“Being an actor is so hard. Being in shape is so hard, too, and being paid to get into shape is even harder.” Jake Gyllenhaal, 2010.
I started to know Jake Gyllenhaal from the movie The Day After Tomorrow in 2004, but I believe it was the movie Brokeback Mountain that really made him popular. He is a good actor. Most of us know him as a tall and lanky figure with good acting talent, not an action hero. Recently, I was amazed by his transformation when I watched Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. Impressive muscles on shoulders, chest and arms. He even graced the May 2010 cover of GQ Magazine and got a place in the top ten “Men’s Health 2010 Best Summer Bodies”.
Four months before shooting Prince of Persia, he engaged Simon Waterson, who has also trained James Bond such as Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig for Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Simon’s challenge is to bulk up Jake Gyllenhaal, but the muscles have to be in at the right places. More importantly, he has to be agile and functionally strong. With hard work, Jake Gyllenhaal transformed his light frame into a agile sword-fighting warrior with muscular body.
Jake Gyllenhaal’s Workout
- Jake trained twice a day, an hour for each session. Sometimes, 3 sessions a day. He performed an hour and a half of cardiovascular exercise while wearing a 20-pound weighted vest.
- He did not like to exercise only indoor. He did horseback riding. He practiced Parkour. He jumped over walls, climb up and run on them. He also ran through sand wearing suit or armor. His training concentrated on movement rather than pure body building so his body would perform naturally.
- He did at least ten sets of plyrometrics (squat thrusts, pull up with weighted vest, medicine ball press ups, jump switching hands), followed by five 27-yard hill sprints.
- For his second workout, he did his resistance training with body weight at gym. He trained on one body part daily, doing five sets of six to eight reps.
- As for his abs, he did different abs workout, including crunches and hanging leg raise.
- This brutal routine lasted for four months. He was living an athlete’s life. The transformation of body shape got him into a hulk-like warrior body shape, but also prepared him to withstand rigorous stunts and months of filming without getting injured.
- There were few moments when Jake Gyllenhaal wanted to give up and having much self doubt about the transformation. However, set by set, mile for mile, pounds for pounds, he managed to push it through. He was committed to being the best.
- Once the filming started, the pre-production workout has to be tweaked to avoid over training and burnout. The workout routine was changed to be less intense. He trained 45 minutes a day, 6 days a week and alternating cardiovascular exercise with strength training. It is a 50-50 cardio and resistance training split.
As you have seen, there is no secret about the exercise. It is his dedication that gave him the six pack abs and muscular body. Mentally and physical have to be strong. I have to admit that not every layman have the time to commit the same way like Gyllenhaal has done so. Just imagine two workout sessions a day and running around the sand. Unrealistic for most of us.
- Jake ate mainly whole foods.
- He ate six times a day – three meals and three snacks.
- He took protein shakes and protein bar as supplements.
- Morning: Fruits, nuts and coffee
- Lunch: Healthy carbohydrate with meat and salad
- Dinner: More protein food such as fish or skinless chicken breast
In an interview, the trainer admitted that Jake was very committed. After filming Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Jake still works out to maintain his shape.
It was his great acting talent that got him many invitations to act in good movies, and not his body. However, with his great physique and ability to perform stunts now, I am sure the door is opened for him to be in more upcoming action movies too. After all, fitness and body shape play a role in deciding whether actors get cast or not nowadays.
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