Jack Lalanne: Fitness’ Godfather Workout Routine and Diet Plan

Last Updated: October 16, 2022

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Fondly referred to many as the godfather of modern-day fitness, Jack Lalanne significantly impacted the health and fitness industry. He is known for hosting a T.V. workout program for decades and began the first health clubs in America. Further, he invented several exercise equipment used in today’s exercises.

Jack passed away aged 96 years in January 2011 from pneumonia, but his iconic works continue to live on. 

About Jack Lalanne

Jack Lalanne was born in 1914. He was diagonised with bulimia at 14 years, which made him drop out of school. 

He wasn’t always into a fitness lifestyle and eating clean. In his teenage years, Jack used to eat lots of junk food, and as he often said, he was a sugar addict. This was until, as a teenager, he went for a lecture in San Francisco concerning the essence of a healthy diet. 

The lecture by Dr. Paul Bragg inspired him to learn more about human anatomy.

You can find out more about Jack’s early year struggles and how he overcame it with this inspirational video:


Dr Tobias Omega Fish Oil

Some of his accomplishments in fitness include;

  • Setting a world record in 1956 of doing 1,033 pushups in 23 minutes
  • Maneuvering a 30 miles’ paddleboard for 9.5 hours without stopping at San Francisco shore from Farallon Islands. 
  • Towing ten boats carrying 77 people for more than one mile under one hour in 1980 in Florida
  • He towed 70 boats with 70 people while shackled, handcuffed, and amidst strong currents and winds for 1.5 miles in Queen’s Way Bridge in 1984, among many others.

Lalanne was the first person to start a gym in the 1930s. This gym caused a lot of controversies as it was unisex.  He advocated for physical fitness for women, the aged, and the elderly too.

He is honored for bringing a revolution in America’s health and fitness industry.

Lalanne also received many awards, including Dwight D. Eisenhower Fitness Award, Y.M.C.A. Impact Award, Hollywood Blvd. Walk of Fame and California Hall of Fame. He also got an appointment as the head of the California Governor’s Council handling Physical Fitness and Sports. He used this opportunity to create nutrition and fitness programs for kids facing obesity and other challenges linked to poor diet and lack of exercise.

In terms of family, Lalanne had been with his wife, Elaine Lalanne, for about 51 years. He authored a number of his books, and his last at the age of 95 was; Living Young Forever.

Let’s now look at this icon’s workout routine and diet and have a glimpse of how he managed to remain fit even at the time of his death.

Jack Lalanne’s Workout Routine

Jack was futuristic in terms of fitness. He was the pioneer of health clubs in America. In addition, he is credited for inventing exercise machines such as weight selectors, leg extension equipment, and pulley machines that use cables. He promoted exercise for all people, including the disabled and the elderly.

Let us have a look at the workout schedule that Jack Lalanne followed even in his old age.


Jack worked out each day and considered each body muscle in his workout exercise routine. He would wake up early in the morning and begin stretching in bed. 

His weights routine alternated lower body exercises with upper body exercises and would take 90 minutes in this routine. 

Lalanne would perform 10 – 15 reps in his weight routine until failure. He would also change the exercise routine after every 30 days, which was a new concept back in his days. This ensured that his body did not get used to the monotony of a prolonged, repeated routine.

Interestingly, Lalanne would use everyday household items for his exercises. They include broomsticks, towels, and even chairs to model and vary the exercises. This should not be surprising because most fitness machines were either uncommon or not invented back then. In addition, he wanted to demonstrate that people can work out using readily available items.


Cardio is the exercise that comes next in Lalanne’s workout routine. He would have breakfast then run. This would be followed by half an hour to an hour of cardio workout in the pool. 

With such intense workouts, it is no wonder that Lalanne was able to pull his popular swimming stunts. These stunts include tying a belt to himself for resistance as he paddled or swam against water currents in the ocean and swimming pulls. 

His swimming skills were remarkable.


