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How To Build Body Like Hugh Jackman

May 23rd, 2009 · 12 Comments ·


By now, I believe that you have watched X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  Ryan Reynolds appeared as Deadpool, but the focus of this article is not him, it is on Hugh Jackman who played the role of Wolverine.  If you wonder how Hugh Jackman has trained to possess that stunning body shape, read on to find out more about Wolverine’s workout.


Standing at 6 feet 3, Hugh Jackman was 40 years old when he was shooting for X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  Unlike Ryan Reynold’s amazing transformation in Blade – Trinity, Hugh Jackman was already in pretty good shape before he took up Wolverine’s role.  What he lacked of was muscle mass.  He wanted a better ripped body.  Therefore, as early as 1 year before the shooting of the film started, Hugh Jackman began his training with his personal trainers, Steve Ramsbottom and Micheal Ryan.


The first thing which the trainers did was a fitness assessment.  They measured Jackman’s body fat, looked at his posture and flexibility, did the aerobic and anaerobic testing.  Jackman was supposed to be Wolverine with athletic body, and not a bodybuilder with bulky muscles mass. With a better understanding on his body and what he wanted to be transformed to, the trainers then came up with a custom made workout program.

Before that, let’s look at Hugh Jackman’s body shape before the shooting of X-Men Origin: Wolverine:


As Stanley Jobson in Swordfish (2001)


As Eddie in Someone Like You (2001)


As Van Helsing (2004)


As Lyman in Scoop (2006)



As The Drover in Australia

Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine Workout
To prepare for the role, Jackman was asked to go through two phases of weight training:

  1. The first phase is to build the muscle mass by changing the tempo of the weight lifting.  Jackman was told to do 3 seconds for eccentric phase and 1 second for concentric phase.  In layman term, say in doing bench press, Jackman would use 3 seconds in lowering down the barbell and use only 1 second to lift the weight up.  That 3 seconds of slow motion in lowering down the weight increased the time muscle was under tension.  This action caused the “damage” to his muscle tissue which was beneficial for muscle growth.  As I mentioned in my article of Little Known Ways to Do Weight Training with Tempo, controlling the speed of your lifting is very important.  If you see guys lifting at fast speeds, it is because they are not strong enough to move the weight at a controlled slow pace.  Remember, form is crucial in weight lifting, followed by control (tempo) and then only weight.
  2. The second phase focused mainly in maximum strength and not in muscle mass.  Jackman was trained to take on as heavy as he was capable to do so, without attention to tempo.


In each phase, Jackman trained for 1 to 2 hours, 5 times a week.  Each phase lasted from 6 to 12 weeks depending on results.  On every Friday, Jackman took part in one and half hour bootcamp workout class. What he did at bootcamp was brutal bodyweight and interval style of training to boost metabolism and building his endurance and strength.  After all, in addition to lean muscle and sharp claws on his fists, Wolverine is a mutant which has to jump and run with powerful limbs.

During the last week of phase, Jackman took a “break” which he only did weight training for 1 day and fill other days with yoga, pilates and Tai Chi.  Also, during this “break” week, Jackman did cardiovascular exercise on treadmill at medium intensity to burn the fat which he has accumulated during the 6 weeks of each phase.  Once the fat was gone, the 6-pack abs would be obvious.

The key reason the trainers introduced 2 different phases was to keep challenging Jackman’s body.  They did not want Jackman’s body to get used to the same program for too long.  In other words, the program would “shock” the muscles into growing. Many people tend to make these 2 mistakes – never change their workout, or changing too often too much.  Jackman’s one is just nice, 6 weeks each phase.  At the later stage, the 6-week phase was shortened to be 3-week program.  The movements do not change, but the amount of load, the angles of the movement, the speed of the movement and the amount of rest time have made the difference.



At Hugh Jackman’s peak performance, he benched 315 pounds of weight.  Rumor said that he squat at 315 too.  Yes, Hugh lifted heavy iron.  If you want a Wolverine’s body, you may want to go to that extent too.

Jackman’s Daily Workout Routine
At 4 o’clock in the morning, Jackman started his routine.  He split his workout between muscle groups, so one day might target chest and triceps, while another day focuses on back and biceps.  Bench press, barbell lunge, squat, deadlift, leg press and others are some of his compound workouts.  He did a 20-minute cardio, either a run or swim, after the workout.  Though waking up early, Jackman had plenty of rest with at least 7 hours of good sleep every night.  In addition to that, Hugh Jackman goes for massage therapy every day to help his body recover.



Wolverine fighting with Liev Schreiber as Victor Creed aka Sabretooth

Hugh Jackman’s Diet Plan
Jackman was very disciplined about his diet plan.  He took 6 to 7 meals a day.  In early morning starting at 4 AM, he ate egg whites.  Then, every 3 hours after that, he took brown rice and vegetables as well as proteins including steamed chicken breasts and egg whites.  After midday, he would not take rice or any carbohydrates.  Just vegetables, meat or fish.

To build muscles, he ate about 1,000 calories more than he normally did.  He kept a food journal and know how much he was eating.

