After decades of fronting magazine covers, is there anything Hugh Jackman can tell you about working out and nutrition that you haven’t already read?
Yes, of course – did you ever doubt the man bearing his claws at you? Here’s our Hugh Jackman interview where the man himself details his essential training advice for anyone who plans to be in the game for the long haul.
Getting jacked with Jackman
Having worked with the world’s elite trainers, nutritionists and movement choreographers has given Jackman a unique perspective on exactly what works and what doesn’t.
But before you imagine him lapping up a pampered life where ever rep and meal is served on a gold platter, consider how tough it is to get into your best-ever shape while working savagely long hours, travelling to new locations and being under extreme stress.
Then once it’s all over there’s the grueling press tour, which is when he took the time to kick it with TRAIN to reveal even his new training ethos, despite being visibly exhausted.
He’s an absolute trooper and easily the nicest man in show business especially if you consider that Logan was the ninth time he’s played a role like Wolverine over the past 17 years. So we were a little skeptical that he’d have any fresh exercise advice to offer.
Boy, were we wrong because the Australian is full of surprises. So while you may not have the access to A-list-like funds to lavish upon your exercise performance, you can employ his unique skill set to get an extra edge when you’re unleashing your inner beast.
Everything you wish you knew before you started training
Six small meals a day isn’t the answer
“With my diet I go with a 16/8 intermittent fasting regiment, and that really works for me. With 16/8 you allow an 8-hour window in which to eat,” he says.
“That’s then followed by 16-hours of not eating. It’s great for me because when I’m bulking I don’t want to put on fat, and that regime really does the business. It sounds tricky, but for me I love it, and I find it a lot easier than eating every 2-3 hours, which I found a lot more brutal.”
He may well be onto something because eating little and often doesn’t actually make you burn more fat, and can even increase your hunger and desire to eat, found research in Obesity.
Pricey superfoods are no match for garden-variety veggies
“My nutritional staples are the clean bulking usual really: boiled chicken, greens, broccoli, spinach, lean steak, avocado and cauliflower. And even when I’m not shooting, because for the past 17 years I’ve known that I’ve likely got another Logan/Wolverine thing lurking in the background, I would never really have an extended period of blowouts because I know I’ve got to get in shape for filming.”
Take home message: if he can create a real life comic book physique, using run of the mill nutrients, so can you.
Sleeping when you’re hungry
“Intermittent fasting helps with my rest and sleep as well, and there’s a lot of great research and science behind intermittent fasting or having a periods of each day when you are not eating. I sleep so much better as well.”
Science supports him 100% because a paper in The Journal of Clinical Investigation found fasting amplifies your levels of growth hormone which a powerful reparation and growth agent.
Without meal planning abs will elude you
“Prep is so important, and that goes for anything – whether you’re training for a film, a beach holiday body or a marathon. You want to build slowly. With training for a film like Logan, the diet, the training, the stunts and fighting is all about preparation and putting in the time.”
If you spend just 1-2 hours each week planning and or cooking your meals at the start of the week, you’ll always hit your goals and actually safe time in the long term.
Pyramids are universal symbols of power
“With my weights regime, I go for the progressive overload plan, basically starting light, only a small percentage of my max, and then I go up the weights and do fewer reps.”
Gradually getting your body used to heavier and heavier sets of an exercise can only lead to gains in both strength and muscle, this structure hits that happy medium.
Expensive coaches don’t mean better exercises
“I split the muscle groups through the week. With weights, I do your bread and butter muscle building workouts really: barbell bench presses, deadlifts, squats, weighted pull-ups, bicep curls, shoulder press, tricep dips, leg press – you know, the classics. And then with the progressive overload and weights, we sometimes add in supersets and circuits to knacker out the muscles – that stuff is a brutal.”
Compound moves like these fry more calories, improve movement efficiency and give your cardio vascular system thrashing but they don’t always mean more muscle. Research in the Asian Journal of Sports Medicine found compound and isolation moves were equal in their muscle building prowess but only when folk trained twice a week.
Tame your beast mode urges
“I’m fortunate to have had a trainer for these films, but for everyone that goes to the gym – there’s professionals there that can help with form and things of that nature. Form is so important. I’ve really developed over the years with how I approach nutrition and training, and that’s the main reason I haven’t gone into these last few movies with injuries – which I did with the first couple. It’s all good and well to train hard, but you need to train intelligently.”
Get your exercise partner to be ruthless about keeping your form in check and you’ll lift for longer.
Age isn’t a disadvantage
“Physically, training is harder. But look, I’ve also learnt a lot more. With the first X-Men film I thought you could get in shape in a month. I now know that you need time and good prep.”
It’s never too late to start. Even 90 year olds who trained for 12 weeks made tremendous gains in strength, muscle size and power, found research in the journal Age.
Strength isn’t mutually exclusive to gym work
“I also do a lot of bodyweight exercises, there’s a lot of press ups, different pull-ups, dips, and then weighted sleds and heavy ropes. That stuff helps with my agility and flexibility and the stunts in these films.”
How does this advice match up to real world results? Quite well, if you consider a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found equal strength gains in lifters who either did traditional resistance training, high and low intensity weight circuits or explosive bodyweight moves.
Make sure bodyweight moves constitute at least 10% of every workout.
Take it chill
“With age, I definitely need to get my rest in more than I used. I like to smash it in the gym, which can be hard when you’re filming or traveling, but you need to make sure you’ve rested enough to crush it.
Physically, for me, I feel better now than ever – although it is harder. But it’s all about balancing it all correctly: the nutrition, the rest and then the physical activity. You want to train, eat and rest smart.
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Little and often doesn’t work