Yesterday morning I did my first round of circuit training.
I’m in pretty good shape and have been lifting weights regularly for a few years, so I figured the routine would be a challenge but not too exhausting. Fail. This thing kicked my ass. For those of you looking to build lean muscle, cut some fat, and avoid boredom in the gym, here’s something that might catch your eye. Want proof that it works? Daniel Craig did two days of circuit training a week to prepare for Casino Royale. Read about his full workout by clicking here. My theory is this: if it’s good enough for 007, it’s good enough for me.
Sounds good right? Alright, now let’s find out exactly what circuit training involves: essentially you’ll be doing one exercise per body part, in order, without stopping. Then, once you’re all the way through a cycle, you do it again. And then again. 3 full circuits without stopping.
This is what I did yesterday morning:
Squats – 12 reps
Lunges – 12 reps (if your legs are REALLY tired, doing squats and lunges could seriously hurt you if you’re not careful. In this case I’d recommend doing some machine leg exercises (12 reps of leg extensions, 12 reps of leg curls, and 12 calf raises instead).
Incline Dumbbell Press – 12 reps
Assisted Pull Ups – 12 reps
Tricep Rope Pulldown – 12 reps
Barbell Bicep Curl – 12 reps
Lateral Shoulder Raise – 12 reps
Jump rope for 60 seconds or do 50 jumping jacks
And that’s 1 circuit. You will do each exercise, with perfect form, and then move onto the next exercise immediately. You can only stop for water after you finish the circuit (after you jump rope or do your jumping jacks). Now, I cut the amount of weight I can normally lift by 25%, and I still had to stop a few times to get through this loop of exercises 3 times. If you can do it without stopping, you should be able to get through the routine in 30 minutes or less.
For Newbies: If you’re just starting out with fitness and trying to build muscle while losing fat, I’d recommend trying to get through one circuit, take a minute or two break, and then finish the rest of your routine normally. So, you would go through the WHOLE circuit once, and then you’d do a set of squats, wait a minute, do another set of squats, then move onto a set of lunges, wait a minute, do another set of lunges, then onto the next exercise. Build your way up to 3 full circuits, and work on getting through them without stopping.
Don’t have a gym membership? Try this modified circuit training routine using just your body weight This is more of an aerobic workout compared to a strength building routine, but it get’s the job done if you don’t have any weights to use:
The thing I love about circuit training is that there’s always room for improvement. You’re building muscles while also building up your stamina. Circuits will help turn you into a MACHINE. If you can do 3 circuits without stopping, add weight or try to do four circuits. Either way, you should be able to walk out of that gym, in 30-40 minutes, drenched in sweat and exhausted.
A few tips and tricks:
If you’re going to do circuits, do them early in the morning or late at night. Don’t be an ass and tie up every machine/bench in the gym when everybody is waiting to use them.
If you come back to a machine and somebody else is using it, don’t wait. Pick a different exercise that works the same muscle!
Normally I recommend just free weights, but for circuits using certain machines is okay if you’re exhausted and worried about proper form. When possible, stick with free weights though, you’ll get much more out of it.
Don’t do a full body circuit two days in a row. I’d say start with doing it once a week (along with your normal weight training and exercise), but space them apart so you don’t work the same muscle two days straight.
Your diet is at least 80% of your success/failure when it comes to getting in shape.
Muscles are made in the kitchen and not in the gym, so I wanted to do an article on what I buy at the grocery store. I’m a picky eater, and I don’t have time to prepare extravagant meals all day long.
Between having a full time job, exercising, playing piano or the occasional video game, and running this blog, the amount of time I have to prepare, eat, and clean up six meals a day. I checked my past receipts, and I realized that I’ve been buying the same thing over and over and over, so I wanted to pass along what I actually buy:
3 Gallons of 1% Milk – I mix all of my shakes with milk, so I go through a LOT of this stuff. I drink two Muscle Milk (Collegiate Edition) shakes a day, each with two cups of milk – one after I work out/for breakfast, and then another one in the afternoon between lunch and dinner. Before I go to bed, I drink a protein shake mixed with one cup of milk.
1 Bag of Romain Lettuce and Lite Caesar Dressing – Salad prepared in 30 seconds. I’m not a big fan of salads but I know I need to eat them, so why waste more time preparing them than I need to?
Sarah Lee Whole Grain Wheat Bread and 2 Jars of Skippy Natural Peanut Butter. Peanut butter sandwiches, 2 a day. Carbs, protein, good fats.
1 Bag of Tyson Chicken – Frozen Chicken Tenderloins – coat with Pam cooking spray, add some spices, stick in over on cookie sheet for 30 minutes. Easy.
1 Bag of Whole Wheat Tortillas (Cut up 4 chicken tenderloins, add some cheese, and bam you got yourself a 5 minute chicken quesadilla.
1 Box of Boil-in-a-bag Brown Rice Packets. Good Carbs!
2 Lbs of 90% Lean Ground Beef, 1 BIG Jar of Prego, 1 Box of Angel Hair Pasta (along with some spices, Worcestershire sauce, and Extra Virgin Olive Oil to make the spaghetti sauce). I’ll write a blog soon on how I make a week’s worth of spaghetti.
Box of Granola Bars/Protein Bars – I eat these first thing in the morning when I’m going to work out before work.
Bag of apples, bag of raisins. More fruit!
Notice anything missing? That’s right, there’s no junk food on this list! If you don’t want to be tempted with eating it, don’t put it in your house. No Oreos, no chocolate chip cookies, no Twinkies, no soda, no candy bars, etc. I don’t have a lot of money, and I have to buy a LOT of food to eat 4000 calories a day, so every penny I spend needs to be good for me.
I realize I don’t eat 100% healthy foods and I certainly don’t eat enough vegetables, but I make sure I don’t eat any crap. Also, I’m always trying to get better, making my trips to the grocery store a constant work in progress. Over the past few year and a half I’ve made the transition from white rice to brown, white bread to wheat, and flour tortillas to whole wheat tortillas. Each week I try to make one change or mix something up to make my meals even healthier. I know I still don’t eat enough vegetables, I want to start eating more natural foods, etc.; I always try to be better.
