Jillian Michaels Reveals Workout Secrets

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Few of you are strangers to Jillian Michaels' kick-butt workout DVDs. But how does the reality TV trainer turned fitness star stay in shape herself? A new in-depth article in the May 2010 issue of Women's Health magazine peels back the tough layers you see on TV to reveal a softer side of Jillian—and plenty of great get-in-shape tricks you won't want to miss. Here's a rundown of what I learned about Jillian's own fitness and diet routine that shed light into how she maintains her fit and toned physique.
  • Jillian exercises 3-4 times per week for 30-40 minutes at a time. That's right in line with general recommendations for fitness. I would have guessed that Jillian exercises more than she lets on, but perhaps she keeps her workouts very short and focused since she's such a busy woman. After all, you don't need to spend a lot of time in the gym to get (and maintain) your results as long as you're working hard, changing things up and making the most of your time.
  • She enlists the help of at least one personal trainer to keep her motivated and push her to work hard. I wrote once before about how Jillian uses a personal trainer herself. It may seem somewhat funny that a fitness professional like Jillian would need to hire a trainer, but even I would hire the right trainer to help me get better results if I had the resources.
  • A mix of martial arts, jogging, and sprints keep her body guessing and give her better results. This seems to offer plenty of variety to challenge and surprise her muscles, although I wish we could get more details about her strength-training regimen.
  • She's diligent about her diet, eating mostly organic, local foods. However, she doesn't avoid sweet treats completely: Newman's Own Organics peanut butter cups are one of her favorite indulgences. I think it's great that she doesn't totally avoid sweet or "sinful" foods. After all, even the best of us need to indulge if we're going to stick with a healthy way of eating for the long haul.
Whatever her secret is, you can tell her hard work is paying off! Be sure to check out the full story, complete with 15 more top tips from Jillian, in the May issue on newsstands now.

What do you think about Jillian's diet or workout routine?

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints


I would just like to point out a couple things, bearing in mind that I like her new show "Losing It" and don't think that she is trying to be deceptive, let's not forget that she is a trainer for a living and she often exercises alongside her trainees. In short, she has an otherwise active lifestyle and that is how come she can maintain her shape with a few 30 minute workouts. Also, I am a singer and even the most phenomenal singers I know have coaches. This is normal for a professional to have a coach, no matter what the industry. Also, she does seem very strict and passionate about her dietary choices and this is likely what truly keeps her looking fit. In my experience, the exercise only does so much when you don't eat right, but the eating right will work regardless of exercise! Report
I love it. It seems so simple... you would think her routine would be insane.. good too know i have to only change a few things. Report
IMHO, if you are already "at weight" you don't have to exercise so diligently and can afford a few occasional sweets. Our society has forgotten what the word "treat" means. It's not any everyday thing, nor a eat them all thing. It's occasional, period. Report
I prefer Bob on the Biggest Loser!

He's more reasonable & human. Report
The most surprising thing about this article is that jillian has a personal trainer. to me that seems so odd. but i guess if she were a dr she would have another dr checking her. so should we all be looking to her trainer for advise? instead of her? Report
I am a fan of Jillian and a fan of the show "The Biggest Loser." However, I find her endorsement of diet pills discouraging. I don't know about the pills she pushes, but I have seen them at the check out line at Wal-Mart. Really, Jillian, YOU eat only organic and locally grown food, but you are perfectly content earning a living off the endcaps at Wally world next to the Kit-Kats? Report
I really enjoyed the article in Women's Health. I've heard before that her workouts were not hous in length. I have the 30 day Shred and I know how she does it. Those 20 minute workouts are digging into all that you have and I've even skipped to 3rd level on that DVD because the 1rst level was getting to me. LOL It's how you combine what you know and keep the body guessing. A lesson I learned straight from her mouth and instruction. She combines strength training and cardio and core work to produce a great fitness plan that I enjoy and hate, but I learned to keep on going. After explaining to a friend about 30 day Shred, she decided not to borrow that DVD but my Biggest Loser DVD that has only 10 mins of Jillian. She's a great Trainer and I know that she wants us to get healthy and strong and stay that way because she had to do the same thing. I love her and pray that she will grow more wisdom to pass over to us. Thanks for the report! Report
i have to work out way more than 30 mins 3 - 4 times a week just to maintain. Perhaps i need more balance in my food intake and more consistency. I travel a lot and sometimes my routine is thrown out of wack. Report
I love Jillian! Her DVDs helped whip me into shape, and I like her tough-love approach and her honesty. My husband teases me that'd I'd make out with her! But seriously, I do find her motivating and her advice is sound - I just can't follow it all (organic stuff is too pricey for me! And I think she kind of "sold out" with her supplements and new yoga DVD - after she's said she doesn't believe in weight-loss pills or care for yoga).

