As Michael B Jordan prepares to play the son of Apollo Creed in the latest of the¬†Rocky movies, the¬†Fantastic Four star reveals how he transformed his physique to protray a world-class boxer so you can KO your fitness goals.
Few movie franchises are¬†more iconic than the¬†Rocky series. It‚Äôs already¬†a staggering six reels¬†deep with the seventh,¬†Creed, set to hit theaters¬†soon. And with all the¬†previous movies in the¬†series having been box¬†office successes, and all¬†of them beloved by fans the world over,¬†the pressure was really on Sylvester¬†Stallone‚Äôs young co-star, Michael B Jordan,¬†to act and move like a genuine boxer.
But rather than being intimidated,¬†Jordan took to the challenge with gusto¬†despite his previous acting credits perhaps¬†suggesting he may not have been born for¬†the role. The 28-year-old cut his teeth on¬†possibly the most significant TV dramas of¬†the past decade, The Wire and Friday Night¬†Lights. However, until recently he lacked¬†the physical presence to be believable as a¬†fighter intent on destroying opponents.
Fortunately, his ability to whole-heartedly¬†inhabit his characters has turned him into¬†one of Hollywood‚Äôs hottest young stars.¬†Combine this talent with newly trained¬†boxing skills and box-fresh slabs of muscle¬†and you have a winning recipe that all but¬†guarantees the continued success of the¬†Rocky series.
Read on to discover how he exercised,¬†ate and got into a fighter‚Äôs mental frame¬†of mind to deliver a knockout performance.¬†Use his secrets to improve your ability to¬†fight fitter, eat better and add new brawn to¬†your frame.
GETTING IN FIGHTING SHAPE
Hollywood has proved that¬†boxing movies aren‚Äôt the kind of flicks where¬†you can go in halfhearted. The training is¬†real and the pain is agonizing because the¬†believability of the end result is acutely at the¬†viewer‚Äôs discretion.
Fortunately, Jordan doesn‚Äôt disappoint.
‚ÄúFor this one, we really went there,‚ÄĚ he smiles,¬†as if to reflect on all the hard work he did. ‚ÄúI boxed¬†like it was my job, lifted weights, ran and dieted. If¬†you want to move and look like an athlete, you have¬†to train like one so that's what we did. I was trying¬†to get as close as I could be to a real fighter. And it¬†was pretty cool. I put on just shy of 25lb of muscle,¬†and that was all through diet and exercise.
‚ÄúDiet is the key, and it was funny because¬†I was training and dieting for Creed while¬†filming Fantastic Four, so I was locked in with¬†that but then I¬†would be eating every¬†three hours for Creed.
‚ÄúAnd with the training, it's all about¬†dedication and focus. You put in the¬†work and trust the process. And I¬†was very fortunate ‚Äď being around¬†so many amazing athletes on this¬†film with Tony Bellew (former light¬†two-weight world title contender)¬†and Andre Ward (current WBA super¬†middleweight champion).
‚ÄúI also spent some time with¬†Amir Khan and Floyd Mayweather.¬†Watching them and working with¬†them was incredible, just studying¬†them and picking their brains.‚ÄĚ
When you want to perform at your¬†best it‚Äôs worthwhile training with¬†the experts in that field. This is done¬†a lot in multi-discipline sports like¬†triathlons where athletes train with¬†pro cyclists or swimmers.
Jordan‚Äôs schedule¬†wasn‚Äôt something he¬†undertook lightly. It was a grueling¬†all-day affair that was¬†meticulously planned. ‚ÄúI¬†would do my boxing training and also¬†hit up the gym during the day,‚ÄĚ he¬†explains. ‚ÄúWith my weight sessions¬†I‚Äôd hit a different body part every¬†day: chest day, leg day, bicep and¬†triceps, shoulders and back. But¬†then I'd always mix in a bit of full-body¬†functional training. It would be¬†your bodybuilding¬†power stuff, but¬†also a lot of¬†bodyweight¬†and functional¬†stuff so that I¬†was loose¬†and agile.
‚ÄúThe workout on Creed was wide-ranging,¬†with the mix of weights and¬†bodyweight stuff, the traditional¬†boxing stuff: heavy bag sets, speed¬†bag sets, pad work, sparring, skipping¬†and then running for cardio.
‚ÄúRest was key as well, because I'd¬†be spending hours upon hours in the¬†gym. You want the rest and time for¬†your muscles to grow.‚ÄĚ¬†Jordan was fortunate enough to¬†work with a seasoned trainer Corey¬†Calliet (callietfitness.com) who had¬†nothing but praise for the star‚Äôs work¬†ethic.