I challenge you to do the same. Every time you go to the store, buy one less junk food item, buy one more healthy thing, or take something you normally buy and find a healthier version of it.
Everybody in the world thinks they know best when it comes to fitness. Of course, like 90% of people have no idea what they’re talking about, so you need to be careful who you get your advice from or you could be either wasting your time or even hurting yourself without knowing it. Here are a few examples:
In my gym, there is an aerobics instructor that teaches a full class of step aerobics. The guy teaches a class every night…AND HE HAS A HUGE GUT. If I was interested in getting into shape, I certainly wouldn’t take a class from a guy that’s out of shape because clearly it’s not working. Would you take personal trainer lessons from a guy that’s really out of shape?
I was doing dips the other day at the gym and some random dude came up to me to lecture on how I should be doing the exercise. He went on and on and on about how much farther I should drop my shoulders at the bottom. After he left, I kept doing them the way I’ve always done them; why? because doing them his way would destroy my shoulders and possibly cause long term damage. Keep this in mind: just because a guy is giving you advice in the gym doesn’t mean he has ANY idea what he’s talking about.
Hydroxy-cut was recently pulled off the shelves because it apparently caused all kinds of liver problems for a small percent of its users. These products were on the market for over seven years before finally getting pulled off the shelf. What products are out there today that will get pulled seven years from now for screwing up people’s insides?
Open a Muscle and Fitness magazine, and you’ll see ads for every supplement under the sun, pictures of body-builders, many of them probably on steroids, and routines that require you to spend 5 hours a day in the gym. Unless you want to look like those guys, you’re not the target audience for the magazine and probably won’t get much from their advice.
If you’re just starting out with fitness, all of these issues with false information and false advertising can be intimidating. Now, I’m not saying “only read Nerd Fitness and only get your advice from this site,” because there are still plenty of great sites/books/people out there who are full of great information. I’m just saying be smart when you get advice from a source. On Nerd Fitness, the advice and recommendations I give come from first hand experience. I won’t endorse a product, routine, diet, supplement, or another website unless it’s something I’d use myself. If I am endorsing something, it’s because I’ve done it and it works.
If you go to the gym, if you read a muscle magazine, if you hear through the grapevine about this amazing weight loss pill or miracle workout, do your research before you put all your eggs in that basket. As with everything else in life, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
I promise that I’ll continue to do my research before posting an article. It’s very tough to find 100% reliable information out there, so shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you come across something you’re considering but not sure about and I’ll give you a straight answer. If I don’t know the answer right away, I’ll do the research to make sure you don’t waste your money on a crappy product or do serious damage to yourself. Just know that the advice I give will always lean towards “better safe than sorry,” because I just don’t thinks health risks are worth the extra few pounds lost or muscle gained.
Life is too damn short. Why not have fun with fitness, be safe, and feel good about yourself?
I finally buckled down and got Nerd Fitness 2.0 off the ground. Sure most of the changes are cosmetic, but what’s wrong with looking good, right? Plus, now you can see my face on the home page, so you can tell who the hell is writing these things every day.
I added some survey functionality so I can add a poll at the end of posts to get your thoughts on the article.
For those of you on Twitter, it’s now really easy to tweet a post you like. Just click the retweet button at the bottom of the post and there you have it!
At the top of the page, I’ll be working on posting the best articles in each category, followed by a whole section just for newbies trying to get started.
I’ve finally recovered from the Olympic workout from last Thursday, so I’m ready to get back in the gym this morning and bust my ass.
Other than being freaking tired, it’s nice when you actually feel good on a Monday.
Last night, my friend and mentor Mike Rickett was in town to teach some personal trainer certification classes, and asked if I’d be interested in working out with him while he’s in town. Mike is the guy I go to with all of my fitness questions. He has trained everybody from high school athletes to world-class Olympians, so I knew I was in for something that would kick my ass. When he told me we were only going to do four exercises and be done in 25 minutes, I couldn’t wait to see what the hell we could do that would destroy me in such a short amount of time. Welp, 25 minutes later, my shirt was drenched and sweat was literally pouring off my face in buckets. What the heck did I do that has me sore all over today? This is how sore I am; my forearms hurt every time I type word in this damn blog.
To borrow from this Men’s Health article: “Olympic lifts, as they’re called, have no equal for developing speed, flexibility, and coordinated, total-body strength and muscle.” Sounds good to me! Also, Olympic lifters, on average, have the highest vertical leaps of all athletes. Ever wanted to dunk a basketball? This is what you need to be doing. Every single muscle in your body will be worked to lift more weight than you’ve ever lifted, in a much quicker fashion. Also, because you’re doing all of these exercises with such speed, you’re recruiting every Fast-Twitch muscle fiber, which has the greatest capacity for increased size and strength (you can read about fast twitch vs. slow twitch muscles here). I have no desire to look like a heavyweight Olympic lifter, but the thought of lifting tons of weight, becoming more powerful, faster, stronger, and have the ability to jump much higher sounds freaking awesome.
We did the Jerk, the Clean, the Snatch (stop laughing), and then the Clean and Jerk. For almost all of these exercises I was just using the bar (45 lbs) because I wanted to make sure I could get the form down properly before attempting with serious weight. Mike told me for some of these exercises it will take a good year before I have the form down perfectly. I’ve never left a gym more excited or sweaty than last night. I did 4 sets of each exercise, for a total of 8 reps. I made sure to err on the side of caution by just doing exercises with the bar until I got the form down properly.
The Jerk, The Clean
These are generally done together for the “clean and jerk,” which is explained below, but the two movements that make them are called the clean (picking up the bar from the ground and bringing it up to your shoulders), and the the jerk (pressing the weight from your shoulders over your head). Now, don’t think of these movements as just a dead lift, and then a shoulder press. Speed and form are of the utmost importance in these exercises, allowing you to lift crazy amounts of weight in just a few seconds. We warmed up with these to get my body used the movements so I could do the next two exercises (which are done in the Olympics).