Jack Lalanne’s Diet Plan

Jack came up with his diet plan when little was known about this industry. His diet was heavy on proteins such as turkey, fish, and egg whites. Breakfast was heavy on egg whites and raw vegetables, while dinner was heavy on salads.

His diet plan revolved around two meals in a day. The first would be at 11 am after his morning workout, while the second one would be around 7 pm, often in a restaurant with his wife. Most of the restaurants he went to have his famous salads on their menu.

In addition, he didn’t shy away from wine. He spoke about the benefits of red wine while commenting that vino-loving French are known to have a longer lifespan.


Here are three things that formed the basis of this legendary’s diet plan.

  • Healthy Meals

This godfather of fitness was known for his famous quote; If man made it, don’t eat it. He considered such items to be poisonous to the body as well as the environment. Artificial foods include refined sugar, white flour, and processed foods. 

He anticipated the increasing cases of obesity globally and was opposed to processed foods. Although stern in his communication, he would often pass the message humorously or positively.

Lalanne’s diet was mainly based on healthy eating, including plant-based meals, raw vegetables, and fruits. Lalanne used to eat at least five cups of vegetables and fruits daily. It might not seem awkward today, but his approach was viewed to be radical back then. 

Research shows that this diet has many health benefits. Some of these are the reduced probability of heart disease, reduced chances of diabetes, lowered risk of cancer, lowered body pressure, reduced risk of heart illnesses, and a strengthened immune system.

  • No Drugs and Food Additives

His diet plan approach considers drugs and food additives a leading cause of both physical and mental illnesses. Food additives change the natural look of foods. They also preserve them for longer, adds to their taste, and make them more appealing.

The process of putting additives in food depletes the food’s nutrient content. As such, the body does not get the nutrients it requires to maintain excellent health. This puts the overall health at risk. 

Poor physical health contributes to illnesses, body aches, and depression. Jack linked the increased use of recreational medicine, medicinal drugs, and alcohol to the deteriorating health of the body. He was of the solid belief that if the body is getting the necessary nutrients from healthy meals, one does not require medicine or alcohol.


Due to Bulimia, Jack had to figure out the foods that worked for him and those that didn’t. After the lecture by Dr. Paul Bragg, he went ahead to remove some food items from his diet.

If you are looking to follow his diet plan, here is a list of the things to avoid;

  • Caffeine
  • Junk Food
  • Refined Sugar
  • Processed Foods
  • Chemical additives
  • Salt additives

Jack Lalanne’s Supplements

Jack believed that a good diet should include supplements. This is because as much as a diet may give you all the required nutrients, supplements are necessary to complement any deficits from the diet.

Supplements are also a vital component in a bodybuilder’s diet. He would take 30 – 40 vitamins daily. Jack was fond of supplements and here the supplements he took; 

Vitamin B. Vitamin B is great as it helps with metabolism, promotes digestion, gives one a healthy appetite, and boosts energy levels.

Vitamin A. This vitamin helps in managing cholesterol levels. This is very key for most bodybuilders looking to stay lean. Vitamin A also boosts the immune system so that one can recover faster from injuries.

Calcium. Calcium is vital in blood pressure regulation, and it also strengthens bones. It also promotes nerve function and healthy muscles, thus enhancing athletic performance.

Biotin. This supplement helps tissues grow faster and assists in the rebuilding of muscle strength.

Magnesium. Magnesium boosts performance which is precisely what someone who engages in intense workouts, such as a bodybuilder, needs. It also strengthens the overall body structure and lowers blood pressure levels. 


Jack Lalanne brought a lot of changes to America’s fitness industry. His workouts and fitness are proof that people can remain physically fit irrespective of age. He worked out and remained active even at the age of 96 years old.

If you are looking to follow Lalanne’s workout routine and diet plan, then you will need to pay attention to his guiding principles. His plan does not restrict you to specific fitness equipment; you can use what you have. Lalanne often used everyday household items for his exercises.

Start now with what you have. With Lalanne’s guiding philosophies on diet and exercise, you can create your plan and start the physical fitness journey.

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