Britain's fittest grandfather says you don't need to lift weights to get in shape
"I don't have PBs and I don't set them. I don't do bench presses or deadlifts - I've never trained like that."
At the age of 67, Mike Millen has a rightful claim to the title of Britain's fittest grandfather. A personal trainer for 20 years, Mike still trains six days a week, both indoors and outside.
He takes particular inspiration from Wim Hof, also known as The Iceman, a Dutch extreme athlete renowned for his ability to withstand freezing temperatures.
For Millen, the best gym in the world is the outdoors - although he has recently started teaching calisthenics (bodyweight training) to an audience much younger than him.
We recently caught up with Mike and asked him to outline his training plan, diet and secrets for getting in shape.
JOE: What is your current weekly workout routine?
Mike: My weekly workout is not set in stone, but it consists of at least two cardio sessions. These are all done outdoors and all off-road - I like the forest and grassy, muddy conditions.
It will consist of running for approximately 40 minutes of differing intensities, with maybe a hill session thrown in, and the other session will be more for distance - around eight kilometres.
I also do four calisthenics sessions, either outside or in the gym, and currently teach a calisthenics class along with an advanced gym ball session virtually via the LiveNOW platform twice a week.
I also then have one rest day that I take when my body says I need it. So I don't structure in a particular rest day.
Do you follow any fad diets?
I do not follow any diets at all, I just eat a well-balanced diet of protein, carbs and a little good fat - and no processed foods.
What's your daily diet?
- For breakfast, I have a cup of coffee with one slice of toast
- Maybe mid-morning a tea with a piece of fruit
- Lunch is a sandwich of chicken or tuna, with salad or egg
- Mid-afternoon I'll have a tea
- Evening meal around 8pm I'll have chicken or fish with vegetables and carbs of some kind
I eat very little red meat.
What's the secret to staying in shape when you face retirement age?
The secret is it's all about consistency in life. If you want to succeed in anything, you have to be consistent.
For example, you brush your teeth every day, now, if you forget one day it's not a problem, but if you keep forgetting to brush your teeth then you will get problems with your teeth. Simple!
Can you tell us a bit more about your outdoor workouts?
I prefer to workout outside as much as I can (I do use the gym) but my real love is to train outside.
It offers so much variety. Every session is different due to the weather - in fact, the more extreme the weather the more I enjoy it, the more challenging it is.
It changes with the seasons. We are with nature and all its wonders, the sounds, the light. Your senses are enhanced to another level. There are all the pieces of equipment you need - logs, boulders and trees to climb.
What tips or tricks do you use to enhance your results?
Cold showers... I've been having cold showers outside in my garden for four years, all year round.
I never shower inside or use hot water. There are so many benefits.
It's a feeling of incredible wellbeing, it's good for the immune system, helps with depression (not that I suffer from that). It improves sleep, and is a challenge I like in the depths of winter.
What are your PBs (personal bests) in the gym?
I don't have PBs and I don't set them. I don't do bench press or deadlifts - I've never trained like that.
I train hard, but I make it fun, it's all about the enjoyment and I guess I've tried to 'never stop being a kid'.
Your routine is mainly comprised of calisthenics movements such as pull-ups and dips. How many of each can you do?
It's not about numbers with me. If I'm doing pull ups, I'll experiment with different types of holds, or leg positions.
If I'm doing press ups, I'll make up new positions - it's about play for me, and challenging myself in that way, not about the numbers.
What is your advice for younger people?
My advice to younger people is train for longevity. Make it fun, use variation, keep changing your training and try new ways.
Again, it's all about consistency and the enjoyment. That's the approach I try and adopt when teaching on LIVENow. I make the classes as fun as possible and it's great to be sharing that experience with a much younger audience.
What would be your tips for staying in shape during lockdown?
Get out there and discover new places to walk and train. Use the natural world around you, train at different times of the day, get out and smell the fresh air - it will make you feel so much better and keep you motivated in these tough times.
Mike Millen is a PT and trainer on LIVENow, the live-streaming platform, which offers over 60 live-streamed exercise classes straight to your home each week. LIVENow classes are completely FREE until 31st January 2021.