After I got the results I saw doing her Biggest Winner DVDs, I was hooked on her! Report
To actually answer the question instead of finding some irrelevant tangent about babies, the Biggest Loser, or whether she lives in "the real world":

Jillian's diet and exercise routine make perfect sense. She gets in the recommended amount of time per week and is consistent. She carefully watches what she eats- calories, nutrients- and makes each meal count. There's no reason why she shouldn't be fit. Another good thing to note: she's not sitting at a desk or being sedentary when she's NOT working out. Her days are active and full.
So for someone who is not active their off-gym time, of course you'll probably need to exercise longer. But if you're active or on your feet throughout the day, the recommended amount of time, generally, should work for you.
With age or changes in health, she may have to change or increase her time. This article simply states what she's doing at this point in her life, based in science and results.

love her!

I picked up this issue when it was first released and I like the article A LOT. I am a Jillian fan so why wouldn't I? She's the one who got me off the couch back in October 2008 and I will always be, indirectly, grateful to her! I needed a fit bully in my life and she was it! Report
More power to her. I am happy for her. But not all people can have the luxury of a personal trainer to push them. Thats why we all love SPARK because you give us all the tools we need. The exercise here on Spark are awesome. Report
I have very mixed opinions about Jillian. I do like the 30 Day Shred DVD. I think it's a particularly good workout DVD. She's definitely getting more women interested in weight training. So, I give her credit for that.

What I don't like is the fact that she says one thing to clients and in her books and another thing with her products. She has specifically said on many different occasions that a person CAN NOT lose weight with pills or gimics !!! And yet, she is pushing her own line of colon cleanse pills, fat burner pills and calorie control pills !! PILLS PILLS PILLS... I've seen them in Walgreens. I've seen them on the internet.

How can someone dedicated to eating organic and clean push a fat burner pill when she herself says they don't work ???

She lost all credibility with me the minute I saw those pills. So, I really have to take anything she says with a grain of salt. Report
I've always thought Jillian looked absolutely terrific! In borrowing from her fitness routine, all I need to do is add the Newman's organic peanut-butter cups... Report
I'm bothered by the people who are making their opinions of Jillian based off of Biggest Loser. The editors have created a persona for her in the way they edit the show. If you listen to her radio show or read her books, you would know that she focuses much more on an entire lifestyle change starting with looking inside yourself.

I totally want to go buy this magazine and read the article. I've heard her say that she doesn't enjoy exercising before, but she knows that it needs to be part of her routine to stay healthy. I can relate to that! And she also has said that people who watch Biggest Loser need to understand that the contestants are in a very different situation than the rest of us trying to lose weight. She expects them to work out harder & more often because that's all they have to do! No jobs, no tv, no family contact, nothing. Report
It's wonderful to know that someone who is in such great shape stays that way by being reasonable. Report
I respected her a lot more before she got involved with all of these special diet pills. We all are on spark to help become healthy the right way. Pills are not magic drugs. You don't hear about TBL participants taking them! Any good trainer knows to teach exercise and nutrition. Therefore there are now other people I looks up to more than her. However I will agree that the basis of her food and exercise program are solid. Report
Personally, I prefer to look at several other people over Julian for my motivation. People that are involved not only in training but those that set a "good" example for life. There is more to an example than foods, diet and exercise. I look for moral leadership and behaviors too. I do not see what I am looking for in Julian. Just not impressed with Jullian's tactics, verbal comments to the people she works with. Not everyone relates to her way of training and I am one of them. I choose to look elsewhere. I just see a lot of potential that is not being addressed. I wish her well in life and I hope she will find a good example that will lead her to a better personal life and encourage her to build more character and compassion which I have seen on ocassion when she reaches to help the people she is working with. I want to see more character builders rather than body building. She is beautiful and has a lot to offer but she could use a total character make over. I do not know much about her but I would like to see people succeed with good characters as well as healthy bodies. We can do both. My own motivation is stimulated through character. I wish her the best in life and I hope she will take a new direction. Report
Thank you for adding that link regarding Jillian's interview. Sometimes people are quick to judge without knowing all the facts. Report
I've never been a fan of Jillian Michaels or The Biggest Loser. I am interested in pickup up the May issue and reading the full article, however. It really encourages me to know her exercise routine, because I'm striving to become fitter and feel like this is a plan I could follow myself. I think it's great that a person who's an example to a lot of people doesn't promote a crazy hard workout routine. What you said about her diet makes sense too, and also seems like something that a "normal" person could incorporate into his/her lifestyle. Thanks for the blog! Report
Jillian is awesome....I love all of her DVDs and her "diet" healthy way of eating has been an inspiration for me. Her diet is not any different than Flat Belly or any of the other healthy plans out there...natural and organic is where it is at! Report
Jillian Michael's is a fat-phobic egomaniac. She said in Health magazine, "I actually really hate exercising. I don't have to work out -- I can maintain my body just by eating right. That's why I hire a trainer, because otherwise I just won't do it." She's also explained that since she was fat as a child, she's obessive now so that she doesn't get like that again.... and yet she makes fun of fat people who start out their fitness plans slowly by walking, instead of doing what she considers "real" exercise. What kind of health professional would be so judgmental and hate exercising???? Report
I think she works out more than 3 - 4 times per week, 30-40 minutes at a time. I base that opinion on what she thinks is "reasonable" for her clients on the TV show to do. Report
Schmitz 84 - I hear you - Jillian is my girl crush too!!! Love her workouts - she kicks my butt every day.... Report
Jillian Michaels is fabulous. I adore her, and she is my fitness idol/girl crush, lol. Report
Coach Nicole,

