Jack LaLanne and Fitness

I personally find Jack LaLanne the most fascinating, likeable and admirable fitness personality of all time. (He died in 2011 at the age of 96.) There are few real-life superheroes, but Jack LaLanne was about as close as you can get and with all his energy tried to strive to make others more healthy and more fit human beings.  How many celebrities do you know that lived scandal-free for six decades with universal praise from all who met him?  I always say that if you want to know what someone is really like, just ask his wife.  Well, Elaine, his wife of 50+ years had this to say about him:

"I have not only lost my husband and a great American icon, but the best friend and most loving partner anyone could ever hope for." [13]

Over the years I have read every interview of Jack LaLanne that I could get my hands on and found that, not only is most of what he said verified by recent research, but that what he preached works for me.  Even though much of what he advocates is actually countercultural now, I am very thankful that someone like him was willing to swim upstream and ignore what society and often the doctors were saying about him.  Again, as I point out in My Tribute to Jack LaLanne, he was decades ahead of his time in almost all that he believed and practiced. 

Most importantly, he walked the talk and lived to be 96 with massive muscularity into his mid-late 80's and incredibly health and vitality all the way until the end. As of this writing, I follow probably 90% of what I would call his Unwritten Rules for Health and Fitness, which I have outlined below. So whether you want monster biceps, or to tow 70 people across a straight or channel at age 70 or just have incredible energy into your 90's, you would do well to follow Jack's fairly simple rules.

TRIVIA:  Jack built his arms up to 18 inches as a kid using an ad hoc backyard weights before there were really modern gyms as we know them. [11] He kept 16 inch bipeps going even up into his early 90's!

1) Exercise and Nutrition. " Exercise is king. Nutrition is queen. Put them together and you've got a kingdom!" [1]

2) Two Hour Daily Workouts! "But I also work out for two hours every day of my life, even when I'm on the road." [1] "I work out two hours every day." [2]

3) No Processed Foods. "If it tastes good, spit it out. If man made it, don t eat it." [2]

4) Drive a Corvette. ""He's owned four Vettes since, including a '53 roadster, a '97 LS1 coupe, and his current LS2 '05 coupe. Jack made sure we understood that the Corvette has always been a part of his life."" [3] ""I've had Lamborghinis, I've had Ferraris, I've had Stutz Blackhawks. You name it, I've had them. What did I spend on my Vette? Sixty grand? For the money, Corvette is tops."" [3]

5) Marry a Good Woman. ""Everything I've achieved in life I owe to [Elaine]," Jack is quick to point out. "I couldn't have done anything without her."" [9]

6) No Sugar. ""There's nothing more addictive on this earth than sugar. Not heroin, booze, whatever. It's much worse than smoking." [10]

NOTE:  I don't necessarily agree with all that he said.  Although he was remarkably accurate, I think that the research has born out, for example, that pesticides, excitotoxins, xenoestrogens and toxins can negatively impact health.  For more information, see my Links on Toxins and Other Nasty Chemicals.

7) Two Meals Per Day. "Eat twice a day. LaLanne consumed exactly two meals, breakfast and dinner. Breakfast was taken late in the morning after his workout and usually consisted of "several hard-boiled egg whites, a cup of broth, oatmeal with soy milk, and seasonal fruit." Dinner was more egg whites, salad, and fish. Snacks were strictly verboten." [7]

8) Alternate Upper and Lower. "LaLanne alternated between lifting his upper body (lats, deltoids, pecs, shoulders and chest). The next day he would work his lower body, including his lower back and waist, as well as his arms (biceps, triceps and forearms). On Sunday he worked out every major muscle group. He trained until muscle failure usually doing between 10 and 15 repetitions." [6]

9) Heavy Fruit and Vegetable (Raw) Consumption. "And I have at least 5 or 6 pieces of fresh fruit everyday and 10 raw vegetables." [1]

10) Help People. "My whole life," LaLanne says, "is, "How can I help people like that man (Bragg) helped me?" " "We both believe one thing: Wanting to help people who help themselves." [2]

