The English action star has credits that include Doctor Strange and The Expendables 2. His latest film, Avengement, stretches his acting and action talent even further.
I train in two ways, to perform on film, whether that’s martial arts or athletics-based, and I train for aesthetics. Being a bodybuilder doesn’t go hand-in-hand with being fast or doing flashy spinning kicks, but it looks good on film and people expect action stars to look a certain way. I do enjoy old-fashioned bodybuilding and I’ve trained for years with a split body-part routine. Recently, I started full body workouts to hit my entire body each and every day to switch things up. I also avoid pushing myself to failure each time so I can train more often. I think the key is mixing things up. I train in an MMA gym, I’ll hit pads, lift weights, go running, but I do less gymnastics now, as I’m getting a bit older. I’m lifting weights and doing martial arts training three times a week and I incorporate regular yoga for flexibility.
During Avengement, I was on location with not much gym access so I did a lot of bodyweight training and conditioning which actually worked in tune with the character as it emulates how he trains in prison as he turns himself into a beast full of rage!
I’m a big believer in intermittent fasting. This means I’ll eat within an eight-hour window and then fast for 16 hours. I do this because it fits into my schedule as I’ve never been good at weighing out food and trying to eat clean throughout the entire day and plan far ahead. This way, I can eat what I want or need to eat and, due to that 16-hour fast, I’m consuming fewer calories. The key is finding a system that works for you so that sticking to a good routine is that much easier.
I’ve been doing it for so long now that it feels weird not going to the gym. Sometimes, I even feel a bit depressed if I haven’t been looking after myself. I guess I need those endorphins! I’m lucky because part of my job as an actor is to stay fit and look good for the camera, so the fear of not being able to perform and do what’s expected of me is enough of a motivating factor. I understand it’s harder for someone who doesn’t have that pressure. Maybe you work in an office or somewhere that doesn’t require you to stay in shape, but I think we owe it to ourselves and our families or kids, to stay healthy and be there for them, leading a long happy life.
I feel like when I eat clean, I think clearer. It’s also hugely beneficial for you physically, so it’s a win-win. It’s nice to indulge sometimes and have a treat or cheat day, but you need to know when to stop, enjoy it in moderation and make sure you’ve earned it from good training and healthy eating habits. For inspiration, I often look at Jean-Claude Van Damme, one of my first movie heroes whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with a few times now. He’s 58 and he’s still in incredible shape. He’s hugely inspiring for me because he still has one of the greatest physiques we’ve ever seen on film. His overall proportions, his arms, his legs and not forgetting his martial arts talent – it’s a very unique mix. As someone who’s also maturing in age, it’s inspiring to see Van Damme, who’s older than me, still training hard and looking as good as he does.
Avengement is out now on Blu-ray, DVD & digital download.