In today’s “How to Look Like A Superhero,” we’ll be checking out Brad Pitt’s routine to get in shape for the movie, Troy.
A few years back, you went to the movie theaters expecting to see the next epic, the next Gladiator, the next outlet for your macho, kick-ass, behavior. Instead, you got “Troy,” and you probably fell asleep during the boring middle parts. And then you got mad because they made both sides seem like the good guys, and you already knew how it was going to end, and yet you hoped it wouldn’t be THAT bad. But it was. The only thing worth watching again was that first scene where Achilles takes down the giant with one stab of his sword, which was freaking AWESOME.
So let’s say you decided you want to look like Achilles and you’re ready to hit the weights just like Brad did! Before you Google “Brad Pitt Troy workout,” know that everything you’ll find is either misleading or incorrect information. I’m sure one or more of the routines I’ve found is the correct one, but honestly I don’t like any of them. You’ll find routines that focuses exclusively on the upper body and completely ignores the lower body: a great way to look top-heavy and ridiculous. Secondly, you’re looking at a guy who had 7 months to train for this role and had a personal trainer, strength coach, stretching coach, masseuse, yoga coach, and more. So, rather than give you a routine that won’t work for most of you, I’d rather amend the listed routines and provide you with a better, healthier, safer routine that will still have you looking like you’re the best fighter in Greek history. Brad went from approximately 160 lbs. in Fight Club to 185 lbs in Troy, which means he had some serious muscle to build and weight to gain. As a thin guy with a very low body fat percentage, Brad’s metabolism most likely operated faster than the speed of light. In order to put on at least 20 lbs of muscle, he needed to break his pre-movie routine into two phases, commonly known as a “Bulk and Cut” routine.
When you’re very thin and looking to put on muscle mass, you will need to eat a LOT more than you’re eating, lift heavy weights, and keep your basic cardio to a minimum. Now, as you’re gaining muscle mass, you’ll also be gaining a little of fat. It’s inevitable. It’s okay though, that’s why this is called the “Bulk” phase. What you’ll want to do is concentrate on compound exercises (bench press, pull ups, deadlifts, and squats are the four biggies) to promote growth throughout your whole body. Although Brad only concentrated on his upper body, you’re going to NEED to do deadlifts and squats too; these exercises will pump up your legs and back, which happen to the be two parts of your body where you can gain the most weight the fastest.
To get the most out of these exercises, you should concentrate on completing between 12 and 6 reps with each set for each exercise, often training to absolute failure. Absolute failure = by the time you’re on your final rep of your last set for that exercise, it should feel like that’s the last possible thing you could lift. Heavy weights, lots of compound exercises, and minimal cardio. Cardio will take away from your weight gain. Instead, I’d recommend working your cardio into your routine by minimizing the amount of time in between sets, waiting no more than a minute before starting up again. To see a routine that I’m currently using with these principles in it (that has allowed me to gain 12 lbs in 7 weeks), read my blog here. Personally, I like training the whole body when I’m in the gym, and I imagine that’s how the warriors of old would have trained as well: not concentrating on sculpting their triceps, but rather concentrating on lifting heavy weights and getting ready to kill people!
Once Brad reached the correct amount of weight and strength he desired, he flipped a switch and spent 3 months working on cutting the fat off his body (hence the “cut” phase of the routine), leaving nothing except muscle on his body. You might think this is where you give up the weight training and just start running everywhere. Wrong. If you do that you’ll quickly lose all the muscle you just gained, because it takes your body 6 months to get used to its new weight and will quickly revert back to its old size if you stop. To keep your weight and cut your body fat, continue training with weights but incorporate more cardio and sprints into the routine to shed the excess weight. To get the most of out of your cardio in the lowest amount of time, read about interval training here.
Apparently Brad ate 4 meals a day that consisted of high amounts of protein and low amounts of carbohydrates. He also gave up smoking, drinking, and eating junk food. These three things right here are HUGE factors that contributed to Brad’s success in the gym and on the screen. Now, when it comes to the rest of his diet, I have to disagree with his trainers once again. Considering he was training for 3 hours a day, removing carbs from his diet robbed him of necessary energy to get through these grueling workouts! Also, I don’t think four meals a day is enough to give him constant protein throughout the day to build those muscles.
My suggestion? If you’re skinny and trying to bulk up, you need to be eating close to 4000 calories a day, and those 4000 calories should be composed of at least 1g of protein per lb of body weight and 1.5 to 2 times that number of grams of complex carbohydrates. Take these numbers, divide them by 6 or 7 (depending on how often you can eat), and that’s what you need to be eating close to ALL day long.
Here’s an sample of times when you need to eat:
- 7:00AM: Breakfast
- 9:30AM: Snack
- 12:00pm: Lunch
- 2:30PM: Snack
- 5:00pm: Dinner
- 7:30pm: Late night snack
- 10pm: Pre-bed snack
At each of these meals (including dinner), I’d aim to get AT LEAST 30 grams of protein, 45 grams of complex carbs, and 10-15 grams of good fats. Think lots of chicken, tuna, steak, eggs, protein shakes, and protein bars for your protein, and whole grain pasta, oats, brown rice, potatoes, and whole grain wheat bread for your complex carbs. Also, you can eat all the fruits and vegetables you want. I’d limit the amount of carbs you eat at the very end of the day (your last two meals) because studies have shown that your metabolism is slower at the end of the day (when you’re not exercising), so those carbs would get turned to stored fat while you sleep. As long as you’ve been exercising, the protein you eat at the end of the day will be used to rebuild your muscles while you sleep. If you’re worried that you’re eating too much, I guarantee you’re not – think about how tough it’s been your whole life to gain weight. If you put on a few extra pounds, it will probably take you only a few weeks to lose the ones you don’t want. When in doubt, eat.
After you’ve bulked up enough and you’re interested in shredding the excess fat from your body, I’d continue to eat every 2-3 hours and keep your intake of protein high. I’d cut some of the carbs from your diet, but make sure you’re still eating enough to give you energy to get through your workouts. I’d work on finding a balance between increased amounts of sprints and interval training for cardio and a decreased amount of calories until you find a good balance. You want your weight to remain constant and your body fat percentage to decrease.
There you have it! It might not be the exact Brad Pitt Troy workout you expected, but it will certainly get the job done (Trust me, I know…because it’s working for me right now as we speak). My advice: if you’re looking to follow a specific routine by following a specific celebrity, pick somebody other than the genetically gifted Brad Pitt. If you’re skinny and trying to bulk up, follow Ryan Reynolds for his transformation in Blade 3, and for you bigger guys looking to slim down, try Daniel Craig’s routine to prepare for Casino Royale. Just keep in mind that these guys had personal trainers and specific diet plans to get them where they needed to be. Expect to get less successful results if you’re picking a routine while working a full-time job, raising a family, and not having the time or money to eat 10 professionally prepared meals a day.
You can probably sense a trend with all of these routines: lots of protein every 2-3 hours, sprints for cardio instead of long runs, keep your routines specific: compound exercises, between 3-6 sets and 6-12 reps per set. Work yourself to exhaustion, give your muscles ample time to recover, and you’ll be sacking Troy in no time. I realize this is a weird sentence if you know a dude named Troy, but he’s probably an ass and should be taken any way. My apologize to all the people named Troy who aren’t full of themselves out there.
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