11) No Dairy. "It's not good for you. It's good for a suckling calf. Are you a suckling calf?" [12]

12) High Protein and Low Fat Diet. "I may take one bite. Or a little skim milk once in a while is not going to hurt you. It isn't what you do once in a while that's a problem; it's what you do all the time. Look at the average American diet: ice cream, butter, cheese, whole milk, all this fat. People don't realize how much of this stuff you get by the end of the day. High blood pressure is from all this high-fat eating." [1] "he had the gall to ask folks to give up their beloved red meat and stick to high-protein, low-fat diets." [10]

13) Supplements. "Are you kidding? About 40 or 50 a day. Everything from A to Z. Ninety percent of them are natural, as much as I can take. I take enzymes, I take herbs, the whole bit!" [1]

14) Rely on Your Woman. "My wife is my protector...Without her, I'm nothing...Sure. She wants to please me, and I want to please her. We've been together over 53 years." [3] ""She is my lover, my partner, my best friend."" [9]

15) Little Rest Between Sets. "I rest ten seconds between sets". [1]

16) Volume. "I do 20 sets for deltoids, 20 sets for pecs, and 20 sets for lats. It's important to change things around. Maybe for 30 days I might do ten reps with high weight, but the tenth rep should be to failure." [1]

17) Egg Whites. "Now I only eat fish - no chicken, no turkey, just fish. I get all my protein from fish and egg whites." [1] "I eat no meat, just fish and egg whites. That s where I get my protein. [2] "Every restaurant we frequent has the 'Jack LaLanne salad' which is ten raw vegetables and four egg whites hardboiled," he said. "I make them throw the fat and cholesterol in the yolk away and you're left with the best protein known to man. Four egg whites have the same amount of protein as one pound of steak but only 60 calories compared to 1,000 calories." [6]

18) No Beef. "Anything that comes from a cow I don't eat." [1]

19) Soy.  "His fitness regimen and strict diet of raw vegetables, soy protein and fistfuls of vitamins turned LaLanne into a new man." [11] (This one I am cautious about.  See my link on Soy and Men for a discussion of the controversy.)

20) No Snacking. "Jack now eats two meals a day at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., and never snacks." [1]

21) No Warm Ups. ""warming up is the biggest bunch of horseshit I've ever heard in my life. Fifteen minutes to warm up! Does a lion warm up when he's hungry? "Uh-oh, here comes an antelope. Better warm up." No! He just goes out and eats the sucker. You gotta get the blood circulating, but shit, does the lion cool down? No, he eats the sucker and goes to sleep." [4]

22) Anti-Organic Foods. "It's a bunch of bull." [1]

23) Golf. "LaLanne helped dispel the "muscle-bound" myth. He was a fine athlete and a 4-handicap golfer." [5]

24) Daily Wine. "During dinner, LaLanne drank wine." [6]

25) Fish. "LaLanne ate fish nearly every night at dinner." [6]

26) No Coffee. "...never a cup of coffee" [8]

27) Swimming Daily. "I am also very high on pool exercises." [1]

28) No Debt/Own Outright. "When I started out. We were very poor. My Dad would say, "Kid, if you are going to buy something, pay with cash never get into debt with anything". I never forgot that. Anything that Elaine and I would do we d own it. No partners ever. I don t think about wealth." [2]

29) Be Nice. "He was truly a nice man." [2]


1) LaLanne.html

2) archives/the-jack-lalanne-interview-as-published-in-alive-march-2007

3) features/vemp_0705_jack_lalanne_corvette_interview/viewall.html

4) 2011/01/23/jack-lalanne-rip-10-facts-about-jack-lalanne-you-didnt-know/

5) He-exercised-his-personal-demons-3284667.php

6) jack-lalanne-workout-arcl-1250.html

7) articles/2011/01/24/jack-lalanne-fitness-guru-dies-at-96-learn-10-of-his-habits.html

8) 01/24/sports/24lalanne.html?_r=0

9) remembering-jack-lalanne


11) Raising-the-bar-At-88-fitness-guru-Jack-2639258.php#page-3


13) dies-who-the-fitness-guru-really-was/