Not every shredded celebrity has always been shredded. In fact, some of the most ripped guys in Hollywood started as skinny or even overweight. But when a big role comes along that requires some major changes, these guys are up for the task. We took a look at some of the best celebrity fitness transformations out there, and they’re pretty incredible changes.
See the six-pack abs, bulging muscles, and major transformations from Hollywood leading men like Chris Pratt, Bradley Cooper, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jonah Hill, Christian Bale, and Tom Hardy, plus many more. And it’s not always about muscles, either. Bale added pounds of muscle to play Vice President Dick Cheney in the biopic Vice, directed by Adam McKay.
Here are 18 guys (one 2x) that transformed their physiques for the sake of their craft.
Christian Bale (for ‘Vice)
Christian Bale has transformed for many roles in his career, none of his previous transformations have been quite like the one he did for Vice, the Adam McKay-directed biopic of former Vice President Dick Cheney. For this role, Bale added more than 40lbs to his usually athletic frame. But what made it different was how he did it.
“I had never before gone to a doctor or a nutritionist about gaining or losing weight for my roles,” Bale told Star2.com. “But eventually that caught up with me. So, finally for Vice
, I decided that maybe somebody knows better than I do; so I went to somebody and they managed to get me up a good 40lbs. It’s never healthy to put on that amount of weight in a short amount of time, but I did it in the healthiest manner.”
What He Did: Gyllenhaal gained 30 pounds and 15 pounds of muscle. Why He Did It: To look and play the role of a world-champion boxer in the film Southpaw. What He Ate:Fortunately, he didn’t have to go on a strict diet since he was working out like a beast. He simply ate carbs during the day and protein at night. His Workout: At the beginning, Gyllenhaal worked out 3 hours a day. According to Yahoo, “After two months, the workouts got pushed to six hours a day: Three hours of boxing in the morning and three hours of strengthening, conditioning, and cardio at night.” Plus: According to the film’s director, he was spending so much time in the gym and was so committed to the role that his relationship with Alyssa Miller ended. Jake Says: “The amount of time you have to put into it, the sacrifice that you put into your body, it’s not something that you’re eager to do again. It’s a huge commitment.” Difficulty Level: 8
What He Did: Whipped himself into shape, piling on muscle and losing fat. Why He Did It:For his role as Templeton ‘Faceman’ Peck in The A-Team. What He Ate: Cooper nixed all sugar, salt and flour and eliminated sandwiches. His diet allowed him to sculpt a tight midsection and eliminate stubborn fat. His Workout: He spent two hours a day in the gym with a personal trainer doing lots of strength and core training. He used the ‘3-2-1 Method’—that’s three cardio circuits, two strength training circuits and one core workout, each for 10 minutes. Also: speed-hiking up a famous trail in Vancouver that locals call “The Grind.” Plus:To boost his weight loss, Cooper gave up booze to cut calories and feel more energized for his ass-kicking workouts early in the morning. Bradley Says: “It was the worst, but I would still make sandwiches. I would like cut a grape in half—this is so depressing—and I would put an almond inside, you know, to make a little sandwich. It was my big treat.” Difficulty Level: 6
What He Did: Hart built his upper body with his trainer Ron “Boss” Everline. By 2016, he’d become muscular, cut, and conditioned enough to run marathons. Why He Did It: It’s not like Hart wasn’t fit when he first started as a stand-up comedian—but he was, as he said in his Men’s Fitness cover story, in “fake shape”: “I looked like I was in shape, but then you’d take off my shirt and it was like, ‘No, no, no.’” His Workout: The superstar comedian has been working hard in the gym with Everline to build his strength, and he’s even partnered with Nike to help promote running. As detailed in his workout for Men’s Fitness, Hart keeps things simple, which means no Olympic lifts or fancy machines—he uses the bench press, pushups, rows, curls, and dips in his training. Plus: Hart showed off his action skills alongside Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in Central Intelligence and he may want to continue in the genre moving forward: “What’s the Kevin Hart version of Mission Impossible? What’s my [James] Bond?” Kevin Says: “I don’t want to be the guy with the neck.” But he’s ready to keep crushing it and that’s why he’s a 2016 Game Changer.