Think of the snatch as a deadlift, barbell shrug, jump squat, and overhead squat, all done in one motion. Sounds complicated? It is, which is why you should watch the video below. If you’re going to attempt this on your own, study this video over and over again and do it with a very light weight until you have the form down properly. Keep your abs contracted the ENTIRE TIME so you don’t mess up your back. A strong core is crucial.
This is another one of those exercises that works your entire body in just a matter of seconds. Think of this one as a deadlift, upright row, front squat, and push press all done in a few seconds. Also complex, so this video below is a great resource to show you how to complete one properly. Sorry for the ads that show before the video, but it’s worth it:
After 4 sets of 8 reps for each exercise, I was exhausted and excited. After some dynamic stretching (an absolute must after lifting weights), I was ready to drink 8 gallons of water and eat an entire cow. No wonder most Olympic lifters eat like 8000 calories a day and have probably 5% body fat. I realize these are super advanced moves, and unless done with 100% proper form can result in serious injury, so attempt them at your own risk. If you are interested in getting started with Olympic lifting, I’d recommend asking your gym if there is a coach in the area who can give you a lesson so you start out on the right path. If you’re worried about injury, follow this workout to get most of the benefits without the huge risk of messing up your body. Stick with it, and eventually you might even be able to do something like this:
Two years ago, after reading Tim Ferris’s “4 Hour Workweek,” I bought the domain NerdFitness.com. It took me forever to finally take that catchy, clever domain and turn it into a legitimate site, but I did it! There’s a right way to approach fitness (healthy diet, enjoyable exercise) and there’s a wrong way (tons of supplements, paying ridiculous amounts of money expensive trendy infomercial equipment). I went through a lot of the wrong ways to get there the right way, and I want to make sure you don’t have to do the same.
I know how you feel: searching the internet for reliable fitness advice is like finding a needle in a haystack. The only sites I found were ones begging me to buy their product, telling me I could gain 60 lbs of muscle in two months (if I paid four payments of $99.99)! I’ve tried all kinds of different “get fit quick” schemes, and NONE of them worked. After getting certified as a personal trainer last year, I wanted to create a place where people could get legitimate information on being healthy and actually have fun with it. You won’t find any quick-fitness schemes on here, because I know none of them work and I won’t waste your time.
The most important thing I want people to take away from this website is that you are responsible for yourself. You and only you are accountable for your actions: not your genetics, your job, your wife, global warming, or the economy. It’s your life, and you’re more than entitled to live it exactly how you want, but don’t go blaming ANYBODY when things aren’t going your way. Solutions, not excuses! Can’t afford a gym membership because of the economy? Go to a park and do pull ups on monkey bars at your kid’s school. Don’t have time to exercise? Bull****. If you want it bad enough, you will find a way. People that shut their mouths and “play the hand they’re dealt” go on to do great things. I want to be inspired by those people, and I want to inspire others that have the power to become those people.
Now, doing this stuff all on your own sucks. You’re probably surrounded by friends who eat like crap and do nothing, co-workers who get mad at you for not eating birthday cake for the third time this week, and we all have that inner-sloth just begging us to go back to bed, skip today’s workout, and swing through Burger King on the way home from work. That’s why this site exists, to help people stay on the path and stay motivated.
I can’t wait until Nerd Fitness is fully realized as a living, breathing tribe of ridiculously strong, intelligent people all helping each become better versions of themselves. I’m certainly not the world’s best expert on health and fitness, but I have a real passion for helping people improve their lives, I great grasp of what this community can become, and I know how we can get there. Unfortunately, I have a full-time job and normal life to live, so NerdFitness 2.0 (and ultimately 3.0) has taken longer than expected. Please know that I have a plan, and the wheels are in motion.
Until then, I hope you guys will keep reading every day, because I will continue writing every day. All I ask is that you email me at email@example.com and let me know how I can help.
Thanks for your support, now let’s get after it.
Here’s a look back at some of the most read posts over the past 5 months:
Alright guys, this article is going to jump into the more scientific side of fitness, but it’s still fascinating and something you should know.
Ask yourself this question: Do you want to be able to run ridiculously fast for a short period of time, or do you want to be able to run for hours and hours without wearing down? Believe it or not, your muscles are composed of certain fibers that are already destined to be one or the other. However, with enough proper training you can actually control how much of each type of fiber you have in that body of yours. What are these fibers?
Type I Fibers
Type I fibers are “slow twitch” fibers. They use oxygen to fire, and they take longer to get going, but they can go for a longer period of time without getting tired. The force per contraction on these muscle fibers is spread out over time. People who have trained for marathons and enjoy running long distances (not me) will have a higher percentage of Type I fibers (that are more efficient) than a sprinter or a couch potato.
Type IIb Fibers
Type IIb fibers are “fast twitch” fibers. These fire anaerobically (without oxygen), they fire extremely quickly, but they get tired easily.
Sprinters and most fast animals in nature (cheetahs, lions, deer, etc.) will have more “fast twitch” fibers: longer periods of rest, followed by ridiculous amounts of quick speed and energy. Guys loaded with Type IIb fibers will tire more easily on long distance runs, but they can definitely beat your ass off the line in a quick race. Because it’s such a great amount of force in such a short amount of time, these fibers are also used in weight training.
Type IIa Fibers
Fence riders…halfway between type I and Type IIb. These are equal parts aerobic and anaerobic. Not great at long distances, not great at sprinting, but pretty good for either. The “jack of all trades” muscle fiber, if you will.
Those are your three different types of muscles fibers. You’re born with these fibers in certain proportions, and they will affect how successful you are at either developing as a long distance guy, or a sprinter guy. Most bodies have 50% of Type 1 and 50% of Type 2 (A and B), but many elite athletes (world class marathon runners, Olympic sprinters) can have up to 80% of one or the other. Obviously a sprinter with 80% fast twitch fibers will have a better chance of being fast than somebody with only 30% fast twitch fibers.
Your muscle fiber composition is already built into your genetics. It’s like picking a random race whenever you start playing an RPG: initially, you already have certain strengths and weaknesses (stamina and strength vs. intelligence and wisdom, etc.), but by the end of the game you’ve done enough leveling that you can erase those differences and mold your guy into exactly what you want.