The other thing worth pointing out is that, according to his personal trainers, Jackman ate mainly protein from natural unprocessed sources whenever possible.  Only if he could not get it from natural sources, he took supplement – protein powder.  At night time, he ate slow acting protein like cottage cheese.


Hugh Jackman’s Key Success Factor
Yes, with good workout program and diet plan, Jackman has what it takes to build the body.  However, the real secret behind his successful physical transformation is his brainpower.  He told reporters that he did not believe in goal setting.


Because he believed that goal actually limit himself from achieving more.  In his own words, “We have far more ability than we give ourselves credit for. You see that in people under pressure. How does someone run a 100-meter race at the Olympics? When it is once every 4 years, with everything they have done leading to that? It can’t just be adrenaline.”


Instead of setting the goal of how much weight he needed to bench, he worked out imagining himself was Wolverine. Wolverine was the hero that when everyone else quits, that is when he begins.  Wolverine is someone who is able to withstand tremendous pain and fuels himself with anger.  The determination has helped Jackman to break through pain barrier with months of workout.  When he was benching 315 pounds, he has a choice, to get help from his spotter or to push that through.  He chose the latter.

So, he did not lift like Hugh Jackman.  He lifted like Wolverine.  He growled and screamed while he was pumping the iron.  Jackman set the standard he has wanted to live up to.  And he did whatever he was capable to live up to that standard.

The body came as a natural result of that mindset.






Not many people know that Jackman spend almost 1 year to prepare his role.  He gained his muscle mass at slow rate.  Unfortunately, in this fast paced society, people try for few weeks and because they don’t look like Wolverine, they give up and try something new.  If you look at what Jackman did, it is not something new.

In short, Wolverine body will come as a natural consequence of what you do in gym and what you eat in the kitchen.  Jackman is already 41 years old this year.  He has definitely proved that age has no bearing on bodybuilding success.  If he continues to train, we should not be surprised to see him acting on X-men movie number IX or X with 6-pack abs, even when he is 50 years old in 2018!


One more thing, if you are curious who plays the role of Weapon XI at the last part of fighting session with Wolverine, it is actually both Ryan Reynolds and Scott Adkins.  Ryan Reynolds portrays Weapon XI for close-ups, standing shots, and simple stunts while Scott Adkins is used for the more complicated and dangerous stunt work.  Both of them have great body shapes.


Scott Adkins


Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool in X-Men Origin: Wolverine

By the way, don’t ask me how you should train in order to have that retractable adamantium claws.  Wolverine is a mutant and you are not.  But, you can always get them from Amazon.


Hugh Jackman’s Real Steel





Category: Motivation

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12 responses so far ↓
  • JL // May 24, 2009 at 1:07 AM

    This pretty much confirms some things I knew about but was not sure. Thanks.

  • Angie Tan // May 24, 2009 at 7:43 AM

    I watched both Wolverine and X-Men on the same day and realized how buff Hugh Jackman looked within so many years of both movies.

    Agree with the mind-body connection.

  • raj // May 24, 2009 at 9:22 PM

    thanks a lot mun for posting this up..very helpful about the tempo of dumbell raising..thanks…

  • Mike // Jun 4, 2009 at 12:13 AM

    very cool post man. u have inspired a lot of peeps. keep it up. really appreciate the pics.

  • Siyang // Jun 7, 2009 at 12:57 PM

    Haha, nice post with a funny ending. Good job!

  • elam // Jul 19, 2009 at 8:52 AM

    Good stuff. Now I have another role model next to Dara Torres. I just recently turned 42, so I’m definitely gonna try to keep where I’m at. I just went from 22% body fat to 17%. I don’t really focus on weight, but I lost close to 10lbs of fat, now I’m trying to tone & build up some muscle. Thanks for posting.

  • Jonathan // Oct 3, 2009 at 7:18 AM

    i have recently turned 18 and was wondering if this is a good age to start exercising like the post or should i take it easy?

  • elam // Oct 11, 2009 at 9:04 AM

    Jonathon. At 18, I would focus on toning exercise than building too much mass. Don’t know what’s your height, unless good height genetics run in your family, too much mass might push you down.

  • Martin Cisneros Th.D. // Sep 15, 2010 at 11:51 PM

    Now this is genuinely cool. This is the lifestyle thing that I’m always harping on with folks where our workout routines are concerned. I’m glad he worked as hard on his as I did on mine without the long list of gimmicks and suppliments to try to cover for the fact that this was crash course working out. This is the real deal, taking that long to get in that kind of shape!! This is the only way to treat your body right, while it may think you’re trying to kill it! roflol

  • Jason Green // Oct 13, 2010 at 8:59 PM

    What Hugh Jackmon is doing is basically a training principle called Accumulation and Intensification. It’s just swapping between high volume and low volume work to build strength and muscle mass. It’s a very highly utilised technique used by strength coaches everywhere.

  • raul // May 28, 2011 at 2:25 PM

    Wow, this is very interesting. I always wanted to know how actors get in shape for roles and wolverine is one of my favorites. Great post!

  • Clint Maagad // Jul 2, 2011 at 9:40 AM

    i LOVE THE WAY SCOTT APPEARS on the screen,,,, just like vandamme……!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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