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24 January 2013

Dude, So and So Got SO Fucking Jacked For That Movie: Hugh Jackman


In previous installments of this series, we've covered guys like Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, and Chris Hemsworth, who were all athletes prior to getting into acting.  This gave them a base from which they could draw in order to pack on mass, since they were all reasonably well built guys to start.  None of their pronounced weight gains were easy, of course, as it's about as easy to pack on 20 lbs of fat free mass in few months as it is for a Biggest Loser contestant to resist diving into a box of stale doughnuts they see in the trash.  Their transformations were, however, likely far easier than they would be for, say, a musical theater actor who's been tasked with playing a fantastically muscular, pissed off, hirsute superhero that pretty much every guy who's ever read comics fucking loves.  As I've stated before, I'm not all that happy with the fact that a 6'3", 210 lb actor is playing a role for a character who's noted for being a full foot shorter at the same weight, but there's really only been one guy in history who could have played him, and his heyday is long past. Franco Columbo would have been physically would have been physically perfect for playing Wolverine, but he recently turned 71 and would have looked pretty fucking ridiculous playing a man who never ages, especially since Franco at 71 is a far cry from Franco at 40.  Syvester Stallone, Franco is unfortunately not- apparently only Dave Draper and Sly can look phenomenal into their twilight years.


Having failed to secure a time machine to snag Franco off the stage of the 1981 Olympia, the director of X-Men decided to do the next best thing- he'd have an Australian musical theater actor with no sports experience or visible musculature to play a jacked, shaggy, cantankerous dwarf from Canada. Though I cannot imagine how one would make that logical leap in their minds, director Bryan Singer decided to cast a skinny Aussie, rather than attempt to feed Tom Cruise steroids and GH for a year and chain him to a squat rack, which probably would have been most directors' initial idea.  Nevertheless, Singer pulled a reverse Jack Reacher (in which 5'6" Cruise plays a 6'5", 250 lb., blond haired, blue eyed terror of a former Army MP)

Uh... Wolverine?

Shockingly, Jackman, whose background prior to X-Men pretty much consisted of the musical Oklahoma, managed to pull off playing Wolverine.  When he first hit the screen as such, he weighed about 180 lbs, somewhat heavier than his natural bodyweight, but a far cry from the nearly 300 lbs of rip he probably should have weighed.  He went on to get leaner and put on 30 more pounds, a transformation that might be described as Kafkaesque if you simply look at Jackman in Oklahoma and then his current incarnation in The Wolverine, but his physique is actually the product of over a decade of lifting.  As such, if you're looking for a quick fix workout for how Jackman got big and lean, you're shit out of luck- it doesn't exist.  Instead, this is a story of one man's journey from being a slightly built member of the musical theater to a growling, jacked badass who now gets considered for any and all action movie roles.

The X-Men of my youth had far more of the above than the slow-paced teen drama the movies represented.

Though most of us would likely rather put the horrid X-Men movie series out of our minds, given that they basically took a massive steaming shit on our childhoods, Jackman initially started working out for his role as Wolverine in 1999, when hewas initially cast as the superhero.  Interestingly, all I could find in reference to Jackman's initial workout were mentions in US Weekly and People magazine of yoga as the source of Jackman's physique.  This would explain why Jackman wore a leather costume throughout the X-Men rather than his trademark yellow and blue or brown and tan bodysuits, I suppose, but doesn't tell the entire story.


Though Jackman was hitting the gym for the first two X-Men movies, his physique wasn't really much about which to write home about, and his workouts therefore wouldn't be all that interesting anyway.  He apparently began with far less intense workouts than he currently uses, focusing just on gaining some bulk, as his physique prior to the X-Men series could only have been described as "fucking skinny".  For those of you weeping and wailing like Honey Boo-Boo after she's been denied her fifth slice of cake for the day while lamenting your self-described status as a "hard gainer", get your fucking chin up.  Jackman's personal trainer, who's been with him since Jackman initially entered Hollywood, said Jackman was so skinny when they first started training together that his nickname around the gym was "Chicken Legs", and that he considers Jackman's physique his greatest accomplishment if for no other reason than Jackman essentially started with no muscle and just keeps getting more jacked as he gets older (Get Ripped).

Here, you can see his progression from the first to the third installment in the series:
X-Men.  He's looking like he's seen the inside of a gym and a chicken breast or two.

X2.  Dialing it in a bit.

