Despite being close to 50 years old, Hollywood action star Vin Diesel has gotten into the best shape of his career. ''Train'' sat down with the "Fast and Furious" actor to find out how he's been able to maintain peak physical form.
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We're all going to get old one day. It's a fact every person in the world understands. Our bodies won't be quite as strong, agile, or flexible when we're 60 compared to when we were full of youthful exuberance. That doesn't mean you can't slow down the inevitable by working out on a regular basis. That's what Vin Diesel has proven.
At 47 years old, some might think his days of jumping from speeding cars, beating up bad guys, and being a general badass would be nearing an end. That's not the case for the New York native. He's still heavily involved in action flicks and throwing himself into the type of stunts most men would run scared from.
While it might become more difficult to muster excitement as the years go by, the evolution of Diesel's workout routine shows he's not quite ready to pass the action-star torch to some young pretender. In his mind, he's still got more than enough juice left in the tank.
"Train" sat down with one of Hollywood's favorite action men to find out how he's not only maintained his incredible physique, but made it even better to make sure he stays on top of the game.
You Are What You Eat
The older you get, the wiser your choices need to be—especially when it comes to nutrition and diet. The days of devouring anything and everything you want are officially over if your job is to look beyond fit on screen.
Some actors diet to prepare for roles, and go back to their normal routine of eating whatever tickles their fancy as soon as shooting gets wrapped; Diesel is much more disciplined in his approach to fueling his muscles. Eating healthy and working out isn't something that's just for the camera—it's something he's lived by for many years. That's why when it came time to make changes to prevent packing on the pounds, the transition was easy.
"I'm in my late 40s now, so I have become a lot more aware of my diet and nutrition over the last few years in particular," he says with a chuckle and a rub of his stomach. "I do like to eat, and I do like to feel good, so for me my diet is about balance. My diet, like my weights regime I suppose, is very much typical for people who want agility, lower body fat, and higher muscle mass. Basically, it's predominantly lean proteins, lots of complex carbs, lots of veggies and fruits, and lots of water. I try to eat natural food as well; it's not just to look a certain way, it's to feel a certain way."
Living a healthy, fit lifestyle is not as easy as one might think for the A-lister. Diesel doesn't work the normal nine-to-five life most of us do. He can be on set filming for up to 20 hours a day, and even when he's not working on a film, he's got a portfolio that has him rushing around the world. Diesel makes time to fit it all in because the food he eats helps his body and mind. Consider that when you make the excuse that you don't have time to really pay attention to what's fueling your workouts.
"When you're doing long days on set, or you've got a day full of meetings, you want to feel good and engaged," he says. "Eating well does that for me. I try to eat every few hours and make sure every meal has some protein and plenty of resourceful carbs." If you want to be successful, eat before a big meeting so your brain and body have the high-quality, all-natural fuel they need to crunch deals.
People who don't change with the times are usually left behind, especially when it comes to working out. Those who stick to old exercises that were once gospel without adjusting and incorporating new things simply don't get the gains they so desperately want.
When he was a club bouncer at the Tunnel nightclub in New York City, Diesel had a much bigger physique to look intimidating to rowdy people who were looking for a fight every night. However, his foes are now fictional and the punches are pulled. The fights he gets in now are for show rather than to actually protect himself, and that requires an entirely different body than he once had.
"My weight-training regime and fitness regime are very different now to what they were a few years ago," he explains "I still do the old-school, tried-and-tested, meat-and-potatoes, muscle-building moves, but now I've added more core-based and cardio-based stuff—even yoga and Pilates.
"When I was younger—especially when I was bouncing—it was about being as big as possible and it was about looking formidable. Now I'm much more focused on hitting every part of my body and improving my fitness in general. I adjust my training for each role. On "Furious 7" I did a lot of jiujitsu, which really helped my fitness in general, stamina, and agility."
A man of many talents, Diesel was a bodybuilder before he broke out as a global star on the silver screen. Though he doesn't work out in the same way he did back then, he believes the years he's spent bodybuilding have given him the knowledge needed to get the body required for the roles he plays now.
"I trained the bodybuilding way for over a decade before I was an actor, so I've got a good base and understanding of building mass and strength. Now it's about trying to keep the body fat lower, which is harder when you're older.
"Generally I want the character—especially characters like Dominic Toretto (from the "Fast & Furious" series) and Riddick (from "The Chronicles of Riddick" franchise)—to not just look just built or boxy. I want them to be agile and look like they can really handle themselves physically against a range of opponents.
"Honestly, training is so important to me—not just because on a lot of films I'm doing stunts and it helps with my look and physicality and stamina. I really do believe in 'healthy body, healthy mind.'"
