Anyone who is part of the food supplement industry will know that a good portion of the weight-loss business is just people trying to pitch their products and make a sale, of course, some products actually do work, yet we are led to believe that every pill you pop will have miraculous effects. However, when dealing with actors, celebrity trainers cannot push any bogus claims or wannabe training routines. Just like their clients, they are under serious, legal (and enforceable) contractual obligations to help them achieve their physical goals. There is no margin for error, the training routines and diets that celebrity trainers advocate must enable their high profile clients to lose weight and build muscle.
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People like Luke Zocchi, Duffy Gaver, and, my personal favorite, Jason Walsh, are the coaches behind the stunning physiques of Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Emily Blunt, Bradley Cooper, or Brie Larson in some of the most recent movies you might have seen at the box office.
Of course, many things are edited in postproduction – but you can’t really press a button for confidence or physical ability.
A Body to Show Her Character: Brie Larson in Captain Marvel
For her role in Captain Marvel, Brie Larson had to work tremendously to get that superhero physique; and she had to do it all in 12 weeks! Part of her strong, independent aura in the film is actually created by her steady confidence in what her body can do. Luckily, she had Jason Walsh on her side, who developed a routine that would gradually enhance her strength. To us moviegoers, 3 months might seem like an incredibly short timeframe to go from zero to superhero, but the deadline is just the right amount of time you need for such a transformation if done properly.
To give you an idea of how far she came, she went from nothing to 10 pull-ups, 8 chain push-ups (with 50 lbs./22kg), as well as 300lbs (135kg) hip thrusts. Whoever said you couldn’t become an avenger didn’t meet her. Many women think that to get such strength, you need mass. This is simply not true, as Brie’s real-life example confirms. She’s lean, strong, and beautiful.
However, she had to work out 4-5 times a week, with sessions averaging 60 minutes. The core exercises that her routine revolved around were pull-ups (initially assisted), deadlifts, sled (push and pull), and hip thrusts.
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As you may have already noticed, these are all compound exercises involving multiple groups of muscles. Because of this, they tend to be some of the most efficient ones you can do to build overall strength. Around these routines, she would have a series of isolating exercises that are typically easier to do and Josh would likely have her alternate between agonist-antagonist pairs or just focus on the weaker groups.
Brie Larson’s ultimate goal wasn’t to bulk up, which means that supplementation wasn’t that big of a priority in her case. A healthy eating regimen with as little (I’d go with none) trans fats and processed items and plenty of variety in terms of protein sources is the way that I would have instructed her to eat throughout her training.
Train for Mass: Bradley Cooper in American Sniper
At the complete opposite end, but on par in terms of difficulty and achievement, is Bradley Cooper’s immense transformation for American Sniper, Clint Eastwood’s highest-grossing film to date. Much like Brie, Bradley was next-to-novice by comparison to what he had to achieve. Unlike Brie, he had to gain a lot of mass for the role (40 lbs./18kg to be exact), as the character he was embodying, Chris Kyle, was a US Navy Seal. He had a bit less than 12 weeks to go from a lean model to imposing military man.
Because endurance was a factor, but also due to the severe time constraints and high physical echelon, Brad did two sessions a day – a 60 to 90-minute regular workout that balanced strength, endurance, and mobility in the morning, followed by a mass-specific volume training session in the afternoon, roughly 6 hours later. The latter was much in the lines of GVT and the stuff that Arnold and his workout buddies were doing in Gold’s Gym throughout the 70s and 80s, minus the substances. He followed this 2-a-day schedule Monday through Friday, and only Wednesday afternoons were off.
As was the case with Captain Marvel, the compound movements represented the kernel of his workouts, most notably the trap bar deadlift, front/back squats, the stand-up military press, the seated row, weighted dips, farmer carries, and a few others. Naturally, isolation movements would fall in between these. I could not help but admire this clean, no-nonsense approach. This is exactly what I would have done had I been pressed by such a steep deadline.
In addition, gaining a lot of mass in a short timeframe requires heavy eating and there’s no way somebody can switch from a regular 3-meal a day plan (plus several snacks) to 5-6 meals a day and feel like they still have a life outside of the gym. As such, the remainder of the calories came from protein shakes. When training this intensely, it was possible to go for mass gainers, something that would give him enough protein to recover from those backbreaking days, as well as a bit of extra energy.
As Jason Walsh explained it, Bradley gradually increased his daily calorie in-take in 500-calorie increments every week. He started off at 2,000 and then worked his way up to 4,500, 4-5 weeks later. In his case, the surplus of protein and carbohydrates were essential for his body to handle the punishing two-a-day routine. At 39 years of age, I’d say Brad did pretty well for himself in the timespan of just under three months. His 400-pound deadlift in the movie is real and it is impressive.
There’s No Secret Pill Or Quick Fix To Weight Loss
Much like celebrity trainers know and practice, there is no secret pill that will get you to be fit, healthy, and strong. Seasoned coaches also know this, which is why they construct their careers around what works; a combination of the right training, diet and supplements. It takes discipline, effort, and intense dedication from trainees, none of which they can buy, as well as an appropriate training and eating regimen. This means no junk/processed items and as many whole foods as possible with a great variety of fruits and vegetables, and fresh juices.
Within these confinements, you have to pay attention to your macros and make sure they fit your level of training and physical activity. You too can become Captain Marvel or the American Sniper. There is no doubt in my mind about that. The question is whether you’re willing to put in the work to get there.