The real world is no different. This study suggests that it’s possible through training to adjust the levels of each of your types of muscle fibers. If yo genetics say you should be a sprinter, but you really want to run marathons…enough training will make your muscles conform and function better with increased amounts of Type II fibers. Of course, had you been born with 80% slow twitch muscles your path to better marathons might be easier, but you can still get there…you just need to bust your ass and work harder!
Moral of the story: your genetics might have you already set up to be better at one thing or the other, but hat doesn’t mean you don’t have a choice. Do what makes you happy, and with enough persistence and solid training you can control how your muscles function. Personally, the thought of running really fast excites me more than running for a really long time, so that’s how my training is directed. Plus, looking like a sprinter isn’t a bad side effect.
This is an old article and our current recommendations may differ from the information you see below.
I walked into a gym today and saw a really big fat guy with a huge gut put on a weight belt to do bicep curls and bench presses. I’m sure he thinks he’s helping keep himself, and unless he’s had serious back surgery he’s dead wrong. I’m here to tell you that weight belts are a waste of time and are probably doing you far more harm than good.
Weight Belts – Years ago, I almost bought a weight belt because my back would hurt while doing squats (even though I was probably only lifting a hundred pounds). Turns out, unless you’ve had a serious back injury, your lower back should only ‘hurt’ while doing squats if you do them wrong! If you do them correctly, you’ll be working the hell out of your legs and your lower back all at the same time. While wearing a weight belt, you’re depriving your body of using all of those tiny stabilizer muscles to keep the weight steady while raising it and lowering it. Sure, you might be able to lift more, but your lower back will have the strength of a 10 year-old girl. Not an ideal situation, especially if you have a 10 year old daughter for reference.
Now, when you lift weights without a belt, you have to recruit extra muscle fibers just to keep the weight steady. This is also why I’ll only recommend free weights instead of machines. Machines only let you lift in two directions, while free weights will use far more muscles to keep the weight steady. Stick with free weights, and no belt! Don’t believe me?
People without back problems don’t get any protective benefit from wearing a belt.
If you’re injured while wearing one, your injury could be far more severe.
Belts increase your blood pressure if they’re worn properly. Suck!
Belts change your lifting styles, often screwing up your form in order to lift the weight. Not cool.
If you have lower back problems on squats, then your lower back isn’t strong enough to support the weight, even if your legs are. My recommendation? Decrease the weight, and really concentrate on strengthening your core before building up the weight on your squats. Instead of spending money on a weight belt, spend money on a single personal training session and make sure you’re performing all exercises with PERFECT FORM and you’ll be far better off in the long run.
Now, if you HAVE had lower back problems/surgery, I highly recommend getting a doctor recommendation and exercising with a trainer after getting better to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen again.
Gloves – People wear gloves to get a better grip on the weight bar, or because they don’t want calluses on their hands. Personally, I think calluses make you feel more like a bad ass, and I’m guessing the guys at “the Art of Manliness” would agree with me.
When you pick up a bar without gloves and you feel your grip start to slip (not from sweat, but from your strength going), it’s because you haven’t developed your hands and forearms enough. As you lift heavier weights and work out the rest of your body, your hands and forearms will develop right along with them. Here’s a great article about gloves and their ‘need.’
I’m a big advocate of keeping things as natural in the gym as possible. Stay away from machines, don’t add accessories to help you unless you absolutely need them. Stay away from weight belts, and wear gloves if you feel like you need them. You can get by without using either.
Last night I had the chance to see “Up,” the newest film from masterpiece makers Pixar. As usual, the film was preceded by a quick five minute short, this one entitled “Partly Cloudy.” Although not as good as last year’s “Presto,” which had me laughing literally from the first frame to the end credits, “Partly Cloudly” managed to get quite a few chuckles, awwws, and the occasional belly laugh. Enough about the pre-movie, let’s talk about the main event.
Up is a Pixar movie through and through. Incredible visuals, a soundtrack that perfectly sets the mood for each scene, and at least 20-30 moments where you shake your head in admiration at how clever these guys are! I mean, this movie was better acted and provided more emotion and inspiration than any movie I’ve seen recently, and it’s all done with computer generated graphics. I do have to warn you: after a comical five minute introduction to our main character, a young and enthusiastic Carl Fredericksen, the next 15 minutes are surprisingly dark and will tug at your heartstrings, daring you not to cry. However, after the extremely sad beginning, the movie gets going and you’re allowed to smile once again. We’re introduced to Carl as he is today: a grumpy old man in the twilight years of life, bearing a striking resemblance to Brooks from the Shawshank Redemption. His childhood dreams of adventuring in South America have been replaced with waking up, eating breakfast, getting ready, and then sitting on his front porch to leer at passersby.
After he’s told he must vacate his house, this former balloon salesman decides to take matters into his own hands, tying thousands upon thousands of balloons to it and floats off into the great unknown, seeking adventure, all by himself. Or so he thought. Neighborhood kid Russell, dealing with abandonment issues of his own, needs only one more merit badge, “Assisting the Elderly,” to complete his scout training and get promoted to senior Adventure Explorer. What begins as a strained (but funny) relationship expands into the kind of grandfather-grandson bond that makes you go “awwwww.” Russell’s comedic timing, funny one liners, and a level of naive optimism that can only come from a kid provide great contrast to the pessimistic defeatist attitude of our old protagonist. Throw in gorgeous scenery, talking dogs (one of which steals every scene he’s in), a bird named Kevin, and some great action sequences and we have another Pixar hit on our hands. Kids will love the talking animals, funny noises, and slapstick humor, while Adults will laugh, cry, and probably reevaluate their own hopes and dreams. It’s so good that it works extremely well on both levels.
I fully recommend this movie to anybody and everybody, no matter what age. “Up” proves that it’s never to late to start an adventure, no matter how old you are. I left the theater with a big smile on my face and a huge desire to go on some adventures of my own; better start saving now.
Thanks Pixar, you’ve done it again.
Where does this fit in the Pixar Hierarchy? I’d say ahead of Ratatouille, Cars, a Bug’s Life, and the Incredibles…behind Finding Nemo and Toy Story, and right up there with Monsters Inc. and WALL-E.
