Tuesday 28 February 2017

Kelly Donegan's six week workout guide and nutrition plan to shape up for summer

Instagram @ItsKellyDonegan
Instagram @ItsKellyDonegan
Kelly Donegan turned to fitness when she found herself unhappy with life's pressures.
Kelly Donegan: drink as much water as possible.
Arms push up position 1.
Arms push up position 2.
Abs scissors position 1.
Abs scissors position 2.
Tuck jump position 1.
Tuck jump position 2.
Cursty squat position 1.
Cursty squad position 2.
Side plank position 1.
Side plank position 2.
Kelly Donegan's Build Your Own Body will be published on May 13.

Former reality-TV star Kelly Donegan is now an online fitness influencer and competitive bodybuilder with a passion for weightlifting and physical challenges. Finding herself unhappy with life's pressures and stereotypes, Kelly turned to fitness - and never looked back.

Her upcoming fitness guide - Build Your Own Body: Strong Is The New Skinny - is a positive book about building the body of your dreams and the power of feeling fit and healthy.

Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to discover your true inner strength, and rock bottom is exactly where Kelly Donegan found herself after she found public notoriety in 2011 on Ireland's most controversial reality-TV show, Tallafornia.

After the show ended in 2013, Dubliner Kelly (26) found herself with fewer opportunities than ever before. "I thought I'd got exactly what I wanted, but it didn't translate into success, happiness or a comfortable life," admits Kelly.

Instagram @ItsKellyDonegan
Instagram @ItsKellyDonegan

Life was a mess. A crippling depression set in, and she found herself in a dark hole that only seemed to get deeper any time she tried to climb out of it.

Kelly credits fitness with making her a stronger woman than she has ever been before, in every aspect of her life. But to get to this point, she had to build herself back up from scratch. Little did she know that fitness would become her passion, her saviour and a source of empowerment.

Her turning point came from an unexpected direction, as she started to follow some 'badass' women in the world of fitness - female bodybuilders.

"These superhero women were inspiring," says Kelly, "they worked incredibly hard and had bodies to die for - not skinny, not frail, but strong, powerful and curvy."

The brunette beauty decided to enter her first bodybuilding competition in November 2013, after falling in love with testing herself mentally and physically, and getting that rush of exhilaration in knowing that few could do it. No longer feeling weak and worthless, her confidence was at an all-time high.

According to Kelly, "strong is the new skinny" is so much more than a phrase or an idea: it's a revolution.

"It means throwing away all the old stereotypes and pressures around what the female body should look like," says Kelly. "It's about building a body that you want. You make the rules and you set the standards. Size zero, thigh gaps, a skin-and-bones physique and weakness are out. Strong, powerful, hard-working and healthy are in."

Build Your Own Body is a book for strong women who want to train hard, get their hands dirty, and who aren't afraid to work up a sweat.

So whether you want to drop a couple of pounds ahead of your holidays or make long-term changes, this book promises to help you understand how to do it.

"My book will give you the information, the support and the motivation you need to get started, but you are going to have to do the work to take back control of your fitness regime and earn the body you have always wanted," says Kelly. "This is a full-body workout that you can do in 30 minutes at home, with no equipment - so no excuses!

She adds: "We've all been there - your holiday is creeping up and you're not ready to stick on that bikini. I am totally against short-term quick fixes because we all know about relapses and rebounds, so look at this as a six-week introduction to health instead.

"It should be immediately followed with one of the other plans from Build Your Own Body, with the goal of maintaining health and fitness in the long term."

Kelly's workouts - see below - use your own body weight for resistance, so there's no need for equipment or a gym membership to get a full-body workout. Obviously, you should always check with your doctor before embarking on any exercise programme.

"My plan combines two of the most on-trend techniques - body-weight training and high-intensity interval training [HIIT] - which are designed to help you blast fat," says Kelly.

The idea is to switch between intense effort bursts, followed by a short recovery break - this gets your heart rate working to the max and is also a quick and effective way to work out and burn calories.

