She’s the undisputed queen of fitness, having shifted over two million workout DVDs in the noughties – and with her washboard abs and sculpted arms, Davina McCall has a body many of us would still kill for over 20 years later.
The My Mum Your Dad host has spoken candidly about how she keeps fit, and her routine is not for the faint-hearted – early starts and sugar-free diets play a huge part in how she keeps trim (so it’s time to put away the Mars bars if you’re planning to live a la Davina, unfortunately).
But first, a quick caveat: no two bodies are the same, and some people may benefit from a more gentle approach to exercise, particularly if you’re starting completely from scratch. Whatever way you feel fit, happy and healthy, all our body deserved to be celebrated.
But if you are looking to shake up your routine and try something new, then the original Big Mother’s fitness regime may be worth a look – and luckily for you, we’ve got everything you need to know right here. After all, you don’t have to follow it to the letter, instead you can just see if part of it takes your fancy.
Let’s break Davina’s routine down…
What is Davina McCall’s workout routine?
Early starts are key
Those of you who are partial to a lie in, look away now – Davina’s workouts start at the crack of dawn (or rather, 6.15am), with the 56-year-old immediately getting dressed in sports gear.
Physically putting on her gym clothes has a positive psychological effect, making her feel ready to work out from the get-go, she explains.
“On a weekday, I start the day in some sort of Lycra, if I’m not working,” Davina told The Mirror. “I just put on a workout outfit because it means that I’m always ready. If I start my day in civvies I am not going to work out, it’s never going to happen.
“My Lycra is like my work clothes so I spend money on Lycra like other people would spend money on a suit for work.”
Don’t underestimate a good walk
Having a dog really helps Davina with her fitness, as the presenter walks her 11-year-old dog Bo every morning.
“My dog has a sixth sense for when I am awake,” she told Women’s Health. “So the minute I put my feet on the floor by the bed, she starts whining.”
It’s easy to overlook walking, but simply going out and getting some fresh air can be a brilliant form of exercise; studies have shown walking lowers your risk of heart disease, can lower your blood sugar and can even boost your immune function in the long term. If you’re brand new to exercise and want to up your walking game, we’ve got some handy tips for you here.
After returning Bo home safely, Davina is back out again – this time to embark on a brisk 5k. To make things even more difficult for herself, the star wears a weighted belt, upping the resistance.
Weighted vests and belts can help when running as they increase the intensity of the workout and can lead to improved cardiovascular fitness, strength, and endurance. However, it’s important to start with a low weight and gradually increase it to prevent injury. You can read our tips on how to master 5k here.
However, this 5k may not be the only run Davina completes in a day. When she’s working or heading between meetings, she packs more running gear so she can take a quick jog on the go.
Switch things up
Just a brief look at Davina’s Instagram shows she loves to mix things up when it comes to her exercise – from Pilates to weighted squats, boxing to yoga, The Masked Singer star is always up for trying new things – and it’s just as well, as she exercises six times a week.
So if she finds herself tiring of her regular routine, she’ll try something fun and exciting.
“I try to never do the same thing again and again,” Davina explained to The Mirror. “Your body needs to be shocked, it needs to be challenged.”
Weighted gloves give an extra push…
Davina swears by wearing weighted gloves for all her exercises, describing her pair as ‘the single greatest piece of kit I’ve ever used.’
“I use them for walks, for all my exercise – even if I’m using dumbbells, I’ll still wear them. They’re just half a kilogram, but you’ll feel it.”
Burpees are your friend
But you don’t even need any kit to transform your body, with Davina citing dreaded burpees as her favourite exercise.
“A burpee is the gift that keeps on giving,” she told Women’s Health. “It does everything. It gets your heart rate up, it builds strength and power in your legs, your core and your arms.
“When I was younger, I used to beast them out and do loads of them. But actually, a slow burpee is just as tough.”
Burpees, when done quickly, are hard work. If you’re still fairly new to an intense fitness routine you can try stepping into them, instead of jumping. Or, if you’re a seasoned gym bunny, you can spice up your burpees by adding a push-up while you’re on the floor.
What is Davina McCall’s diet like?
Granola for breakfast
Davina doesn’t tuck into her first meal of the day until all her exercise is done, which means breakfast can be served as late as 10.30am.
While she occasionally treats herself to one and a half crumpets (she finds having two is too heavy for her stomach) her go-to brekkie is high-fibre granola with milk.
There is an unintended (and unwanted) side effect to this, however.
“If you’re new to it, just make sure you’re around friends because it’s very, very farty,” she told The Mirror. “It’s just got so much fibre in.”
Lunch is your main meal
Instead of having a weighty dinner that leaves her feel full or bloated in the evening, Davina uses lunch to keep her body fuelled throughout the day.
“I try to have my main meal at lunch, so usually something like pasta or courgetti or eggs with something,” she told The Mirror.
“Sometimes I have fish with steamed vegetables with a wholegrain carbohydrate.”
Salty (and sugar-free) snacks
If she needs to snack, Davina will opt for salty over sweet and reach for a handful of mixed nuts as some sustenance to keep her going.
She doesn’t snack further after she’s had her evening meal, and now practises intermittent fasting.
“I used to snack all evening and didn’t see anything wrong with it as I was reaching for healthy foods, such as carrots and hummus,” she told Women’s Health. “Since putting a cut-off point on my eating, I crave (snacks) so much less and wake up feeling better.”
Davina has also been an advocate for a sugar-free diet, having written the book 5 Weeks to Sugar Free.
As well as swapping out sugar in drinks or snacks (suggesting sugar supplements like Stevia, or natural products like honey), the star suggests people “put strategies in place” to avoid reaching out for chocolate.
“When you’re desperate and you would do anything [for sweets], you have something on hand,” she told BBC Good Food about her sugar-free diet.
And Davina practises what she preaches: she’s teamed up with Foodspring to create a range of protein powders. Cosmopolitan UK can personally vouch for the cocoa-flavoured powder – mix in with Greek yoghurt and it develops a mousse-like texture, and sorts you right out when you’re craving sugar. You can pick some out here.
Eat fresh and clean…
Davina has previously explained that she likes to cook from scratch, so she knows exactly what she’s putting into her body. Alongside her partner, hairdresser Michael Douglas, she likes to whip up comforting meals such as roast dinners and ramen for her family.
…but treat yourself too
While she is strict on her diet, and trains hard, Davina isn’t afraid to indulge from time to time.
“I love a Deliveroo,” she told Closer magazine. “I go for a green Thai curry or an Indian tikka, as I can’t make it as well as a takeaway version. Sometimes we’ll do family pizza night, or fish and chip Fridays.”