Do you ever wonder how the WWE’s Stephanie McMahon has managed to maintain a body that would rival an IFBB bikini pro or even one of her own pro wrestling Divas? It’s not like she hasn’t been busy the past few years. With her famous hubby Triple H, the two have welcomed three beautiful baby girls to their family all the while putting in typical 12 hour work days that she seems to shrug off as business as usual.
Stephanie’s typical day is like most full time executives in the corporate world—with just a tad bit more attention to detail on her diet and training than the average working mom. The alarm goes off at 6am. She heads into the kitchen to make her Species Nutrition Isolyze protein drink and downs a handful of her nutritionist, Dave Palumbo’s recommended morning supplements: Mineralyze, Omegalyze, and Juice Plus. By 6:30 she’s got the kids out of bed and the house is awake. Breakfast is cooking and it’s about that time to shuttle the little ones off to school.
Once Stephanie arrives at the WWE headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut, she’s in bumper to bumper meetings all day long. Don’t think that just because she’s non-stop all day there isn’t time to follow her customized diet outlined by Palumbo.
“Dave’s diet is really easy to follow. I haven’t had any trouble staying on track with it.” She explains.
Stephanie began working with Palumbo after sitting in on several nutritional meetings between he and her husband. It took a little bit of convincing; but before long, she was totally onboard and bought into everything he’s advised.
“Dave is a really knowledgeable guy and the things he was telling Paul (Triple H) to do with his diet just made sense and seemed easy to understand, so it didn’t take too long for me to want to work with Dave as well. Literally the day I came home from the hospital after having my second daughter I started on his nutrition program. I gained 80lb with my first pregnancy and that was such a struggle to get the weight off. I gained another 60 pounds during the next pregnancy. I knew I had to work my butt off to get back in shape.”
My next thought was, how could she follow Dave’s diet and eat every three hours if she’s in business meetings all morning and afternoon?
“I’ll order in some meals, or bring in pre-prepared meals. I scramble to eat between meetings, but if I have to I will eat during a meeting. Nutrition is so important to me and its part of my lifestyle.”
Wondering what kinds of foods she eats? “Lunch is usually sashimi, I love sashimi. Then I’ll do pre-prepared meals usually chicken, turkey burger, or steak with veggies twice in the afternoon before heading home for the night.” She says.
As many people know on Palumbo’s diet, you get a once per week cheat meal that Stephanie raves about. “I look forward to my cheat meal so much!” I had to know what her favorite cheat meal was. “No, I can’t tell you! Dave will kill me,” she laughed.
“It’s fine, Dave is in Brazil for the next week—he’ll never know,” I said.
“Ok, perfect,” she continued, “Anything that’s fried—sweet potato fries being my fav, usually topped off with chocolate or ice cream. My mom used to call me the ‘candy queen.’ I guess I never really lost my sweet tooth. Being a bit of an extremist, I used to eat too much and make myself sick on my cheat meals, but I’ve gotten better…at least a little bit.”
The work day finally wraps up around 7:30pm, but business has just begun. Once she gets home, it’s time to get the kids to bed, eat her next meal, and train!
Two days a week, world renowned strength and conditioning coach Joe DeFranco arrives at McMahon’s house for training. DeFranco is recognized as one of the foremost experts in the field of human performance. He trains dozens of professional athletes during their off seasons as well as numerous college football players prior to their NFL Combine and pre-draft workouts.
For Stephanie, she’s no stranger to lifting weights and working out.
“I’ve done all kinds of training in my life. I started working out when I was 12 years old learning from my dad and brother. I’ve done the typical bodybuilding split with Chest/Shoulders/Triceps on day 1, Back and Biceps on Day 2, and Legs on Day 3. But I was just doing too much and found myself overtraining. I’ve been working with Joe for about 18 months. He comes out to the house and puts me through a fast paced functional workout. He likes to have me train in positions with different kinds of weight loads that keep me off balance, forcing me to really use my core.” McMahon said.
I had to find out from DeFranco what kind of physical progression he’s seen from Stephanie during their time training together.
“Steph's body has gone through a major transformation since we started training together. Old wrestling injuries, childhood dance, and being a mother of three created some negative adaptations in her body, which resulted in shoulder, hip, knee and ankle problems. Because of this, my top priority was to get her body functioning and feeling better. To accomplish this, I started training her like an athlete. The goal was to get her body working as a whole, as opposed to separate parts. The program I designed for Steph, coupled with her consistent hard work and attention to detail, have been a recipe for success. She can now train without limitations, while also being stronger and leaner!”
This methodology is obviously working as Stephanie is in the best shape of her life. Listening to her talk about the differences she’s seen in her body was infectious to hear. I wanted to set up a training session for myself with DeFranco to feel some of what she has experienced.
