The cold, hard truth: There’s no cheat way to get those nice, lean muscles. You just need lots of discipline in your diet and fitness plan.
About Sara May Garcia
Instagram handle: @saramayfit
Born and raised in Colombia, Sara has been a fitness coach for 13 years. She’s a personal trainer at Triplefit, where she also teaches core-strengthening, endurance-based, latin dance, HIIT and TRX classes.
How did you get started in fitness?
I’ve been active since I was five. The first sport I picked up was swimming – I took part in competitions. At 15, I switched to doing mixed ballet dance and gym workouts to improve my strength. Since then, I’m always almost found daily in a gym.
What drives you to be a trainer?
Everyone on this planet has a few decades to enjoy the most precious thing: Life. I believe that health, fitness, and the exploration of our mental and physical limits give us the best chance to maximise our time on earth. Exploring my own potential and my clients’, and knowing that there’s so much more to learn and experience, is a huge motivation for me.
What are your proudest fitness achievements?
2013: Winning first place in a mountain bike competition
2014: Winning first place in a hiking race
2017: Winning a CrossFit competition and coming in second for a bikini-bodybuilding competition
What’s your weekly fitness routine like?
Monday: Functional training (total body) for 45 minutes (morning)
Tuesday: Functional training (glutes and core) for 45 minutes (morning), cross-training for 45 minutes (evening)
Wednesday: Cross-training for 1 hour (evening)
Thursday: Rest day, or sometimes an easy 30-minute run and stretching
Friday: Cross-training for 1 hour (evening)
Saturday: Cross-training for 90 minutes and stretching (evening)
Sunday: Strength training (legs, shoulders and core) for 1 hour
How long have you been sporting a six-pack?
I can’t remember exactly when, but it’s been several years now. It took me almost one year to get the definition in my abs. However, it’s rather easy to maintain those abs once you have them, and you’re disciplined in your diet and fitness routine.
What are your top tips to getting six-pack abs?
Six-pack abs are 80% made in the kitchen and 20% in the gym.
1. Prepare your meals as often as you can. This allows you to control the amount of sugar and sodium in your diet, and limit your intake of process food.
3. Continuously engage your core muscles whenever you exercise – inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. You should feel your core contract during each exhale.
4. Keep your body fat percentage within 15% to 18% (the range for performance athletes) by doing 45 minutes of bodyweight lifting or functional training every morning and at least 30 minutes of high-intensity interval training six times a week. End it with a core workout.
[Note: The body fat percentage for fit, healthy women ranges from 21% to 24%.]
What’s your typical diet like?
Breakfast: 6 egg whites, grapes, strawberries, 10 almonds and peanut butter
Snack: Protein shake with coconut oil
Lunch: 250g chicken breast with broccoli and salad
Snack: 4 egg whites and peanut butter
Dinner: 250g chicken breast with broccoli and salad
Snack: Protein shake
My indulgences are pizza, burger, Mexican food, Tiramisu and beer.
What annoys you most at the gym?
Seeing people spend more time on their phones rather than work out.
Which exercise do you think all women should do?
That would be the hip thrust because it’s almost a full-body workout that doesn’t involve any equipment. Hip thrusts improve glute strength and overall sports performance. The exercise also reduces the overall risk of injury, as strong glutes help to take stress off the lower back and enable you to move more efficiently.
To do the hip thrust:
Start with shoulder blades flat on a bench, knees bent at 90 degrees and feet flat on floor. Extend arms to sides for stability. Take a deep breath and exhale completely while bracing core. Squeeze glutes, lift hips and hold for two seconds before returning to initial position. This move is similar to the glute bridge, except that your back is not supported. Use weights to increase the intensity. Those with lower back issues should avoid this exercise.
What’s your favourite no-equipment workout move?
What do you say to motivate your clients?
At Triplefit, I strongly believe in teaching our members about “quality over quantity” – that one perfect push-up beats 10 push-ups with bad technique. I also tell them that their fitness journey is their personal journey and not anyone else’s. Don’t ever compare yourself to anyone else, not that girl in a magazine, on social media, and not even your friends. Everyone has different genes so I try to show them just how beautiful and unique they are.
What do you think of the rising number of Fitstagrammers (fitness influencers on Instagrammer)?
Fitstagrammers can be motivating but most of them aren’t providing the right tips and it doesn’t make my job as a coach easy. Not every guide you see online takes into account various body types and fitness levels, and no one really talks about the risk of injury if exercises are not done correctly.
Who are your fitness role models?
Colombian cyclists Rigoberto Uran and Nairo Quintana. Both of them didn’t have much money or opportunities to have a good education but they fought hard and are currently one of the best cyclists in the world.