Lessons learned training the top actors in the world

Blog Post

Over the past 5 years I have established myself as the go to trainer for the film industry in the U.K. and overseas. I have been incredibly fortunate to work with such amazing people and to be given the opportunity to deliver amazing results on one of the biggest stages the big screen.

Personal training, especially for films is a results business ultimately so the pressure is high. If I don't get the desired results the chances of me being hired back again are slim.

I simply cannot rely on luck or hard work alone to achieve the goal when my reputation and career opportunities rely on delivering the goods.

If you think that every film I work on has private chefs and scheduled training times then you are mistaken. Often the actors I work with have less free time to train than you or I. It isn't unusual to do 5am gym sessions prior to the start of a 12+ hour working day. I have even done sessions at 10/11pm after cast coming out of costume after a 12 plus hour working day followed by 2 hours removing blue makeup/prosthetics.

Sessions often have to be shortened and made more intense to encourage progress, with less training time comes even more reliance of nutrition for positive changes.

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So when results are everything what can I do to basically guarantee progress?

1. Work towards a clear goal

One of the benefits of working with actors for film roles is that we have specific goals that are pre-determined. This helps us to make a step by step plan of what we need to do and when to achieve it. We would typically have 4months+ to get ready for the role or day shooting and therefore can plan various training phases if necessary to achieve the desired result.

2. Calculate calories to be goal specific

The food planning element of my work with an actor is without doubt the most important element of achieving the results. I plan all the meals to fit around the training and to be 100% goal focussed. Calculated and focussed calories in the secret to success. Your energy balance over time determines the changes in your body weight. You have to get the balance right of calories in vs calories out to make the changes you want to change and achieve the goals you are looking to achieve.

3. Train with intensity and focus

When working with an actor, sessions have to be very specific to the goal. There are no sessions added to fill time or satisfy the need to exercise. All sessions have an exact purpose, if they don't then we don't do them. Session intensity will vary depending on the purpose of the session. Not all workouts need to be done at maximum intensity, but some do. A large part of job on as a trainer is making sure the intensity is right. Certain sessions done without correct intensity will cause you to plateau, whilst others done with too much intensity will mean results are negatively influenced.

4. Balance macros for the goal

Whilst your calorie balance determines changes in weight, macros are a major factor in determining changes in body composition. I focus on getting the balance of macros right for the individual and their goal. This is fine balancing act and requires experience and managing. Using systems like carb cycling have worked very well for me when trying to get the best out of an actors training in a short time frame.

5. Work consistently until the goal is achieved

Getting results requires effort, planning and time. When I am working with an actor for a role we will work 4-6 days a week for the duration of prep. It is a big commitment but when the film depends on them looking a certain way there simply isn't any other option.

Actors are built the same as all of us. Although their characters may posses special powers. They are themselves very human. From the points above you might see that the plan of action for them is simple in concept, this doesn't mean it is easy, but it does mean anyone can implement it. With no silver bullets or magic pills to get results let's take a look how you can take control of your training and nutrition to bank yourself A-list fitness results.

1. Work towards a clear goal

Be specific about what you want to achieve and focus on a single goal. If you are looking to get in shape fast it is best to get specific. Break your goals into individual training phases and focus on one thing at a time, don't chop and change your goals, training and nutrition.

2. Calculate calories to be goal specific

Calculate your calorie needs to achieve this goal and prep your meals to accomplish them. You calories are the deciding factor in changes to your body weight, so don't leave them to chance when your results depend on them. Being aware of the calories you need to achieve your goal and your calorie intake each day are fundamental to quick and effective progress.

3. Train with intensity and focus

Work hard in the gym and follow a well-designed plan. Rope in a friend to work with to boost accountability and motivation. If you are serious about results then make sure all of your sessions have a purpose and that the purpose is to help you to achieve your goals. If it isn't then do something that is goal specific. Time is valuable when it comes to training so don't waste your time training at the wrong intensity, following nonspecific session or generally ineffectively. To ensure you get the most from every minute in the gym a coach is a good way to go, in this day and age you can get expert support for less than might think.

4. Balance macros for the goal

Macros are often misunderstood as most people are looking for dramatic systems to achieve results. The truth is you don't need drastic restrictions to achieve enviable results. You do need to balance your macros based on your goals. however. There are online resources for determining macros needs, although these will vary dramatically. There also websites where you can crunch the numbers of what you have eaten to make sure they stack up. I have built an online platform that does all the calculations and number crunching for you, all you have to do is eat the delicious meals to bank serious progress. This is Hollywood recipes and nutritional calculations on an everyday budget – link

5. Work consistently until the goal is achieved

I know you won't have the pressure of being shirtless/naked in front of millions on screen but if you can stay consistent and on track until you reach your goals you will get there much quicker. When you do achieve them, you will have more flexibility in terms of diet and exercise to maintain them. So work hard now and stay focussed, it will be worth it!

The actors I have worked are normal people just like you and I. They are not their character. Find your inner super powers of hard work, will power, discipline and patients to unlock your true potential.

Now go and become your own super hero!

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