“Matt, I can honestly tell you, at 36 years old and after having 3 kids, I’m in the best shape of my life. And the best part is that I keep getting stronger.”
But that’s not all the super mom of 3 does to get in shape. “My boxing coach comes out to the house twice a week and I strap on the gloves and we spar for an hour,” she adds.
Talk about bad ass.
“It’s such a great stress reliever not to mention a great workout.”
“Does your boxing coach ever throw a few jabs at you just to make sure you’re still paying attention?” I asked.
“Absolutely,” she said, “I don’t like getting hit, but every once in a while during the workout he’ll remind me to keep my guard up and to stay on my toes. I love it!”
There’s no doubt Stephanie is hardcore about her workouts. I couldn’t believe that she still found the time to workout while maintaining a full workload with the WWE, raising three daughters, and being there for her husband, Triple H. How could she find the time to get it all in?
“If I have to workout at 11 or 12 at night then that’s what I have to do. I’m not going to miss my workout and come up with excuses for why I can’t get it in. There’s always time if you make the time.” She says.
“I love it, so what do you get about 5 hours of sleep at night? Aren’t you exhausted?” I asked.
“Let’s just say I own a lot of stock in Starbucks,” she laughed, “That being said, downtime is important too; it’s important to listen to your body and take a break when you need it.”
And believe it or not her strength coach Joe DeFranco is even more surprised with the intensity Steph is able to bring for each workout.
“You would think Steph needs me to motivate her, especially when you consider the only available time for us to train is at the end of her grueling work day,” DeFranco said, “We typically start training around 10pm and many nights Steph won’t be done until midnight. But, believe it or not, it’s much more common for me to have to slow Steph down as opposed to motivate her.”
He continued, “One of my biggest challenges when I first started training her was trying to convince her that she didn’t need to push herself to failure on every set of every exercise in order to see results. I think it’s just in her DNA to give 110% in every aspect of her life. That’s why she is so successful. It’s ironic because as a strength and conditioning coach, I’m usually the one that needs to motivate my clients. Yet, being around a person like Stephanie has actually served as motivation for me.”
I asked Stephanie if she had any tips or words of advice to those women who find it next to impossible to squeeze it all in or be disciplined enough to follow through on a diet and training program.
“You just have to find the time. Put it in your schedule. Make it a priority. You don’t have to have an expensive trainer or gym membership. Go outside; run around with your kids. Take a walk. You can even download workouts and diets off the internet. Working out is a great escape from the stress of work and life. The hardest part with anything is just getting started, but once you do you’ll find that it’s an important part of your life that you won’t want to miss.”
Matt Meinrod is a feature writer and columnist for RxMuscle.com. You can follow him on Twitter @MattMeinrod and read his archives online at www.MattMeinrod.com
From Joe DeFranco
An average training week for Steph consists of 1 Lower Body strength session, 1 Upper Body strength session and 1 Full Body strength circuit. She also completes 5-7 hours of low-intensity cardio spread out throughout the week.
I design Steph's programs in 3-week mini cycles, so her workouts are constantly changing. I don't allow her to get bored and she's constantly challenged to break records and "one-up" herself during the 3rd week of each cycle. This type of system works great for Steph because she's super-competitive and extremely driven. Presenting her with different challenges each week gives purpose to her training. (Steph does NOT like to lose...at anything lol!!)
Here's one of Steph's recent training weeks...
NOTE: Every workout is preceded by a comprehensive warm-up that incorporates specific SMR (self myofascial release) techniques and muscle activation exercises.
Wednesday - Lower Body Strength
1. Quarter-turn Box Jumps: 4 x 3 each side (24" box)
2. Barbell Box Squats: 5 x 6 (Last set 6+)
3. *Bulgarian "Speed-skater" Split Squats: 3 x 8 (one-and-a-half reps) each leg
*Steph re-named this exercise "F-U Joe"... apparently she doesn't like them too much :)
4A. Kettlebell Swings: 3 x 15
4B. "Body Saw" Planks, feet in Jungle Gym: 3 x15
5A. Seated Calf Raises: 3 sets, 100 total reps
5B. Heel Walking: 3 x 100 total steps
Thursday - Upper Body Strength
1A. Dumbell Floor Press (palms in): 4 x 10 (last set 10+)
1B. Band Pull-aparts (underhand grip): 4 x 15
2A. Single Arm Kettlebell Rows: 3 x 12 each arm
2B. Battle Rope - Backward Circles: 3 x 20
3A.Zottman Curls: 3 x 10
3B. Band Face Pulls: 3 x 20
4. Hand Walking in/out Speed Ladder (down & back): 3 timed sets (AFAP)
Sunday - Full Body Circuit
a. Med Ball Slams x 5
b. Trap Bar Deadlift x 6
c. Bench Push-ups x 7
d. Bodyweight Inverted Rows x 8
REPEAT CIRCUIT 8X