Could you please add this link to the article above?


It tells the back story about Jillian and what she really meant about not having kids. It's my hope that that would help clear up any confusion, as it's easy for comments such as mine to get buried so that not everyone will realize what she really meant. It also would be helpful to know that even Jillian has a bit of insecurities.

Thanks! Report
I love Jillian her 30 day shed is awesome. But the fact that she does not have children is a turn off. It is one thing to not have children and be fit, but it something totally different to have kids and keep fit. It's not just how having children changes the body. I don't have a stretch mark on me and I am still pretty strong, but time....I can't go to they gym for eight hours. I have other people depending on me and waiting for me. It's just a different world. From what I understand, she can not have children which I am so sorry for, but to act like your way is the way....it's just not realistic, the majority of us have families and the "ranch" life is just not our reality. If your a working mom can you spend three hours a day in gym with our the home life suffering? Report
I think it's a mistake to judge someone on whether or not they want to have children. I'm the mother of 4 great kids...however I have the proof of it as well. In American you have a choice, regardless of what your reasons are. So those who had negative thoughts about her choice to have children or not...take a step back and understand that we must embrace a world that has given us the ability to make a choice that may impact us for the rest of our lives. Report
I have done many workout videos over the years but I have to say that doing the "30 Day Shred" has been the hardest. I am still only at level one but uped the weights from 3 to 5 pounds. I had hoped to be to level 2 after a month but at my age (54) and having lost close to 40 pounds since the beginning of Nov. I will take my time. This is one of the best workouts ever. Report
I want to make sure that anyone who read the mis-quoted article saying the Jillian wouldn't have kids because it messes up the body was aware that she was taken out of context. She did an interview this week that defends what was previously printed. She plans to adopt because she is unable to have children. I understand why she became defensive and didn't want to necessarily reveal the absolute truth, her own personal medical business, to the world. We have no right to judge people we do not know, celebrity or not. Keep this in mind the next time you read a magazine article or tabloid or blog that might have biased information. Do unto others, friends. Report
I think Jillian is a super trainer and I do find it hard to believe that she was ever a fat kid. Maybe when she was under age 12 when it doesn't really matter as much because your growing. But the excuse of not having a baby because you don't want to do that to your body is so egotistic and selfish. There plenty of stars w
ho have had children and you can't even tell because their bodies are so ripped! Being the exercise- a -holic she seems to be I just think there are other reasons. Which is her right. But don't make the rest of us who still have the baby bodies feel depressed, like the Erinbear2k said a stab in the back. I still thinks she is a fantastic trainer and looks great.
that is so cool she has a personal trainer Report
Love her, she is great. But the baby thing is eyebrow raising. Thought she would have exercised more. Report
I was a fan of her until I also read how she was set against having a baby because it would ruin her body. Perhaps her ego is a leetle too tied to her image. Not that there's anything wrong with adopting, but that was a club to the knee for women currently pregnant who are struggling with their body image and a stab in the back for those of us with post-partem bodies. I guess no matter what I do, I'll never be good enough for her. Report
whatever she is doing she looks awesome. Those are some freakin' great arms! Report
I love Jillian to death! She did mention in her book about metabolism that she was able to workout less due to her change in eating. Give it a shot! At the moment, I want to spend more time working out(until I get to where I can maintain). Good luck! Report
I really enjoy using Jillian's videos to work out with on alternated weight lifting days. I think she is a great trainer and very inspiring. I like the way she explains the work out moves while we are doing them and gives us a heads up on how many and what is coming next Report
Jillian was an overweight kid who then got heavily into martial arts and from there was rabidly devoted to staying in shape and training. Additionally she tried every diet in the world and often had 1200 calorie days (according to her new book on metabolism). My friends who are still fit in their middle years were also very fit and athletic during their teen years and never really stopped being active.

