November 04, 2015 03:01 PM

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Just when you thought bikini season was over, Blake Lively proves that it’s still going strong!

The actress, 28, was spotted in Australia last week shooting scenes for the upcoming shark thriller The Shallows in a teeny, tiny, two-piece — and she looks fabulous. Since giving birth to her daughter James in December 2014 she’s been vocal about pressure on new moms to drop the baby weight. “There’s pressure to lose it…I think it’s silly,” she told the BBC in May, adding that she wasn’t “obsessing” about regaining her pre-baby physique at that time. Clearly her strategy has paid off!

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So how did she do it? Lively’s trainer Don Saladino (who Lively said knows “how to kick my butt”) opened up to PEOPLE exclusively about the regimen she started in preparation for the upcoming movie. “This is way beyond having her just look great in a bikini,” he says. “That’s important, but it’s about keeping her energy level high and making sure that, day in and day out when she’s shooting this film, her recovery is optimal.”

With only two months to prep for the beachside shoot, Saladino increased Lively’s workouts from once or twice a week to five or six times a week. “We would do an upper body workout Monday, lower body Tuesday. Wednesday was a playful pool workout where she would do laps,” he says. “Thursday was upper body, Friday lower body, and Saturday we were focusing on the accessory movers: the arms, the shoulders.”

Lively started each session with foam rolling and “corrective work” to warm up before jumping into workouts of various intensities that could be adapted depending on how the actress was feeling.

“I told her to listen to her body,” Saladino says. “When you feel great, get on it. When you don’t feel great, shift down a gear. And when you feel like complete crap do really minimal work,” like 10 minutes on the elliptical.

Saladino also encouraged Lively to eat four small meals a day, and she consulted with a nutritionist from his health club, Drive495. “We made sure that her meals were well-balanced. She had a protein, a vegetable and a slow-burning carb,” he says. “We tried to give her enough so that she wasn’t stuffed, but she was comfortable.”

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In addition to using coconut oil in her diet, it was also mostly gluten free. The carbs —”her energy”—were sweet potatoes, gluten-free oatmeal, and white rice. “This is not training a fitness competitor or a model,” says Saladino. “This is about feeding a woman who’s got a child who’s got to have certain nutrients in her body. She’s got to take care of herself. She’s got to eat healthy. The way that we did it was the right way, and it wasn’t through starving her.”

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Ever the homemaker, Lively bought her own ingredients throughout her training. “She cooks a lot of her own stuff,” Saladino says.”She really enjoys the kitchen and didn’t have a private chef. I would’ve obviously loved for her to have that — because it’s one less stress — but she didn’t need it.”

Saladino is keen to point out that any new mom can take on Lively’s regimen with success. “What she did was very doable,” he says. “We weren’t in [the gym] for three, four, five hours a day. It was max an hour. Maybe a couple of special days it went over a little bit, but the reality is she has a baby, and she’s a working woman.”

“She’s got to get in, hit it and get out,” he adds. “She’s not doing these triple session workouts. It should encourage people: Here’s a woman who had a baby in December, and she’s got her bikini body back already. That’s pretty spectacular.”

–Catherine Kast

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