Yesterday, I stepped on the scale over at my gym and weighed in at 184, one pound short of my target weight. Yeah, it sucks to come up one pound short. But you know what, I still managed to put on 11 freaking pounds (mostly muscle) in only 2 months, and I now weigh more than I ever have in the past. All of you people out there trying to lose weight are probably pissed off at me right now for talking about how tough it is to gain weight; please realize that it’s probably as hard for you to lose weight as it is for me to gain weight. I didn’t eat junk food, I didn’t eat whatever and whenever; I eat probably the same way a person does who’s trying to lose weight, I just have to buy twice as much of it and spend twice as much time eating it.
How did I manage to put on 11 healthy pounds in 8 weeks? I followed this full-body routine 3 days a week in the gym, got some exercise on the two other weekdays, and I ate between 3700 and 4000 calories a day. LOTS of grilled chicken, pasta, lean ground beef, peanut butter sandwiches on whole wheat bread, protein shakes and meal replacement shakes in between actual meals, brown rice, asparagus, apples, orange juice, salads, etc. Sure, I’d treat myself to the occasional meatball sub from Subway (terrible for me, I know, but LOADED with protein and carbs, two things I desperately needed), but for the most part for the past 8 weeks I ate healthy, I ate a lot of food, and I ate often.
So what do I do now? Well, for starters, I need to keep eating and exercising. If I slack off on either end, then my body will quickly revert to my old weight and all the hard work and dedication will have been for nothing. Why will it go back so quickly? It’s because your body, skeleton, organs, etc. all take approximately 6 months to get used to your new weight. Read more about this here.
Also, I’m going to set new goals. My new goals are to get up to 187 lbs (3lb. increase) and to drop my body fat % by 2 points by August 1st (2 months). By gaining 3 lbs, and losing 2 % of my body fat, I’ll have actually put on 6 total lbs. of muscle. Because this goal is less about gaining pounds and more about gaining muscle, I’m going to be adding in extra cardio sessions to my routine. Now, I hate cardio, I hate running long distances, so I’ll be working on finding the most effective cardio in the least amount of time: Sprints, jumping rope at a high speed, kicking my ass on the rowing, and eventually taking some capoeira classes will help me build only lean muscle and give me more energy. You’d be amazed how much you can sweat in only 20 minutes if you really push yourself.
There. Now that this blog is written, I have to be accountable for my actions. We’ll see how I do on August 1st!
And now for something completely different: E3 is this week (the most famous video game exposition of the year), and yesterday Star Wars: The Old Republic was announced. It’s a massively-mulitplayer online role playing game by the guys who made Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect, and Jade Empire. Let’s hope the game is bad-ass, because the trailer is incredible:
I had an absolute blast writing these posts, and I’ll certainly be doing more of them in the future because I really enjoyed finding out what goes into preparing for a role in certain flicks. However, I want to make things clear; they were written with as much emphasis on entertainment as education. These are people who were paid millions of dollars to look like they do, had all the time and resources in the world, personal trainers, specialized diets, and great genetics. Oh, and they also already started off in incredible shape!
More often than not, after these movies were shot the actors quickly lost their figures because they couldn’t (and weren’t expected to) keep up the torrid pace of exercise and dieting that they had stuck with for months months.
What does this mean for you? The best analogy I could come up with involves playing a game like World of Warcraft or Everquest. You know how you make your character, and then you spend hours and hours and hours leveling up, getting better stuff, fighting tougher enemies, etc? It takes forever, but you have a blast doing it and you really get that sense of accomplishment when you make it to the highest level. There’s always going to be people that have more time to play than you do, or have better resources, but you’re still happy because you’re playing with friends, you’re doing it at your own pace, and you have a life outside of the game (hopefully).
Then there are powerlevelers: these guys already started out ahead and spent lots of money to ‘twink’ their characters, making them far more powerful than if they were playing legitimately. Hell, sometimes they even pay other people to level their characters for them. They get to the highest level in record time and can probably kick your guy’s ass. You know what? Screw those guys. You made it to the top while having a job, you did it legitimately, and you’re having fun with it. That’s what’s important.
Fitness is no different. If you really want to look like King Leonidas, go for it. Just know that it might take you a really freaking long time to get there because you simply can’t dedicate eight hours a day to being in shape. I think it’s okay with setting lofty goals because you’re more likely to bust your ass to achieve them. If you say you want to lose 5 lbs, you’ll half-ass it because “hey, it’s only 5 lbs.” However, if you say you want to lose 80 lbs, cut your body fat percentage, and run a marathon, then you’ll make some serious changes to your lifestyle to make it happen. Have the lofty goals, but pair them with realistic expectations. If you’re a 300 lb 6ft 5inch guy, looking like Brad Pitt in Fight Club probably won’t happen. Pick somebody with a similar body type to yours, and then set your goals from there. Once you know how you want to look like, factor in what you can actually get accomplished while still living your life.
Don’t know what your goals should be or how long it should take you to accomplish them? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll gladly answer any questions you have. Also, If you have any requests on future movie hero-workouts, post a comment or email me.
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:
7:30pm: 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.
In today’s “How to Look Like A Superhero,” we’ll be checking out Gerard Butler’s routine in the movie, “300.”
“Madness? THIS IS SPARTA!” screams King Leonidas before he kicks a Persian messenger into a 10,000 pit that happens to exist on the edge of town. Easily one of the most testosterone-filled, uber gory, macho films ever created, 300 took the world by storm, suddenly making it okay to walk around in a loin cloth and yell things at people.
You’ve watched the movie, and you say to yourself in between your 3rd and 4th donut, “yeah, I want to look like that guy.” Well Skippy, here’s your chance to shine. To prepare for this role, Gerard Butler went through some of the most physically demanding training of any actor in recent memory to look like the true King of Sparta. Similar to Daniel Craig’s training for Casino Royale, Gerard went through many different circuits and unusual exercises to build terrifying amounts of lean muscle and destroy any body fat on him. By the time the movie started shooting, King Leonidas was one bad mofo you did NOT want to **** with. Gerard had to make three significant changes to his life during the four months getting ready for 300: his diet, his exercise routine, and his mentality. Yeah, not only did the guy have to eat like a warrior and train like a warrior, but he had to think like one too.
