Jason Statham has conquered Hollywood with his carved physique, genuine fighting ability and everyman charm. He spoke to TRAIN about how his workouts enable him to deliver every time.
Apart from the rare comedic role, Jason Statham’s celluloid persona remains firmly embedded in one genre and one type: the action film badass.
“I love action films and I’ve always been inspired to do them,” he says flashing his trademark crooked smile. “I like to get stuck in and do my own stunt work and fight sequences. I’ve been doing that since my first action movie, years ago with the first Transporter film. That was the first time that I really got my hands dirty with that stuff. From then on I wanted to continue that and there is a reward for me in doing my own sequences, really pushing myself and challenging myself. The stunt people are always great and I’ve made some great friends in that world. Stunt people are so often these very solid people. I always get along with them and have a lot of respect for them.”
With an athleticism firmly linked to his expertise in kung-fu, kickboxing and karate, it’s not hard to understand why the physicality he brings to each script is so believable.
Ask any stuntman and they’ll tell you that the biggest insult they’ll ever receive is for their movements to look wooden. This is not a problem Statham can be said to suffer from because he moves with the fluidity of a big cat.
“With the stunts and fight sequences, I think I’ve always sought out that adrenaline,” he explains. “Even when I was younger, being really into high diving. As a kid I did martial arts, gymnastics, diving, different sports that can give you an advantage with these stunts.
There is always a risk with fight sequences and stunts, and there’s always things you’re not allowed to do, but the action is part of what I really enjoy – when you’re pushing your skillset, or you’re trying something where you’re not sure if you can do it. I think there’s a great reward in pulling that off, this sense of achievement.”
Despite having muscles that look more like those of a physique model than a martial artist, he still makes sure that he trains every day. To achieve this, he’s developed a unique training perspective. “I stay active and work out consistently, but in the weeks running up to an action film, in the run-up to prep with the stunts and fight sequences, I do get a little cleaner with the diet and chisel a bit of crap off. I’ve never been interested in getting the biggest, blockiest and most showy muscles – my training is more about being functional.
With my training, I focus a lot on a good range of motion, I do fight training, and then some strength and conditioning – a lot of Olympic lifting. You don’t need all of these bells and whistles when working-out, I mostly train in my garage. I train in the mornings, and my workout is sort of a combination of gymnastic training and Olympic lifts.
“I’ve been training for years now, decades in fact, so I’ve learnt from a lot of mistakes and my workout has evolved. I train a lot smarter now, and the internet is such a great resource – you have information at your fingertips. I’ve learnt a lot more about how your body moves. I do spend a lot more time working on mobility and I’m very aware of not injuring or tweaking something.”
Smart moves from a guy who you’d never believe is nudging 50 years old.
When it comes to looking the part, training intensity is as vital as the acting kind.
“With my training, I think a major thing for me when working out is to really just go full-throttle during that time I’ve set out to train,” he says. “A totally intense 30 minutes is better than a half-assed hour. Approach is so important. Don’t half-ass it and get distracted, really get your heart rate going and work up a sweat. And I’m a big believer in not doing the same workout, really shock your body and get your heart pumping. I just go with where I’m feeling at the moment, but still think about recovery from previous days, so it helps to be sensible. I’m always trying new things and I like variety, even with something like gymnastic rings, there are so many different things you can do with that equipment.”
When you consider how cheap this piece of kit is to set up in your home, this could be one of the most vital game-changers you could add to your routine, especially on those days when finding time to train seems just about impossible.