Fitness Exactly how Kate Upton works out to get lean AND strong

Kate says it was getting into lifting heavy weights with her trainer Ben that was the game changer.

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As you'd expect, Kate Upton (who's currently on her third Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover—NBD) is no stranger to the gym.

She does, however, have a new outlook on fitness and health. Since she started training with Ben Bruno, Kate says working out is more about how she feels than how she looks. "I’ve changed my mentality," she says. "Now, I work out to feel strong for myself, not to see a number on a scale."

Kate says it was getting into lifting heavy weights with her trainer Ben (whose other celeb clients include Chelsea Handler and Victoria's Secret Angel Barbara Fialho) that was the game changer.

"I’ve always done an element of strength training throughout my workouts, but whenever I started working out with Ben, it really shifted to mainly just weight training," she says. "It’s completely changed my body. It raises your metabolism, it helps you enjoy life more, [and] you feel stronger." Clearly, the physical results follow.

Kate is one of many women shifting to the mindset that lifting heavy makes you lean, not bulky. Beyond the fact that it's gotten her super-toned, she says it's part of a mental change she's made toward loving her body. Another move toward that was throwing out the scale. "For me, not having a scale made working out a healthier thing," she says. "It made working out about me wanting to improve myself for my own life, not about losing weight or gaining weight or shaming myself for gaining weight, or whatever the goal was at the time. Now it’s about, 'Why do I want to be fit?' It’s to be stronger, be more energetic, to fit in my jeans. And that is my ‘self-check’, not a scale."

In addition to Ben, another crucial member of Team Upton is Kate's dog Harley. We all know that dogs can boost your mood and keep your stress levels down, but Kate says, on top of all that, Harley helps keep her fit. "Having a dog in general keeps me more active," she says. "Going on walks or hikes keeps me healthy...I bring Harley to the gym with me when I’m weight training. He’s my little travel buddy, he goes everywhere with me."

One big benefit of exercising with her dog is that he gets exercise too, which Kate tracks using the Link AKC collar. It's basically a FitBit for dogs, monitoring his activity and setting custom goals based on age, breed, behavior, and size.

By everywhere, she means everywhere. Flying from New York to LA to Antarctica (yes, really) has her living out of a suitcase and without a gym more often than she would like. But she maintains her routine—although, even she admits it wasn't easy at first. "I really had to learn how to do that, because that’s very difficult to do, working out while you’re traveling," she says. "I try to do full-body workouts that I can do in my hotel room if they don't have a gym. I pack sliders and bands and I’ll do a 30 minute workout inside my hotel room."

But when she does have weights on hand, she's absolutely crushing it.

"I don’t know what my favorite move in the gym is, but I know what I’m best at," she says. "I’m really good at hip-thrusts. Actually, just recently, I did hip thrusts with a pulse in between—so a full up and down with a pulse and a band around my legs—and I did 200 pounds. So I’m very proud of myself."

There is one place in the gym she won't be caught dead though. "StairMaster—hate it, won’t touch it," she says. "If I have to walk stairs, fine, but StairMaster? Forget it." She also loathes necessary-but-evil walking lunges (we feel you on that one, Kate).

Kate usually hits the gym four or five times a week but steps it up before big shoots. "I definitely amp up my workouts up a lot [before a big shoot], going to the gym every day and they’re longer, more intense workouts," she says. "It’s exactly like you would imagine them, they suck. Luckily, because I keep a healthy lifestyle for myself, I don’t have to prep that far in advance."

But after all that hard work, Kate's recovery game is pro-level—literally. She's picked up a thing or two from fiance and pro baseball player Justin Verlander.

"Since being with Justin, I’ve learned a lot about what athletes do to recover and the most important thing to do for recovery is to get your sleep in, to sleep the full amount and sleep in a cold room," she says. His advice is legit: Sleeping in a cold room helps you achieve the deepest sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation. She adds that stretching and foam rolling are also essential to her recovery process. "I’ve also been trying to add more yoga to my routine lately," she says. But don't call her a yogi just yet. " I [like] the yoga that’s more for stretching and less spiritual. Less lying, breathing, more getting my joints moving."

Overall, Kate's routine aims to please no one but herself and that's an awesome message we can all get behind.

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