There’s a lot of pressure on actors who are set to portray characters with massive, if not impossibly muscular physiques. Once a shoot date is on the calendar and the clock is ticking, they are challenged to measure up to the high standards that modern audiences have come to expect of their heroes and villains. Gone are the days of Adam West’s Batman and Burt Ward’s Robin from the 1960s. To transform their bodies, today’s actors must drastically modify their diets and spend countless arduous hours in the gym. Here are some actors who have shared some of their bulking-up tips in the quest of embodying their bruisingly powerful characters.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Young Dwayne saw the dedicated workout routines his dad and uncles followed throughout their jobs as professional wrestlers. As a result, The Rock learned from an early age to follow a rigorous exercise program and adopt strict eating habits. Indeed, he always seems to be in tip-top shape and ready for his steady stream of roles. Johnson’s daily groove includes waking up at 4 a.m., having some caffeine and a pre-workout breakfast, for example, of egg whites, steak, and cream of wheat with fruit topping. By 4:30 a.m. he’s doing cardio for about an hour, and afterward eating another meal. From there, The Rock does strength and conditioning training as well as stretching for about an hour more. When it comes to food, Dwayne doesn’t restrict himself to only proteins and veggies like many actors do. Instead, the Hercules star insists, “Carbs are your friend,” and incorporates starches like rice and potatoes into his meals. Johnson consumes between five and seven thousand calories per day which includes fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and greens to maintain his 6-foot 2-and-a-half-inch, 260-pound frame.

Chris Evans

The Captain America actor Chris Evans has described his “brutal” two-hour workout sessions that start three months before his first shoot day. But what he finds most challenging is having to eat enormous quantities of food. “Just eating everything all the time,” he reflects. “See, you think it sounds nice, but it’s not just like cheeseburgers. You have to eat these just bland naked pieces of chicken and rice and it’s not that appetizing. You’re just so full–it’s a pretty uncomfortable feeling.” Evans is candid about how he pumps iron before shoots as well as between takes–and he does so several days in a row when on set. “As a result, you’re working out pretty much the entire day,” he says.

Michael B. Jordan

When it came to shredding up for his Creed role portraying boxer Adonis Creed, Michael B. Jordan described his regimen of eating “brown rice, grilled chicken, broccoli, a gallon and a half of water a day and working out two to three times a day six times a week for about a year and a half.” But for his Black Panther role as the supervillain Erik Killmonger, Jordan wanted a more formidable, bulky build. So, the star ate every two-and-a-half hours, a total of six times per day, and that included a lot of carbohydrates. Six days a week, he worked out two to three times per day with bench presses, lat pulldowns, deadlifts, and more. Jordan indeed bulked up to 193 pounds, and then he pared down to 184 just before the shoot.

Sylvester Stallone

Sylvester Stallone is known to change up his exercise routine on a regular basis, although his workouts are relatively short–about an hour each day, fives times per week. However, he regards food to be of more importance. In the 1990s, the Rocky star talked about a method he’d “adhered to for years.” During the weekdays, he’d consume as low as 11 hundred calories per day. But this practice would lead to ravenous hunger by the time the weekend came around. So for two days, he’d allow himself to gorge on nine thousand calories in a day. “You could turn into the biggest hog in the universe, and you won’t gain an ounce and you get it all out of your system,” he said. But Stallone always proved he was able to tame his appetite each subsequent Monday and get back to his strict dietary weekday routine.

Zac Efron

For his role as a marine sergeant in The Lucky One, Zac Efron had to put on 17 pounds. A Navy SEAL helped the 24-year-old star get in shape for the role, and Efron admitted the physical training consumed his life. Besides intensive weight lifting, Zac was required to eat large quantities of food–and in particular, chicken. “I was eating so much chicken breasts, the hardest part about it was actually chewing it all. So I would just put it into a blender, blend it all up, and just drink chicken,” he admitted. Zac would order prepackaged foods amounting to a whopping six thousand calories each day.

Chris Pratt

Jurassic World’s Chris Pratt insists it’s pretty simple to transform his figure for the sake of a role. What it really requires is “consistency and dedication.” Pratt sacrifices what he enjoys like sugar, alcohol, and eating out at restaurants and follows up with physically exhausting exercise. “The secret is you can’t do it in a month. It takes eight months–or a year, or a lifetime … you have to burn off all the crap you put into your body, and then you have to replace it with good food and fuel.” And he asks, “So who do you want to be in eight months from now?”

 

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