The Secret to Hollywood Abs. You, too, can have an action-hero six-pack- but only if you want it bad enough.
When any new action film comes out, men start asking how the guys got into that great of shape. The women will ask: “How did Linda Hamilton get her arms?” The answer is the same for both discussions: Discipline.
Discipline for what, specifically? Mark Twight, the owner of Gym Jones in Salt Lake City, Utah, has three requirements. You can’t beat his track record of success, given that he and his colleagues trained the cast of the orginal 300 movie, this year’s300: Rise of the Empire, and also Henry Cavill for the role of Superman in Man of Steel. Here’s what Twight asks of his clients:
1. Sleep 10 hours a night.
2. Eat 1,800 to 2,000 calories a day.
3. Train as hard as you can in the time available (up to three hours a day for some!) .
It looks easy on paper. But survey that list and honestly note what you can’t—or won’t—do. Sleeping that much is going to cut into your “must-see” television watching, goofing on the Internet, and sitting in traffic. It’s hard to fit a six-pack of beer, some cake, and some pizza into 1800 calories a day. And, that third one, “train as hard as you can,” demands a level of discipline few people own.
Not long ago, a friend of mine from Los Angeles marveled at how a former client, a female actress, looked so good in a movie. He used to work for her and he said: “They must have had two full-time people stopping her from stuffing crap in her mouth.”
If you have a whole posse of people who cook for you, serve you, train you, and keep crap out of your mouth, you don’t have discipline; you have a lot of money. Trainers have a special place in their heart for the guys and gals who haven’t made it yet in the business, but show up and give it all each and every session.
When Hollywood turns to performance professionals for a “look,” many turn to the wisdom of the late Vince Gironda, who trained stars from Michael Landon to Marty Feldman. He correctly figured that if you gain an inch to your shoulders and lost an inch off your waist, you look as good as if you gained two inches on your shoulders or just lost two inches off your waist. This is the look we are after on the big screen.
Adherence to Twight’s three principles can lop a pound a day off you, and they will build muscle. For the movie, 300, one of the actors picked up his wife at the airport after a month of training and she didn’t recognize him. That is what happens when you stick to the plan. If you decide to party all weekend, you blow away your progress and start from scratch again on Monday.
It’s a circle: to train this hard with this little amount of food, you have to sleep. If you ignore the sleep a few days, you won’t train hard enough. Lack of sleep often leads to poor food choices and poor food choices lead to more calories and, usually, worse food options. It’s not a single item that makes the difference; it’s the discipline to follow all three principles of sleep, caloric restriction, and training. In fact, it’s literally all three or none if you want to look like a superhero.
20-MINUTE HARD-CORE WORKOUT
Perform 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D for 2 minutes each. Rest 15 seconds between exercises. This is one set. Rest 30 seconds at the end of the set. Repeat for two total sets. Do this workout twice per week.
1A. Knee-Tuck Isometric
Stand sideways under a pullup bar. Grab the bar with a staggered palms-facing grip. Raise your knees toward your chest until your elbows almost touch your knees. Hold.
1B. Rower Sprint
Strap your feet into a rowing machine and grasp the handle with an overhand grip. Tense your core. Press with your legs, then begin to lean back, and finally add the arm pull. Make it a smooth continuous stroke. Reverse the movement to return. Shoot for at least 500 meters in 2 minutes. No rower? Run hard for two minutes.
1C. Box L-Sit Isometric
Stand between two waist-high boxes. Place your clenched fists, knuckles-down, on top of the boxes. Lift yourself so your arms and legs are completely straight, with your heels resting on the floor. Without bending your knees, lift your heels off the floor so you form a 90-degree angle between your legs and trunk.
1D. VersaClimber Sprint
Hop on the VersaClimber and tighten the foot straps. Grab the handles with an overhand grip. Brace your abs, like you’re about to get punched in the gut. Drive your left thigh toward your chest and press your right foot down. Push up with your right arm as you pull down with your left. Keep your hips steady (avoid side-to-side bouncing). Get at least 300 feet in 2 minutes. No VersaClimber? Swap out with mountain climbers.