From his portrayal of the slight teen, Nathan, in the UK TV series Queer as Folk, to the rugged anti-hero in Sons of Anarchy – Charlie Hunnam’s transformation has been nothing short of sensational. His latest melee into film pits him as the legendary King Arthur, leading the British army into battle in this year’s upcoming blockbuster. But how did Charlie make the unlikely switch from pretty boy to buff Hollywood action star?
The unlikely Hollywood action-hero
You’d be forgiven for not having the foresight to see Charlie roughing people up in his Hollywood career but that’s where he seems most comfortable nowadays. It wasn’t necessarily the insecurity of the character in his first major role, there was also his distinct lack of brawn that we’ve commonly come to anticipate from a leading man.
Fast-forward to today and Charlie is almost unrecognizable as the guy who played that 15-year- old boy. TRAIN was curious about how one of the biggest turnarounds in all of Hollywood was possible.
“It’s such a benefit for me emotionally and mentally, let alone physically,” beams Hunnam when we ask him why training is so important to him. “It really energizes me and makes me feel good. Working out puts a spring in my step, gives me clarity and really makes me happy.”
Using the royal body to workout
When we delve into the specifics of the type of training he utilises, there’s a very obvious theme. “I’m used to working long hours and because of that I’ve got into a routine of getting in my workouts hard and fast. Most of my sessions revolve around a pull-up bar and parallel bars. There’s so much you can do with just these two things”.
A calisthenics based routine where Charlie can use his bodyweight with minimal equipment seems to be what makes him tick. Small wonder because research in the ACSMs health and strength journal found that a 14-21 minute bodyweight circuit with no equipment had similar benefits to working out at the gym.
“I find it more creative and you can freestyle it. I can do it all at home. For me, the gym can get a bit boring, but I love free styling moves with bodyweight stuff with different grips or holding for longer. I love it and get a buzz out of it.”
Plus most of these can be done outside at the local park and research by the University of Essex confirms that taking your training outdoors is great for restoring mental fatigue by reducing stress and improving your mood.
Food fit for a king
When we move onto the topic of nutrition, Charlie throws another curveball that seems to go totally against the hard man persona we’ve become accustomed to. “I’ve got a big, organic garden that I’m proud of. I don’t take any stimulants. I just eat lots of natural, organic foods: lean proteins, organic fruits and vegetables do the trick for me”.
While you may have expected a genuine interest from him in what goes into his body, organic gardener is definitely from left field. At his level of notoriety and the sheer chaos of his work schedule, it’d be a fair assumption that he’d have a hands-off approach to his nutrition. Most in his position utilize personal chefs but Charlie grows his own. Welcome to the paradox that is Charlie Hunnam.
Workout hard, workout fast
Hunnam doesn’t buy the excuse that there isn’t enough time to exercise. If anybody can make that claim, it’s him, but he doesn’t use his packed schedule as a crutch and still gets his sessions in.
“Before we wrapped up Sons of Anarchy, I was shooting 14-15 hours a day and then I would go the gym for two and half hours every day after work to prepare for my next role”, he says. “I really think everyone should make time to workout – there’s always time. You can do so much in even just 20 minutes. The benefits are huge – It certainly makes me feel sharp.”
The ACSMs Health + Fitness Journal agrees with Charlie’s assessment and highlights how short, sharp bodyweight workouts can have similar benefits as their longer, gym-based counterparts.
Charlie Hunnams Full body bodyweight workout
Charlie likes to combine his bodyweight exercises with isometric holds – here’s a full body routine you can use to start hanging out at the bars and getting your body into world class condition.
Start with two to three circuits per workout and as you start to boss those, increase the number of rounds you do to torch bodyfat while you gain muscular fitness according to the ACSM.
To get your full-body workout in as efficiently as he does, you should perform the following exercises in a circuit manner. Take 30 seconds to 1 minute between exercises if you need it and move straight on to the next one When you’re done with all of the exercises, take 3 to 4 minutes before hitting the circuit again.
You can complete this circuit three times a week for a full body routine. Don’t forget, almost all things in this routine are changeable to your individual level or preference. If doing ten dips makes you feel like your arms are going to fall off, just do five. The idea is to progress and slowly beat the old you, which will happen over time.
The Charlie Hunnam Workout
|10 x Squat (bodyweight)|
|10 x Pull-ups (wider = harder)|
|1 minute x Wall Sit|
|10 x Pushups|
|10 x Inverted Rows|
|10 x Parallel Bar Dips (use chairs if no bars)|
|10 x Hanging Knee Raises|
|60 second Plank|
The mixed approach to Charlie Hunnams Workout
“There’s so much you can do depending on your grip – wide, closed, mid, crossed. You can hit many different muscles. Also, I find it more creative – you can freestyle it. I can do it all at home. Bang out muscle-ups, various types of pull-ups, various dips, push-ups, a lot of body-weight moves.”