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Shape Up: Get an abs-fab movie-star look


Library image. Photo: Getty Images

Library image. Photo: Getty Images

Library image. Photo: Getty Images

Summer is traditionally peak time for movie blockbusters and 2010 is no different. First up we had Jake Gyllenhaal in 'Prince of Persia' (below), sixty-something Sylvester Stallone hit the gym hard for the upcoming 'The Expendables', while Bradley Cooper (left) left 'The Hangover' crew in Vegas to bulk up his physique as Templeton 'Faceman' Peck in 'The A-Team', out this week.

It is refreshing to see Hollywood's leading men receiving press attention for getting in shape and hopefully inspiring other men to do likewise.

True, they do have the benefit of personal trainers and nutrition gurus on hand to motivate them but they still have to put the effort in.

There is an increasing fusion between the worlds of fitness and film. Most actors are athletes nowadays and their fitness is a big factor in whether they get cast or not.

Ordinary folk should look at these role models and see what they are capable of accomplishing. If we mimic methods used by Jake Gyllenhaal or Bradley Cooper, we too may enjoy a new body shape as a result of our new-found habits.

So what is the Hollywood route to a hot body?

Bradley Cooper literally had to transform himself for 'The A-Team'. He has said in the past, "people thought I was a girl when I was little, because I looked like a girl." So Bradley developed a plan to take him from Monique to unique and he, like Jake Gyllenhaal in 'Prince of Persia', started training six months before filming.


Masterpieces like Bradley's physique take time and effort. In the run-up to filming, Bradley prepared for his role by limiting his diet and eliminated sugar, salt and flour to get his abs-fab ripped midsection.

In addition, he made sure to drink plenty of water, sometimes up to 4.5 litres per day.

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Cooper found the nutritional sacrifices the hardest. "I missed the food," he says. "Bread really isn't a factor when getting in shape. So I used to take grapes and put an almond in between."

Although this might not seem like the most appetising sandwich, grapes are a thin-skinned fruit and are high in antioxidants, which help fight toxins.

Nuts are a great source of fats which are essential to get in shape as they will balance out your blood sugar.

Cooper made a decision to not drink alcohol so he could get up for early morning workouts for the duration of the six-month shoot.

He had to be on top of his game because any time he wasn't shooting scenes, he was shooting a gun or was in the gym training. "It was full-on," he says.

For 'Prince of Persia' Gyllenhaal ate little and often -- six small meals throughout the day -- as this is the key to building muscle and staying lean.

A good formula for building muscle is to eat around 2g of protein per kilo of body weight, and drink lots of water throughout the day.

Protein is the only macro-nutrient that contains nitrogen which is needed to repair muscle.


Carbohydrates and fats do not contain the raw materials, known as amino acids, that are required to build muscles.

In 'The A-Team' Cooper plays a Special Forces soldier so obviously he had to have a body to match. Special Forces are some of the most well built and put-together guys out there. They have to be, for the difficult jobs that they perform.

Cooper's workout in the gym consisted of a 3-2-1 routine. This incorporates three cardio circuits, two strength-training circuits and one core circuit.

Each circuit is performed for 10 minutes. This keeps it to an hour long in duration but it will be fast paced and intense.

The strength-training included multiple-joint exercises such as pull-ups, dead-lifts, squats and bench presses. And it definitely paid off.

When Cooper saw the film for the first time, he told 'Details' magazine, his body was in such good shape that he thought it had been digitally enhanced!

Cooper also used super-sets when weight training, in order to build maximum muscle.

Gyllenhaal worked with a former military strength and conditioning coach, Simon Waterson, who prepared the actor for his role with interval training done in sand while wearing a flak jacket to mimic the armour worn in the film.

The pair worked out twice daily during pre-production and kept things ticking over once shooting began.

To acquire those eye-catching abs Gyllenhaal worked his midsection from different angles, working it every other day.

Cooper complemented his gym routine with speed-hiking up 'the Grind', a famous trail outside of Vancouver that shoots up 2,800ft of mountainside, completing the gruelling trek in just 37 minutes.


Part and parcel of an actor's job is often to get into tip-top shape in order to convincingly play a role. Every year it happens, from Gerard Butler in '300', Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, Daniel Craig as James Bond and now this year Jake Gyllenhaal and Bradley Cooper.

Each person who achieves success tells of hiring a good personal trainer, eating fresh salads, vegetables and lean proteins and performing hard work in the gym.

There are sacrifices to be made as you can't out-train a poor diet.

Yes, their carrot of a big fat pay cheque at the end is a good incentive, but your carrot is to grow old gracefully and see your children grow up!

Surely that's a big enough incentive for you?

As 'The A-Team' motto goes... because there is no plan B.


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