For the enchanting, yet somehow relatable Margot Robbie, exercise is all about feeling her best. The Barbie star previously told The Telegraph: ‘I love food, I love wine and I love having a good time with my friends. But I also don’t love the feeling of knowing that I don’t look my best.’
She’s big on #balance, like all of us. It’s a case of ‘walking the line between having as much fun as possible and continuing to take care of myself,’ she said. ‘Eating well and exercise need to be prevalent in my life so that I can feel my best, but I don’t want to dwell on it too much.’
When it comes to prepping for movie roles, however, she doesn’t mess around. She puts in some serious graft, but she’s always made the purpose of these extreme training regimes clear: to embody a particular character, and you needn’t do the same.
For Barbie, Margot also refused to sign up to the film until there was more diversity in manufacturer Mattel’s line of Barbie dolls (they recently added a “curvy” design and a Down’s Syndrome Barbie), saying: ‘If [Mattel] hadn’t made that change to have a multiplicity of Barbies, I don’t think I would have wanted to attempt to make a Barbie film.
‘I don’t think you should say, “This is the one version of what Barbie is, and that’s what women should aspire to be and look like and act like”.’ With that in mind, then, here’s everything we know about Margot’s exercise routine and what happened when I tried it for a week, to inspire or motivate you – not for you to take as a training blueprint.
Margot Robbie’s exercise routine
While she told the Telegraph that exercise is simply part of her lifestyle (‘I like to play tennis, run around the park or do a dance class with girlfriends’), she credits a dynamic version of Pilates as her go-to discipline.
‘If I’m making a conscious effort to exercise, I work with a Pilates trainer on a reformer machine, and that suits me and my body best,’ Margot said.
Now, Margs trains with Pilates coach and top PT David Higgins.
She lifts weights
Margot told Australia’s Body & Soul that her regime involved plenty of time in the gym to build muscle, including ‘weights, mostly, and lots of sit-ups. It’s all the stuff you know you’re meant to do, but just can never be bothered to do.’
She does ballet
For her role as Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, Margot’s former trainer, Andie Hecker, shared that Margot did ballet and barre-inspired workouts for two to three hours a day, five days a week, per Insider.
In particular, Andie told People they would focus on outer glute and thigh moves. ‘We did a lot of heavy-weighted, low reps of arabesque pulls hooked up to resistance pulleys, as well as arabesque lifts with heavy ankle weights in order to build and lift the butt,’ she said.
Andie also cited ballet jumps as ‘the most challenging form of cardio’ in an interview with Who magazine.
Core work is her focus
Margot famously told ET that she would do 100 sit-ups a day to get strong for I, Tonya, and also incorporated hip dips, planks, and pikes into her routine to get ready to play Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, per Insider.
I took inspo from all of the above to create my own weekly workout routine. Here’s how my schedule looked:
- Monday: 60-min reformer Pilates class + 100 sit-ups
- Tuesday: 60-min weight training + 100 sit-ups
- Wednesday: Rest day
- Thursday: 30-min ab workout (including 100 sit-ups)
- Friday: 60-min YouTube ballet class + 100 sit-ups
- Saturday: 60-min reformer Pilates class + 100 sit-ups
- Sunday: Rest day
One key difference: ahead of a movie, Margs trains for much longer per day – her trainer Andie said she would work out for two to three hours a day, five days a week, but described it as ‘very intense’ and told Shape that she wouldn’t recommend it ‘as the norm for anyone who isn’t a highly trained athlete.’ Needless to say, I was happy to take Andie’s advice. Don’t get me wrong, I know that the above routine certainly isn’t easy, but I’ve been on the hunt for a new challenge for a while, and I was keen to see just how strong I could get. Here’s what happened.
Day 1: 60-min reformer Pilates + 100 sit-ups
Today isn’t too different from my norm. I head to my usual weekly reformer Pilates class at Power Pilates UK and, as usual, love it. I’ve been going for almost two years now, so I take the intermediate/advanced class, but the studio also offers beginner sessions.
Core strength is a key principle of Pilates, and today’s session includes three sets of hundreds and three sets of hollow holds. My abs are shaking, and I start to feel apprehensive about the 100 sit-ups to follow.
I decide to give myself a break before I tackle them; class finishes at 1.30pm, and I take on my sit-ups straight after work, at 5pm. This definitely helps as it gives me time to refuel and hydrate (I aim for at least 2L of water per day), but I quickly realise I probably would have been better off splitting my target of 100 into sections: 50 in the morning, 50 in the evening.
Day 2: 60-min weight training + 100 sit-ups
I’ve learnt my lesson from day 1, and so I bash out my first 50 sit-ups as soon as I wake up. Interestingly, I find that barely being awake means my mind can’t quite compute what I’m doing, and they feel easier.
I then go straight into my 60-minute lower-body weight session, using a pair of dumbbells and ankle weights I have at home. I had pre-empted needing to go for lighter weights since I’d be training more frequently this week than usual, but I find I don’t feel as weak as expected yet and am able to stick with the same load.
I take inspiration from Andie who previously shared that, when training for Suicide Squad, Margot’s ‘butt was really important to focus on because the shorts were so short.