Drake / Aubrey Graham
Over the years, Aubrey Graham, better known as the chart-topping rapper Drake, has made fitness a major priority. With worldwide tours and electric shows that have Drake performing basically on his own for hours at a time, the rapper needs to make sure he’s in shape. Drake has worked with trainer Jonny Roxx, who told Glamour.com about some of the fitness that he used to help get the music star into shape. Some include doing a lot of burpees (“He hates them, but it’s a love-hate relationship,” Roxx said to Glamour
), cutting down on alcohol and pasta, doing a lot of weight training (see Drake doing it on Instagram), and playing basketball. As you can see in the photos above—and in this Instagram pic— Drake has filled out his chest and arms with some solid muscle and size.
What He Did: Paul Rudd centered his life around health and fitness. He told People that he never “exercised harder than this for an extended amount of time.” Why He Did It: To get in shape for his upcoming role in the Marvel film, Ant-Man. What He Ate: He says he eliminated carbs and alcohol from his diet for an entire year. His Workout: Rudd’s workouts were very intense and centered around “flips and rolls and all that kind of stuff,” he told people. Paul Says: “I took the Chris Pratt approach to training for an action movie. Eliminate anything fun for a year and then you can play a hero.” Difficulty Level: 7
What He Did: Nick Jonas went through a major fitness transformation after breaking out as part of the Jonas Brothers music group. Starting off with a boy band-style image, Jonas transformed into a cut, jacked, and musclebound solo artist. Why He Did It: Along with his success in the music industry, Jonas has gotten attention for his acting in films like Careful What You Wish For and Goat, and the mixed martial arts-centered television series Kingdom, getting himself in fantastic shape along the way with an intense fitness regimen. His Workout: Jonas detailed the workout to Men’s Fitness that helped get the actor/singer into awesome shape. Plus: Jonas will get the chance to show off his progress alongside ultra-fit funnyman and October 2016 Men’s Fitness cover star Kevin Hart and the highest-paid actor in the world Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in the upcoming Jumanji sequel.
Tom Hardy has gone through multiple transformations, including for The Dark Knight Rises to play Bane, and for his role as an MMA fighter in Warrior. Check out what he has to say about his wild changes and the training he did for those films.
What He Did: Manganiello got totally ripped, bulking up and shedding fat. His abs alone deserve their own transformation article. Why He Did It: Manganiello was hardly scrawny when he starred as Sophia Bush’s love interest Owen Morello on the CW’s One Tree Hill, but he had always wanted to get big and muscular. It wasn’t until taking on the role as True Bloodwerewolf Alcide that he took fitness really seriously, and the results speak for themselves. What He Ate: Severely restricted his calorie intake, eating oatmeal, chicken, green beans, almonds, protein bars, apples and fish. See a full breakdown of his diet. His Workout:Manganiello worked out his chest and legs on Monday and Thursday, shoulders and biceps on Tuesday and Friday, and back and triceps on Wednesday and Saturday, and did 45 minutes of cardio every day before breakfast. Joe Says: “I had a friend of mine call me and tell me that it was a girl’s birthday in his office and they got her a cake with my picture on it. A year ago I wasn’t on anybody’s cake. It makes me feel really good, and it makes me want to work even harder from a fitness standpoint.” Difficulty Level: 7
What He Did: Lost 30 pounds in six weeks, going from 160 to 130 pounds for one movie, and packed on 25 pounds of muscle for another. Why He Did It: Before 2002’s The Pianist he was told to “lose as much weight as you possibly can.” It paid off when he became the youngest actor to ever win a Best Actor Oscar for the role. Eight years later, he did the opposite when he gained 25 pounds of muscle to play Royce in Predators. What He Ate:Always a professional, Brody ate almost nothing to ditch the weight from his already slight frame for The Pianist, and didn’t take his action role any less seriously—he cut out all alcohol and sugar. His Workout: To bulk up to play a mercenary in the alien action flick, Brody says he started lifting heavy weights again for the first time since college. He adhered to a strict six-days-a-week workout schedule, and even slept in the jungle to get into the role. Plus: For The Pianist, he also gave up his cell phone, sold his car and, after secluding himself in an apartment to learn to play the piano, watched his long-term relationship crumble. For Predators he gave up sex. Adrien Says: “I was destroyed, fully destroyed.” Difficulty Level: 8