To accomplish the monumental task of becoming a Spartan King, Gerard tapped Mark Twight, a world-class mountain climber, who insisted on training like your life depended on it. He also kept his usual personal trainer, and often trained with both on a daily basis. After weight training, and circuit training, he’d go and do training with all the stunt/sword/spear trainers and work on his fight choreography, and then go practice the moves after he learned. When it’s all added up, Gerard often trained for six hours a day, for more than four straight months. Gerard would even lift weights in between individual shots to build up the lactic acid in his muscles and puff up their size (blog post coming on this soon). Personally, I think six hours a day is way too much training, and having two trainers is overkill, but it worked for Gerard and I won’t doubt the man with these results. He literally devoted his life to the physicality of the role, and it shows.
Back to the routine: rather than doing individual muscle group exercises every day, Gerard did exercises and routines that literally beat the crap out of him. Flipping massive tires, sprinting while being tied to a bungee cord, olympic ring exercises, and other unconventional exercises worked out his entire body and kept his muscles guessing, shocking them into continual growth and development. Think bootcamp style training, where weights and cardio and mixed in together and done without breaks. If it sounds miserable, it’s because it is miserable…and I mean that in the best way possible.
Instead of doing regular pushups, he would put his feet on a bench, and extend out while supporting himself on just two olympic rings hanging from the ceiling. Not only would his body weight cause the rings to swing all over the place, but he would do crazy amounts of pushups on the rings, working every single fiber in his chest, triceps, and shoulders.
By flipping tires, Gerard would get an intense lower body, lower back, and shoulder work out.
Doing pull ups until his arms fell off. Pull ups will work every muscle in your back, biceps, and forearms.
Noticing a pattern? Instead of training with machines or barbells, Gerard wanted to train like a warrior, flipping over heavy objects, doing pull ups with his body weight, etc. To look like a warrior, you must train like one. Let’s talk about the famous 300 challenge (you can read more about it here), where you have to try and complete 300 reps of various exercises as quickly as possible:
25 pull ups
50 dead lifts with 135 lbs
50 box jumps
50 floor wipes – maybe the worst thing ever.
50 clean-and-presses with a 36lb kettle bell
25 more pull ups
Each actor on the movie’s goal was to finish this circuit as quickly as possible. One guy did it in approximately 18 minutes. My first time trying this “test,” it took me an hour and a half and I wanted to die. I’ll be trying it again soon.
Now, for you mere mortals, you can make great strides in the gym without exercising for six hours a day. In fact, I’d say that unless you’re a genetic freak or on steroids, this amount of training will most likely do more harm than good. I’m guessing that Gerard’s training varied from cardio, to strength, to flexibility, to power, to stability. I guarantee Gerard wasn’t working each muscle group every single day, because his muscles need time to recover! That’s when the real growth happens: on your days off. If you work your muscles in different ways, from different angles, with different goals each day (speed, strength, agility, etc.) you can work out like crazy and still see crazy results. Gerard, know that I’m not calling you crazy. Please don’t hurt me. I’m a big fan of Sparta.
I’ve scoured the internet looking for Gerard’s diet to prepare for this role, and I simply couldn’t find it. However, after studying similar routines and consulting various sources, I’m pretty confident I can guesstimate what he ate on a daily basis. To build muscle, cut body fat, and have enough energy to train for six hours a day, he had to eat:
Insane amounts of protein (which can be found in eggs, grilled chicken, tuna and other fish, steak, protein shakes, and protein bars),
Complex carbohydrates – oats, potatoes, multi-grain pasta, brown rice, eaten with his first few meals of the day to give him the energy to get through these grueling workouts.
Limit carbs in the afternoons and evenings – because metabolisms slow down at the end of the day, and these carbs would then be stored as fat. Some disagree with this, so feel free to take it or leave it.
Lots of fruits and vegetables.
Water. LOTS of water.
Because he needed to not only be strong but have an extremely low body fat percentage, Gerard probably cut out nearly anything from his diet that wasn’t efficient. His body fat had to be in the single digits so you could see all the hard work he put in the gym. (Read here to find out the truth about your abs). To keep the energy levels constant, and keep enough protein in his system to constantly rebuild all his muscles after exercise, he would have to eat between 5 and 8 meals a day, spread out every 2 or 3 hours. Each meal would contain at least 30 grams of protein, a vegetable or two, some complex carbs, and water. Obviously this takes a lot of fine-tuning to ensure maximum muscle building and energy refueling without eating too much to build fat. It’s a science. Gerard treated his body like a machine and did everything possible to operate it as efficiently as possible.
Here’s a video discussing his role as King Leonidas and the training necessary to make it happen:
I’ll leave you with one of the most inspiring quotes I’ve read from Gerard about this training regiment: “You know that every bead of sweat falling off your head, every weight you’ve pumped — the history of that is all in your eyes,” says Butler of his dedication. “That was a great thing, to put on that cape and put on that helmet, and not have to think, Shit, I should have trained more.”
“Instead, I was standing there feeling like a lion.”
Here’ the 300 trailer, just to get you pumped up for the rest of the day.
For part 2 in the “Look like a Superhero” series, we’ll be taking a look at Daniel Craig for his role in Casino Royale.
So, you want to look like James Bond huh? Daniel Craig, the most bad-ass 00-agent since Sean Connery, spent months with a personal trainer turning himself into a 007 killing machine. Not surprisingly, he completely changed his life for this movie: working out five days a week, eating almost exclusively healthy food, and having a personal trainer and dietitian to keep him in line. Unlike Ryan Reynolds in Blade 3, Daniel didn’t have to add tons of weight, he needed to lose weight, build muscle, and get cut.
Daniel took a different approach to fitness compared to other celebrity routines. While some people concentrate on one muscle group per day, working it only once a week, Daniel often did full body circuits, supercharging his heart rate and building muscle and endurance at the same time. Rather than trying to look like a perfectly sculpted pretty boy, he wanted to look like a guy that could sprint for 3 miles, lift up a car, rip your head off, and then sleep with your supermodel girlfriend. It’s not a bad look to go for, I guess. If you’re into that kind of thing.
