BRAD PITT'S SECRET FITNESS WORKOUT
Although he’s turning 57 this year, watching Brad Pitt’s youthful lean, muscular physique on Sunday as he picks up the SAG Award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a supporting role he has held up well. What’s his secret?
Read enough about Brad Pitt and you’ll get the feeling that the guy isn’t naturally predisposed toward training and clean eating the same way some Hollywood action heroes are.
“Sure! I eat healthy and all that which I’m not too crazy about, it gets tedious at times, but I love the payoff at the end, it’s worth it,” Pitt told CBS news.
No, for Brad it appears training and eating clean are akin to learning lines and hitting marks: something he realises has to be done for a role. But Brad Pitt isn’t a guy who does things by halves. He went from struggling actor in L.A. doing odd jobs and small-time roles to one of the most influential entertainment figures in the world.
These days not only is he is an accomplished actor twice nominated for an academy award and with a raft of other nominations, but he’s a high-powered producer as well. His production company, Plan B Entertainment, have made some of the most iconic movies of the last decade: Eat Pray Love, the Departed, Moneyball, and 12 Years a Slave and he’s won an academy for 12 years a Slave as a producer.
So if Brad had to build a specific look for a role, he’d commit to it wholeheartedly and put aside everything else, even his bad habits, possibly even his family.
Cut for Fight Club
Case in point. In 1999, Brad portrayed Tyler Durden in Fight Club , a film adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s brilliant novel of the same name. Brad prepared for the part with lessons in boxing, taekwondo, and grappling and a now widely circulated body-part workout (below). The iconic counter-culture image of a bloodied, shirtless Brad, cigarette in mouth (pic above), made millions of women swoon and helped catapult the abdominal six-pack to the status of most desired muscle group for men for a decade.
Director, David Fincher, wanted Brad to have a wiry, lightweight fighter’s upper body, so the workout, as you’ll see, is a classic gym-mirror workout. It will get you that lean, sinewy upper-body, but where’s leg day? Follow this workout and you’ll look great with no shirt and a pair of jeans, but God forbid, don’t go to the beach lest you be mistaken for a chook. Now watch Fight Club again and you’ll see that Tyler Durban, and everyone else in the movie, wears long pants all the time, even when fighting. The no-shirt, long-pants ensemble was the Nineties uber-cool look the director wanted so that’s what Brad gave him: a lean, mean fighter’s upper body and an enviable six-pack. He didn’t need the legs to look good: the audience would never see them.
Monday — Chest
Push-ups — 3 sets of 25 reps
Bench press — 25, 15 & 8 reps @ 75, 85, 100 kgs
Nautilus press — 15 reps @ 35, 45, 50 kgs
Incline press — 15 reps @ 30, 40, 60 kgs
Pec deck — 15 reps @ 20, 25, 30 kgs
Tuesday — Back
25 pull ups — 3 sets to fatigue
Seated rows — 3 sets @ 30, 35, 40 kgs
Lat pull downs — 3 sets @ 60, 70, 80 kgs
T-bar rows — 3 sets @ 30, 35, 45 kgs
Wednesday — Shoulders
Arnold press — 3 sets @ 20 kgs
Laterals — 3 sets @ 15 kgs
Front raises — 3 sets @ 12 kgs
Thursday — Biceps & Triceps
Preacher curls — 3 sets @ 25, 35, 45 kgss
EZ curls cable — 3 sets @ 20, 30, 35 kgs
Hammer curls — 3 sets @ 15, 20, 25 kgs
Push downs — 3 sets @ 15, 40, 45 kgs
Friday & Saturday — Cardio
Treadmill — 1 hour and try to maintain 80% MHR
Sunday — Rest
Bulking up for Troy
But fast forward a few years and Brad’s new character, Achilles, has no option but to show off his pins in the epic sword-and-sandals flick, Troy. Dress of the day for any self-respecting Hoplite was armour and a very short skirt-like outfit, which left the thighs and calves exposed. At the time of Fight Club it was reported that Brad was 70kg. At 180cm tall that made him a skinny guy with about 5–6 per cent body fat. The all-conquering Achilles needed to a look like a formidable middle-weight warrior so not only did Brad have some leg work to do, he’d needed to bulk up his upper-body.