X3- Finally starting to look a little like Wolverine.

Jackman really started lifting when preparing for the Brett Ratner travesty that was X-Men: The Last Stand.  Perhaps in an effort to undo the havoc that Ratner was preparing to wreck on the franchise, Jackman hit the gym extra hard for the film, packing on a considerable amount of mass, and it was at that point that he first benched 315 and leg pressed 1000 lbs.  According to Jackman, he wasn't really mentally prepared to physically push himself like that and "pretty much shat [himself]" in the process of achieving the latter (Zimmerman). At that point, Jackman was lifting for an hour and a half a day (60 minutes of lifting preceded by a ten minute warmup and ended by 20 minutes of cardio), five days a week, listening to a lot of metal, and bumping up his calories by a thousand per day to get bigger.  He hit 190 lbs, which is not terrifically huge for a guy who's 6'3", but seems pretty fucking big for Jackman, by alternating three week periods of heavy weights with longer rests, the a period of lighter weights with short rests, and then a period of fast, explosive lifting.  By doing this, Jackman was able to stay lean and put on size incrementally.  According to Jackman, pretty much all he did was free weights, and focused heavily on "bench-press variations, barbell lunges, light squats, and leg presses, among other staples" (Zimmerman).


Interestingly, Jackman achieved this physique with a mentality that runs entirely contrary to most of what you see on the internet and discussed in gyms- he never set any hard-and-fast goals.  I've mentioned the utility of doing this before (that public goal-setting is a recipe for disaster), but it's always nice to see a person with a similar take on matters.  Jackman saw performing certain actions, rather than hitting certain numbers, as the events that marked his success.  As such, he saw the fact that he screamed at his spotter to get the fuck away from the bar, rather than asking for help when struggling with his 315 bench, as his real milestone.
"That's Jackman's primary driver: Instead of setting goals, seek defining moments. Those are the real tests, because you have to be willing to fail in a pressure situation in front of other people. "That fear holds all of us back," Jackman says. "And that's the toughest thing about aging. With age, you see people fail more. You see yourself fail more. How do you keep that fearlessness of a kid? You keep going" (Zimmerman).  
Not the look of a man who requires a spotter.

Jackman clearly has his shit together more than your average gym member, and is capable of pushing himself simply because he knows that if you're not progressing, you're regressing.
"I don't set goals in life," he says. "In this country, people are all about goal setting. And I concede, to a point, how it can help you get going. But we limit ourselves with goals. We have far more ability than we give ourselves credit for. You see that in people under pressure. How does someone run a 100-meter race at the Olympics? When it's once every 4 years, with everything they've done leading to that? It can't just be adrenaline." Then he nods and smiles. "Maybe it's just the mind getting out of the way" (Zimmerman)


By the time X-Men Origins: Wolverine rolled around in 2009, Jackman had already been hitting the gym for ten years.  Granted, he'd been doing it with varying intensity, as Kate and Leopold didn't really require him to stomp around saddled with 20 lbs of extra muscle, but he knew his way around the gym at this point.  According to one of his interviews, Jackman trains year round in preparation for future physical roles like Wolverine, but if he doesn't have to transform into the adamantium-boned mutant berserker, he lets his diet slip a little- as an Aussie, the man needs beer in his life or he'll wither away and die.  Frankly, I think that's one of the most important things to bear in mind when you see him step onscreen this month- he's been getting paid to lift for 13 years and he's done it consistently over that period.  Few people ever accomplish that sort of feat, and even fewer diet hard enough to make their consistency noticeable to the random passer by.  

Jackman likely never hears the words "Do you even lift?" on the beach, unless he's walking past some heavyweight "powerlifters" who are flabbily hitting on the chicks around them.  Yes, "flabbily" is a word- I just invented it.

To ensure he wouldn't skip workouts due to his prolific movie-making schedule, Jackman's been dragging his happy ass out of bed at 4AM to train for years, making sure he gets his lift in prior to filming.  That way, Jackman has no excuses- there are no skipped workouts, no gaps in his routine, and no justifications for failure- there's just a steady physical progression through a time of his life wherein most people cultivate a beer belly and lose whatever muscle mass they managed to accrue throughout their youth.  It's this that has probably contributed most to his constant improvement, as you could hardly do anything but get bigger, stronger, and leaner if you've been training and dieting consistently for a decade.  His physique didn't just appear in a few short weeks, and it wasn't the product of a single workout- it's the product of consistent and brutal workouts designed to make him fucking awesome.