What He Did: Worked out intensely for four months, getting in sick, warrior shape, completely transforming his body and mind. Why He Did It: For his role as King Leonidas in 300. What He Ate: Butler watched what he ate, making sure to fuel up every couple of hours His Workout: The 300-rep Spartan workout: 25 pull ups, 50 dead lifts with 135 pounds, 50 push-ups, 50 jumps on a 24-inch box, 50 floor wipers, 50 single-arm clean-and-presses using a 36-pound kettlebell and 25 more pull-ups (with no rest in between). For dessert, he’d engage in intense exercises like tire flipping and gymnastics-style ring training. Plus: This routine is efficient but tough to keep up—after filming, Bulter went cold turkey on exercising and lost all the muscle. Now he just tries to keep things balanced with healthy eating and workouts that aren’t just fit for a king. Gerard Says: “That was a great thing, to put on that cape and put on that helmet and not have to think, ‘Shit, I should have trained more.’ Instead, I was standing there feeling like a lion.” Difficulty Level: 9
What He Did: With trainer pal Lee Haney, Harvey started the 50 and Fly campaign, which encourages men 40 and older to tone up, slim down, eat right and stop whining that they’re too old to get in shape. Why He Did It: On his 50th birthday, after his son called him an “old man” and a call-in listener on his radio show called him over the hill, he realized he wasn’t in the best shape. “My arms were just sitting there—just a piece of meat hanging there, with no curves in them, no definition. And I just got tired of looking at myself that way.” What He Ate:In October, 2010, Harvey announced his goal to stick to the controversial “21 Pounds in 21 Days” detox diet program, where he didn’t eat or chew food for 21 days to quickly drop the pounds, sticking to an all-liquid diet. His Workout: Harvey was always on his feet, moving from the treadmill and core stimulation to some serious lifting, including military dumbbell presses, bent-over rolls and lateral, frontal raise combos and lat pull-downs as well as other circiut training exercises like crunches and lunges. Plus: Harvey follows two rules to achieve his fitness goals. The first was “eat for what you’re about to do, not what you’ve done,” meaning he ate carbs before a workout and small lean protein-rich meals if he was about to be sedentary for awhile. He also aimed to “stimulate, not annihilate,” meaning he worked out intensely, but not so much so that he was destroying his body. Harvey Says: “I tell jokes for a living. I’m not a body builder, I’m not a gym rat, I’m not spectacular, by any stretch of the imagination. For a 51-year-old guy, though, I’m pretty fly.” Difficulty Level: 6
What He Did: The comedian, once famous for his chubbiness and thick, black glasses, lost 70 pounds in five months. Why He Did It: Carey told US Weekly he was just “tired of being fat.” What He Ate: Egg white, yogurt, fruit, lean meats and water. The hardest part: No donuts. His Workout: Carey gets advice from a trainer about what he should do, but he works out on his own, following a strict cardio program that involves lots of running. Plus: He’d been diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes, but Carey says that after his transformation, he doesn’t have the disease anymore. Drew Says: “I have cheated a couple times, but basically no carbs, not even a cracker. No bread at all. No pizza, nothing. No corn, no beans, no starches of any kind.” Difficulty Level: 7
What He Did: Bale dropped from 180 pounds to about 120 pounds. Then he bulked back up to 220 pounds. Why He Did It: To portray an anorexic, insomniac factory worker in The Machinist, then to be Batman in The Dark Knight. What He Ate: To lose the weight, Bale went into starvation mode, eating a can of tuna, an apple and… nothing else. Every day. His Workout: To beef up after deflating himself for The Machinist, Bale had to kick-start his metabolism, which had been destroyed after starving himself. He used intense weight workouts, resistance training, and plyometric circuit training, adding in martial arts training and lots of sprints, lunges, squats, chin-ups and high pulls. Plus: Bale wanted to get down to 100 pounds for The Machinist, but the movie producers told him it would be too detrimental to his health. Christian Says: “I’d done American Psycho and I bulked up purely for that part. But people start just going, ‘Oh yeah, that guy’s a real workout fanatic,’ and that’s not me, that’s Patrick Bateman. It was a nice way to kill that dead by just destroying your body completely.” Difficulty Level: 10
