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Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine workout |

Health And Family

Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine workout

WELL-BEING - Mylene Mendoza-Dayrit - The Philippine Star

It’s summer in the US, when a lot of big movies hit the screen. One of them, The Wolverine starring Hugh Jackman, will open in more than 200 cinemas on Thursday, July 25. It’s produced by 20th Century Fox and distributed by Warner Bros.

Jackman, who’s one of the producers of the movie, is the fittest he has ever been. He was trained rigorously by Australian fitness expert and personal trainer Michael Ryan to achieve the rugged, ripped, and iconic hard physique of Logan the Wolverine. The action thriller, masterfully directed by James Mangold, chronicles the journey of Logan from America, where he has been living as a hermit, to Tokyo where he gets entangled in a web of deceit and treachery.

In between shooting breaks, Jackman and Ryan spoke to celebrity interviewer Elaine Lipworth who asked about their workout secrets.

Logan says

Jackman relates, “This movie takes place a long time after X-Men’s Origins: Wolverine, many years into the future. Wolverine is on a journey in a foreign land, a new world with completely new characters where he gradually comes out of himself and is forced to face who he is. He has to embrace his real nature. He can no longer hide away in a cave. This is definitely the most personal of all the stories about Wolverine. You find him as low as you will ever see him. At the beginning of the movie Wolverine is really lost. He has lost everyone in his life and is now living on his own, away from the world. He is almost living like a hermit. He’s not at peace with himself, with his own nature, with his claws, with anything. It is as though his entire life up to this point has brought him nothing but misery, pain, and destruction, and he has reached a point at which he’s done with it. But then he is reluctantly drawn into the world of Japan. I can’t explain exactly why that happens,  it’s got to do with something in his past,” relates Jackman about the movie.

“Wolverine is a troubled, dark guy. He’s not necessarily a nice guy, but he is good-hearted. He is also a loyal man. He can’t stand injustice and he will step up when it’s right to do that, but he’s a reluctant hero at best if he’s a hero at all and he marches to the beat of his own drum. He lives his own life. People often ask me, ‘Does it ever feel like you’re doing the same thing every time?’ I’ve never felt that though. This character has so much depth. He is extraordinary, but on many levels he is also incredibly human and I find his journey fascinating. His lows are as low as you can get and the pain he feels is something everyone can relate to. Over the years I’ve only found that my appreciation of Logan/Wolverine has deepened.”

When asked about the breathtaking action and stunt work in the film, he replies, “We have been working with a fantastic group called 87Eleven. I’ve worked with them before and they are at the top of their game. We’re going to show you action that has never been seen before. I know that is easy to say, but let me tell you it is really amazing. This kind of never-seen-before action is very difficult to pull off. Everyone has to take a few risks and that’s what we’re doing in this film. The preparation has been second to none. Wolverine is a guy who’s dealing with a new fighting style in Japan and he doesn’t always win in this movie. So he has to learn from the losses or the mistakes. He has to learn the way of the samurai, the way of Japanese martial arts and he has to learn about how to be better. That’s exciting and challenging and cool, and it meant that personally I had to learn that, too. We really deliver that badass, kickass Wolverine this time. This film is totally very different from the other X-Men movies. It’s got the massive action sequences that people would expect and it is going to be great fun, but it is about a guy who is completely out of his element.”

“Personally, I trained harder and started earlier,” he quips when asked about his physical preparation for the movie. “They beat me up all day in training! Even though the weapons and Wolverine’s claws are fake, you are always a fraction away from getting hurt. So you can’t miss your timing. I also ate more boringly and ate more than I’ve ever done before. Physically, I wanted Wolverine to look perfect. We’re striving for the hole in one with this film in every way.”

Jackman on Wolverine: “Wolverine is a troubled, dark guy. He’s not necessarily a nice guy, but he is good-hearted. He is also a loyal man. He lives his own life.”

Jackman says he can personally relate to Wolverine, “From my point of view, I think what Wolverine represents in a way is all the qualities that I would like to embody more often: real strength and loyalty and the ability to face any foe. But he is also flawed. He struggles with human relationships. I have a 12-year-old boy, and he’ll say: ‘Dad, Wolverine is just so badass.’ The 12- or 13-year-olds say: ‘I want to grow up and be like Wolverine.’  If there’s someone you want on your team, it’s Wolverine and if there’s someone you don’t want to annoy, it’s Wolverine. You know there’s something pretty cool about that combination. I think in the comic book history, he didn’t have the strongest powers, but he was the most feared and most fearsome because of his heart.  He would never give up, he would never say ‘die’.”

He adds, “At the end of the day when I’m old and in my wheelchair and someone asks,  â€˜Which movie should I watch about that great character Wolverine?’ I want to say, ‘Watch The Wolverine.’ I’m really excited about the film. We had an amazing script by Chris McQuarrie and Mangold is a fantastic director. We have a great group of actors and a fantastic crew.”

Jackman’s physical trainer says

Jackman followed an intensive training program designed by Michael Ryan that involved stamina, strength and sheer resolve. Ryan, a highly respected expert in all aspects of fitness training, has a degree in industrial design specializing in the design of exercise equipment. He has worked as Hugh Jackman’s personal trainer on many of his films including X2: X-Men United, X-Men The Last Stand, Van Helsing, Australia, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

When asked how long he has worked with Hugh, Ryan says, “I started working with Hugh back in the late ’80s, believe it or not. Hugh hadn’t started acting at that time. He was a struggling university student studying communications. He came to the gym where I was teaching aerobics and working as a gym floor instructor. I had quite a popular following, but suddenly this new guy on the block (Hugh) arrived and was getting all the attention (laughs). So rather than getting annoyed about that, I became his friend. We instantly became great mates. Hugh was very thin and asked me to train him so I showed him how to get good results in a time-efficient manner. Over the years that followed, we worked out together and hung out together a lot. And of course, he started acting and became a great actor. We have remained good friends over the years. He was the best man at my wedding, so we’re very close as you can imagine.”

