Jake Gyllenhaal, Southpaw
Gyllenhaal has always been in good shape, but for Southpaw the actor bulked up by gaining a whopping 14kgs and further 6kgs of muscle for the role of a world-champion boxer. For anyone that saw the movie, the physical transformation was staggering as Gyllenhaal certainly not only looked the part, but could throw the punches, too. He ate a lot of carbs during the day and protein at night, but didn’t have to restrict his diet significantly as he was working out so much. After two months of working out for three hours a day, he then began working out for six hours a day as the film neared production. His workouts included three hours of boxing in the morning, and three hours of strength and conditioning, and cardio at night.
The Weinstein Company
Chris Hemsworth, Thor
Hemsworth has made a name for himself as being someone whose life is the epitome of heart and wellness. He’s become the go-to actor for action blockbusters and for good reason, all-year round the actor maintains an impressive physique that puts most transformations to shame. For Thor, Hemsworth hit the gym with trainer and former Navy SEAL Duffy Gaver, who put his body through a rigorous training routine. Hemsworth gained 9kg for the role, gaining the foundation for a physique he’s continued to present for Thor’s recurring roles in The Avengers and Thor: The Dark World.
Marvel Cinematic Universe
Chris Pratt, Guardians Of The Galaxy
Prior to landing his role in Guardians of the Galaxy, Pratt was the loveable goof audiences around the world fell in love with thanks to Parks and Recreation. But the actor lost a shocking 28kgs for the role in just six months. He also trained with Duffy Gaver and worked with nutritionist Phil Goglia to take his caloric intake to just 4,000 calories a day, adding lots of water. As Pratt revealed, “I was peeing all day long, every day. That part was a nightmare.”
After going through the gruelling fitness routine and losing the weight, Pratt has kept it off and continues to sport his new ripped look. He told outlets that he is committed to staying lean, adding “It gave me a sense of absolute control.”
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Paul Rudd, Ant-Man
He has the face of a man who doesn’t age, and now Rudd has the body to match thanks to his role in Ant-Man which saw the beloved actor get into the best shape of his life. He told People that he had never “exercised harder than this for an extended amount of time.” To get in shape for the role, Rudd eliminated carbs and alcohol from his diet for an entire year and centred his workouts around full-body exercises and things like “flips and rolls and all that kind of stuff” that would allow him to master the physicality of his character.
Walt Disney Pictures
Kumail Nanjiani, Eternals
For his upcoming role in Marvel’s Eternals, Nanjiani worked with trainer Grant Roberts and trainer and nutritionists David Higgins “almost every day” to get in the best shape of his life. He went on a “360-degree plan” that included not just physical training, but also looked at his nutrition and recovery to ensure that Nanjiani could keep up his demanding physical training while still avoiding injury.
On Instagram, the actor revealed: “I found out a year ago I was going to be in Marvel’s Eternals and decided I wanted to transform how I looked. I would not have been able to do this if I didn’t have a full year with the best trainers and nutritionists paid for by the biggest studio in the world. I’m glad I look like this, but I also understand why I never did before. It would have been impossible without these resources and time.”
J.K. Simmons, Justice League
J.K. Simmons was barely recognisable when he appeared on screens in Justice League. The actor went on a seriously strict shred program to play Commissioner Gordon in the film, crediting much of his success to his trainer Aaron Williamson, an ex-Marine who has since morphed many a Hollywood A-lister. Williamson told Men’s Fitness, “He wanted to get into the best shape he had ever been in. J.K.’s goal was to adopt a healthy lifestyle and never have to worry again about health issues.”
Christian Bale, American Psycho
In a role centred around the character’s vanity and relentless pursuit of excellence when it comes to physical perfection, Bale achieved what would be his first of many dramatic physical transformations. He emerged on our screens as Patrick Bateman, a man who had in his possession many things, including the kind of gym-honed physique only those who spend their whole day in the gym are able to achieve.
To get in shape for the part, Bale bulked up by adding lots of lean mass to his rather slender frame. He worked out hard and, knowing his leanings towards method acting, we probably wouldn’t put it past him that he could do 1,000 stomach crunches by the start of filming.
Bradley Cooper, The A-Team
Cooper got into incredible shape to play Templeton ‘Faceman’ Peck in The A-Team. He eliminated all sugar, salt and flour from his diet, allowing him to get a ripped mid-section and washboard abs that audiences certainly approved of. According to his trainer, he spent two hours a day in the gym doing strength and core training that included the 3-2-1 Method - three cardio circuits, two strength circuits and one core workout, each for 10 minutes. He was also known to speed-hike up a famous trail in Vancouver known as “The Grind.”
20th Century Studios
Zac Efron, Baywatch
For that ridiculous eight (or was it twelve?) pack we witnessed in Baywatch, Efron enlisted the services of trainer Patrick Murphy four to five times a week for four to six months to prepare. He followed a strict, clean diet that also meant giving up sugars and carbs completely for the duration of this shred. Speaking about the training regime, Efron admitted. “Rather than the typical bodybuilding type of movements I had become accustomed to, Patrick pushed me to my ‘functional’ limits with a very multifaceted style: strength, explosiveness, fast paced, calculated, diverse, and gut-wrenching workouts. It was fun…you never know what he’s going to throw at you the next day.”
Ryan Reynolds, Blade: Trinity
Today, Ryan Reynolds sports an impressive rig that is testament to his fitness routine. But back in his Van Wilder days, he didn’t care about what he ate or drank - and it showed. But when the actor scored a role in Blade: Trinity, he got serious about his training and worked out six days a week, gaining an impressive 12kgs of muscle.
New Line Cinema
Will Smith, Ali
To slip into the shoes of champion boxer Muhammad Ali is no easy feat. Naturally, Will Smith did all he could to ensure his performance was one that looked the part and so he packed on a considerable 16kgs of muscle to look like a real heavy weight boxer. To do so, he hit the gym five days a week for six hours a day for a year, getting into the best shape of his life. His fitness coach Angelo Dundee said of the transformation, “If I’d had Will when he was 20, I could’ve made a champion out of him. He’s got the physical skills and, more importantly, he’s got the heart.” His training was a lot of endurance and functional training, including running through snow wearing boots as well as lots of weight lifting.
Smith said of the role, “Beyond looking like a higher, my goal was to learn to think like a fighter. To do that I had to eat like a fighter, sleep like a fighter, assess situations in life like a fighter…become a fighter.”
20th Century Studios