Hugh Jackman’s ‘Wolverine’ workout

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - JULY 15:  Actor Hugh Jackman attends during 'The Wolverine' press conference at Hyatt Hotel on July 15, 2013 in Seoul, South Korea.  (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
Hugh Jackman and his magnificent abs are reprising their role in “The Wolverine.” Credit: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

This Friday, Hugh Jackman reprises his role as self-healing mutant Logan in “The Wolverine.” His trainer tells us how Jackman turned into a superhero in less than a year.

Hugh Jackman and his personal trainer, David Kingsbury, started getting ready for “The Wolverine” halfway through principal photography on “Les Miserables,” for which Jackman’s character, Jean Valjean (a prisoner turned wealthy merchant) had to go from looking scrawny to robust.

“In the first section of ‘Les Miz,’ Hugh had to be thin. But for the second section, he had to bulk up,” Kingsbury tells Metro. “That was actually quite early on, and that gave us an extra couple of months of training dedicated to ‘The Wolverine.’”

Initially, they worked on building strength and size, but in the final stages they had to trim him down. “That year, Hugh’s weight fluctuated by about 20 kgs. By the time shooting for ‘The Wolverine’ began, he’d gotten his body fat down to 6 percent.”

Weights + cardio
Becoming Wolverine required Jackman to train for a total of 11 hours a week. Monday to Friday, he and Kingsbury would do one hour of weights followed by one hour of cardio; on Saturdays, he’d do a one-hour interval session using a gym sled. On Sundays, he’d rest.

Jackman was put on a progressive overload weight-training plan to build up strength on basic lifts like the bench press, squat and deadlift. The point is to increase the weights by about 5 percent every four weeks, adjusting the reps at the same time. “We’d always train early in the morning, so Hugh would drink a double espresso just before for a boost in energy, and have breakfast straight after he was done with the exercises. We worked both the upper and lower body, doing different movements each day, in order to allow the body to recover. We focused slightly more on increasing the size of his legs, just to make sure he maintained balance,” he explains.

They combined weights with a mixture of interval training and steady-state cardio, such as fast-paced walking. “It would either be low intensity or high intensity — nothing in-between — as the middle-ground stuff is the worst for maintaining muscle.”

The diet
Jackman’s workouts were so intense that he had to eat around 5,000 calories a day for his body to keep up. His diet included lots of protein (eggs, fish, chicken), vegetables (spinach, broccoli), carbs (oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potatoes) and fats (avocado, nuts, peanut butter, olives) but excluded all sugar, including fruit and alcohol.

“He ate protein every day, but to maximize results, we’d cycle his carbohydrates. On weight training days, his first three meals would be carb-heavy and the last three would include lots of healthy fats. On non-weight training days, he would skip the carbs and just have healthy fats,” says Kingsbury.

Wolverine in numbers
Age: 44
Weight: 198 lbs.
Height: 6-foot-2
Body fat: 6 percent
Calories per day: 5,000
Total hours of workouts per week: 11
Method: 70 percent diet, 30 percent training

What Jackman ate to bulk up

Meal 1

  • A large bowl of oatmeal with cinnamon
  • Six scrambled eggs with ham and spinach
  • Two slices of rye bread toasted with peanut butter

Meal 2

  • A 10 oz. steak
  • One boiled sweet potato
  • Broccoli

Meal 3

  • Two grilled chicken breasts with lemon and herbs
  • Brown rice
  • Spinach

Meal 4

  • Grilled salmon
  • Half an avocado
  • Broccoli

Meal 5

  • Omelette (six eggs) with mushroom and spinach
  • Spinach on the side


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