‚ÄúBefore this, Michael never worked¬†out a lot; he maybe played a little¬†basketball,‚ÄĚ says Calliet. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs lucky¬†enough to have some great genetics¬†because he had unrealistically good¬†biceps and back shape and it didn't¬†take a lot to wake those muscles up.‚ÄĚ
But there was some hard work,¬†since getting into shape didn‚Äôt always¬†come easy for Jordan. ‚ÄúMichael¬†complained about everything,‚ÄĚ smiles¬†Calliet. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôd say, 'I don‚Äôt want to do¬†it' or 'I don‚Äôt feel like it.' But if he said¬†it hurt bad ‚Äď we‚Äôd just go harder. We‚Äôd¬†always do the opposite to what he¬†said, and the one thing about him is¬†that he‚Äôd always work out.‚ÄĚ
That‚Äôs the golden rule for training¬†success because you‚Äôre not going¬†to feel like sweating every day, but¬†once you get started you can usually¬†follow through with a great workout.
To the right are samples of the¬†exact sessions Jordan used to push¬†himself through the pain barrier.
On screen there‚Äôs¬†nowhere to hide that extra bit of¬†weight you shouldn‚Äôt be carrying. This¬†is when diet becomes so important,¬†and Jordan had some strict¬†strategies for achieving this.
‚ÄúWhen I‚Äôm in training¬†I eat my carbs in the¬†morning, but none after¬†lunch,‚ÄĚ he explains. ‚ÄúThe¬†key things in my diet are¬†chicken, broccoli,¬†asparagus, brown¬†rice, grits, eggs,¬†turkey sausage,¬†tilapia, steamed¬†veggies, lean steak and protein¬†shakes. And then I have one cheat¬†day a week, which is helpful because¬†I have to fight my sweet tooth.¬†Knowing that I have that cheat day is¬†a great help.‚ÄĚ
And that‚Äôs a smart move because¬†a study at the University of Illinois¬†found that in the long term a high¬†protein diet was best for keeping¬†lean. What‚Äôs more, researchers¬†found that participants with the¬†highest success didn‚Äôt devotedly¬†stick to the diet plans with every¬†meal ‚Äď they cheated every so often¬†and still lost weight. Proof that as¬†long as the majority of your diet is¬†full of healthy foods you don‚Äôt have¬†to be a drill sergeant with your knife¬†and fork.
‚ÄúGetting into shape is like 80%¬†diet, and I eat every three hours¬†or so,‚ÄĚ explains Jordan I eat six or¬†seven times a day, depending on how¬†late I get up. I‚Äôve spent a lot of time¬†indoors working out and staying to¬†myself on Creed, and it was honestly¬†life-changing from a mental and¬†physical standpoint.
‚ÄúAlso, the diet would change¬†slightly depending on the process,¬†but chicken, broccoli and rice were¬†always there. To put on weight I‚Äôd¬†really just up the calories, and if I had¬†a heavy session I‚Äôd eat accordingly¬†before hand.‚ÄĚ
That‚Äôs even more proof the¬†concrete results truly are forged¬†in the kitchen.
Taking a break from his brutal boxing¬†regime, Jordan sat down with TRAIN¬†to discuss why this movie has¬†become a passion of his.
‚ÄúMan, I love this project, and I¬†think people will love it when they see¬†it,‚ÄĚ he smiles. ‚ÄúGetting to work with¬†(director) Ryan Coogler again after¬†Fruitvale Station, the legacy of the¬†world, Sylvester Stallone, the role, the¬†physical aspect, the cast and crew ‚Äď¬†this one is special. And then having¬†Sly so involved was mind-blowing.
‚ÄúIt was a surreal feeling ad-libbing¬†with Sly as Rocky and training with¬†guys like Tony Bellew. The dynamic¬†between my character Adonis¬†Johnson and Sly‚Äôs Rocky is really¬†interesting because I‚Äôm playing the¬†son of Rocky‚Äôs long-time friend,¬†and former rival, Apollo Creed.¬†My character and Rocky both¬†come from two different¬†worlds, two different¬†generations. And obviously¬†there‚Äôs a lot of baggage from¬†the events of Rocky IV.‚ÄĚ
With that level of excitement Jordan¬†has had a long time to mentally¬†prepare for the demands of the movie.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve known about the project for¬†nearly three years, so it was something¬†I‚Äôve been slowly, quietly developing¬†and working out and training for and¬†thinking about,‚ÄĚ he explains. ‚ÄúAnd my¬†trainer, Corey Calliet, has been working¬†with me for nearly two years, he‚Äôs¬†changed everything for me with his¬†whole thing of ‚Äėprogress not perfect.‚Äô‚ÄĚ
So although it might seem like¬†Jordan has suddenly carved out a new¬†physique in record time, his is a journey¬†that‚Äôs been in progress for some years.¬†Proof that results are never¬†instant.