In The Swing
Posted On Aug 24, 2016
Trainer-to-the-stars Danny Musico takes his big-swinging know-how out of the ring and past our fitness plateaus.
By Andrew C. Stone
We place a lot of importance on our outsides— being a certain dress size, casting a specific silhouette, shrinking to look slim at a wedding or on vacation. While skinny is an understandable and prevalent desire in our culture, any medical professional worth his salt will tell you: Skinny does not necessarily mean that you’re healthy. Perhaps a better goal would be “fighting shape,” meaning capable, flexible, powerful, and ready to take on the world. Conveniently, the number-one side effect of training like a champion is looking long, lithe, and lean.
“Many people look like they’re in great shape but they’re actually not,” says two-time World Super Middleweight boxing champion Danny Musico, the founder of ABH Gym (Above Beverly Hills) at the SIXTY Beverly Hills hotel. “A professional fighter’s physicality is all about lean muscle mass—being physically strong, with lots of endurance. I was very blessed to live the life of an athlete, and over my years as a boxer I learned to give it my all, every time I work out.”
Musico has been the trainerof-choice for the likes of Sylvester Stallone, Jessica Simpson, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Tobey Maguire, and is the official fitness guru for the show American Idol. He trains out of his ABH Gym or at one of the SIXTY’s three New York City properties. “I have a pretty good picture in my head of what a client can look like almost immediately,” he says. He helped Hilary Swank transform for Million Dollar Baby, Mark Wahlberg shred for The Fighter, Demi Moore take on G.I. Jane, and the cast of HBO’s Entourage stay fit. (He even played himself on Entourage. Yes, he acts, too.) “Most of my clients are in a rush,” he says. “They’re in between movie shoots or modeling gigs. I’m all about getting people into the best shape possible, in the quickest time possible.”
His key to such speedy results? Interval training. This entails running for three minutes as fast as you can, taking a 30 second rest, then doing it again,” he says. “Working fast is the key.” Musico makes the comparison of a marathon runner and a collegiate sprinter. “The marathoner will have fantastic pace, but her body can’t produce fat-as-fuel fast enough so she won’t be very muscular. On the other hand, a collegiate runner who does 30-yard dashes is going to look like a superhero, with unbelievable speed and flexibility, because she’s working at a short pace as fast as she possibly can. That’s the same as interval training.”
To meet specific goals, Musico will integrate some low-weight, high-rep weight training into the interval circuit. He says that men often long for six-pack abs and big arms, while women frequently come to him looking to work on their glutes, midsections, and legs. “In my eyes, the perfect composition for a female physique is that of a ballroom dancer,” Musico says. “The calves, thighs, and midsection come together in a perfect union; the legs are not as big as a cyclist, yet they’re lean, strong machines. They can dance on their toes and carry their bodies beautifully. This is a great physique for women to aim for.”
Given his pugilist past, Musico incorporates boxing into his sessions, insisting that it’s ideal for keeping waistlines trim and triceps toned. “You have to challenge yourself to develop muscles that you haven’t trained,” he says. “I’ll see women reading a magazine while sitting on the stationary bike. Try some controlled punching in a series of 30-second intervals. That will make 40 minutes on a treadmill feel like a cakewalk.”
If a one-on-one session with Musico seems unlikely in the near future, he recommends a series of moves to get you feeling primed for life. “Hit boxing mitts for a while to engage the whole body,” he says. “Then drop down into some planks—done with integrity. [Check out Musico’s YouTube channel for some impressive plank demos.] Next, try some mountain climbers followed by a butt blaster move—on all fours, driving the knee forward then driving it back to engage the glute. Add in cardio and ab exercises like a jackknife, as well as lat pulldowns, shoulder side laterals, and isolated curls. If put together in a watched-after circuit training session, the results are amazing.”
Amazing results are what Musico wants for his clients, not just for them to be skinny. When going 12 rounds in the ring of life, you have to be primed for the fight.