‘For the glutes, we did heavier resistance and lower reps to work on building that muscle a little more. I included heavier ankle weights than I would normally give someone — I would give her 5-pound ankle weights. We’d do lower reps, so 20 leg lifts with that ankle weight on and then take a break to move on to the other leg to do another 20, making sure her glutes were doing it and not her hamstrings.’
She added that side leg lifts while in a side plank, wearing ankle weights, was another go-to exercise.
Here’s my exact workout:
- 20 x glute kickbacks (a.k.a. leg lifts), right side
- 20 x glute kickbacks, left side
- 20 x side plank + leg lifts, right side
- 20 x side plank + leg lifts, left side
- 20 x squats
- 20 x single-leg deadlifts, right side
- 20 x single-leg deadlifts, left side
- 20 x single-leg hip thrusts, right side
- 20 x single-leg hip thrusts, left side
- Repeat x 2
[Rest for 60 secs between each set]
Although challenging, I’m surprised by how do-able the session feels, but by the time my second set of sit-ups comes round in the evening, I’m pretty whacked. Every exercise included in my workout requires a lot of core strength, and I can feel my mid-section is fatigued, but with a few rests, I manage to hit 100.
Day 3: Rest
Margs takes two rest days per week, and I’m relieved – there’s no chance I’m getting through this week without a break. Plus, I know that rest and recovery is when your muscles get the chance to grow back stronger after tiny tears are created during weight training (a process known as hypertrophy), and if I’m going to continue with this routine, I want to give them the best chance of growth.
I spend the day working from home, bar a 30-minute walk around the block at lunchtime, to encourage blood flow to the muscles in my legs and reduce Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).
Day 4: 30-min core workout
Based on the workout routine that Margot’s trainer Andie shared with The Hollywood Reporter, today’s core workout involves:
- 30 x plank to pikes using slider
- 30 x plank hip dips
- 20 x sit-ups
- 60-sec plank hold, right leg lifts
- 60-sec plank hold, left leg lifts
- Repeat x 5
[Rest for 60 secs between each set]
For Margot’s plank-to-pike exercise, she typically uses a reformer machine, but I sub in a slider. Safe to say, it does the job. My abs are quivering within just 10 minutes. My shoulders feel it, too, but I make a conscious effort to engage my core and lift out of my shoulders, rather than letting my weight sink into them. Who knew a 30-minute core workout could leave you so sweaty?
Day 5: 60-min ballet class + 100 sit-ups
Today is a first for me: an adult ballet class. I choose a 30-minute YouTube class and run through it twice; I can practice the moves and familiarise myself with the routine first, then really aim to engage my muscles on the second round, I figure.
What happens is proof that I really need to switch up my routine; while reformer Pilates and weight training are regulars in my workout routine and my body is familiar with the exercises, ballet works my muscles in entirely new ways, making it the hardest workout by a country mile.
Muscles I never even knew I had are quivering, and I have to take regular breaks to get my breath back. Did I enjoy it? I’m not sure I can say so at this point, but I imagine I would once it becomes
easier more familiar.
Day 6: 60-min reformer Pilates + 100 sit-ups
Reformer Pilates is typically the one workout I always look forward to, but my body is in bits from yesterday’s ballet class. My calves feel as though they’re on fire, and the idea of enduring an hour of Pilates isn’t so appealing. I decide to spend the morning foam rolling and stretching, and, reader, I’m pleased to report it works wonders. I head to my class and finish the session just as energised as normal.
It’s then that I realise I’ve made a rookie mistake. A morning sorting out my sore legs means I completely forget about my 50 sit-ups, so it’s home to do the whole 100. Thankfully, today’s reformer class has an upper-body focus, so my abs don’t feel as fatigued, and I manage to hit my target.
Day 7: Rest
My workouts for the week are done. As mentioned, research lends credence to rest days for muscle growth reasons, but for me, it’s the sustainability it gives a routine. Had it not been for two rest days, I’m not sure I would have gotten much out of Margot’s routine; my first rest day allowed me to recover from the first two workouts, in order to give the last two days of workouts my all.
In fact, I’ve still got the energy for a 60-minute walk this morning – a key tenet of active recovery, encouraging blood flow to my muscles to aid with recovery and preventing DOMS, and I’m strongly considering cementing this routine (minus the 100 sit-ups) for the foreseeable.
My honest thoughts
One element I won’t be taking from Margot’s routine for my own, is 100 daily sit-ups. Granted, core strength is good for a wealth of benefits: better balance, coordination, posture, lower-back health, and power, but ‘sit-ups primarily work your rectus abdominis’, says PT Jeremy Bell. ‘For all-round core strength, you should train your obliques, transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, lower back muscles and lats – every muscle in your mid-section and trunk.’
The key is to practice different movement patterns, I’m told; sit-ups only involve a hinge movement, you should practice push, pull, squat, lunge and rotation movements, too.
Minus the sit-ups, and with the caveat that I modified Margot’s workout routine to feature shorter workouts, I’m a big fan. I’ve tried workout routines that leave me so exhausted I can barely concentrate at work, let alone enjoy training. As Margot said, she exercises well to feel her best, and that’s exactly what this routine did for me.