Before we get to the workout, let’s talk diet. If you want to look like you could kill a man with your bare hands, you won’t get there pounding a 2 liter of Mountain Dew and eating Ho-Hos. Like everything else I’ve been preaching, your diet will account for at least 80% of your successes or failures. Here’s an analogy: you think James puts REGULAR gasoline in that Aston Martin? Hell no. Premium! Your body is the same way. If you want to get the most out of your routines, you want to give your body the best fuel possible at all times.
First and foremost, Daniel Craig gave up smoking. There was no compromise on this one. Secondly, he was allowed to drink, but only on Friday nights and Saturdays. If you think he’d mix some protein powder into those shaken Martinis, it doesn’t work. Drinking dehydrates you, and your body needs that hydration to use the protein to rebuild your muscles. Keep this in mind next time you think it’d be smart to make a margarita protein shake.
Daniel also cut out all the crap from his diet, ate 5-6 times a day, cut out carbs in the afternoon and evenings, ate lots of vegetables and fruits, and concentrated on eating high quality protein (fish, eggs, chicken, protein shakes, etc.) “Wow that doesn’t sound like any fun,” you might be thinking. That’s because it’s not fun. It’s boring and you have to give up a lot of the stuff you might like to eat. Face the facts: if you want to look like a 00 agent, you’re going to have to completely change how you eat, make sacrifices, and stick to a strict diet.
Here is a typical day for Daniel on his diet (From Squidoo):
Breakfast: 2 Poached Eggs and 2 pieces of Toast
Snack: Protein Shake -or- fruits and Nuts
Lunch: Meat or Fish with small amount of Brown Rice -or- Baked Potato
Snack: Protein Shake -or- Yogurt with some Nuts
Dinner: Meat -or- Fish with some type of Leafy Green Vegetables like Salad, Spinach, or Broccoli.
Because Daniel was more concerned with cutting body fat while building muscle, his carb intake was very low. Also, the guy’s 40 (damn!), which means he has a slower metabolism; if you’re 20, skinny as a rail, and trying to look like James Bond, you’re going to want to eat WAY more complex carbs. If you’re on the bigger side of the spectrum and trying to slim down…this diet will work for you.
Please know that Daniel was training with a professional on a daily basis (millions of dollars certainly help). If you don’t have the luxury of a trainer, make sure each exercise is done with light weights until you have the form down PERFECTLY. Heavy weights + bad form = injury, lost time, and no supermodels. Suck.
I’ve seen all kinds of routines all over the internet when it comes to what Daniel Craig actually did for his workout. Honestly, I don’t care which one is right, because they all have the same basic principle. The most reputable source I found was Men’s Health, so that’s the one I’ll analyze here. According to their site, Daniel would do weight training Monday through Friday, and then some light cardio and stretching on Saturday and Sunday. Nowhere on the site does it mention seducing attractive women, but I imagine this is built into his cardio on the weekends (zing!).
Some workout routines (like Ryan Reynold’s from Blade) followed a “one muscle group per day” routine. Daniel instead took the full-body route on Mondays and Fridays, working out his entire body, doing sets back to back, limiting rest between sets, and building cardio right INTO his weight training. You might wonder why a guy who’s trying to trim down wouldn’t do more cardio. The lack of straight cardio is important for these two reasons:
DC wanted to look muscular and cut, not lean. If he just did cardio, he’d look like a marathon runner. Where’s the intimidation there?
The higher percentage of lean muscle you have, the faster your metabolism works. You know how some people complain about slow metabolisms? I know a lot of it has to do with genetics, but I bet they don’t do any sort of weight training either. If you’re trying to cut your weight, doing just cardio will only get you so far. Weight training builds lean muscle, which speeds up your metabolism, which will help you lose even more weight.
Let’s take a look at his full body circuit routine on Mondays and Fridays, from Men’s Health. On this day, Daniel would do 10 reps of each exercise and then move immediately onto the next exercise and do 10 reps, then move onto the next one. He would do three complete circuits of these exercises, minimizing rest. If you don’t know some of these exercises, you can read about them on the MH website.
Clean and Press
Weighted Knee Raise
Incline Push up
Now, the reason he can do these exercises back to back to back is because they work different muscle groups. When you do a pull up, you use your back and biceps. For an incline push up, you use primarily your chest, shoulders and triceps..which means you can do these two exercises back-to-back without overexerting yourself. Personally, I might rearrange these exercises slightly, splitting up the push ups and dips, because they both work your chest, shoulders, and triceps (although in different capacities). Of course, I don’t look like James Bond (YET), so I’ll leave the routine planning up to his trainers. Here is the rest of his schedule; you can click on each day to see the specific exercises:
On each of these days, Daniel would work out just the muscles in the group he was isolating. For each exercise, he would complete 4 sets of 10 reps. Again, if it were up to me, I would have started with 12 reps, and increased weight each time while decreasing the reps in each set (12, 10, 8, 6), but I’m not the one with the golden gun (GET IT? I’m on a roll). I’m a big fan of this routine because it works the cardio right into his weight training. Nothing bores me more than running long distances, or even worse, running on a treadmill. By lifting weights in quick succession with minimal rest between sets and exercises, you can get a great cardio workout while burning fat and building muscle at the same time.
Here’s an interview with Daniel Craig talking about his diet for Casino Royale:
Long story short: you can look like this at age 40 if you have a lot of money, a personal trainer, a diet coach, great genetics, and five days a week to train. If you don’t have those things, you can still get the Bond look; it just might take you longer than it took Daniel Craig. I really want to go watch Casino Royale now.
For part 1 in the “look like a superhero” series, we’ll be taking a look at Ryan Reynolds for his role in Blade 3.
So you want to look like Ryan Reynolds in Blade 3 huh? Sure he might be a jackass, and most likely full of himself…but DAMN the man is cut. First and foremost, let’s get a few things out of the way: RR was already in decent shape and had a low body fat percentage before he started his six months of training for Blade 3. Secondly, he has great genetics, he got paid insane amounts of money for this role, and he had a personal trainer and dietitian to keep him on track. I guess when you don’t have a day job or kids, working out for 3 hours and eating 8 meals a day is actually an option. Keep this in mind when you don’t look like this overnight.