By the time the above picture was taken, Jackman was benching 315 for reps, and he'd changed his workout again so that it was separated into two six-week periods over five months of intense training.  Jackman kept this program for The Wolverine, getting even bigger and more ripped so that he's now 210 lbs of shred.

No one said he was fucking huge, but the simpering bitches on messageboards yammering on about the fact that he isn't that big are guaranteed to be less muscular, fatter, and likely weaker than Jackman.

In the first phase, Jackman just lifts as much weight as he can, maxing frequently and going bananas trying to hit bigger numbers.  He generally hits an exercise with a pyramid rep scheme, going to failure on the last rep of each set (Jones, Wolverine).  Additionally, Jackman supersets compound exercises with an isolation exercise on every set in an effort to increase the total workload performed in a given period of time, and to get as lean and defined as possible.  For instance, he supersets bench press with flies, or deadlifts with pullups, even when he's trying to set PRs (Get Ripped).  His set/rep scheme looks like this in phase one:

Set 1: 8 reps (120 secs rest) 
Set 2: 6 reps (120 secs rest) 
Set 3: 4 reps (120 secs rest) 
Bonus set: 1 rep max with a spotter 



The second phase of Jackman's routine is a tempo phase, in which Jackman focuses on the negative portion of each movement.  He performs a three or four second negative, then explodes into the concentric portion, which he completes as quickly as possible.  This is a higher rep phase in which he drops his rest periods in an effort to burn off fat like he's a fireman burning a stack of encyclopedias in Fahrenheit 451 (Ibid).  As before, Jackman supersets big movements with isolation movements, jamming as much volume into every 60 minute workout as he can.  His rep scheme, then, looked like this:


Set 1: 10-14 reps (60 secs rest) 
Set 2: 10-14 reps (60 secs rest) 
Set 3: 10-14 reps (60 secs rest) 
Set 4: 10-14 reps (60 secs rest)




Just as he did for his previous films, Jackman trained five days a week for The Wolverine with a typical bodypart split, utilized very short, ultra intense interval training he described as "the worst 7 minutes of your life" (Jones, MH interviews) for cardio- which I assume means he does three seven minute bursts of intense cardio, as his cardio sessions last 20 minutes- and added a bootcamp workout on Fridays to speed fat loss even more (Moore).  Saturdays were reserved for a "fun" workout, in which he'd play tennis, box, or do whatever other physical activity he wanted (Ibid).  That, coupled with the intensity he brought to the role and the gym, helped him attain a physique of which most only dream.


Jackman's diet for The Wolverine actually arose out of advice from Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (Humphreys), a man who clearly knows how to dial in his diet.  I suppose in an homage to The Rock's upcoming bodybuilding flick, the diet he recommended was pretty much standard bodybuilder rations- lean meats (Jackman's killed "more chickens than [he] cares to count" (Ibid)), vegetables, and low glycemic carbs- every two to three hours.  Though I thought it was simply the fare of pauper children in Dickens' novels, Jackman ate porridge in the mornings.  As it turns out, however, porridge is just oatmeal- sadly making this seemingly exotic (to Americans) food just more standard bodybuilder food.  During lunch he'd eat either brown rice or yams, and would cut out carbs after 3PM.  According to Jackman, cutting out carbs by three will lead to a weight loss of 10 lbs in the first month, which seems incredibly ambitious to me but may include water weight (Jones, Nutrition).  He varied his caloric range between 6,000 during the bulking phase and 3,500 during his cutting phase, but keeps his protein at a minimum of 1.3g per pound of bodyweight.  Finally, he does his best to remain lean throughout both phases "so peak condition is a workout tweak, not a total overhaul. 'It’s hard to build up from scratch,' says Jackman. 'Staying in the ballpark makes it a lot easier.'"(Jones, Wolverine).  That's advice worth following, because most people who go through distinct bulking and cutting phases seem to gradually get fatter over time, as they're unwilling to put in the work necessary to really lean out after their bulk phase.


Thus, we have the transformation of a musical theater actor whose nickname 20 years ago was "chicken legs" into a 43 year old, 210 lb, ripped and vascular dude who benches 315 for reps and about whom your girlfriend, wife, or boyfriend likely fantasizes frequently.  Just as the other actors I've profiled, Jackman's routine is nothing particularly Earth-shattering, but it drives home the point for the umpteenth time that your routine is not nearly as important as the effort you put into it, provided your diet is tighter than a non-Catholic ten year old boy's butthole and your training volume is fairly high.  The reason you don't look as good as Jackman isn't drugs, his schedule, or any of the other excuses you'd like to ascribe your failure to- it's because you're not trying hard enough.