There are lots of people on Sparkpeople that I read, "I never eat sweets, I can't afford to have a single piece of candy" to "I have to get over not eating those baby carrots anymore - they have too many calories." Doesn't it strike anyone else as odd that basically no one can eat anything but whole grains without blowing up like a balloon? It's no longer just, "don't eat fast food" - it's don't even eat normal food!

Give women painful and unnecessary hoops to the perfect body and we'll blame ourselves and torture ourselves there. I've researched obesity for the past few years and something is definitely going on above and beyond 'unhealthy choices' and I think the FDA and so forth takes the easy route of saying people make bad choices and don't exercise enough in order not to investigate what is truly going on.

As a school teacher over half of my male students were very effeminate. Two guys in my life have honest to god breasts.

I really don't think missing carrots or going without a sweet now and again is going to lose anyone pounds. When I go to people's profiles after I read things like that I usually find they're obese - its obviously not working for them. We have a really toxic environment and franken foods but I would bet money it's not ALL the toxins in the environment or all the franken foods that are bad, but something is causing people to be sick.

Oddly enough - although I think this is obvious, pretty sure no one will agree with me. Maybe it's easier to beat ourselves up. Report
To those who have commented that are 'older' please read Jillian's book 'Master Your Metabolism'. Jillian had to struggle a LOT for a while before she learned she has thyroid issues. That is what inspired her to write that book. What she says makes a lot of sense. I am 48 and have been struggling to lose for several years now. I read her book, have made changes to my diet, exercise 5 or 6 times a week and in the last five weeks have lost nearly 14 pounds. Nothing else I've tried works. This is and I'm not killing myself with workouts or feeling deprived. Report
I'm sure it's a combination of short, intense workouts and a really healthy eating plan that she's able to stay in such great shape. Good for her! Report
I am not her age and I have to work a lot harder than that to stay in shape. I am also a member of her fitness/weight loss website at jillianmichaels.com, where they give you a recommended strength training workout to do several times a week and boy is it intense. Report
I think there is a common misconception that exercise leads to weight loss. Exercise is truly just about 20% of the weight-loss equation. It is considerably more important in the weight-maintenance phase - where it continues to be about energy in vs. energy out. The true value of exercise (aerobic as well as CHALLENGING strength training) is that it changes the metabolic activities of your body. For example, with muscle growth alone you improve your body's ability to handle glucose and thereby reduce your risk of diabetes. And hundreds of studies show that your fitness level (NOT your ACTIVITY level) - almost more than any other factor, other than age - is the best predictor of your mortality - even more so than overweight or obesity. So exercise isn't about burning calories or weight loss per se, it's about ALL the other things that happen at the cellular level in your body which fundamentally improve your health. It's FITNESS that makes it possible for you to be overweight but NOT at risk for the chronic diseases that typically accompany overweight/obesity. Report
her videos are cheap. I can't get out when it is -40 up here in Canada. Got 3 of her videos and the weight is finally coming off my perimenopausal weight holding body.
Adiposerose, It sounds like you are very stressed! You are right that most of us do not have the time, the resources, or the opportunity to dedicate months of our lives to trainers and chefs to help us on our journey. But don't knock Jillian for participating in this show, which has been a huge success an a huge inspiration to many of us who are watching and saying "hey! If a 500 lb man can get on a treadmill and make a change, so can I!"

I don't know how much you have to lose, or what your constraints are, but Jillian has a new show debuting where she moves in with people who cannot dedicate their life to a gym and helps them to make small changes, specific to their needs and abilities. The "no excuses" approach is just that. You can't move a mountain without first picking up a shovel full of dirt, and while the mountain might seem insurmountable, we can all start shoveling!

Best of luck to you. Report
She may be amazing, but what can we do when we are mid-70's, obese, work out 3x week at the gym for 40-45 min., maintain calorie counts below 1600 a day, and STILL don't lose weight. It's got me AND my doc stymied! Report
She knows how to kick butttt thats for sure. Report
I wish I was her age because it was much easier to lose and maintain. Now, it's a lot harder and I have to excercise at least five days a week and I will take one day of rest. I can't wait to see her new show. Report
I love seeing that Jillian's routine is completely doable. She looks extraordinary, but she's not doing anything that many non-celebrities (like me!) couldn't do. This doesn't leave me thinking that I'll look like her! Still, I'm left with the realization that if I can only work out a handful of times per week I can still get fantastic results. Very encouraging! Report
I'm totally in love with Jillian Michaels. I resisted at first, but her encouraging but "no excuses" approach in her videos is PERFECT. I find myself disappointed in just about every other fitness video since I started working out with Jillian. Seriously. Report
Close email sign up
Our best articles, delivered Join the millions of people already subscribed Get a weekly summary of our diet and fitness advice We will never sell, rent or redistribute your email address.

Magic Link Sent!

A magic link was sent to Click on that link to login. The link is only good for 24 hours.