Donna De Lisser is personal trainer and physique competitor who lives in London, UK. She is a mature competitor, who began competing in her late 40’s with the intention of looking and feeling her best.
Prior to her fitness obsession, Donna was unhealthy – smoking cigarettes and eating junk food every day. She decided after returning from holiday one year that her body was “flabby” and out of shape.
Because of this realization, she immediately began hitting her local gym – sculpting her body and making friends and connections. She found a professional trainer and decided to start competing in the mature category of major shows.
Fast forward to today, and Donna has made a name for herself as a mature champion. She’s created an enviable body while looking after her children, but is motivated more by helping others than looking good. This motivation inspired her to set up a personal training business in order to make other women “feel good in their skin.”
This is Donna’s story:
|Full Name: Donna Maria De Lisser|
|Weight||Height||Year of Birth||Nationality|
|165 – 175lbs (74.8 – 79.4kg)||5’5″ (165cm)||1963||British|
|Weight||165 – 175lbs (74.8 – 79.4kg)|
|Year of Birth||1963|
- Personal Trainer
- Over 40’s fitness model
- 2013 UKBFF stars of tomorrow, 1st
- 2013 Miami Pro (over 40’s ‘Yummy Mums’ category), 1st
- 2014 Miami Pro Universe Championship, 3rd
Starting To Train In Her 40’s
Donna says that she spent most of her life unhealthy and unfit. She smoked cigarettes and ate junk food for the convenience it offered her while living a busy life. This lifestyle meant that exercise was definitely not on “her radar”
She got back from a summer holiday one day and didn’t like what she saw on the photos. She never considered herself to be out of shape, but looking over the photos she saw “flab.”
This spurred her on to join her local gym in London, where she started hitting the weights. She’d get up before work to go and meet her friends in the gym. Because she was working out regularly, she became conscious of what foods she was putting into her body and completely transformed her diet.
“This may seem cliché but that picture was a reality check for me and I have been committed and consistently exercising to keep off the flab.”
Deciding To Compete
Training on her own on a daily basis gradually made Donna want to do more with her fitness hobby. She was in excellent shape, but at this point was 49 years old, so really wanted to pursue any dreams she had.
She decided that she would enter any competition with a seniors category and try and win. Getting into competition shape was a huge challenge for her, but she knew that she could do it with hard work and determination.
In order to prepare properly, she spent a year training under the guidance of her trainer Ian Dowe. The pair focused on getting her diet in order, alongside learning new techniques in order to build an ideal body.
The confidence that this training gave her, allowed her to pose on stage at the 2013 UKBFF stars of tomorrow show with style. She ended up winning an incredible 1st place at the show – proving to the world that she had what it took to win.
The barbell squat is by far Donna’s favorite exercise. She loves the burn that the movement gives her glutes and quads. When she wants to train her shoulders, she always opts for upright rows – lifting fast and lowering the weight slowly.
- Barbell row with a narrow grip 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- T-bar row 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- Cable row with v-grip 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- Lat pulldown with underhand grip 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- Lat pulldown behind neck 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- Back extension 3 sets x 15-20 reps
- Incline bench press 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- Flat bench press 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- Decline bench press 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- Fly’s machine 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- Cable cross or dumbbell fly’s 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- Leg extension 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- Leg press 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- Hack squats 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- One leg press 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- One leg extension 3 sets x 8-20 reps
Thursday Back 2:
- Overhand barbell row 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- Underhand barbell row 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- Dumbbell row/hammer row 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- Hammer pullover machine 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- V-grip lat pulldown 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- Deadlift to my knees 3 sets x 20 reps
Friday Hamstrings & Calves:
- Lying leg curl 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- Seated leg curl 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- One leg curl 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- High foot leg press 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- Lying leg curl legs together 3 sets x 20 reps
- Seated calf raise 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- Standing calf raise 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- Donkey raise 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- Calf in leg press 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- Barbell curl 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- Scott curl 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- One arm concentration curl 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- Rope curl 3 sets x 10-30 reps
- Tricep cable extension 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- Dips machine 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- One arm overhead extension 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- Rope extension 3 sets x 10-30 reps
- Dumbbell lift to the side 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- Dumbbell rear bent over 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- Dumbbell to the front 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- Shoulder press in machine 3 sets x 8-20 reps
- Traps machine 3 sets x 8-20 reps
In terms of cardio workouts, Donna loves to include interval training on the treadmill. She loves feeling her heart pumping as she improves her fitness levels.
She also completes long power walks before competing, in order to burn calories while preserving her muscle gains.
Donna’s diet is extremely healthy. She chooses only the leanest meat options such as chicken, turkey and steak. She also includes fish such as prawns, salmon, and cod.
When it comes to carbohydrates, Donna eats the bodybuilding staples of brown rice and sweet potato, but she also includes yams and oats for her complex carbs. Her vegetable options range from tomatoes and peppers, to broccoli, red cabbage, carrots and cabbage.
A daily meal plan is below:
- Oatmeal 100 gram
- 2 eggs
- Protein powder
- Some Cocoa fat
- Organic Jumbo Oats
- Full fat milk
- Raisin Sprinkles
- Chicken 300g
- Rice 250g
- Whey protein
- BCAA Powder
- Barley Starch Powder
- Triple Action Creatine (TAC)
- BCAA Powder Blend
- Barley Starch Powder
- Hydroplex protein powder
- Barley Starch Powder
- True Gainer
- 100% L-Glutamine, 10g
- 300g Chicken
- 300g Potato
- 300g Beef
- 250g Rice
- 250g Potato
- 300g Fish
- 300g Chicken or Fish and Vegetables
Off Season Diet
Donnas’s off-season diet focuses on 6 meal per day of quality food. She increases her carohydrate intake a fat content, but lowers the protein in order to promote weight gain.
Donna chooses to eat clean for the most part, but also includes occasional cheat meals such as ice cream & muffins. Weight gain shakes are incorporated when she can’t eat enough food.
Supplements are crucial in Donna’s diet. She takes whey protein shakes to add bulk, as well a pre-workout powders to get her in the zone before a hard session.
Branch chain amino acids are also crucial for her. She drinks them before a cardio session to avoid excess muscle breakdown, while promoting healthy fat loss.
One of Donna’s favorite meals is her Tex Mex Meatballs. They are turkey meatballs with spices and salad; the recipe is below.
- 500 grams ground turkey, 1 egg beaten, Mexican seasoning to taste, 2 chopped pickled onions
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix with hands
- Shape into balls and fry for around 10 mins in a pan until the meatballs are cooked
- Serve the meatballs with salad, rice and garnish
Idols and Influences
Donna’s idols in the bodybuilding world range from celebrities such as Jennifer Nicole Lee, Ava Cowan to Zak Pallikaros – the owner of Pumping Iron gym.
She also loves watching professional athletics and respects the achievements of Usain Bolt.
What we can learn from Donna De Lisser
Donna’s story proves that there is no age-range for staying active and looking your best. She started her bodybuilding and personal training career in her 40’s – knowing that she had only one life to live.
If you are a mature individual, do not think that it’s too late to start working out. There is always time to become the best version of yourself.