Diesel is a fan of regularly changing up his workouts to shock his muscles and keep things interesting. For "Furious 7" he brought some new aspects into his training while hanging on to some tried-and-tested bodybuilding workouts, so audiences could see the best Dominic Toretto to ever be grace the big screen.
"Generally, week to week, there's a mix of weight training, jiujitsu, calisthenics, Pilates and yoga, running, and chasing my kids around," he laughs. "However, when it comes to weight training, I do a lot of different things. For example, for chest there's bench press flat, incline bench press, bench press decline, dumbbell flyes, push-ups. For triceps I do various extensions, cable pull-downs, and skullcrushers. For biceps I do hammers, biceps curls, barbell curls, and preacher curls. For back and shoulders I do shoulder press, lateral raise, front raise, lateral pull-downs, and bent-over rows. For legs I combine various squatting techniques with traditional calf raises, various squats, calf raises. That's really just a snapshot of my training.
"I also try to hit every area of every body part and do supersets to shock my muscles. I'll do two or three powerlifting sets and then I'll go into high-rep sets afterwards. I really want to wear [my muscles] out and get the most out of my time in the gym."
Learning The Gentle Art
For those who still travel by horse and cart and have never seen any of the "Fast and Furious" movies, Diesel's character, Dominic Toretto, is quite the hothead. He's notorious for getting into the type of scraps that are usually saved for the mixed martial arts cage.
Although the fight scenes have always been impressive in those films, Diesel wanted to pay respect to his late co-star and friend Paul Walker, who was an avid jiujitsu practitioner. With the help of Walker's former coach Ricardo "Franjinha" Miller and fellow "Furious 7" actor Tony Jaa, they were able to add some power to the action scenes.
"I did a lot of jiujitsu for "Furious 7"," he explains. "Really it was for what I believe is the best fight sequence in the whole 'Fast and Furious' saga," he says enthusiastically. "I worked with Paul Walker's jiujitsu teacher, whom I first met through my brother. He knows how important it is for "Furious 7" to be the best film it can be to honor my brother, Paul Walker, so we worked real hard.
"The combat training was awesome, especially when you've got a guy like Tony Jaa in the movie—who's best known for kicking ass in the 'Ong-Bak' films. There was a lot of pad work, agility work, punching, and kicking with various elbow and knee moves.
"The striking training was awesome, and that really takes it out of you. It makes you feel good though, and definitely pays off big time in the film! There was a lot of core training as well. That was intense; a lot of calisthenics—pull-ups, chin-ups, press-ups, and muscle-ups. It really built my strength up and helped with my rotation and explosiveness."
Fans might be wondering why Diesel's so desperate to be at his best for the movie. After all, he's a certified action star, and based on the success of "Fast & Furious 6," which made more than $700 million at the box office, Diesel's got another guaranteed blockbuster on his hands.
However, for him, the success of this movie goes a lot deeper than getting an ego boost or earning as much money as possible. For him, it's about making sure his friend Paul Walker gets the sendoff he deserves.
"For obvious reasons, 'Furious 7' was the most difficult film I've ever been a part of, and not just for me," he reveals. "I can speak for everyone who's been involved with this franchise for a number of years, because we're like a family and Paul really was the best of us. It was surreal having his brothers on set. On some levels it was very cool to know that his brothers were supporting this and wanting to help, but on another level they triggered memories—of course, unintentionally. His family is incredible.
"There was only one Paul Walker, and I think everyone involved with this film wanted to make it the best it can be for him, but it was a very tricky task too. I was mourning him in that process, but on set I also had to pretend that the person is still there. That made the experience that much more difficult—incredibly difficult.
"The first day we came back on set, I must've gone through a couple of boxes of tissues. On that day I was shooting quite a confrontational scene, and I just couldn't do it. I do believe we've done him proud though. The film is absolutely incredible, and I can't wait for people to see it."
A Fast And Furious Workout
A lot of trial and error was required for Vin Diesel to get the physique he has today. In the end, it seems like he struck the perfect balance between good looks and functional strength. "Train" has come up with a full-body workout schedule to help you make the same gains as "The Chronicles of Riddick" star. Diesel uses supersets to get the most out of his workout, and so can you.
Diesel Fueled: Nutrition
Vin Diesel's name might sound incredibly cool, but it's actually his stage name. He was given the name Diesel due to the endless amount of energy he has. To have that sort of get-up-and-go attitude, he needs to give his body all the fuel it requires. These meals will help you push through whatever's ahead of you and still feel like a million bucks afterwards.