I saw X-Men Origins: Wolverine last weekend and it was great. Many a-hole fanboys will hate on this movie because it doesn’t stay 100% true to the comic book origin of Wolverine or Deadpool, but those guys should just go see Star Trek or something, because Wolverine was just awesome.
Hugh Jackman: Wolverine
Standing at 6’3, Hugh Jackman is looking pretty large and jacked these days and I was curious about what he did to prep for the Wolverine role. Here is what I could find out about Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine Workout.
The Training Plan
There are two phases, each of which last from 6 to 12 weeks depending on progress and results, and are repeated indefinitely or until trainee (in this case Jackman) meets his or her goals.
Training sessions last about 90 minutes, 5 days per week. The last week of each phase is a recovery week in which trainees only lift once and fill the rest of the days with pilates, yoga, stretching, and running.
Rumors are that lots of Metallica, Godsmack, and screaming are involved in Hugh’s X-Men workouts.
Weight Training Phase 1 – Building Mass
The first thing Hugh’s trainer focused on, was building muscle mass. Wolverine should not look like a bodybuilder, but he is definitely a jacked up hero. I think the idea here was to bulk Jackman up a little bit, then harden him up and lean him out. Good plan.
Mass building is accomplished by increasing time under tension, which shreds the muscle fibers and causes hypertrophy, or muscle growth. Jackman was lifting with a 3 second concentric (up, contract) and 1 second eccentric (down, stretch).
He focuses on bench-press variations, barbell lunges, squats, and leg presses, among other staples.
Jackman gained 15 pounds of muscle during Phase 1 of his preparation for X-Men Origins.
Weight Training Phase 2 – Building Strength
Next, Hugh’s trainer wanted to harden him up by focusing on strength. While the Wolverine character does not necessarily need to be strong, thanks to special effects and stunt-doubles, though Jackman does perform most of his own stunts, more importantly though was need to harden up that newly built muscle.
No stranger to strength training, Jackman successfully benched 315 lbs and leg-pressed 1,000 lbs prepping for X-Men: The Last Stand.
Wolverine needs to appear athletic, so special attention was focused on functional training. Because Hugh Jackman is a super rich Hollywood movie star, he has time to train for 2 hours 5 days a week AND attend a Friday bootcamp workout class for an hour and a half.
I just ripped on Hugh a bit there, but seriously, bootcamp workouts and high intensity martial arts training are unbelievable ways to shed fat and become more athletic. I’ve been super busy in life lately, but I’ve been seriously considering getting back into the old kickboxing class to get in shape for summer. But I digress…
Yoga and pilates are no joke. If you are a burly man you might laugh at me, but don’t knock it til you try it. I personally enjoy yoga and I wish I could attend a weekly class. If only I had more money and more time.
Jackman is no stranger to flexibility either, as he perfected key tai chi forms and groin-shredding yoga positions for The Fountain.
I keep repeating this same idea over and over, and Jackman’s trainer agrees with me: variety facilitates adaptation.
What you can adjust in your workouts:
- number of sets
- number of reps
- tempo (up and down count)
- training split (whole body workout vs. body part specialization)
- training frequency (2 or 3 days a week vs. 5 days a week)
- intensity (strength, hypertrophy, endurance, HIIT)
- extra workouts (yoga, bootcamp, pilates, martial arts)
Hugh Jackman does not set goals. He believes so highly in himself, that he refuses to limit himself by setting goals. Instead of setting goals he seeks defining moments.
“I don’t set goals in life.
In this country, people are all about goal setting. And I concede, to a point, how it can help you get going. But we limit ourselves with goals. We have far more ability than we give ourselves credit for. You see that in people under pressure.
How does someone run a 100-meter race at the Olympics? When it’s once every 4 years, with everything they’ve done leading to that? It can’t just be adrenaline. Maybe it’s just the mind getting out of the way.”
That fear [of failure] holds all of us back, and that’s the toughest thing about aging. With age, you see people fail more. You see yourself fail more.
How do you keep that fearlessness of a kid? You keep going. Luckily, I’m not afraid to make a fool of myself.”
– Hugh Jackman
To keep himself healthy, lean, and to aid recovery, Jackman reportedly ate 6 meals a day consisting mainly of vegetables and lean protein.
He admittedly eats 1000 calories a day more than normal when training for an athletic role in an action flick.
Jackman, being rich and famous as I mentioned before, also forced himself to undergo massage therapy every day, the poor guy. Man it must be tough leading such a busy lifestyle.
But seriously, massage therapy, specifically deep tissue massage and the graston technique, really break up adhesion and scar tissue, and promote blood flow to damaged tissues, all of which help speed muscle recovery.
You might be surprised to know that Jackman’s trainer has a theory about muscle soreness:
“If you’ve pushed so hard you are sore, the worst thing is to actually sit there and do nothing.”
However, when Hugh was seriously burned out and tired, he would get a day off. As we all know, recovery and growth only happens when you rest.
You Can Train Like Wolverine
In order to put together a workout like Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine Workout, you can alter a generic full body workout routine by changing set and rep counts and switching exercises. When you get sick of that, you can try something different like a 3×5 approach to strength training.
Next, go out and find a class you can take a couple times a week. Whether it’s martial arts, kickboxing, boxing, bookcamp, yoga, whatever… find something new. Trick your body into stimulating new growth.