Take one look at the well muscled, well toned actors and actresses in your favorite flicks and it's easy to wonder how on earth they got so fit (Credit: BBH Pictures/Splash News).
Here they are, practically changing shape from role to role, performing athletic feats that surely aren't all done by stunt doubles, and they look good doing it.
Take Gerard Butler, for example. Not particularly known for his physique before, this Scottish-born actor put on such a tremendous coat of muscles for his role as King Leonidas in the film 300 that Butler's workout regimen, devised by trainer Mark Twight, has become a phenomenon. (Google "300 workout" for an endless list of instructional videos, variations and how-tos.)
But however much you sweat and grimace on your way to emulating Butler's bulging abs, you're at a distinct disadvantage: getting into shape for a role is part of an actor's job, and he or she can dedicate hours a day to work with the world's top trainers.
Celebrity fitness gurus like Harley Pasternak and Simon Waterson have their patented methods for transforming their charges' bodies depending on the demands of a role. An ex-British Royal Marine, Waterson has trained the last two James Bonds, Halle Berry, Chris Evans and Jake Gyllenhaal, and, in his opinion, being an actor is akin to being a sports pro.
"It is tough having to do these things, especially with actors who are being asked to be athletes," he told BodyBuilding.com. "Professional athletes get to have 12 hours sleep, they get to nap, they get the right food. They've got that structure, as well as not having to go to actual work and do like a 14-hour day and then train, like an actor has to."
In addition to doing grueling regimens of weight training and cardio--not to mention going on sometimes freakish diets--actors have to learn physically demanding skills like sword handling and horseback riding for specific parts. Jennifer Lawrence put in hours upon hours working on her archery skills to make her performance in The Hunger Games believable.
And all that conditioning isn't for show, either. Trainers often go to boxing, martial arts and the old French military art of parkour to keep actors nimble and athletic so they can climb, jump and do whatever else their action-packed roles demand.
- Mark Lebetkin, The Active Times