15/02/2017 14:52 GMT | Updated 15/02/2017 15:01 GMT

Zanna Van Dijk On Why She Finds Lifting Weights Empowering And The Importance Of Rest Days

'I have to remind myself that no one is perfect.'

Zanna Van Dijk is another health blogger taking the fitness world by storm.

At just 24, she boasts more than 150,000 Instagram followers, has her own line of activewear and had her first book ‘Strong’ published in December 2016. 

Van Dijk aims to inspire women to lead healthier lives as the co-creator of ‘GirlGains’ - a community which brings together women at events to educate and empower them about their workouts. 

The London-based blogger is also a personal trainer, fitness instructor and has a passion for creating recipes with her “achievable” approach to eating well.

We caught up with the fitness guru for our Fit Fix series to find out her weekly training schedule, how she fuels before working out and why she always sets herself fitness goals.


Training 💪

Talk us through your week in fitness. 

“My training is super flexible. Here is an example week: 

“Monday6am weights, 45 minutes of heavy leg training with key moves include deadlifts, squats, lunges and hip thrusts.

“Tuesday: An afternoon gymnastics class at Crossfit Perpetual - we spend an hour practising skills like handstands and headstands. 

“Wednesday6am weights, 45 minutes of heavy upper body training using exercises like pull ups, rows, overhead press, bench press and push ups.

“Thursday: HIIT cardio class at F45 London Bridge. Friday6am weights, 45 minutes of heavy weights.

“Saturday: HIIT cardio class and I usually do the weekend class with a friend.

“Sunday: Rest.”

What’s your favourite type of workout and why?

“I love all my workouts for different reasons. I love gymnastics because I’m not very good at it so it’s a huge challenge for me, and as a result I see progress week on week, which is very motivating.

“I love lifting weights as I find it empowering, and I enjoy the feeling of getting stronger over time. I also enjoy the endorphin hit after sweaty HIIT session and the mental clarity I achieve from a run.” 

Do you have rest days? What’s your favourite way to spend your rest day?

“Yes, definitely. I believe rest days are essential to achieving the best results. They let your body recover and repair so you can ultimately get fitter and stronger.

“I love having my rest days on a weekend, so I can spend my time with my friends and boyfriend and enjoy their company. We go for a walk in the park, visit an exhibition or just have a lazy day at home.”


Food 🍳

What do you eat throughout the week to complement your training schedule?

“I aim to consume a balanced diet and I’m vegetarian, for ethical reasons, so I source protein from foods such as lentils, beans and grains.

“And example day would be: Zoats [courgette oats] with protein powder, topped with nut butter and berries for breakfast; goats cheese and caramelised red onion frittata with a side salad for lunch; and homemade chickpea burgers with sweet potato for dinner.”

“I graze multiple times throughout the day on things such as nut butter on rice cakes, dark chocolate dipped in nut butter, nut butter out the jar, nut butter with fruit... basically, I am obsessed with nut butter.” 

What are your pre- and post-workout snacks?

“If I train first thing in the morning, I just have a coffee to give me an energy boost. I then refuel with protein zoats - a recipe from my book.

“This consists of oats with courgette, protein powder and some flavours such as cocoa powder and maple syrup. Sounds weird, tastes amazing.”

What’s the best lesson you’ve learned about food?

“The best lesson I’ve learned is to use the principle ‘moderation not deprivation’. Quick fixes don’t exist. It is all about lasting sustainable changes which you can keep up for the rest of your life.

“Food is certainly a lifestyle - not a short-term diet. I find that allowing myself all my favourite, less wholesome foods in moderation means that I stay sane.”


Motivation 🙌

Do you have a motivational mantra that keeps you going?

“Yes, it’s ‘Every master was once a novice’. I think it can be off-putting when you go into the gym and everyone seems to be smashing their workouts, getting stronger and stronger, and you’re struggling to push through your session.

“I have to remind myself that no one is perfect and we all start as beginners. What matters is consistently trying to push yourself and your body to your limits.”

Do you always have fitness goals you are aiming for?

“Always. I find these encourage a positive relationship with training and with yourself. In 2016 I had a lot of specific goals, such as deadlifting 100kg and achieving five pull ups. These really motivated me and I achieved them before the year ended.

“This year I am focusing on enjoyment over everything else. I’m mixing up my routine and challenging myself in new ways.”

What’s your ultimate workout track and why?

“I love electronic dance music in the gym, which is not my usual genre of music! For example at the moment I am loving Skylike’s ‘You’.

“The heavy beats distract me and motivate me at the same time.” 


Fit Fix’ is a weekly dose of fitspiration from leading athletes and fitness fanatics. Each week, we chat to stars about their weekly workouts, the food they eat and what keeps them going.  

Order Van Dijk’s book ‘Strong’ here. 

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