouts. And that’s about it — a whole lot of that!"
If you’re naturally thin like Phillips, strength training is a great way for you to add definition (and in some cases, more volume) to your physique. Heavy strength training including compound exercises that target multiple muscle groups, such as squats, lunges, pushups, and pullups, are all great ways to start adding more shape to your body, even if it’s hard to put extra weight on.
Lily Aldridge and Martha Hunt stay on pointe with ballet
Lily Aldridge and Martha Hunt are great friends on and off the runway. The models even share a love of the same exercise. In an interview with Vogue UK, Aldridge shared that she works out with Mary Helen Bowers, founder of Ballet Beautiful, six times a week — all-year long. She even sometimes works out twice a day leading up to the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Hunt concurred, adding, "It’s great for my mental state and strengthening my body. Barre helps to tone and sculpt my glutes, legs, and core without overdoing it, and ballet helps with graceful transitions between poses."
For both models, ballet is as much of a passion as it is a workout. Hunt further explained to the publication, saying, "I’ll continue ballet as it makes me feel in tune with my body and like I’m refining a craft." And that’s the thing about workouts: When you find one you love, you want to keep doing it.
Cindy Bruna stays tight with personal training
Cindy Bruna isn’t afraid to turn to an expert to keep her long, lean frame well-muscled for the runway. According Elle Australia, Bruna spends plenty of time in the gym with a personal trainer leading up to big shows like the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. And when she’s in the gym, the woman works hard, often sharing her plyometric strength training moves to her Instagram feed. But just because Bruna knows how to work hard, that doesn’t mean she loves every moment of it.
According to an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Bruna is not a fan of lunges or burpees, but grudgingly does them. "I have to do it every day. It’s part of the job, so I’m doing it, but I hate it," she revealed. That said, she also admitted when she started seeing the results of her hard work, it became easier to keep it up. "One [exercise] I am starting to like is squats. I feel it, I see the results on my body," Bruna explained. "When you see results you just want to do it again and again." A lesson everyone can take away from Victoria’s Secret models, surely.