Get after it, motherfuckers.  Wolverine said so.



Sources:
Bullman, Brian.  Hugh Jackman Builds Mass.   Bodybuilding.com.  20 Feb 2009.  Web.  22 Jan 2013.  http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/hugh_jackman_6_day_workout.htm

Exclusive Hugh Jackman Wolverine Workout: Get Ripped like Hugh Jackman.  Men's Fitness.  Web.  23 Jan 2013.  http://www.mensfitness.co.uk/exercise/celebrity_bodies/2112/exclusive_hugh_jackman_wolverine_workout.html

Hugh Jackman: Actor.  People Magazine.  14 May 2001.  Web.  22 Jan 2013.  http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20134364,00.html

Humphreys, David.   Here’s a 22-Minute-Long Q & A With Hugh Jackman and Director James Mangold.  MovieTime.  30 Oct 2012.  Web.  23 Jan 2013.  http://blogs.movietimetv.ca/heres-a-22-minute-long-q-a-with-hugh-jackman-and-director-james-mangold/

Jones, Dan.  Hugh Jackman's Nutrition and Mentality Tips.  Men's Health UK.  2012.  Web.  23 Jan 2013.  http://www.menshealth.co.uk/food-nutrition/muscle-foods/hugh-jackman-nutrition

Jones, Dan.  Hugh Jackman's Wolverine Workout.  Men's Health UK.  2012.  Web.  23 Jan 2013.  http://www.menshealth.co.uk/building-muscle/get-big/hugh-jackman-wolverine-workout

Jones, Dan.  MH Interview: Hugh Jackman.  Men's Health UK. 2012.  Web.  23 Jan 2013.  http://www.menshealth.co.uk/living/men/hugh-jackman-interview

Lee, Janet.  How The Stars Shape Up.  US Weekly.  1 May 2001.  Web. 22 Jan 2013.  http://www.geocities.com/hollywood/4616/us0501a.html

Moore, Rusty.  Hugh Jackman's Wolverine Workout Plan.  Squiddoo.  Web.  22 Jan 2013.  http://www.squidoo.com/hugh-jackman-workout

Zimmerman, Mike.  Hugh Jackman's Wolverine Workout.  Men's Health.  16 May 2006.  Web.  22 Jan 2013.   http://www.menshealth.com/fitness/hugh-jackmans-workout-plan#ixzz2Iiq2Y29g

Zimmerman, Mike.  The Hugh Jackman Workout: The X-Factor.  Men's Health.  2006.  Web.  23 Jan 2013.  http://www.menshealth.com/celebrity-fitness/hugh-jackman-workout

8 comments :

  1. Heres a link to the 60 minutes where hes gettin swole. Skip forward to the 10minute-ish mark and you'll see him lookin like a beast. Nice writeup Jamie.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50136709n

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  2. He used to train at the same gym I did in the early 2000's, a Holmes Place gym in London, England.

    From what I remember he always had a personal trainer and done circuits of light to moderate weights i.e supersets with very short rest periods.

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  3. 6,000 calories and no carbs after 3 pm? He must have eaten a fuckton of food.

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  4. great write up, curious what do you think about his diet that was posted a few years ago in mensfitness http://www.mensfitness.co.uk/exercise/other/2116/795/exclusive_hugh_jackman_wolverine_meal_plan.html

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  5. I remember being pissy about Hugh Jackman not looking the part when X-Men came out back in the 90s. Eventually I rationalised it that traditionally, Wolverine was a skinny runt and It wasn't until the Jim Lee era that his image changed to be more like a Franco Columbu physique. Fuck all that though. Wolverine was way cooler after Jim Lee than before.

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  6. I read an article when X-Men Origins: Wolverine came out. Liev Schreiber said that he was basically going to wear a "fat suit" but Jackman had him up his protein and workout with him to gain the muscle needed.

    Also, as you mentioned, Jackman now works out all the time as part of his life. I never understood why an actor will put in so much time and energy to get in great shape for a role, and then never workout again unless another role comes by.

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  7. Oh and for the record, I've been using "flabbily" for years, so there.

    ReplyDelete