When asked how he trained Jackman, Ryan says, “The first thing I should point out is that Hugh never stops training.  He always trains, not just when he needs to look a certain way for a specific role. He always begins from a solid base of fitness and strength. He never loses his muscle mass, which means we can build on that foundation very quickly. Also when we are working here in Australia we use a ‘DEXA-scan’, which is a bit like an x-ray. It enables you to see your skeleton. It accurately measures muscle, fat, hydration, and bone density and it only takes three minutes to scan the body. I’ve used that with Hugh over the past six years and it’s an absolute benchmark for measurements. So I can track what we’ve achieved and what differences there are right down to each body part. I can tell you if his left leg is slightly bigger than his right leg, or if his right bicep needs a bit of work. This scan allows me to see all of these details, but the ultimate measurement is the ratio of body fat to muscle. We are able to track that and refine everything accordingly in our workouts.  

“You have to be scientific so that there’s no guesswork. A lot of people judge how fit they are by how they look in the mirror and while that is relevant, it’s better to have an accurate measure. Also because Hugh and I are very competitive, we both have our scans at the same time. We joke about who is going to get the best results and who’s going to be depressed at the end of it (laughs). After Hugh’s scan for The Wolverine, he saw that he had more muscle than he’s ever had in his life and less body fat. His confidence level went through the roof. Hugh looks amazing in the film, he is so vascular it is quite extraordinary. I call him Spaghetti Biceps. I’ve watched him over the years become more and more vascular. The more the body trains over the years, the more it continues to improve. That has definitely happened with Hugh.

“Initially we were working on building muscle to get him as big as possible for that ripped Wolverine physique. We used traditional lifting techniques, standard pressing and squatting movements, which are very effective. We also did a lot of heavy lifting. Then, we introduced what we call three-dimensional movements. They engage core activity. Imagine someone rowing: his or her upper body is working three-dimensionally. It’s twisting, it’s turning, it’s engaged in different types of movement. To be honest, I’m a strong believer in traditional training. Don’t tell me one exercise is better than another. It’s about doing a combination of training and styles.

“We work with all the muscle groups using regular body building methods but we never train the same muscle groups at the same time. A lot of people will only train the chest or triceps or the back and biceps, but we will do many sessions where we’ll swap everything around. We will do chest and back or biceps and triceps. We work with opposing muscle groups. The training is massively varied. The goal is to shock the body in order to create change.”

“We always start with a warm-up session. Sometimes we’ll do a long, slow 40-minute cardio buildup, but other times, we’ll do a shorter 20-minute warm-up and we might use interval training to get that heart rate right up. Each full session was two hours long. For The Wolverine, we predominantly focused on rowing, cycling (on a stationary bike), and elliptical training. Hugh also did some boxing. We used a product called Boxmaster that’s just been invented for training people how to box. Hugh was amazing. What he does with the Boxmaster blows your mind away.

 â€œHe is positive. It all comes down to how we train together. If I am feeling a bit down, which doesn’t happen often, Hugh prides himself on bringing me back up to a high level and I do the same for him. We have the ability to take each other to a positive state of mind in a very short period of time. That is what is unique about our relationship and that explains the incredible results we get when we train. We inspire each other. Also, I wouldn’t ever ask him to do anything I wouldn’t do myself.  The typical trainer would ask the actor or client to do an exercise, but we do everything together. It helps that we are almost identical in weight, height, and strength, even down to the amount of muscle. His only advantage is that he has less body fat than me. But that’s just because he’s a little more strict with his diet when he’s preparing for movies. 

“He doesn’t drink when he is training. He’s so bloody strict and so disciplined it is mind-blowing. One of the biggest challenges we had with this movie was keeping the weight on Hugh though because beyond all the training we were doing, he was on the set working very long hours and the movie itself was amazingly physical. So he did not consume a specific number of calories. We judged it on a daily basis but essentially we were making sure he was eating every two or two-and-a-half hours.

“It was extremely important that we were fueling his body with the right nutrients. Protein was important, but he also ate carbohydrates up until lunchtime because he was using so much energy. In the morning, we tend to train on an empty stomach. But sometimes he would have a small meal like oatmeal or a protein smoothie first. After training he would have breakfast: eight egg whites and two yolks scrambled with avocado and a piece of whole-wheat toast. He’d spread a bit of marmalade or peanut butter on the toast. A natural bodybuilder told us that it was good to add marmalade and Hugh enjoys that. It is a treat!”

 â€œAfter lunch, meals would consist of protein and vegetables. He would eat whatever the chefs cooked on set. One day he’d be eating fish at eight or nine in the morning, followed by steak a couple of hours later, followed by chicken. But every two hours he would eat 40 grams of protein: meat, fish, tuna, chicken or turkey. He would also eat ‘good carbohydrates’ such as sweet potato or brown rice up until lunch. And there were always vegetables and plenty of salad. He would eat a little fruit, too. He’d get very hungry; his appetite is extraordinary while he is in training.”

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