Madonna's Fitness After 50

What it takes to be as fit as Madonna is at 53.

From the WebMD Archives

Madonna, 53, is always fabulously fit. How does she do it, and what does it take to be so fit after 50?

Madonna

WebMD asked celebrity fitness trainer Gunnar Peterson. He hasn't trained Madonna, but he has worked with over-50 and under-50 stars, including Jennifer Lopez, Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone, and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Q: What does it take to be as fit as Madonna is, at Madonna's age?

A: A level of commitment that most people can't even imagine. It takes dedication to exercise and dedication to nutrition, [and] a dedication to sleep. And the minute you fall off in one of those categories, you will notice it in the physique when you are at that level.

Q: Is she just somehow blessed? Genetically predisposed to have a great, fit body?

A: No way. Madonna earned that.

Q: When you're training someone to do an act as demanding as Madonna's -- singing, dancing, entertaining millions -- what do you focus on? Cardio, strength, flexibility?

A: I focus on strength at a cardio pace. We move through a lot of strength movements at a steady, unforgiving pace.

Q: Can you give us some details? What kind of hours in the gym would it take to get ready?

A: It's going to depend on how physical her show is... It could be ridiculously demanding... It's a big demand for them to be doing what they are doing physically and holding a tune. So they have to be in great shape to be able to do that. Luckily, someone like Madonna doesn’t get out of shape.

Q: Based on her previous shows, which are always high energy, what would you guess her daily preparation for this one might be?

A: She could be doing anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes of strength training, 30 to 60 minutes of movement -- Pilates or yoga -- and then add on to that four to eight hours a day of rehearsal.

Q: Whew. What about rest days? One day a week?

A: I've done that and I know it can work. But everybody's different. Sometimes that doesn't work for everyone. I tell them to try to build in a rest day or at least a rest period. When you finish [a workout] one day early, try to start the next day late just to give yourself a little bit longer downtime.

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Q: What about diet? What nutrition tips would you give? Other tips?

A: I tell people, try to eat foods as close to their natural state as possible: fruits and vegetables, high-quality protein. They are going to need complex carbohydrates [such as whole-grain breads and cereals] for long-term energy.

I also tell them to be conscious of their daily sleep, as opposed to playing catch-up on a random Sunday. [It's not good] if your sleep is shortened and your nutrition [is] compromised.

Q: How much harder does it get to stay in shape when you're older, say 50-plus?

A: It's easier as you age if you did more in your youth. But the good news is you can still do it. It's never too late. That's not me being a cheerleader; it's scientific. [Studies] have shown gains in lean muscle tissue and production of new tissue in people... one study was in octogenarians. That should be a huge banner of encouragement.

Q: Are older people more capable of getting and staying fit than they think?

A: Not only are people more capable than they think they are, but your body is way more able than you think it is.

Q: How hard can older people push themselves?

A: The smarter you are about exercise, the harder you can push. It's a mindset.

Don't always go for a record. Don't neglect your warm-up. Remember that your warm-up is your friend. I'd rather have you shave 10 minutes off your workout time and put it toward the warm-up than for you to skip the warm-up and get a 10-minute longer workout, as you get older.

WebMD Feature Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on January 31, 2012

Sources

SOURCE:

Gunnar Peterson, fitness trainer, Beverly Hills, Calif.

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