Wellness guru Liz Earle reveals the simple exercise routine that transformed her body, making her fitter, stronger and more confident at 56 than ever before.
Congratulations on taking your first step to a stronger, slimmer you. Over the years I’ve written a lot about how to look good and feel even better. But the question that I’m asked most often is: how can I shift a few pounds and tone up?
Well, with this brilliant, easy-to-follow exercise plan designed by award-winning personal trainer Michael Garry, I have found the answer.
And I know that it works. A few years back, I’d never have dreamt of being pictured in a swimsuit.
But the truth is I feel fitter, stronger and slimmer at 56 than I ever have before and I have more energy than I did in my 40s.
It worked for me and it can work for you too.
Before you start
It’s a good idea before starting this or any other exercise routine to check with your GP.
If you’re new to exercise, take it slowly, just do what your body feels comfortable with. Each exercise, apart from the stretches, is designed to be repeated 10 times but once you can do that easily, move up to 15 reps and build up to 30.
Make sure you warm up before and stretch properly after the workout.
Legs and bottom
If you want to shed body fat, the lower body is the best place to start. Your legs and bottom house the body’s largest muscle groups and when you gain muscle mass in these areas from exercise, they expend more energy, naturally boosting your metabolism .
1. Standing up straight, step forward into a lunge position, making sure your knee at the front remains above your foot.
2. Pushing up, step your feet together before stepping forward with the other leg. Repeat 10 times on each side.
1. Lie on your side, resting on your elbow and forearm. Bend your bottom leg underneath you at the knee.
2. Keeping your body in a straight line from head to toe, lift and lower your top leg 10 times. Repeat on the other side.
1. Stand with feet hip width apart, toes pointing slightly outwards.
2. Sink down, as if you were sitting on a chair, until your knees are at 90 degrees to your hips. Push
up and repeat 10 times.
Women often worry if they use weights that they’ll end up looking bulky, but this isn’t the case.
Training your arms will tone and define the muscles rather than making them bigger. These exercises can be done at home with dumbbells. Start with 3kg and work up to 5kg.
1. Stand up, holding a weight in each hand, with your palms facing inwards.
2. Curl the weights up until they are at shoulder level, then release. Repeat 10 times.
1. Holding a weight in one hand, bring it up to shoulder level. Stretch your other arm out to the side.
2. Push the weight up until your arm is straight, then bring it down again. Repeat 10 times before switching sides.
1 Sit on a chair, hands on either side of the
seat. Slide your bottom forwards off the chair, then lower until your arms are bent at 90 degrees.
2 Push back up again and repeat 10 times.
It’s easy to accumulate fat around the tummy as you get older.
Muscle loss and a slower metabolism are both factors, while hormone fluctuations and the menopause can also play a part.
These tummy toning exercises should be combined with cardio exercise that gets your heart rate up and a healthy diet that is low in white carbohydrates.
1. Lie on your front on your forearms and toes. From here, push up with your arms until they are straight. Keep your elbows aligned with your shoulders and your forearms parallel.
2. Hold for up to 60 seconds. If this is too challenging, you can also do this exercise with your knees on the ground.
1. Lying on your back, bend your knees towards your chest.
2. Keeping your hands by your sides, lift your bottom and hips off the floor smoothly, without swinging. Repeat 10 times.
1. Lie on your back and bring your knees towards your chest. Place fingertips lightly on each side of your head and lift your head and shoulders off the ground.
2. Straighten your right leg and turn your upper body to the left, bringing your right shoulder to your left knee. Repeat on the other side. Do 20 reps in total.
Stretching is the key to keeping your body strong, pain-free and mobile.
The most useful type of stretch to do on a day-to-day basis is a static stretch.
This is where you stretch a muscle to the point of mild discomfort – never pain – and hold that position without moving.
1. Come into a lunge position on the carpet or on a mat. Drop your back knee to the ground, keeping spine upright and chin up.
2. Gradually push your pelvis forward until you feel a stretch down the front of your back leg. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
1. Lie on your back and, keeping one leg stretched out, raise the other up until you feel a stretch down the back of your leg.
2. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Lower spine stretch
1. Lying on the floor, pull your knees towards your chest. Stretch your arms out to the sides, palms facing upwards.
2. Gently lower your knees to one side, then the other, keeping your shoulders on the floor. Repeat 10 times.
Hold stretches for 30 seconds. This allows the muscle fibres to release and lengthen.
Anything less won’t make a significant difference and anything more risks injury.