Love or hate him, Zac Efron has got a physique that didn’t look undercooked when he stood ab-to-ab with The Rock. Here’s what you can learn from him about staying big-screen ready
One thing’s for sure… No self-respecting guy has ever said: “I can’t wait to see that new Zac Efron movie.” Yet, many of us have still classed his on-screen antics as a guilty pleasure.
You can play dumb all you like, but you know who the dude is, what he does best and how the fairer sex responds to his boy band exterior. Regardless of your opinion about him, he’s probably made you crack a smile at least once while watching his comedies, while you were with your girl of course.
We spoke to Zac about how he got his Baywatch body
Zac Efron Baywatch body rules
If you lift, you will have noticed he’s clearly whittled away a few minutes beneath the bench press, with his physique being the Rosetta Stone for looking fit without appearing overtly muscular. What you didn’t know, is that he turns 30 this year – that’s a long way from the High School Musical days, and with that comes a certain amount of experience that you can use in your own training.
TRAIN caught up with him to scavenge bite-sized training tips he used to get in shape for his shirtless roles (yep, that’s all of them) and how he stays that way for the rest of the year.
The winning attitude
Getting lean for a role where millions will see every little flaw is enough motivation for leanness. “Everyone knows the tricks and how to get lean and build muscle, so really it’s about commitment,” explains Efron.
“For me, I did a lot more cardio, amped that up, but then it’s the normal stuff with diet and gym work.”
Even if your social media numbers are just friends you actually hang with in real life, it’s worth setting a personal deadline to post a shirtless picture to gain a motivational spark. Just make sure the pic has the relevant context like when you’re wakeboarding or mountain climbing – not a sad bathroom selfie.
Find a nemesis
Don’t make your rival an easy mark, either. “With Baywatch I was going up against The Rock and, really, going up against him is impossible. He’s an animal,” smiles Efron. “But, if he’s The Rock then I wanted to be Bruce Lee. I wanted to be super lean, but still have muscle – that shredded look.”
A paper by the University of Exeter seconds what all men know: rivalry brings out the best in your exercise performance. Surprisingly, if your rival encourages you, you’ll do better, so the kind of bud who’ll thrash you then tell you how to do better, is the one who’ll make you better.
Double up if you want to double down
“My gym work is a mix of strength training, balance training, agility training, power training all rolled into one,” he explains. “It’s the full spectrum, training 5-6 days a week and then cycling, doing sprints and swimming. I go to the gym and then do a more cardio based workout.”
You can achieve all of this in a single workout, providing you sequence it right, found ACE research. The best order: cardio, resistance training, flexibility work then neuromotor (agility) last.
If you have a body part you want to grow, there’s no shame in playing favorites. “I do abs pretty much every day, but usually do a three day split,” he says smiling. “It was back and biceps one day, legs one day, and then shoulders, chest and arms the third day. It’s about pushing the muscles to the max; doing supersets and working out with very little rest.”
Rest when you’re dead
The faster you get your workout box ticked, the better off you’ll because cutting down the rest periods makes your session tougher than a boiled barn owl. “There was so little rest during my gym sessions, that there was no sitting around on my phone,” he explains.
The optimum rest for extra strength is three minutes, found a paper in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, but drop down your rest to 30 seconds if you’re chasing a calorie burn.
“I do a mix of bodyweight workouts, weights, and cable machine moves,” says Efron. “It would be three sets and then reps would be in the 8-12 range, depending on the workout.”
Smart move but if you’re doing five reps per set then pair that with five sets because is increases your strength and muscle more than three or one set, found a paper in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
Superset for glory
“I would do two moves at a time, for example, I’d do a set of chin-ups and then a set of bicep curls, and then I’d have a one-minute rest and go back in,” he says. “I’d do three sets of that pair and then on to the next.”
Findings in a paper in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research discovered antagonistic supersets (such as pairing biceps and triceps) actually improves recovery so you can go harder.
Fun in fitness
“I love to surf when I can, so I’m an outdoorsy type for sure,” Zac explains. “I’ve been getting into triathlons with my brother; that’s intense. I love to cycle and swim. Endurance cycling has become a passion.”
A paper in Marketing Letters found that people who thought their exercise was fun, ended up eating less afterwards. Simple: find what you enjoy doing and you’ll be leaner.
“In the months running up to a shoot I eat no processed foods,” he clarifies. “My diet is all organic and whole food. It very low carbs and no sugar. Every meal involves organic protein and organic leafy greens. Everything was prepped and planned well in advance, my food and nutrition were scheduled in every day. In short, it was all about greens and protein.”
Adjusting to the cravings
Putting your favorite foods on the back burner isn’t something he takes lightly. “It was intense but, after a while, your body stops craving junk food,” he explains. “I get really into things I would have turned my nose up at before.”
The secret to liking healthy foods you hate is repetition. Just like your muscles, your taste buds need training because they have no idea what’s good for them. Fortunately, you do, so get parental with them.
Zac Efron fun facts
Famous before high school
Zac Efron had already appeared on screen in Firefly, er, and CSI: Miami, but was his role as Troy Bolton in 2006’s high school musical that catapulted him to stardom.
A big advocate of supersets and discipline when it comes to workouts, Efron’s work ethic is nothing short of impressive.
Sun, sea, sand (before Baywatch)
Born in California City, San Luis Obispo, north of La, Zac is no stranger to the seagazing serenity of beach life.
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