Movie roles have been known to change actors’ lives for the better, and often times their bodies, as well. From Gerard Butler to Christian Bale to any Marvel movie star ever, celebs have been bulking up to look camera ready for their latest projects, and some have even looked so chiseled that they caught the Academy’s attention.
Want abs of steel like Superman or Thor? You can learn a thing or two from these 20 jacked actors who’ve gone through it all to get completely jacked for their movies.
Gerard Butler in 300
Gerard Butler is the standard to which all jacked actors aspire to surpass. The actor spent four months of hardcore training transforming his body into the chiseled and brutal build of King Leonidas in 300. But he couldn’t have done it without world-class mountain climber and Gym Jones founder Mark Twight, who believes you should feel queasy after a “good” workout. This man established the “300-rep Spartan Workout,” which, according to Men’s Health, consisted of performing 25 pull-ups, 50 deadlifts with 135 pounds, 50 pushups, 50 jumps on a 24-inch box, 50 floor wipers, 50 single-arm clean-and-presses using a 36-pound kettlebell and 25 more pullups without in-between breaks … among other exercises.
Brad Pitt in Fight Club
To get the sick pecs and abs needed for Fight Club, Brad Pitt endured a five-day workout and strict diet to ensure he reduced his body fat to five percent — and it paid off. The jacked actor focused on developing one specific set of muscles each day to give each adequate time to rest while maintaining a consistent routine.
Henry Cavill in Man of Steel
It’s no surprise that the Man of Steel has abs of steel, but he did so with Gerard Butler’s miracle worker Mark Twight, who monitored Cavill through all his workouts. So, in essence, the “Man of Steel Workout” is the “300 Workout” … right? He’s not just a jacked actor, he’s Superman, for God’s sake!
Chris Pratt in Zero Dark Thirty
Chris Pratt went from flab to jacked for his Navy SEAL role in Zero Dark Thirty. He told PEOPLE that he was doing 500 daily pushups, running five miles a day and working out at the gym while barely eating anything. This, obviously, made him sick and caused some physical injuries. So, for Guardians of the Galaxy, he ended up eating more by healthier food.
Tom Hardy in Bronson
Tom Hardy looked like a beast as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, but he already had the makings of jacked actor for his role in Bronson. He packed on some major muscle after his role in RocknRolla. “There was no official regime,” he told AskMen. “I did very non-specific exercises such as press-ups, push-ups, abs work and resistance training with the help of my boy Pnut, who is 16 stone of pure muscle and also an ex-US Marine.”
Hugh Jackman in the X-Men Movies
In order to get in the berserker mindset of Wolverine in the X-Men movies, Hugh Jackman said he would take some cold-as-hell showers before going on set. But his body seems like he’s been bulking up more and more with each new movie. For The Wolverine, the jacked actor was hooked up with David Kingsbury and worked long days, sometimes only getting 5-6 hours of sleep.
Daniel Craig in Casino Royale
Daniel Craig walking on the beach in those tiny swim trunks is now a classic movie image, and the ladies should thank former Royal Marine Simon Waterson. The trainer logged a ton of man hours with 007 to get him into international-man-of-mystery shape through a “blend of power lifting, with a lot of compound exercises thrown in,” he told GQ UK.
Chris Hemsworth in Thor
It takes a lot of dedication to look like the God of Thunder, especially when you look the way Chris Hemsworth did in Ca$h, the movie he made before Thor. Thankfully, the man had former Navy SEAL Duffy Gaver with him to give him arms and shoulders worthy of Mjolnir. If you a want to rock it like Thor, click on over to Muscle and Fitness for the workout.
Christian Bale in Batman Begins
Christian Bale is not afraid to manipulate his body for roles. He dropped an anorexic amount of weight for The Machinist, he packed on some pounds for American Hustle, and he got totally jacked for Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Through a combination of core and resistance training, coupled with plyometrics, he was able to gain the muscle he needed. Funny enough, director Christopher Nolan had him drop 20 pounds because he looked too bulky.
Bradley Cooper in American Sniper
American Sniper, the film based on the memoir of Chris Kyle, known as the most lethal sniper in US history, doesn’t come out in theaters until next month, but we’ve already seen photos of what Bradley Cooper looks like in the role. Spoiler alert: you won’t wanna mess with him. Through an unspecified “rigorous diet and exercise routine,” according to USA Today, he put on 40 pounds for the role.
Mark Wahlberg in Pain & Gain
Dwayne Johnson always looked like The Rock, but when we saw Mark Wahlberg stand opposite him in Pain & Gain, we almost shit a few bricks. “I was training five days a week,” the actor told Muscle and Fitness of his workout regime that brought him to 212 pounds. “I’d start with benching, and then I’d do my squats and lunges, then I’d do a lot of old-school stuff.”
Ryan Reynolds in Blade: Trinity
One of the more classic stories of actors getting jacked for roles is Ryan Reynolds in Blade: Trinity. The future Green Lantern and Deadpool gained 25 pounds of muscle for the role, and the transformation changed his life. As he told Men’s Fitness, “it taught me you can actually do things that were previously impossible.”
Jake Gyllenhaal in Jarhead
Jake Gyllenhaal was coming off of Proof and Brokeback Mountain when he gained 25 pounds of muscle for the role of US Marine Anthony Swafford. To get into fighting shape, the actor endured daily rounds of running, swimming and cycling, in addition to lifting weights directly after these intense bouts of cardio.
Chris Evans in Captain America
Chris Evans was filming a movie in Boston when Marvel sent a London trainer out to beef him up for the first Captain America movie. As he described to press previously, he worked out with him for three months in Boston for three hours of brutal weight training a day. But the worst part for him was having to eat a ton of bland food, like chicken and rice.
Alexander Ludwig in Lone Survivor
Alexander Ludwig went from a puny kid star in The Seeker and Race to Witch Mountain to a hulking mass of muscle in The Hunger Games and Lone Survivor. And the kid is only 22 years old! Though he bulked up for the first Hunger Games, he had to gain an even more incredible amount of mass for the Peter Berg war movie — and it shows.
Jason Statham in The Transporter
Jason Statham didn’t need a trainer to become the living weapon of The Transporter. He did it all himself, increasing his gym time and taking more time to learn about mixed martial arts. That’s why he could do most of the stunts in the movie himself.
Jamie Foxx in Any Given Sunday
Oscar winner Jamie Foxx portrayed a football player for the 1999 film Any Given Sunday. To look the part, he lifted weights until he was at a whopping 200 pounds. But he then dropped about 20 after he progressed to real-life football drill training.
Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler
In portraying a professional wrestler, it was only natural that Mickey Rourke trained with an actual one. The star of The Wrestler hit the gym with Afa the Wild Samoan, and the months of hard work paid off. He did earn an Oscar nomination, after all.
Will Smith in Ali
Will Smith did everything he could to get into the headspace of Muhammad Ali for the film Ali, even calling in an Islamic instructor, and he also had to work his butt off to get into tip-top fighting shape. He worked with trainer Darrell Foster, who had been a boxing and fitness coach for 18 years before he started training Smith, so the actor was in pretty good hands.
Edward Norton in American History X
When people think of one-time Hulk and Fight Club star Edward Norton, no one really thinks of a chiseled piece of man meat. Though, he had to become one for his role in American History X. In taking on the role of neo-Nazi skinhead Derek Vinyard, a role that changed his career for the better, he utilized a high-protein diet and strength-building exercises.