Steal The Training Secrets of the Fittest Women on Earth - Women's Health

Steal The Training Secrets of the Fittest Women on Earth

Tia-Clair Toomey, Kara Saunders and Ellie Turner show us how

by | Sep 30, 2021

60% of CrossFit athletes worldwide are women.

At the recent CrossFit Games in the US, these incredible Australians showed the world just what they’re made of. Here, they share how to train like a girl.

“I fuel my body as best as I can” - Tia-Clair Toomey, 28

Winning the title of CrossFit’s Fittest Woman on Earth this year brings Tia’s total wins to an historic five in a row. We stalked her YouTube to find out how the CrossFit legend fuels her body during competition training. 

Breakfast #1: On training days, her first breakfast typically consists of one cup of oatmeal, with 40g of blueberries, a banana and a tablespoon of honey. “This is something I love to eat before [training]. I feel satisfied, and I feel like I have the right amount of energy for my session,” she said. 

Breakfast #2: After her morning cardio session, Tia has a second brekkie: a bagel with avocado and a large egg on one half, and peanut butter and blackberry jam on the other. “If I have two bagels and eggs on both I end up not satisfied,” Tia said. “That bit of sweetness with the peanut butter and the jam gives me that satisfaction at the end of my meal.”

Lunch: To power her through her afternoon strength session, Tia has two protein smoothies, whether or not she’s hungry. “It just gives me that little bit of extra energy, so I never get to a point where I am feeling depleted,” she says. Lunch is usually kidney beans, carrots and tamarind with basmati rice. 

Dinner: Tia switches between red meat, white meat and fish for dinner, with leftover rice and veggies. “I’m having a lot more protein in my meal compared to what I’ve been eating throughout the day, which was predominantly more carbohydrate based,” she said. “That allows me to have the right amount of energy, feel really, really good and allows me to fuel my body as best as
it possibly can.”

“When you show up, great things can happen” - Kara Saunders, 31

This Brisbane-based CrossFit Games veteran has competed nine times and has placed in the top ten in three of those games. 

How it started:

“CrossFit has been part of my life since my early 20s. A PT introduced me to it, he thought I’d find it more mentally stimulating than the gym. He was right! I love the variety and how much opportunity there is for growth. One minute you can be lifting heavy barbells, the next doing some crazy gymnastic rings,
then going for a half-marathon run. I get bored easily but this has kept me focused for 10 years.”

How it’s going:

“I love the competition. It’s the reward to demonstrate all your hard work but… it’s important that you’re getting something from the training too. My training philosophy is to continue to show up. Often the hardest thing is to get up and out there… once you’re doing it, physical and mental strength follow.” 

Kara’s advice for newbies 

“It might seem overwhelming… but the reality is that [CrossFit] is designed to be scalable for anyone from age three to 93… Ignore any outside influences, find a gym that has the right vibe – and start turning up!”

I"t’s all or nothing. I’m all in” - Ellie Turner, 23

After leaving school and her state netball and basketball days behind, Adelaide-based Ellie turned to CrossFit to provide her with the competitive edge she was missing. She qualified as a physiotherapist in 2019 but decided her place wasn’t on the sidelines and threw herself into becoming a full-time CrossFit athlete soon after. 

How it started:

“I heard about CrossFit in 2017 and watched Tia-Clair Toomey win her first Games that year. Instantly I knew I wanted to do that too. I don’t do anything for fun, I have to do it well and those Games became my lifelong dream. My whole life centred around getting good enough. I loved that I never felt comfortable. There’s so many disciplines, it means there’s always something to work on. It becomes very addictive.”

How it’s going:

“In training I move from two hours a day up to three or four to get competition ready. I can do anything from swimming, running or biking to weight lifting and conditioning. My body has changed a lot over the last few years. I was recovering from an eating disorder when I found CrossFit and it saved my life because I’ve had to double my body weight to succeed. I had to recover to be the best version of myself. Mentally it’s altered me too. I’m definitely more confident in who I am as a person and, while it was scary, achieving my dream of reaching the Games has motivated me more than ever to work harder and do even better next year.”

Recommended to you

8 Of The Best Exercise Shorts That Will Power You Through A Summer Of Movement

It’s official: Shorts Season is officially here. While lockdown has seen many of us realise that activewear is less something to be worn for a workout and more a uniform we choose to do any and all daily activities in, when the warmer temperatures roll around, that favourite pair of sweatpants and leggings sometimes don’t cut it. Sure, they might be a staple in any wardrobe, but the Aussie sun doesn’t listen to reason, no matter how comfortable or cute it might be. And when it comes to summer, working out in leggings can feel like being trapped in a sauna, the sweat pooling at your ankles and around the waistband – as well as those other areas we won’t mention here. 

