Down through the years, Hollywood has had the privilege of having some rugged, hard as nails, Australian tough guys. Men like Mel Gibson and Russell Crowe spring to mind, creating legendary screen characters such as Mad Max and Gladiator.
Creating a total contrast in terms of the stereotypical Australian was Guy Pierce, a clean cut, suave, ladies man. All in all, these three Australian exports drove the Hollywood fans wild. Women wanted to be with them and men wanted to be like them.
Then, out of nowhere came the X-Man, Hugh Jackman, pretty much a hybrid of all that is great about Australia. He's tall, strong, athletic and a bit of a charmer and ladies man; the latter he most likely inherited from some Irish ancestry somewhere down the line, which is most likely why he was voted People Magazine's World's Sexiest Man 2008!
I however, think it's only because I was not in the running, due to obligations elsewhere, and Bodybuilding.com's Editor-In-Chief, Kris Gethin, swears it was all politics and he was robbed for the title. His wife, Marika, swears to him that he should have won.
Jacko, as we like to call him, first came to prominence in the X-Men movies as the bad @ss, take no crap, I'll F*&k you up if you mess with me, 'Wolverine.' And at 6-foot-3 he is indeed a menacing figure. Add to the fact that the man can bench press 315 pounds and leg press 1,000 pounds.
When talking about his feats of strength, Jackman is quoted as saying, "I pretty much shat myself," on the leg press that is. Good to know that he likes to keep that Australian class and decorum alive and well, eh!
From researching Hugh Jackman and his fitness regimen, I've learned that he likes to keep it Australian! I believe the saying here in the states is that he likes to "keep it real."
From my experience of training athletes, I have dealt with many Australian rugby players, and to say they are hardcore is an understatement to say the least. They work hard, train hard and play hard; for them there is no other way. After all, they do come from a country that was founded as a prison colony.
What I think is most amazing about all of this is that Jacko is not a typical athlete. He is an actor through and through, and his physique is merely a byproduct of his quest to make his roles more realistic.
This was a bit of a surprise to me as I have never met an un-athletic Aussie before; even the Oscar winner Russell Crowe is an avid sports fan, so much so that he owns a professional rugby league team back in Australia.
Crowe is such a sports fan that he even tried to invent his own sport some time back. I cannot remember the specifics of it, but it did involve a telephone, a hotel room, and a hotel bell boy's face. It didn't take off and wound up in the same place as the WBF and XFL. Pity really, sounded like a bit of fun.
Alright so, enough of the background malarkey, let's get into the nitty gritty of The Hugh Jackman approach to fitness. Most people at Bodybuilding.com are motivated by the quest for a better physique, or becoming a better athlete in general. Jackman however, uses his upcoming role as motivation for his training.
When getting ready for the X-Men movie, Jackman would keep the routine basic: weights and cardio, plenty of bench press variations, lunges, light squats, and leg presses, the usual bodybuilding staples.
In an interview with Men's Health Magazine, Jackman said, "I'd change it up every 3 weeks ... Three weeks heavy with lots of rest between sets. Then change to lighter weight, slower reps, four count up, four count down. Then mix in fast, explosive lifting, always changing the workout."
This does not include warm-up sets, and the progression is to increase weight with each and every set, maximizing force output each and every set.
This is the bread and butter of any bodybuilding routine; if you are not bench pressing, you might as well be pissing against the wind. As stated in an interview, Jackman was pushing 315 pounds; that's three plates each side for all you math geniuses.
This exercise should never be performed too heavy. The emphasis here is on stretching and squeezing the muscle. For Jackman's movie roles as Wolverine or even Van Helsing, he needed to not only be super buff, but also have the elasticity in the muscle to perform the athletic movements required to be a credible superhero.
This exercise is an amazing back developer; it recruits all of the back muscles throughout the movement, while also utilizing the core stabilizers to avoid swinging during the exercise. Weight can be hung from the performer as they get more competent at the exercise.