"This is a really easy and efficient workout," Kelly enthuses. "It's fun, it's short and it works. With the 80/20 rule in mind, try to do this workout plan five days per week as part of your six-week plan. Also, don't be afraid to get out and enjoy the beautiful spring weather on your rest days - walk, hike, cycle, dance."

The Diet

"Here are some great nutrition tips to compliment your exercise efforts and help you reach that dream summer body," says Kelly, whose book includes a full diet plan.


"Drink as much water as possible - it's the liquid of life that you should be getting your fill of," advises Kelly. "Not only does water flush out toxins, but it will also keep you hydrated and improve the condition of your skin."


"Eat your fill of vegetables; they are high in nutritional value and will help you shed excess body fat, while filling your body with essential vitamins and minerals," says Kelly. "Plus, they are low in calories, so eat your fill. Some of my favourites include spinach, broccoli, kale and asparagus."


Kelly advises: "Eating regularly will help you banish unwanted sugar cravings and assist in making better food choices throughout the day. It will also keep your energy levels high and support your workout regime."


"Craving something sweet? Make better choices by opting for fruit, healthy home-baked goods, or a yummy smoothie," says Kelly.

"Also, we can't avoid the obvious and most important tip. If you want to look good, you have to eat well - so stay away from junk and processed foods. Every now and again is alright, of course, but you have six weeks so make the most of all the delicious goodness out there. Get creative!"


"If your mind and lifestyle are not working together in equilibrium, then you are going to find it impossible," says Kelly. "If you love it, you will do it: it's that simple. Make it fun, make it colourful, and make it last."

Work your body

These FIVE simple exercises - which work your abs, legs, arms and bum - take six minutes each, for a total workout of just  30 minutes. Try to do this workout plan five days a week for the next six weeks!

Abs: Scissors


One minute of intense effort followed by one minute rest. Repeat three times. Total: six minutes.

Lying on the floor with your back flat on the mat, place both hands, palms-down, directly beside your body. Lift your legs roughly 45 degrees from the floor and cross your right leg over your left (position 1, above).

For this exercise, you simply alternate crossing one leg over the other in a scissor motion, bringing your left leg over the right, then the right over the left (position 2, below).


Arms: Push Up


One minute of intense effort followed by one minute rest. Repeat three times. Total: six minutes.

"The push-up is a must - it's definitely not an exercise to be feared," says Kelly.

Start by balancing on your palms and toes, with your body extended in a straight line. Your hands should be a little wider than shoulder-width apart (position 1, above). Lower yourself slowly to the ground until your chest almost touches the floor (position 2, below). Then push yourself back upright and repeat. If you find this a little challenging, try an assisted push-up instead.


Bum: Curtsy Squat


One minute of intense effort followed by one minute rest. Repeat three times. Total: six minutes.

Start standing up tall, with your feet shoulder-width apart (position 1, above). Lower your right leg behind your body, taking a big step out to the left and bending both knees as if you're doing a curtsy (position 2, below).

Push back up, focusing on your quads and glutes. Repeat the move using your left leg. (You can use a water bottle - or weights, as Kelly is doing here - for extra weight if you find this too easy!)


Abs: Plank/Side Plank


One minute of intense effort followed by one minute rest. Repeat three times. Total: six minutes.

Plank: Using your toes and forearms, balance yourself with your body facing the ground and your head looking forward (position 1, above). Keep your body straight. Hold yourself in this position for as long as possible, up to a minute.

Side plank: This is the exact same as the original plank, except you turn to the side and support your body using one arm at a time, and the sides of your feet (position 2, below).


Legs: Tuck Jump


One minute of intense effort followed by one minute rest. Repeat three times. Total: six minutes.

Start standing upright, with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart. Keep your arms out in front of your chest (position 1, above).

Bring your body down into a high squat to create some force, then jump directly into the air, bringing your knees up towards your chest area (position 2, below).

Land and repeat, trying to get your knees as high as possible. Be sure to bend your knees as you return to the ground to prevent any ankle injuries.


'Build Your Own Body' will be published by Gill Books on May 13, priced at €19.99. Check out Kelly's YouTube channel for more workout demos and fitspiration

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