If you think bodybuilding is only for young people, you're mistaken, and Ernestine Shepherd is a testament to that.

A bodybuilder and personal trainer at 85, she proves to us that age is definitely just a number and you can do whatever you put your heart and mind into.

So, if you're inspired by her story and want to start building muscles, learning about her workout routine and diet is an excellent start, and we're here to help.

In this article, we will discuss Ernestine Shepherd's workout routine and diet and provide a little background about her, her accomplishments, and other details you should know about.

Ernestine Shepherd's Workout Routine Explained

This fitness role model has a workout routine that's easy to follow--no wonder she inspires many females around the world. At the same time, it can help you start your bodybuilding journey. In fact, this woman can bench press 150 lbs and lift dumbbells weighing 15 to 20 pounds, even at her age.

Her exercise routine does not only focus on lifting weights; she also does cardio, which is a good start for those who haven't started their fitness journey yet. One thing you should note: you need to be disciplined to be fit.

Shepherd hits the gym at 7:30 am and spends an average of 4 hours a week in the gym. She also mentioned that she doesn't like her hair messed up, so most of her workout keeps her hair nice and fixed. Shepherd lifts weights three times a week, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Here's her entire routine:

Ernestine Shepherd Arm Workout

Mondays - Chest and Biceps Workout (45 minutes to 1 hour)


On Mondays, Shepherd focuses on her chest and biceps. She works out for at least 45 minutes to an hour and does a combination of Nautilus equipment and free weight. Take note that this is a bodybuilding routine, so all her weight resistance exercises are intense and may not be suitable for those who have just started training.

Wednesdays - Shoulders and Triceps Workout (45 minutes to 1 hour)


On Wednesdays, she exercises her shoulders and triceps. Like her workouts on Mondays, she also lifts weights using different gym equipment and free weights.

Fridays - Back and Legs Workout (45 minutes to 1 hour)


Every Friday, she focuses on her back and legs. As a bodybuilder, it is crucial to balance your exercises and make sure that you target all the muscles in your body. If you don't, you'll have an imbalanced body structure, which doesn't look good. So, if you want to follow the Enerstine Shepherd fitness regime, make sure you work on all your muscle groups, like her workout plan.

Cardio - Every Day 10-mile Run


Shepherd also does cardio to supplement her weight training. She runs 10 miles daily, but you can start small if 10 miles is too much for your body. Her workout plan is inspired by Rocky, and she says that Sylvester Stallone is her man-- no wonder she has impressive washboard abs.

Ernestine Shepherd Gym Workout

All About Ernestine Shepherd's Life

Ernestine Shepherd is a Guinness World Records oldest female bodybuilder.[1] However, her journey to the Guinness Book of World Records wasn't easy. Before she became the world's oldest female bodybuilder, she wasn't really into health and fitness, and her life was pretty much the same as anyone else.

At age 56, she described herself as a slug and a couch potato--out of shaped school secretary with a sedentary lifestyle who had never worked out a day in her life. This all changed when Shepherd and her sister went shopping to look for swimsuits.

While searching for the perfect swimsuit, they noticed that they were both out of shape and decided to enroll in aerobics classes to start exercising and getting in shape. Shepherd decided, along with her sister, to join competitive bodybuilding contests under the name Velvet, while Shepherd took the name Ernie.

But an unfortunate event happened. Shepherd's sister died of a brain aneurysm in the early 90s. To honor her sister's memory, she decided to continue their fitness journey and joined competitions, winning two of them. She also completed eight marathons.[2]

Shepherd is now a fitness trainer and handles exercise classes for seniors at the Union Memorial United Methodist Church in Baltimore. She helps motivate people, particularly seniors, to achieve their fitness goals, giving them the self-confidence they need.

She has also written two books: Determined, Dedicated, Disciplined To Be Fit, and starred in Beyonce's Black is King.[3] Her healthy lifestyle and transformation are indeed an inspiration to all!

Her Current Body Stats






120 lbs


86 years old

Ernestine Shepherd Body Stats

Ernestine Shepherd's Workout and Training Principles

A healthy and active lifestyle isn't a walk in the park, and Ernestine Shepherd knows that. This is why she is very strict with her workout and diet. She also mentioned that exercise has profoundly changed her life, and "not just my body, but my mind too," she said.

So, if you're ready to take your health seriously, here are some workout and training principles you can learn from Shepherd.

Don't be Afraid to Take the First Step

Many of us get discouraged from doing things we want to try because of our age. But Shepard showed us that it's not an excuse. Even in your late years, you can still take the first step towards achieving your fitness goal.

Like her, she knew what she needed to do in life to be fit and get in shape--start exercising. Once you take the step, the rest will follow.

Be Determined and Dedicated

Determination is key to Shepherd's success. If you're in your 60s, lifting different types of weights is difficult, especially if you have no prior experience.

She also experiences loss while she's on her journey to a healthy lifestyle. But instead of giving up, she dedicated her life to continuing what they started.

