Heroes of muscle: John Krasinski

Finding the right character

If ever there was a nice guy that you couldn’t help but love it was Krasinski, but with a little bit of spit and polish in the weights room he has followed the Chris Pratt template and flipped the script. To achieve this, he needed the right role. “Jack Ryan is such a great character,” Krasinski enthuses. “He’s this man that’s sort of an action hero and sort of a regular guy. At this moment in time in both TV and film, a lot of heroes are wearing capes or have these superhuman abilities. Jack is using his brain, he’s channelling what he’s observed and studied, and his instincts. He’s in reach as a person. I’ve always loved the character in the books and films, and I love this long-form format to delve into that Jack Ryan world. It’s helpful, as the books are so dense and rich and we get to explore that in the TV series going forward. He’s a real person, a person you can root for. He’s an everyman. With the fights, we embrace that he’s just trying to get out of these situations, he’s not throwing everyone 10 feet into a wall. And as a person it’s exciting to see how he evolves, as he does evolve so much in the book series and we want to channel that in the series. He’s a man with this great moral compass, but the messiness of the world complicates things.”

Never too late

Training may not be at the top of everyone’s agenda, but regardless of when you embrace this element, it’s a case of better late than never. “Yeah, the first time I got into really really good shape was for 13 Hours (his first action movie),” he laughs when pressed about his lack of sweating. “I was 35 years old and I got in the best shape of my life – that’s a triumph! I had a bad starting point. Physically I had a bad back, bad core strength, bad everything. On 13 Hours, my trainer Jason Walsh was incredible. He really focused on me being healthier and stronger. It has changed my life in many ways, being fit in total.” It doesn’t matter how late you leave exercise, it will always improve your health, says a paper at UT South Western Medical Center. It can reverse the damage to aging hearts and prevent future heart failure even if you’re as much as 65 years old. The trick is that it should be done 4-5 times a week to be effective with at least two of these done at a moderate intensity.

Work-related power

It’s not always possible for your work to allow you to train, but John got lucky with his previous role that set him up for success in his next. “For 13 Hours I really transformed my body in the 3-4 months running up to that film,” he explains “And once I had that physique I’ve maintained it, I didn’t want to lose it. I was doing two session a day, 5-6 days a week. That’s probably not the easiest way of doing it, you should give yourself a bit more time for that level of transformation, but I had an amazing trainer on hand to help guide me and support me.” Take home message: enlist the help of a professional if you want to make life-changing gains. While it might seem expensive, you can’t put a price on your self-confidence and health.

The gritty details

If you think Hollywood stars do it differently to the rest of us you’re wrong. Their muscles are carved from the same bread-and-butter moves you can do in your gym.

“For that transformation it was a lot of squatting and deadlifting and a lot of metabolic work, and then body-building exercises,” he says. “The focus was on building up strength and working on my movement. This involved lots of complex movements like rack pulls, front squats, Bulgarian split squats and several different squats. Then there were also plenty of deadlifts, different types of pulls and rows, and lots of sled drags. It was about building a solid foundation and very much making me fitter and stronger. And with Jack Ryan the conditioning has been a big thing for me, in conjunction with those elements. With the body-building element, we did a lot of presses such as bench presses and shoulder presses. And then with the diet, for 13 Hours because the timeframe was so short, I was really eating a lot of salads, complex carbs and chicken, drinking a lot of water. We cut out sugar pretty much, it was very disciplined.” The hard work shows up on screen for Krasinski but it will work for you too and will speak volumes about your personality when you take up regular training.

Advice to others

Exercise might seem like it’s not for everyone but it’s worth listening to the advice of a man who has found his passion for it relatively late.

“Give it a little time, it’s not an overnight thing and there’s value in that,” he says. “But the sooner you start and the smarter you work out, the quicker you can get to your goals and become disciplined. There’s a science to it and over time it all starts to make sense. It has given me a new confidence in a way. Getting stronger every day and slowly improving is fulfilling. At first I found it really hard, but after a few weeks you really get into it. It becomes a part of your life. By putting in that work sensibly you will see results, you just need to give it 6 to 8 weeks or so. You need to take that step and stick to it. It’s wise to speak to people that know about what they’re doing and talking about. I’ve really found working out keeps my head clear and I feel more confident, I feel better in my body. And don’t be afraid to start off slowly. At first when I was training it was a low number of sets and higher reps, but then the stronger I got it was more sets and lower reps using the heavier weights. And that’s fulfilling, feeling and seeing those improvements.”

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