Svava Sigbertsdottir, founder of the butt-kicking Viking Workout
UK (by way of Iceland) trainer Svava Sigbertsdottir, founder of the butt-kicking Viking Workout, talks about her workout philosophy and shares simple, equipment-free exercises that you can do at home.
Working out with Svava Sigbertsdottir should be intimidating—the Icelandic-born, UK-based "fitness maniac" (her words) has seemingly endless energy and is totally buff, of course. But her workout philosophy is so down-to-earth, it’s easy for even the most fitness disinclined to feel inspired.
For example, the trainer, who was in Toronto with Marshalls, doesn’t believe in that personal trainer stand-by, the before and after photo shoot. Instead, she asks clients to do before and after performances.
“The first day of the month, you do a challenge and write down your reps in your online profile. Then you train like a Viking for a month and on the last day, you repeat the challenge. Every month you do a new one,” she explains. “To do these performances and then see how much more you can do is amazing. It gives such a feeling of accomplishment. You realize you can do so much more than you thought you were capable of.”
Not that seeing results doesn’t have its place. “Don’t get me wrong; of course we all want to look our best! When you look good, you feel good, right? It can be motivating,” Svava says. “But the looks are just a by-product, not the focus. We train for our power, strength, agility, resilience, optimum energy, confidence and inner contentment.”
Interested in feeling—and seeing—those results? Here are seven simple moves you can try at home.
1. Squat with a backward lunge:
Start in a squat with your weight on your heels. Keep your chest up and lower back straight. Lunge backward deeply—your back knee should almost touch the floor. Then return to squatting position and switch legs.
Troubleshooting: Never lengthen your legs fully to ensure you’ll bounce from the squat to the lunge. “When you are in the lunge, there should be a straight line down from the knee to the ankle of your forward leg,” says Svava.
2. Walking plank
Start standing up. Kneel down and walk your arms forward until you’re in high plank position. Then walk your arms back until you’re in a standing forward bend. Slowly straighten up, until you’re standing with your shoulders back.
Troubleshooting: When you’re in the plank, engage your core. Don’t arch your back and keep your arms straight and shoulders down.
3. Towel runs
Place two hand towels on floor in front of you. Place a hand on each towel and get into a sprinter’s start position (bum up and heels off the ground). Run forwards as fast as you can, then turn and run back.
Troubleshooting: Make sure that you drive your power from your legs and not your arms. Always keep your shoulders down.
4. Backwards squat jumps
Start in a deep squat with your shoulders and bum far back, placing all your weight on your heels. Jump backwards, ending in a deep squat.
Troubleshooting: “Keep your chest up and your shoulders back as you move between each squat. Your torso should not be moving forward as you land in the squat,” says Svava.
5. Kneeling high kick
Kneel on your right knee, with your left knee forward in a 90-degree bend. Press into the left heel to raise your body slightly, lengthening the left leg and, at the same time, kicking the right leg as high as you can. Slowly return to your starting position, then switch legs.
Troubleshooting: “Do not use the leg you’re kicking with to lift yourself up—only the one you’re kneeling on. Engage your core and use your power to kick that leg!” says Svava.
6. Plank forward reaches
Get into low plank position. Keep your hips still and slowly reach one arm forward without shifting your body weight. Bring your arm to starting position, then switch sides. “This is a slow exercise, so if you speed it up, you will start shifting your weight and swinging your body, ultimately losing your core,” she says. “Keep that core engaged! And do not arch your lower back.”
Troubleshooting: You can tell whether you’re shifting your hips too much by paying close attention to your feet as you reach forward—if you feel more weight on the toes of one foot than the other, you need to engage your core more.
Squat with your bum sticking out and your heels firm on the ground. Place your hands on the ground in between your legs and jump your legs back. (You’ll end up in press up position.) Hold that pose, engaging your core so you don’t drop your middle. Then jump back to the squat, do a squat jump, and land in a squat. That is one burpee.
Troubleshooting: “When you’re squatting, your shoulders, back and chest should be straight, so that you aren’t hunched over,” Svava says. “And this is crucial: when you’re doing the squat jump, make sure you’re landing back in a squat with both heels on the ground—rather than landing with your legs straight and then squatting.”
For more fitness inspiration, check out our easiest weight loss plan ever.