As a guy who was already in great shape, had a low percentage of body fat, and only had to worry about adding lean muscle, Ryan only had to worry about adding good weight and cutting the little fat he had. You can see where this is going: Ryan was already in shape and had to get to an almost unhealthy body fat percentage for this role. As soon as the role was done, he took a break, because training this much was beyond crazy.
I’m going to start with the diet first, because it is absolutely the most important thing. I worked out for YEARS and couldn’t put on any weight; it wasn’t until I fixed my diet and I got big almost overnight. Ryan ate right and it shows. His diet consisted of eating between 6 and 8 meals a day, every 2 hours, with a lot of protein and complex carbohydrates in throughout the day and just protein (no carbs) after 8pm. He also ate a lot of protein and carbs immediately after his workouts to promote growth; the carbs to refuel his body so the protein can be recruited by the body to JUST BUILD MUSCLE. Where did he get all that protein? A lot of eggs, chicken, steak, protein bars, and protein shakes. For his carbs, he ate a lot of oatmeal! Good ole fashioned oatmeal (without added sugar). Sounds boring? It’s because it IS BORING. Ryan had it down to a science and treated his body like a machine, getting the exact amount of nutrients necessary to gain mostly muscle and not fat. My guess is that he probably spent the first four months putting on 15 lbs (10 of which is muscle, 5 of which is fat), and then the last two months cutting the fat, leaving just the muscle. If you’re going to gain weight, this is how it’ll happen.
I’ve found a few different places where it lists a typical day for Ryan. From sixpackabs.com:
Breakfast: 2 eggs, some “good” fat like a spoon of almond butter or slice of avocado, and 1 cup of oatmeal with applesauce
Midmorning snack: protein bar
Lunch: albacore tuna wrap or chicken and salad
Mid-afternoon snack: protein shake (whey and water), protein bar, or apple and almonds
Dinner: broiled fish or chicken, brown rice, vegetables, and salad
Evening Snack: protein shake
Not only did Ryan eat 8 meals a day, but he also took supplements to help him get there. No, not steroids. He did take creatine (a BIG boost for building muscle), L-glutamine, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), whey protein powder, and a multivitamin. Three years ago, when I put on 18 lbs. in 30 days, I was taking a meal replacement supplement that had creatine in it, so I can attest to the fact that it does in fact work. However, I stopped using it since and have managed to gain plenty of healthy weight without it. I can tell you that it does work, I just choose not to take it.
Ryan worked out for probably 3 hours a day to prepare for this role. Now, that’s not three hours of weight training, but weight training and fight training and stuff like that. However, he did do some form of weight training six days a week. Ryan would work out a specific body part to almost absolute failure each day. Example: Chest on Monday, Legs on Tuesday, Back on Wednesday, Shoulders on Thursday, Arms on Friday. When I say failure, I mean FAILURE: he would absolutely destroy his chest on Monday, and then not work it again until the following Monday. To get maximum muscle building potential, Ryan would keep the number of reps in his sets between 6 and 12. (Why between 6 and 12 reps? Read here).
I don’t have his specific routine but I can guess his chest routine: Bench press (bar or dumbbells): 12 reps at a certain weight, wait only 1 minute, add weight, do 10 reps, wait 1 minute, add weight and do 8 reps, wait 1 minute, add weight and do 6 reps. Then repeat this with incline dumbbell flys (same structure of increasing weight, wait, and reps). Then repeat with another chest exercise until your body physically cannot lift anything. Want to get more complex? Superset some of these exercises with each other. Make sure you have a spotter for each exercise, because you want to struggle with your last few reps. If you can do it without a trainer, you should be probably be lifting heavier weights. A warning: You will be sore. Very sore. Which is why you won’t work that muscle group again for another week.
Now, He also exercised his abs religiously, and did so by allegedly doing between 500 and 1000 situps to start each workout. GOOD LORD. Personally, I don’t have time to do 1000 situps. Also, I don’t want to do 1000 sit ups! Eff that. I believe your abdominal muscles need rest in between workouts like every other muscle (although the do recover faster than other muscles, some say), so I would recommend giving yourself at least a day off in between ab exercise days. As for how to do the workout, once you can do more that 25 sit-ups at a time, doing MORE and MORE of them is a waste of time. I’d recommend adding weight (doing sit ups on a ball, with a 25 lbs plate on your chest, for example) instead of adding reps. Your workout stays the same length of time, you just up the intensity.
RR was already in great shape, and did NOT want to lose any weight, he needed to gain 10-15 lbs. of muscle. Because he was doing intensive fight training along with the weight training, cardio was definitely not something that would not be beneficial for him. By exercising daily, and doing the exercise and routines that I talked about above, Ryan was able to work his cardio INTO his weight training by minimizing downtime between sets.
Here is a training video from the set of Blade 3:
Blade 3 Training Video
So there you have it. Just think, if you have millions of dollars, great genetics, and all the time in the world to train, of COURSE you can look like this. If you don’t have those things, you just have to make do with what you have. I don’t have the time to train 3 hours a day and I don’t have somebody to prepare my meals, but I’ve managed to go from 173 lbs to 184 lbs. (keeping my body fat percentage at 9%) working out just 3 hours a week over the past two months. You can read about my current routine here. Once I get to 185 lbs, my goal weight, I’m going to REALLY analyze my diet, add in some extra sprints, and maintain my weight while decreasing my body fat. I don’t think I’ll be able to get down to 3% like Van Wilder here, which is fine. I work a full time job and I run this blog, so I don’t have the time or resources to get there. Ryan didn’t even maintain that level of fitness after the movie finished shooting, because THAT LEVEL OF FITNESS IS CRAZY! I’m sure he was glad to have his life back afterward.
My recommendation – read this story for entertainment, and then find a way to pick and chose parts of it that can help you become who you want to be.Find a way to be in shape, and be happy with that level of fitness.
Any questions regarding this routine leave a comment and I’ll certainly help out.