The Incredible Fitness Magic of Jack LaLanne

8 Min Read

Life is survival of the fittest. You have to be in shape for that! Run a personal fitness check. Do you get enough rest? Eat the right foods? Have a hobby that relieves stress? Exercise to accumulate reserves of energy that will be like money in the bank for the day you need it?

The only way to increase your strength, energy and vitality is to stress your body beyond what it’s accustomed to doing. People up to 95 years old have doubled their strength and endurance in a short time with weight-training programs.

A 90-year-old person can’t lift a weight as heavy as a 21-year-old person can. But each can work to his own capacity and get results. People rationalize about not exercising. Their main excuse I don’t have the time.

Would you sell your arm for $100 or your leg for $1 million? No, because your most priceless possession is your body. Shouldn’t you spend a little time keeping it in good shape?

How you look is a billboard of the way you regard yourself. As you become fitter, and look and feel better, your self-esteem will rise a good first step for improving your sex life as well.

If you’re afraid you’ll have a heart attack be aware that the people who have heart attacks are the ones who don’t exercise.

Make good use of commercials

When a commercial interrupts a TV show, don’t get a snack exercise instead. Here’s an easy one…

• Get up/get down

Lower yourself gently to the floor and lie on your back. Stand up. Repeat slowly, then quickly. Practice until you can do it fast 15 times in a row. Invite your children or grandchildren to join in.

Magic fives

I devised these five simple exercises to trim and firm every part of the body. You can do Magic Fives almost anywhere. Your only gym equipment is a straight-backed chair and one or two books.

Start by doing each exercise slowly to a count of 10. Build stamina by exercising a little more vigorously each time, four or five times a week. Consider watching yourself in a mirror to see how well you’re doing. Visualize yourself as you want to look. Breathe deeply to bring oxygen to your bloodstream and burn fat.

1. Swings

These work many muscles simultaneously. Hold a light book between your hands. Place your feet shoulder width apart.

Bend your knees slightly. Bend over at the waist. Breathing out, slowly swing the book down between your legs, trying to touch an imaginary wall behind you. Breathing in, swing the book back up again over your head. Keep your arms straight and try to touch the imaginary wall immediately behind you with the book.

2. Knees to chest

Excellent for the waistline, hip flexibility, abdominal muscles and lower back.

Sit at the very edge of a straight, hard chair. Holding both sides of the seat to keep your balance, lean back until your shoulders touch the back of the chair. Draw both knees as close to your chest as you can (or lift one knee at a time until you can lift both at once). When you become advanced, hold a book between your knees.

Lower your legs. Then make pedaling motions, pretending you’re riding a bicycle. Progress from short movements to large ones. With each rotation, extend your leg down close to the floor before continuing. For variation, do these exercises while lying on your back on the floor or on your bed.

3. Leg lunges


For sagging hips and flabby thighs. Stand to one side of a chair. Hold on to the back of it. With your right leg, lunge forward as if you were fencing. Bring it back. Repeat with your left leg. As you get stronger, bend your knee more and step farther out. Keep your upper body erect throughout

4. Leg extensions to the back

Tremendous for your back muscles all the way down from your neck to the bottoms of your feet. Firms the buttocks. Facing a chair, bend at the waist and hold both sides of the seat. Keep your arms straight and back away from the chair until you feel comfortable.

Slowly lift your right leg backward as high as possible while pointing your toes, looking up, breathing in and tensing your hips tightly. You can bend your left knee a bit. As you lower your leg, breathe out put your chin on your chest and round your back, tensing your abdominal muscles. Repeat with your other leg.

5. Two-way punches

These cardiovascular exercises work most of the upper body muscles. They’ll burn calories and trim your waistline.

  • Forward punches. Helpful for your arms, shoulders, upper back and chest. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees a bit. Visualize a punching bag in front of you and punch it hard with one hand at a time. Imagine that your elbow is hitting a wall behind you as it comes back. Increase the pace.
  • Overhead punches. Works the backs of your arms, the sides of your waist and your calves. Improves your posture. Clench your fists, stand erect and punch your right arm overhead, pretending you’re trying to hit the ceiling. Rise up on your toes as you go. Drop the opposite elbow down as low as you can. Alternate arms. Do these exercise rapidly.
  • Combination punches. Assume the position for forward punches. Pull your waist in and punch forward rapidly, hitting your elbows against an imaginary wall behind you. Quickly switch to an overhead punch. As each arm comes down, push your elbow down as low as you can. The faster you punch the more calories you’ll burn. When you become more advanced, hold a book in each hand for extra resistance.

Trim upper-arm muscles

The muscle on the back of the upper arm typically gets flabby as people age. That is because the triceps are not used very often. To tone that muscle…

  • Do overhead punches (described above).
  • Push a weight, such as a small barbell, above your head.
  • Stand with your back to the wall and your arms down, with your palms against the wall. Push yourself away from the wall and back again. Bonus: You’ll exercise the backs of your shoulders and improve your posture.

Take responsibility

Spend at least one hour a day lifting weights and another hour swimming. Can’t you find 20 minutes a few times a week to keep yourself in shape?

Caution: Always check with your doctor before starting an exercise regimen.

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