Join Date: Jun 2013
Hugh Jackman's Workout for his insane The Wolverine Physique
I haven't seen the movie yet (very excited!) but even from the trailers and posters and stills, it is very apparent that this is undoubtedly Hugh Jackman's best physique ever - he himself has been saying this, his director has been saying this, and now even critics and reviews are saying this now that they have seen the film.
Even his trainer thinks so and I found this fantastic interview with him where he discusses his regimen in detail.
Jackman followed an intensive training program designed by Michael Ryan that involved stamina, strength and sheer resolve. Ryan, a highly respected expert in all aspects of fitness training, has a degree in industrial design specializing in the design of exercise equipment. He has worked as Hugh Jackman’s personal trainer on many of his films including X2: X-Men United, X-Men The Last Stand, Van Helsing, Australia, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
When asked how long he has worked with Hugh, Ryan says, “I started working with Hugh back in the late ’80s, believe it or not. Hugh hadn’t started acting at that time. He was a struggling university student studying communications. He came to the gym where I was teaching aerobics and working as a gym floor instructor. I had quite a popular following, but suddenly this new guy on the block (Hugh) arrived and was getting all the attention (laughs). So rather than getting annoyed about that, I became his friend. We instantly became great mates. Hugh was very thin and asked me to train him so I showed him how to get good results in a time-efficient manner. Over the years that followed, we worked out together and hung out together a lot. And of course, he started acting and became a great actor. We have remained good friends over the years. He was the best man at my wedding, so we’re very close as you can imagine.”
When asked how he trained Jackman, Ryan says, “The first thing I should point out is that Hugh never stops training. He always trains, not just when he needs to look a certain way for a specific role. He always begins from a solid base of fitness and strength. He never loses his muscle mass, which means we can build on that foundation very quickly. Also when we are working here in Australia we use a ‘DEXA-scan’, which is a bit like an x-ray. It enables you to see your skeleton. It accurately measures muscle, fat, hydration, and bone density and it only takes three minutes to scan the body. I’ve used that with Hugh over the past six years and it’s an absolute benchmark for measurements. So I can track what we’ve achieved and what differences there are right down to each body part. I can tell you if his left leg is slightly bigger than his right leg, or if his right bicep needs a bit of work. This scan allows me to see all of these details, but the ultimate measurement is the ratio of body fat to muscle. We are able to track that and refine everything accordingly in our workouts.
“You have to be scientific so that there’s no guesswork. A lot of people judge how fit they are by how they look in the mirror and while that is relevant, it’s better to have an accurate measure. Also because Hugh and I are very competitive, we both have our scans at the same time. We joke about who is going to get the best results and who’s going to be depressed at the end of it (laughs). After Hugh’s scan for The Wolverine, he saw that he had more muscle than he’s ever had in his life and less body fat. His confidence level went through the roof. Hugh looks amazing in the film, he is so vascular it is quite extraordinary. I call him Spaghetti Biceps. I’ve watched him over the years become more and more vascular. The more the body trains over the years, the more it continues to improve. That has definitely happened with Hugh.
“Initially we were working on building muscle to get him as big as possible for that ripped Wolverine physique. We used traditional lifting techniques, standard pressing and squatting movements, which are very effective. We also did a lot of heavy lifting. Then, we introduced what we call three-dimensional movements. They engage core activity. Imagine someone rowing: his or her upper body is working three-dimensionally. It’s twisting, it’s turning, it’s engaged in different types of movement. To be honest, I’m a strong believer in traditional training. Don’t tell me one exercise is better than another. It’s about doing a combination of training and styles.
“We work with all the muscle groups using regular body building methods but we never train the same muscle groups at the same time. A lot of people will only train the chest or triceps or the back and biceps, but we will do many sessions where we’ll swap everything around. We will do chest and back or biceps and triceps. We work with opposing muscle groups. The training is massively varied. The goal is to shock the body in order to create change.”
“We always start with a warm-up session. Sometimes we’ll do a long, slow 40-minute cardio buildup, but other times, we’ll do a shorter 20-minute warm-up and we might use interval training to get that heart rate right up. Each full session was two hours long. For The Wolverine, we predominantly focused on rowing, cycling (on a stationary bike), and elliptical training. Hugh also did some boxing. We used a product called Boxmaster that’s just been invented for training people how to box. Hugh was amazing. What he does with the Boxmaster blows your mind away.
“He is positive. It all comes down to how we train together. If I am feeling a bit down, which doesn’t happen often, Hugh prides himself on bringing me back up to a high level and I do the same for him. We have the ability to take each other to a positive state of mind in a very short period of time. That is what is unique about our relationship and that explains the incredible results we get when we train. We inspire each other. Also, I wouldn’t ever ask him to do anything I wouldn’t do myself. The typical trainer would ask the actor or client to do an exercise, but we do everything together. It helps that we are almost identical in weight, height, and strength, even down to the amount of muscle. His only advantage is that he has less body fat than me. But that’s just because he’s a little more strict with his diet when he’s preparing for movies.
“He doesn’t drink when he is training. He’s so bloody strict and so disciplined it is mind-blowing. One of the biggest challenges we had with this movie was keeping the weight on Hugh though because beyond all the training we were doing, he was on the set working very long hours and the movie itself was amazingly physical. So he did not consume a specific number of calories. We judged it on a daily basis but essentially we were making sure he was eating every two or two-and-a-half hours.
“It was extremely important that we were fueling his body with the right nutrients. Protein was important, but he also ate carbohydrates up until lunchtime because he was using so much energy. In the morning, we tend to train on an empty stomach. But sometimes he would have a small meal like oatmeal or a protein smoothie first. After training he would have breakfast: eight egg whites and two yolks scrambled with avocado and a piece of whole-wheat toast. He’d spread a bit of marmalade or peanut butter on the toast. A natural bodybuilder told us that it was good to add marmalade and Hugh enjoys that. It is a treat!”
“After lunch, meals would consist of protein and vegetables. He would eat whatever the chefs cooked on set. One day he’d be eating fish at eight or nine in the morning, followed by steak a couple of hours later, followed by chicken. But every two hours he would eat 40 grams of protein: meat, fish, tuna, chicken or turkey. He would also eat ‘good carbohydrates’ such as sweet potato or brown rice up until lunch. And there were always vegetables and plenty of salad. He would eat a little fruit, too. He’d get very hungry; his appetite is extraordinary while he is in training.”
I think what takes him to the next level is definitely the vascularity that he is showing. That's more genetic I believe because he has been asked a few times about how he gets his veins to bulge out and he says that its natural and he got it from his mother. Lucky bastard. This is truly an insane effort from Jackman to reach such a physical level and all the praise that he is getting is well deserved. Respect.