Jack Lalanne is one of the pioneers of the health and fitness industry. He has served as an inspiration and mentor to some of the greats, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bill Phillips (1,2). His feats of endurance and strength were absolutely mind-boggling. To celebrate his seventieth birthday, for example, he swam a mile with seventy boats strapped to his back (3). Many of those boats held passengers. He also swam the length of the Golden Gate Bridge at age 61, For America’s 200th birthday, he swam with 13 aluminum skiffs of children in tow. Each skiff represented one of the 13 colonies. During this swim, his hands and feet were bound.
- Jack Lalanne
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But it wasn’t just Jack Lalanne’s remarkable water performances that earned him his reputation. It was what he did in the gym. He’s a legendary bodybuilder and his workouts were also legendary, as was his diet. It is this that earned him the nickname, “Godfather of Fitness” (4). Lalanne dedicated his life to fitness at a very early age. He was only 15 years old, a young boy addicted to eating candy and junk, when he heard the Father of the Natural Health Movement, Paul Braggs speak. What he heard forever changed his life, transforming him into the legend so many know and love today. Following Jack Lalanne’s diet and exercise teachings has helped countless individuals get and stay fit.
Jack Lalanne Diet
Jack Lalanne lived to be 96 years old. Many people still remember his infomercials for his Power Juicer. He ate a diet that was high in fruits and vegetables and low in starchy carbs and saturated fat. His philosophy was to stay away from any food that is man-made. As he would put it, “if it tastes good, spit it out” (5). A typical breakfast for Lalanne was many hard boiled eggs and fruit with oatmeal. He believed in eating three meals a day and encouraged others to do so, but he usually ate only twice a day, with breakfast coming after his morning workout.
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Not only did Lalanne stick to eating only natural foods, but he had several other rules for nutrition. For example, he would teach others to kick sugar out of their diets just as he did. Though Lalanne lived until 2011, he ate his last dessert in 1929 (5). Also, his preference was to eat raw veggies, eating at least ten daily. Indeed, the two meals he did eat daily were quite large. He would eat boiled eggs again at dinner, along with his fish and vegetables. Though he recommended a strict diet that focused only on meats and vegetables, he was more of a vegetarian in his latter years, giving up all meats except fish.
Jack Lalanne Workout
Jack Lalanne had some interesting insights on exercise that were revolutionary in his day and contradict much of what is taught in modern times. For example, though many fitness experts recommend working different body parts on different days, Lalanne believed that the entire body needed to be worked every single day. Every workout Lalanne did was a full-body workout. He would rise early just to get in his daily two hours of exercise a day, usually starting at 4 am. Though he didn’t believe in warming up, he would start off each workout session with a series of stretches. His weightlifting lasted for about 90 minutes. Then he’d do 30 minutes of cardio, whether it was swimming or running. There were many days when he’d do 30 minutes of each for an hour-long cardio session to cap off his weightlifting.
Weightlifting was one of the things that earned Lalanne his renown. One of the unique aspects of his approach was the notion of doing reps to failure. He is the originator of this now very popular idea. And, though people usually think of heavy lifting when they think of bodybuilding, Lalanne was an advocate for using lighter weights to build muscle (6). It may be easy to assume that such an approach would lead to less muscle mass, but Lalanne’s well-built physique served as proof that great gains can be had using high reps of light weights.
Why You Should Be More Like Jack Lalanne
Jack Lalanne was one person who didn’t need a lot of external motivation. Just a few wise words from Paul Braggs was all it took to put Lalanne on the right track. He was just 15 years old when he heard the message of health, but he was willing to listen. He took what he learned and put it to immediate action, using his newfound knowledge as a foundation upon which he would soon develop his own approach to exercise and nutrition. Lalanne never, not even once, missed a workout from the time that he first entered the fitness lifestyle (3). When Sundays would come around, the day most take it lighter, Lalanne worked out twice as hard – to him, that was the perfect rest day.
Lalanne’s passion for fitness wasn’t founded in bodybuilding but nutrition. Braggs, who had first inspired Lalanne, was natural health expert. The motivational words Lalanne received from Braggs was on nutrition not lifting weights. Jack Lalanne stayed dedicated and fit because of the higher purpose he believed it served. It wasn’t for vanity, though his remarkable physique has graced the cover of several magazines. Lalanne was simply doing what he loved and what he felt to be right.
Like Braggs before him, what Lalanne taught was all about using natural approaches to maximize the potential of your physique. As his weightlifting routine did not call for lifting heavy weights, a person did not need a full gym to do a Jack Lalanne workout, though Lalanne did have two rooms that were gyms in his house. Lalanne always put fitness first. To him it was the secret to a happy, prosperous life, and even a happy marriage. Together with his wife Elaine Lalanne, he built an empire and a legacy that continues to benefit a large number of people.