What He Did: The Roseanne and Treme star dropped 100 pounds. Why He Did It: The actor told PEOPLE he simply wanted to live life better. What He Ate: Goodman didn’t stick to a strict diet—he just was more aware of eating healthy foods. He did cut out all alcohol and sugar. His Workout: John started running and doing other cardio workouts six days a week. Plus: John’s idea wasn’t to change his eating and exercise habits and then watch the weight peel off, it was to change his philosophy toward eating and exercise first. It wasn’t how far he had run or how much protein he had eaten, it was how he had stayed committed to his new healthy lifestyle that made him drop pounds. John’s secret weapon? A food journal. He wrote down everything he ate, which kept him honest and on track toward his goals. John Says: “I know it sounds sappy, but it was a waste. It takes a lot of creative energy to sit on your ass and figure out what you’re going to eat next.” Difficulty Level: 4
What He Did: Hemsworth packed on 20 pounds of muscle by eating constantly. Why He Did It: For his starring role in the action-packed blockbuster Thor. What He Ate: Hemsworth opted for high-protein foods, but also relied on non-processed carbs like fruits to help rebuild muscle by slowing muscle protein breakdown. Fiber-rich vegetables helped his cardiovascular health and muscle recovery. He made sure that what he was eating counted, eating quinoa instead of rice since it has protein, healthy fats and fewer carbs. His Workout: Before Thor, sports like surfing, boxing and rugby kept Hemsworth fit. But for the movie, he started getting serious about lifting, varying weight, reps and speed so that his muscles never got used to workouts. Even minor changes, such as swapping hand placement on a pull-up, can stimulate muscles in new ways. In fact, mixing things up is important no matter what kind of muscle gain you’re looking for. Plus: Hemsworth bulked up so much that he didn’t fit in any of his costumes. Chris Says: “I feel as if I’ve been busy, but all I’ve been doing is eating all day. Eating when you’re not hungry and taking in that amount of food is exhausting.” Difficulty Level: 7
What He Did: Checking into Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa, a $4500-a-week luxury weight loss spa in Miami, helped the director of Fahrenheit 9/11 and Sicko shed 70 pounds. Why He Did It: Moore just got sick of being overweight and wanted to get healthy. What He Ate: Fiber-heavy foods (at least 35 grams a day!), making sure he was fueling himself with stuff heavy in weight but low in calories. Roger Ebert got Moore hooked on Pritikin, which theorizes that eating heavy foods naturally creates the same thing as gastric bypass, making you feel full faster. When he was most serious about losing weight, he cut out salt, white flour and sugar. His Workout: You won’t see Moore at the gym doing the 300-rep Spartan workout—his main focus was to “eat less crap and move around more.” Hey. It’s better than nothing. Plus: Moore says all overweight people have three things in common: “We all drink diet soda but never lose any weight because it’s so packed with sodium that it actually works against you, because it’s breaking down the cellular structure by retaining fluid; number two, overweight people sleep less than seven hours a night, they never get a full night’s sleep, which causes eating during the day to make up for it because you’re tired, you need energy; and number three, we never eat. We put off eating because we’re trying to not eat and then we get hungry by not eating. Michael Says: “Where I come from in the Midwest, I’m considered normal. That’s not good.” Difficulty Level: 3 for the “eating less crap and moving around more,” 1 for blowing thousands on an expensive weight loss spa retreat.
Jonah Hill showed off his athletic, lean, wild new build while leaving the gym in June 2017. Hill changed things up for some upcoming roles, including in the show Maniac with Emma Stone.
Why He Did It: Chris Pratt’s gotten cut multiple times throughout his career, including in preparation for Zero Dark Thirty and Moneyball, but his transformation for Guardians of the Galaxy really got him in shape. Pratt dropped 60 pounds to play Star Lord, the badass leader of the Guardians.
What He Did: As Pratt put it to Men’s Fitness, he did “Three to four hours a day of just consistent, ass-kicking hard work.” Pratt worked with a personal trainer doing sessions of P90X, boxing, kickboxing, running, swimming, as well as a triathalon to get in shape. Pratt worked with the trained six days and week to get set for Guardians and later Jurassic World.
What He Ate: Pratt changed around his diet, boosting things to consuming 4,000 calories per day to bulk up with lean muscle.
His Workout: Pratt detailed his Guardians of the Galaxy workout for Men’s Fitness, showing how he got a six-pack after being a bit pudgy for his role as Andy Dwyer in Praks and Recreation.
Chris Says: After losing the weight, Pratt said he’s committed to remaining ripped: “It gave me a sense of absolute control.”