Stef Williams is one of the hottest things on social media right now – in more ways than one.
The fitness influencer has the kind of body most women dream about: rock-hard abs that you can grate cheese on, a super-pert behind and long, lean limbs. It’s all offset with dark, help me get off norco cascading hair and a smile that could win over even the coldest of hearts.
The down-to-earth 30-year-old launched her Instagram account (@stef.williams) in 2017. It’s easy to think it’s all down to her looks, however, it’s a lot to do with her girl-next-door approach to content.
She posts everything from makeup tutorials and grocery shopping to her struggles with endometriosis and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
But it’s her fitness content that’s engaging women all over the world. ‘I love talking to people, helping them and making them feel good,’ she says.
’I wasn’t feeling very fulfilled after school and at the time Instagram was becoming a bit of a thing, so I thought I could jump on that. But I needed to have something to give people. Something they could take away from me, not just: “Hey, yo, here’s a picture of my body!”’
Stef now boasts 1.5million followers on Instagram – she gained 500,000 in the first six months alone – 733,900 fans on TikTok (Joe Wicks only has 43,200) and 82,400 subscribers on YouTube.
What’s your go-to piece of equipment?
‘At home it’s dumbbells because they’re so versatile and can really intensify your movement.’
‘Everyone thinks I’m nuts, but I do love a Bulgarian Split Squat. Everyone hates me for it as I always put lots into people’s programmes.’
Favourite skincare item?
‘I love anything with vitamin C in it. At the moment I’m using Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Vitamin C serum.’
Desert island essential?
‘A football. To play sport and so I could have my very own Wilson, like Tom Hanks’ character in the Cast Away film.’
Go-to heathy dinner?
‘I love a chickpea curry or a three bean curry.’
‘Any ice cream, but I do love a Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food.’
She says her USP in the beginning was probably her ‘thicker thighs’ – Stef was super-sporty at school and played pro hockey for Wales for five years – but now it’s probably down to her rules of fitness: don’t aspire to look like someone else, train holistically and challenge yourself often.
‘Comparison is such a killer,’ says Stef. ‘You almost get put off when you see someone, as you think [the body] is unobtainable. You’re instantly put off before you give yourself a chance. Your body is a reflection of your lifestyle and you just have to start and be consistent.
‘If you focus on realistic goals, like training for another five minutes this week, or lifting a bit more weight, then those are the goals that will ultimately help you change your body physically.’
It makes total sense. But looking at Stef’s core makes us feel nervous about the kind of workouts she’s likely to get us doing. However, her workouts are simple to follow and she advocates doing the same exercises over and over to see results.
It must be working as when her Instagram account started to take off, she launched Fit With Stef, fitness and nutrition plans to help people who wanted a more structured approach to their training.
This was closely followed in 2020 by her app, WeGlow, as the demand increased for more interactive content. It’s already had more than 100,000 downloads.
‘I’ve been doing the same exercises for years and though it’s important to keep enjoying what you’re doing (which sometimes requires change or a different type of movement), doing the same exercises is vital to perfecting them,’ she says.
‘This is why you’ll see the same key movements across my guides, because these will make the foundation for your progress.’
Stef also advocates a holistic approach to training and has recently started dabbling with Pilates. She describes herself as a good-weather runner and loves walking: ‘People keep telling me it’s like I’m turning 50, not 30! But I just love getting out in the fresh air.’
Having launched activewear brand SEFI in December last year, the fitness expert is rapidly building a fitness empire, despite facing a lot of difficulties growing up.
She was labelled ‘not academic’ and diagnosed with severe dyslexia around the age of eight. Stef says she didn’t tap into her full potential at school, which is perhaps why she’s so keen on challenges as an adult.
Almost 7,000 women did her last online challenge. ‘A challenge can create a habit of moving your body that can lead to a more sustainable approach to fitness; great motivators when you see women logging on at the same time.’
Stef’s candid nature makes her an inspiration. She breaks fitness down into bite-sized, relatable chunks and motivates you into thinking that body is more achievable. Now, where’s that dumbbell?
Check out more on Stef’s website.
Stef’s best moves for legs, bums and tums
Legs: Bulgarian Split Squat
‘This works your quads, hamstrings and glutes, making it a fantastic all-rounder exercise. It’s also a single-leg exercise, meaning it improves your strength, while also testing your balance, coordination and core control. It’s often easier to master than your traditional back squat and more “injury-proof”, too.’
‘Stand with your back to a bench or chair. Maintain a tight core and flat back as you place one foot on top of a bench behind you. Ensure a comfortable distance between you and the bench.
‘With your hands on your hips, the side of your head or out in front for balance, bend the front knee as you drop the back knee, driving your hips back and down. Allow your thigh to come parallel with the floor. Pause, then slowly return to the start position by extending the knee, but be sure not to lock it out at the top.’
‘Ten reps on one leg before changing to the other. Add dumbbells if you want more of a challenge.’
Bums: Barbell Hip Thrust
‘If you want to build and develop your bum then the barbell hip thrust is one of the number one exercises you should be incorporating into your training every week.
‘As well as targeting your glutes, you’ll also get some hamstring and quad activation, too. The hip thrust also builds strength and improves stabilisation through the lower back, which results in a more functional and pain-free body.’
‘Sitting on the floor, knees pointing 90 degrees up in front of you, start with your upper back supported by a padded surface behind you (such as a bench or soft box) and a barbell resting across your hips. Place your feet hip-width apart with your toes slightly turned out. Grip the barbell firmly in each hand.
‘Focusing the tension in your glutes, drive your hips up until they’re parallel to the floor, making sure to keep your heels pressed firmly into the ground. Keep your eyeline looking forward throughout the movement. Pause at the top and then return with control to the start position.’
‘Perform ten to 12 reps. If you’re training at home, use a chair or sofa for back support and instead of a barbell opt for a dumbbell across your lap (or any weight you have at home, such as a filled large water bottle).’
Tums: Shoulder Tap (Bear Position)
‘Though crunches seem to be the go-to core exercise, the reality is they are not actually that effective for working your core and can exacerbate already poor posture.
‘The bear position shoulder tap is great because it challenges your core to stabilise and control your body position – which is exactly what your core is designed to do.’
‘Get onto all fours on an exercise mat with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Lift your knees so they hover a few inches off the floor. This is your start position.
‘Maintaining a braced core and neutral spine, lift your left hand on the floor and reach across to tap your right shoulder. Return the left hand back to the floor and then repeat the same movement with your right hand.’
‘Alternating this movement for 20 reps or 30 seconds.’
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