Discipline is Key

If you have a goal, whether fitness or other aspects of your life, discipline is necessary to achieve it. In Shepherd's workout plan, her morning run is at least 10 miles a day, 80 miles a week. She also lifts weights three times a week.

At the same time, she follows a strict diet plan to maintain her weight and muscles. You need to have the self-control to follow this kind of regimen.

Proper Lifestyle

This part is quite subjective, and what works for Sheperd may not be effective for you. But for her, a proper lifestyle is waking up at 2:30 am to express her gratitude to God for blessing her with such a great life.

Prayer and meditation are also parts of her life. When it comes to sleep, she functions on three to four hours of sleep every day, which might be too little for some.

Embrace Your Personality

Shepherd is still a 'prissy' girl by heart. So even if she exercises daily, she still does her makeup and hair before running.

She's also careful when lifting weights as she doesn't want to break her fingernails and ruin her French manicure.

Ernestine Shepherd Before And After

Accomplishments, Awards, and Nominations

Natural East Coast Tournament of Champions Bodybuilding Competition: First Place

At 71, Shepherd entered her first bodybuilding competition and won first place, beating all the younger contestants.

Guinness Book of World Records: Oldest Female Competitive Bodybuilder

In 2010, she was named the oldest competitive female bodybuilder by the Guinness Book of World Records.

What Does Ernestine Shepherd's Diet Consist Of?

Ernestine Shepherd's diet is essential to achieving all her fitness goals. She understands what nutrition can do to your health, so junk food is definitely out of the picture. Her meal plan is simple, but it helps her maintain her figure and stay in peak condition while giving her the energy she needs.

Shepherd's breakfast includes a liquid egg white drink (10 egg whites) and 120 grams of protein every day before her morning exercise. She also eats carbs, like brown rice, but ensures it doesn't have salt. Her macros include low fat, low carbs, and mid-high protein. Below is a sample of her diet plan:

  • Before workout/Breakfast: Ten egg whites and a handful of walnuts before her 10-mile run every day.
  • Hydration: Starts with 16 oz water and continues to drink water the whole day.
  • Cheat day: Sugar-free cherry Jello

Foods She Likes

  • Egg Whites
  • Skinless Chicken Breast
  • Tuna
  • Turkey
  • Green Vegetables
  • Sweet Potato
  • Brown Rice

Foods She Avoids

  • Beef
  • Saturated Fats
  • Processed Carbs
  • Food with Preservatives
  • Junk Food
  • Sweets

What Supplements Does Ernestine Shepherd Take?

Many bodybuilders are known to take supplements to achieve their desired body. But does Shepherd take supplements? The answer is yes, she does. But she doesn't take any performance-enhancing drugs or any other supplements apart from these:

  • Vitamin D
    This is the only supplement she takes with her workout. Taking vitamin D supplements provides various musculoskeletal benefits. It also helps in muscle protein synthesis, exercise capacity, and physical performance[4]--no wonder it's the only vitamin she takes!
  • Vitamin Exercise
    Shepherd also calls her exercises vitamins. It's her anti-inflammatory and anti-aging secret.

Related Article - Tristyn Lee Workout And Diet

Common Questions About Ernestine Shepherd

At what age did Ernestine Shepherd start working out?

Ernestine Shepherd started working out at the age of 56.

How much does Ernestine Shepherd lift?

Ernestine can bench press 120 lbs and lift about 15 to 20 pounds.

Who trained Ernestine Shepherd?

Ernestine Shepherd is trained by Yohnnie Shambourger, a former Mr. Universe.

Who is Ernestine Shepherd's husband?

Ernestine has been married to Collin Shepherd for 67 years.

Is Ernestine Shepherd a vegetarian?

Ernestine Shepherd is not a vegetarian or vegan. However, she incorporates a lot of vegetables into her diet.

What did Ernestine Shepherd do before bodybuilding?

Before bodybuilding, Ernestine was a school secretary.


Ernestine Shepherd is an inspiration to all. She showed us that age is never a problem, and you can achieve everything you put your heart and mind to.

All you have to do is believe in yourself and be disciplined. Start small and do more each day until you finally reach your fitness goals.


1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/six-pack-abs-at-age-74-age-is-nothing-but-a-number-says-guinness-world-records-oldest-competitive-female-bodybuilder/2011/03/16/AG5lGvCH_story.html
2. https://abcnews.go.com/Health/mess-ernestine-shepherd-body-building-grandma-benches-150/story?id=10480184
3. https://femalemuscle.com/athletes/84-year-old-female-bodybuilder-appears-in-beyonces-black-is-king-video/
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3497950

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Andrew White

Andrew White is the co-founder of Garage Gym Pro. As an expert fitness professional (gym building nerd) with over 10 years of industry experience, he enjoys writing about everything there is to do with modern fitness & the newest market innovations for garage gyms. When he isn’t testing out products for his readers, he’s usually out surfing or playing basketball.