You're dead in the water in terms of achieving your bodybuilding goals if this exercise is not in your routine. Had I been training Van Helsing or Wolverine, I most definitely would have had this in the gym bag. It not only works the back, but also the legs, especially the glutes and hamstrings, but also the arms which are isometrically contracted throughout the exercise.
Taking a narrow-grip handle, the main focus is on the stretch and squeeze. Again, we don't want our superhero to become muscle bound now do we? This exercise can be performed relatively heavy; after all, it is a rowing movement and recruits the legs to a certain extent.
This is a great quadriceps isolator. Here we are using this exercise to get the quads ready for the hard task of the main mass builder, which is going to be squats for some and leg press for others. In the case of our Hollywood superstar and 2008 World's Sexiest Man, leg press was the power exercise of choice, where he moved up to 1000 pounds! That's nothing to laugh at!
Keeping the muscular development in balance, this exercise will not only aid in symmetrical development in the thighs but will also ensure an adequate warm up for the heavy compound exercise toward the end of the workout which is intended to add some serious leg mass. After all, when wearing your X-Men uniform, nobody would want that "my gym had no squat rack" look.
Jackman himself liked the leg press. I personally like to mix and match from one workout to the next. This is where the superhero, real man attitude has to come out, or guess what; you'll crumble like one of your grandma's apple pies.
You can't exactly leave the hanger in your superhero uniform to look broader, nor can you put your Miami Vice shoulder pads in. REAL superheroes have REAL delts, and what better way to kick start your shoulder development than to pre-exhaust the muscle.
Since the previous exercise primarily hits the anterior and lateral heads of the deltoids, this exercise must be included to ensure maximal total development.
Another bread and butter exercise of the bodybuilding world, because this exercise recruits the triceps indirectly, and a lot of weight can be used. This will give you shoulders like an NFL linebacker in full padding!
Welcome to the gun show baby! That's the attitude you need to take to the gym with you for arms. Jackman's approach to the gym is strictly pertinent to the role he has play in an upcoming movie. As Wolverine or Van Helsing, he had a take no prisoner attitude which leads to him having a physique which is the envy of many and the motivation for even more.
The mass builder, barbell curls allow you to throw around some serious weight in the gym, however here we have pre-exhausted them. This will lead to more muscle fiber recruitment as well as decreasing the temptation of performing cheats, while also minimizing the risk of injury. A must exercise for any serious gym goer.
In this final exercise, the focus is on stretching out the biceps at the end, and emphasizing the contraction at the top. It was created back in the early 60s by the first ever Mr. Olympia, Larry Scott, after whom the exercise was named. Larry Scott was one of the first men on record to have over 20-inch arms, all in the days before creatine and BCAAs.
Trying to keep the humorous perpendicular to the ground, stretch down behind the head with the dumbbell, and then extend all the way to full contraction of the triceps. This exercise will really add some mass to the lower head of the triceps (near the elbow).
Having gotten the triceps really pumped on the last exercise, they are now warm enough to handle some weight. Skull crushers are a sure way of getting those guns up to superhero standards, good enough for the silver screen.
Again, as with most other muscle groups, the finishing exercise focuses on stretching and squeezing the muscle. Because of the nature of getting ready for a movie role, as opposed to training merely to look a certain way, the muscle has to not only look great but be functional and flexible enough to withstand some serious athletic endeavors.
On day six of the workout plan, Jackman said that he would partake in Yoga, Pilates or some other form of exercise which focused more on flexibility and agility. I personally would have had him doing some SPARQ training, which is not only great for increasing athletic performance, but is also a great fat burner, while being great fun too.
So there you have it ladies and gents, my take on how I would have gotten Hugh Jackman into shape for his blockbuster movies, but let it be known, if I had been training him, he would have won the title of World's Sexiest Man a long time ago.
Try putting this workout to use and see how it works for you. Remember, Hugh Jackman himself has mentioned the fact that he had to get really mentally focused for training, and this is why his results were as awesome as they were. Try it for yourself, you may not become the world's sexiest, but you sure as h#ll will be close.