But as we transition from leggings to shorts, it becomes clear pretty quickly that not all shorts are created equal, and certainly not all shorts are fit for a workout. Take it from us at Women’s Health HQ, we’ve been there, tried it and lived to see the consequences. From the shorts that look cute but ride up to show your undies on the run, to those that feel like being strapped into a harness that’s digging into your hip bones. Then there are the fabrics that can cause chafing – a big no – and those that basically shine a spotlight on any area you might be sweating. 

Thankfully, a number of brands are here to cater to your exercise needs with innovative materials, fabrics and sustainable options to see you through a summer of movement. Regardless of your workout preferences or daily activity, we’ve selected the best shorts that will ensure you feel good in your body, shorts that get you excited to embrace the day and attack it with energy, that make you want to get outside and enjoy the outdoors, whether it be walking, running, or socialising in the park. Here are our pick of the best bike shorts below. 


Uptown Biker, $240

What says summer more than a pop of orange and the sleek shape of these Nagnata biker shorts? With its mid-length and horizontal raised rib side detail, these are shorts you can wear both for a workout and out to meet the girls. Made in Australia with a technical knit fabrication, the double-layer jacquard provides gentle sculpting qualities for the body, making it an excellent choice for light to moderate fitness activities like yoga, pilates or barre. 

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.defineSlot(gamData.adUnit, [300, 250], 'gam_midarticle_pos2_2') .defineSizeMapping(gamData.sizeMap.midarticle) .setTargeting('pos', '2') .addService(googletag.pubads()); googletag.display('gam_midarticle_pos2_2'); });

New Balance

Q Speed Fuel Short, $70

We love the colour of these shorts from New Balance which are cut with a sleek, speedy look that also helps to elongate the legs. Featuring NB DRY moisture wicking fabric, these are the shorts you want for high intensity exercise or long runs, keeping you comfortable and dry. There’s also an interior brief for added comfort and a stash pocket to keep your essentials. 

All Access

Ultra High Rise Zip Front Biker Short, $78

Yes, the colour is amazing but the fit is equally sensational on these All Access shorts. For those who love a high-rise fit and wide waistband that holds you in at the waist, look no further. The sleek, shiny look offers mid-compression and the fabric is moisture-wicking, so you can stay comfortable even during your sweatiest workouts. 


Nike x Naomi Osaka Utility Short, $90

Few things are worse than heading out the door for a run and realising your shorts offer no pockets for those essentials you need. You’re left to hold your iPhone, keys, and anything else you might need in your sweaty palm. Thankfully, Naomi Osaka knows what we need when it comes to exercise shorts and these utility shorts from her collaboration with Nike offer all that and more with a relaxed fit and elastic waistband. 


Session short Tights, $72

When it comes to bike shorts, you want to feel supported and held in but you also want to be able to breathe. These Tracksmith session short tights are exceptional in offering support while still ensuring comfort remains a priority. Forget about chafing, these shorts won’t ride up and down and the fabric offers more coverage and support against the body. 

Outdoor Voices

Relay 3” Short, $48

Who said summer shorts have to be boring? Outdoor Voices brings fashion-forward style and playfulness to their collections with fun prints and exciting colours. We love the relay 3” shorts for their ultralight, quick-drying fabric that also happens to be made from recycled polyester. But more importantly, we love the print and Poppy Swirl is as good as it gets. There’s even a hidden pocket for your valuables, too. 


Align High-Rise Short 6”, $69

If you’re familiar with the buttery-soft feel of Lululemon’s tights, you’ll want to get your hands on a pair of their shorts, too. Made with the same Nulu fabric that their tights are known for, these shorts feel weightless and super soft. They might be our go-to staple for any workout, but the feel is so second-skin that it’s hard to not wear them for every other activity, too. 

Spiritual Gangster

Seamless Biker Short, $112

These biker shorts from Spiritual Gangster move with you, thanks to a three-tiered compressive waistband that offers a flattering high waist that hugs you in all the right places, without proving constrictive. They offer medium compression but are built for all day comfort, and the colour is a true summer staple because, let’s face it, who doesn’t love tie-dye?