Michael B Jordan Talks Training For Creed

As Michael B Jordan prepares to play the son of Apollo Creed in the latest of the Rocky movies, the Fantastic Four star reveals how he transformed his physique to portray a world-class boxer so you can KO your fitness goals.

 

Few movie franchises are more iconic than the Rocky series. It’s already a staggering six reels deep with the seventh, Creed, set to hit theaters soon. And with all the previous movies in the series having been box office successes, and all of them beloved by fans the world over, the pressure was really on Sylvester Stallone’s young co-star, Michael B Jordan, to act and move like a genuine boxer.

But rather than being intimidated, Jordan took to the challenge with gusto despite his previous acting credits perhaps suggesting he may not have been born for the role. The 28-year-old cut his teeth on possibly the most significant TV dramas of the past decade, The Wire and Friday Night Lights. However, until recently he lacked the physical presence to be believable as a fighter intent on destroying opponents.

Fortunately, his ability to whole-heartedly inhabit his characters has turned him into one of Hollywood’s hottest young stars. Combine this talent with newly trained boxing skills and box-fresh slabs of muscle and you have a winning recipe that all but guarantees the continued success of the Rocky series.

Read on to discover how he exercised, ate and got into a fighter’s mental frame of mind to deliver a knockout performance. Use his secrets to improve your ability to fight fitter, eat better and add new brawn to your frame.

 

Getting in fighting shape

Hollywood has proved that boxing movies aren’t the kind of flicks where you can go in halfhearted. The training is real and the pain is agonizing because the believability of the end result is acutely at the viewer’s discretion.

Fortunately, Jordan doesn’t disappoint.

“For this one, we really went there,” he smiles, as if to reflect on all the hard work he did. “I boxed like it was my job, lifted weights, ran and dieted. If you want to move and look like an athlete, you have to train like one so that’s what we did. I was trying to get as close as I could be to a real fighter. And it was pretty cool. I put on just shy of 25lb of muscle, and that was all through diet and exercise.

“Diet is the key, and it was funny because I was training and dieting for Creed while filming Fantastic Four, so I was locked in with that but then I would be eating every three hours for Creed.

“And with the training, it’s all about dedication and focus. You put in the work and trust the process. And I was very fortunate – being around so many amazing athletes on this film with Tony Bellew (former light two-weight world title contender) and Andre Ward (current WBA super middleweight champion).

“I also spent some time with Amir Khan and Floyd Mayweather. Watching them and working with them was incredible, just studying them and picking their brains.”

When you want to perform at your best it’s worthwhile training with the experts in that field. This is done a lot in multi-discipline sports like triathlons where athletes train with pro cyclists or swimmers.

 

Add muscle

Jordan’s schedule wasn’t something he undertook lightly. It was a grueling all-day affair that was meticulously planned. “I would do my boxing training and also hit up the gym during the day,” he explains. “With my weight sessions I’d hit a different body part every day: chest day, leg day, bicep and triceps, shoulders and back. But then I’d always mix in a bit of full-body functional training. It would be your bodybuilding power stuff, but also a lot of bodyweight and functional stuff so that I was loose and agile.

“The workout on Creed was wide-ranging, with the mix of weights and bodyweight stuff, the traditional boxing stuff: heavy bag sets, speed bag sets, pad work, sparring, skipping and then running for cardio.

“Rest was key as well, because I’d be spending hours upon hours in the gym. You want the rest and time for your muscles to grow.” Jordan was fortunate enough to work with a seasoned trainer Corey Calliet (callietfitness.com) who had nothing but praise for the star’s work ethic.

“Before this, Michael never worked out a lot; he maybe played a little basketball,” says Calliet. “He’s lucky enough to have some great genetics because he had unrealistically good biceps and back shape and it didn’t take a lot to wake those muscles up.”

But there was some hard work, since getting into shape didn’t always come easy for Jordan. “Michael complained about everything,” smiles Calliet. “He’d say, ‘I don’t want to do it’ or ‘I don’t feel like it.’ But if he said it hurt bad – we’d just go harder. We’d always do the opposite to what he said, and the one thing about him is that he’d always work out.”

That’s the golden rule for training success because you’re not going to feel like sweating every day, but once you get started you can usually follow through with a great workout.

To the right are samples of the exact sessions Jordan used to push himself through the pain barrier.

 

Cutting the weight

On screen there’s nowhere to hide that extra bit of weight you shouldn’t be carrying. This is when diet becomes so important, and Jordan had some strict strategies for achieving this.

“When I’m in training I eat my carbs in the morning, but none after lunch,” he explains. “The key things in my diet are chicken, broccoli, asparagus, brown rice, grits, eggs, turkey sausage, tilapia, steamed veggies, lean steak and protein shakes. And then I have one cheat day a week, which is helpful because I have to fight my sweet tooth. Knowing that I have that cheat day is a great help.”

And that’s a smart move because a study at the University of Illinois found that in the long term a high protein diet was best for keeping lean. What’s more, researchers found that participants with the highest success didn’t devotedly stick to the diet plans with every meal – they cheated every so often and still lost weight. Proof that as long as the majority of your diet is full of healthy foods you don’t have to be a drill sergeant with your knife and fork.

“Getting into shape is like 80% diet, and I eat every three hours or so,” explains Jordan I eat six or seven times a day, depending on how late I get up. I’ve spent a lot of time indoors working out and staying to myself on Creed, and it was honestly life-changing from a mental and physical standpoint.

“Also, the diet would change slightly depending on the process, but chicken, broccoli and rice were always there. To put on weight I’d really just up the calories, and if I had a heavy session I’d eat accordingly before hand.”

That’s even more proof the concrete results truly are forged in the kitchen.

 

Creed: between the lines

Taking a break from his brutal boxing regime, Jordan sat down with TRAIN to discuss why this movie has become a passion of his.

“Man, I love this project, and I think people will love it when they see it,” he smiles. “Getting to work with (director) Ryan Coogler again after Fruitvale Station, the legacy of the world, Sylvester Stallone, the role, the physical aspect, the cast and crew – this one is special. And then having Sly so involved was mind-blowing.

“It was a surreal feeling ad-libbing with Sly as Rocky and training with guys like Tony Bellew. The dynamic between my character Adonis Johnson and Sly’s Rocky is really interesting because I’m playing the son of Rocky’s long-time friend, and former rival, Apollo Creed. My character and Rocky both come from two different worlds, two different generations. And obviously there’s a lot of baggage from the events of Rocky IV.”

With that level of excitement Jordan has had a long time to mentally prepare for the demands of the movie.

“I’ve known about the project for nearly three years, so it was something I’ve been slowly, quietly developing and working out and training for and thinking about,” he explains. “And my trainer, Corey Calliet, has been working with me for nearly two years, he’s changed everything for me with his whole thing of ‘progress not perfect.’”

So although it might seem like Jordan has suddenly carved out a new physique in record time, his is a journey that’s been in progress for some years. Proof that results are never instant.

 

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