Enter the late Gregory Joujon-Roche, a top Hollywood personal trainer and founder of Holistic Fitness in Los Angeles. Gregory Joujon-Roche trained Tobey Maguire for Spider-Man, Leonardo De Caprio for the Departed and Demi Moore for G.I. Jane. Along with his $US5000/week team that included a nutritionist, a masseuse, a martial artist, and a yoga instructor, Joujon-Roche spent three hours a day, six days a week for six months preparing Brad for his role in Troy. To build up size, Gregory Joujon-Roche targeted one muscle group per day, allowing for full recovery and maximising Brad Pitt's muscle growth potential over an extended period of time, similar to any bodybuilder’s periodization schedule. After six months, Brad weighed a respectable 84kg and was still at 6 per cent body fat, so his training had managed to pack on 14 kilograms of pure muscle — and gained considerable girth in his legs. He maintained his training for the six months of filming for continuity’s sake as the film wasn’t filmed chronologically. After he ordeal said of the training “it was the toughest he’d ever done.”
Typical (Leg) Day
1 hour yoga / stretching
1–2 hours weightlifting: Legs Focus
1 hour martial arts
Instead of having a certain number of reps in mind, Hollywood personal trainer Gregory Joujon-Roche would adjust reps and weight until Brad felt like he’d “killed it.”
Lunges with a Kick
Lateral Shuffle Cardio Interval (3, 1-minute bursts)
Mountain Climbers Cardio Interval (2 sets of 15 each leg)
Hanging Leg Raises
Skater Lunges Cardio Intervals (20–30 jumps each side)
1. After 20 minutes, stop and do these three core abs exercises:
2. Accordian Crunches
3. Side Bridges
5. 2 minutes treadmill @ 85% heart rate (160 BPM)
6. Repeat Ab Circuit (x4 times total sets)
7. After 4th set of abs, end with run on treadmill for 5 minutes @80% MHR
As the tell-all interview in GQ magazine after his split with Angelina pointed out, Brad has developed some bad dietary habits, most notably alcohol. “I could drink a Russian under the table with his own vodka. I was a professional. I was good,” he was quoted as saying.
“I enjoy wine very, very much … I own a winery” (Brad and his now estranged wife paid $US 60 million for the Chateau Miraval winery in the south of France, which is where they were married.) Switching to a clean-eating-no-drinking mode must have been hard for a man who loved wine and reportedly lists his favourite food as pizza. But that’s exactly what he did.
For Fight Club, Troy, Snatch and later for the WWII epic Fury Brad changed his diet, dropping alcohol, junk food and upping the protein, reducing carbs and eating 7 meals a day and kept his calories around 2000. While bulking up, he upped the total calories, but kept the marco ratio the same.
Example of a Typical Day of Clean Eating
Eggs (six whites, seven yolks) and 75g of oatmeal with raisins. Occasionally, Pitt would replace the eggs with a protein shake if his schedule was tight.
Tinned tuna in whole wheat pita breads
Two chicken breasts, 75–100g brown rice or pasta, and green veggies
Mid-Afternoon Snack [Pre-Workout]:
Fat Burning Lemonade i, A protein bar or whey protein shake and a banana
whey protein shake and a banana
Grilled fish or chicken, brown rice or pasta, vegetables and salad.
Casein protein shake or low fat cottage cheese (slow release protein).
In the end, Brad Pitt was Focused with a capital F. He did whatever he had to do to get into the role and get the physique he needed. He made sacrifices and turned off bad habits. He put aside what didn’t help him achieve his goals and focused entirely on what had to be done.
“I tend to run things into the ground,” he told GQ. “I do it with everything, yeah. I exhaust it, and then I walk away.”
The run-things-into-the-ground approach certainly worked for him with his physicality, and in his career, but may have taken a toll on the rest of his life. As he said: “People on their deathbeds don’t talk about what they obtained or were awarded. They talk about their loved ones or their regrets — that seems to be the menu. I say that as someone who’s let the work take me away.”
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