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I Got My Best Body After 50 and Here's How You Can, Too

Strength training and real food are key to a stronger, leaner you after 50.
FACT CHECKED BY Christopher Roback

After 50, your body changes bigtime—and what you have to do to stay fit changes too. For me, in my early 50s during the onset of menopause, I was a certified Pilates trainer, and I was already doing my traditional Pilates workout daily—and yet I noticed an increase in belly fat and a decrease in overall strength in my body. What gives? I thought.

As an experiment, I hired a personal trainer to break this plateau and specifically asked him to try to bulk me up by using heavy weights. I was using myself as a guinea pig for my new concept of using heavier resistance paired with my Pilates training. I specifically needed to see how much weight it would take to bulk up my body. While every woman is different, most of us don't have the amount of testosterone it takes to build large muscle mass. In my case, the very first thing I noticed using heavy weights was an immediate shrinking of my waist. 

I had been teaching Pilates for several years which is 100% core centric but as soon as I picked up more resistance and incorporated it into my Pilates exercises, I not only saw my waist shrink but my arms and legs sculpt, my abs flatten, and my back cut. 

At the same time, my daughter was getting married and wanted to see better results from what she was doing. I started combining the weight work with the Pilates work and my own program, Hilliard Studio Method, was born. I practiced the exercises on my clients, my daughter, and me and the results were noticeable almost immediately. Numerous guests at the wedding commented on our backs and arms and the rest is history! 

While creating HSM, which combines heavier resistance with dumbbells, bands, weighted balls, and gliders with core-centric Pilates exercises, I noticed a significant decrease in belly fat and an overall strengthening and sculpting of my body all while in the throes of menopause. The other key change I made was adding more lean protein into my diet. Read on to see how you can incorporate these learnings into your life and get your best body after 50.

Eat Real Food


Diet is an imperative part of the journey! What we eat is extremely important for overall health and longevity, and my motto is to eat real food and aim to consume one gram of protein per body weight to shed weight and see the results of your workout. Start the day with protein in your smoothie, enjoy eggs or egg whites with vegetables, add nuts and lean proteins to your salads, and combine complex whole carbohydrates like quinoa with your vegetables and lean protein for dinner. I eat whole fruits and avoid processed foods and sugars. I view food as fuel and try to remember that food is either medicine or poison for our bodies.

Me, I enjoy the Hilliard Studio Method Signature Smoothie. By starting my day with 27g of protein, I set myself up for success, fuel my body for my workout, stay satiated longer, and help my muscles repair and grow. I try to eat about 1 gram of protein for each pound of weight I carry. Since I weigh around 135 lbs., my goal each day is get around 130 to 135 grams of protein per day.

Related: Grace Albin Just Shared This Ultimate Glute Workout

Add Resistance Training to Your Workout Routine

Senior couple exercise stretching resistance band at home, health care and active seniors concept

There is nothing more effective for toning and sculpting your body and strengthening your bones. It is literally the fountain of youth! 

At the time I was developing HSM, strength training was associated with bulking. Many women were, and still are, afraid that adding weights to their workout will immediately make them "bigger". What I found however was that weight training and compound exercises shaped my body in a slimmer, stronger way while also increasing my metabolism and improving my overall cardiovascular and bone health.

Move Your Body

Mature Couple On Autumn Walk With Labrador

Take a walk, walk while you're on a phone call, and get outside as often as possible. We require natural light to keep our moods and hormones in balance. Incorporate play into your daily routine whenever possible. Stand on one leg when you're brushing your teeth and use your non-dominant hand. This not only helps with balance but engages your core muscles which are key to a healthy back and posture while challenging new pathways in our brains. 

Exercise With a Friend or Group

fitness, sport, training, aerobics and people concept - close up of people working out with steppers in gym from back

Whether you're in a group class or on a walk with your friends, working out with others helps keep you accountable and keeps it fun! You'll reap the benefit of both physical and mental health!

Related: I Lost 100 Pounds by Fasting and You Can Too

Here's Some Motivation!

Liz Hilliard

It's never too late and you're never too old to get started! I started Hilliard Studio Method in my 50s and designed it so that it's doable for everyone no matter their age or fitness level. Your body can always get stronger. For the last 20 years my workout has had an incredible benefit to my overall health. I'm not genetically lucky. In my family heart disease, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and osteoporosis traditionally strike at an early age. At 70 my VO2 max (an indication of overall health) is that of an elite athlete. I have a BMI of 19.5, excellent bone density, and cardiovascular health all due to my workout and good nutrition. 

If you're interested in longevity, graceful aging, and staying healthy as you age all of us need a workout that combines strength training, flexibility, and cardio. I strength train at HSM at least 4 times a week for my physical, emotional, and mental health. I just turned seventy and have never been stronger! 

Liz Hilliard, author, motivational speaker, podcast co-host and owner & creator of Hilliard Studio Method (HSM) – an internationally-renowned, core-centric, total-body workout described as "Pilates on steroids" where Strength Training meets Pilates – uses the mantra "Be Powerful" to empower and encourage women of all generations and fitness levels to accept themselves as they are and keep moving. She's STOTT Pilates and HSM certified.

Liz Hilliard
Liz Hilliard is an author, motivational speaker, and Founder & CEO of Hilliard Studio Method (HSM) Read more