With Black Panther’s global success, Michael B Jordan has announced himself as the name to watch for 2018. This is how he’s stomping his style on the action hero genre
Every time he’s asked about the workout for his Black Panther character, Killmonger, his face lights up with how well the character has been received. “People’s response to him has been wild,” he says. “I love what people think of him and the film. It was a lot of work on every level. Hundreds of people worked their ass off on it and it shows. And with Killmonger I spent a lot of time by myself. I studied a few different people, listened to a lot of Tupac, Malcolm X, Huey P Newton, Martin Luther King speeches, grew my hair out. It was a certain mindset I was going for, and then obviously there was dieting and going to the gym – often twice a day. This guy is incredibly skilled and he has this frustration in him, and physically I wanted to look like a weapon.”
Big screen presence
Although he’s played plenty of action hero roles, joining the Marvel universe in Black Panther took it to the next level. “To play Killmonger I put on like 15 or 20 pounds of muscle,” he explains. “I was eating six times a day, all very prepared and high in protein and greens. Then I trained six times a week and, more often than not, twice a day. It was about making sure I was skilled with the fights and stunts, and then packing on that mass. It was primarily compound moves, the classics, it was nothing fancy. Bench presses, deadlifts, lat pulldowns, squats, shoulder raises, bicep curls.” When you see the movie, you’ll appreciate that his physique is created by the old-school basic moves that have yielded hard body results for decades.
The next big event
To further cement his action credentials, he’s following up Creed’s success with a sequel set to make an impact on the big screen. “With Creed and Creed 2, it’s all about being a believable boxer and making sure I was lean,” he says. “The best way to do that is to train, eat and live like a boxer 24/7.
For Erik Killmonger, I just wanted to look like a weapon and look intimidating, so it was about building mass and with that I was a little less cut. Both are hard work but there’s definitely different approaches. You have to tweak things depending on what you’re going for, you want to make sure you’re on the right road, so that’s about prep and really going for it and making the most of your time in the gym. No flicking through Instagram or anything like that. No chatting around.” Sound advice.
Taste of training
Although he’d played on-screen athletes such as a quarterback in TV’s Friday Night Lights, his movie projects have demanded a lot more of him. “The first Creed was the first project that I really, really had to transform myself physically into something else,” he says. “That first film took almost 18 months of boxing training to really sell the fact that I was a real boxer.
In Black Panther, it was a different kind of training. Obviously there’s more size there so that was through weight lifting and eating right, but then there was knife training, gun training, martial arts, combat stuff and weight training. Both are intense, but there’s different goals so obviously the steps are tweaked slightly. Both of them take dedication and prep though. There’s no shortcuts with that stuff, you have to go for it and respect and make the most out of the process.”
The next steps
When pressed about what kind of training he enjoys the most, it’s clear where his love lies. “It’s hard work, but boxing training is my favorite for sure – I love hitting the bag,” he says smiling. “Although the diet is difficult on Creed, I really love my cheat days! It’s regimented dieting, boxing training – heavy bag sets, speed bag sets, pad work, sparring, skipping, pull-ups, chin ups, press-ups, dips, all of that good stuff! Then also a bit of weight lifting, sprints, ropes, weighted sleds, balance work, calisthenics. With the diet it is very prepared, every day is set out.
You have to be prepared. Meal prep is key. The diet is very clean, chicken or lean meat with broccoli or some sort of greens, brown rice, and a gallon and a half of water every day. The diet is the big thing, just to have the energy as well. To make sure I can get through they workouts and develop. It’s very exciting. I’ve love being back in Philly as well.”