The intense workouts that actors like Charlize Theron and Michael B. Jordan do to pull off their own stunts

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Jason Guerrasio
·7 min read
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Southpaw Scott Garfield
Jake Gyllenhaal in "Southpaw." Scott Garfield/The Weinstein Company/"Southpaw"
  • Stars are working with trainers so they can do their own stunts on TV shows and movies.

  • Here are the workout regimens for stars like Charlize Theron, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael B. Jordan, Alison Brie, and John Boyega straight from their trainers.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

In recent years, more and more actors are doing extensive training to not just look the part of an action hero, but actually do their own stunt work.

Here's how stars like Michael B. Jordan, Alison Brie, Jake Gyllenhaal, Matt Damon, Charlize Theron, and John Boyega have prepared for roles, according to the trainers and fight coordinators who were behind-the-scenes getting them ready.

Charlize Theron spent four months learning hand-to-hand combat techniques for "The Old Guard."

The Old Guard 2 Aimee Spinks Netflix
Charlize Theron in "The Old Guard." Aimee Spikes/Netflix

In "The Old Guard," Theron plays an immortal warrior who for centuries has learned numerous fighting styles to eliminate her foes.

To pull off the character, Theron spent four months training with the movie's fight coordinator, Danny Hernandez. The star learned numerous martial arts techniques.

"She had to learn hand-to-hand combat, Akido, Judo, Karate, Iaido, and HEMA, which is medieval martial arts," Hernandez told Insider.

The two would train three to four hours a day, he said. And though it sounds like a daunting task, in fact, to start out it's quite basic.

Here's what a four-hour session entailed, according to Hernandez:

  • Stretching

  • Shuttle runs

  • Lunges

  • Basic movies from a martial arts discipline in front of a mirror

  • Working with a partner on those moves

"It's a great cardio workout," Hernandez said.

Michael B. Jordan trained six days a week for "Creed," according to his trainer.

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Michael B. Jordan in "Creed." Warner Bros.

Michael B. Jordan wowed audiences (and Sylvester Stallone) when he starred in the first "Creed" movie. And you can thank trainer Corey Calliet for that.

He and Jordan first began working together on "The Fantastic Four" but really turned things up for "Creed."

Here's some of what Calliet had Jordan do six-days-a-week:

  • 45 to 60 minutes of cardio

  • Three sets of 25 reps of sit-ups every other day

  • One-mile warm-up on the treadmill

  • Two sets of 10 reps of push-ups

  • Four sets of dumbbell curls

  • Three rounds of 20 reps of box jumps, jump squats, and burpees

  • Boxing training (heavy bag, speed bag, jump rope)

"I remember when we started out Mike couldn't lift 25 pounds, but then I started to see the confidence as he could see results," Calliet said back in 2015. "Now he jumps rope better than I ever could, and I fought Golden Gloves."

His trainer said Jordan then did intense weight training to gain 15 pounds of muscle to play Killmonger in "Black Panther."

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Michael B. Jordan in "Black Panther." Walt Disney Studios

Calliet's next challenge with Jordan was to take him from looking like a boxer and make him a supervillain.

"He told me, 'I need to look like this,' and it's a picture of Killmonger fighting Black Panther," Calliet said in 2018. "He was very big, so I knew I had to make Mike look like a free safety or a Marine. If you want to be a villain you have to have that savage type of demeanor."

To do that Calliet had Jordan do a lot of weight training:

  • Bench press

  • Lat pull-downs

  • Deadlifts

This went on for six days a week for a few months leading up to production. Jordan also ate six meals a day during this time.

Then during shooting, they did interval training:

  • Dumbbell curls

  • Lat pull-downs

  • Dips

  • Pull-ups

  • Push-ups

  • Bench press

  • Fly press

And sometimes Callout would throw in a few curveballs.

"The way I train, the person never gets used to it," Calliet said. "I would have him do squats and then move right to burpees — that's not a good feeling. It was nothing that was enjoyable."

John Boyega also worked with Michael B. Jordan's trainer for "The Force Awakens."

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John Boyega in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." Disney/Lucasfilm

After starring in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," John Boyega decided that his Finn character would need to be in better shape for the rigors of the saga going forward. So he called on the man that got Michael B. Jordan ripped for "Creed."

"John had never lifted weights like that before," Calliet said in 2016. "He had muscles he never had before. I was very impressed."

For 21 days while Boyega was doing press for "The Force Awakens," they put in a lot of work.

Here's what Boyega did:

  • Start each day on a treadmill for 15 minutes on an incline at a 7.0 speed

  • Four sets of 20 reps of bench presses, with eight to 12 push-ups between each set

  • Four sets of 20 assisted pull-ups

  • Four sets of 20 lat-pull downs

  • Cardio of stairs and suicides on the football field between the 20-yard and goal lines

  • Four sets of 20 stiff-leg deadlifts

Jake Gyllenhall trained for six months with a former pro boxer for his role in "Southpaw."

southpaw jake gyllenhaal
"Southpaw." The Weinstein Company/"Southpaw"

In 2015, Gyllenhaal got into incredible shape to play a boxer in the movie "Southpaw."

To pull that off, he spent six months in the gym before production began working with former pro boxer Terry Claybon.

This was his workout:

  • Going to the gym twice a day for a total of six hours

  • 2,000 situps

  • Three hours of boxing

  • Three hours of cardio and weight training

Then when filming began, he and director Antoine Fuqua trained every morning before shooting started.

Matt Damon got into shape for "Jason Bourne" by using a VersaClimber, according to his trainer.

Jason Bourne Universal
Matt Damon on the set of "Jason Bourne." Universal

Four years after 2012's "The Bourne Legacy," Matt Damon returned to the action franchise with "Jason Bourne" in 2016.

According to his trainer Jason Walsh, the VersaClimber was responsible for keeping Damon in action hero shape.

The piece of cardio equipment works out the entire body as you pull up and down with your arms and legs in a standing position. Think of climbing a mountain, but doing it as fast as you can.

In this Instagram video, Damon (on the left) can be seen working out on the machine alongside Walsh during the filming of "Jason Bourne."

"If you could see his face after that one, it was fantastic," Walsh said of the video in 2016. "He literally sat down next to the wall and looked like he was about to chuck."

Here was Damon's daily workout:

  • 100 sit-ups

  • 300 push-ups

  • Squats (50 reps)

  • Squat jumps (50 reps)

  • Pull-ups with 35 pounds strapped to the waist

  • Single-leg squats with 125-pound dumbbells in each hand

  • Sled push and pulling

Alison Brie did everything from pull-ups to piggyback rides to prepare for each season of "GLOW."

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Alison Brie in "GLOW." Netflix

In getting ready for the rigors of playing a professional wrestler on the hit Netflix show, "GLOW," Alison Brie went through intense workouts.

Leading up to the first season of the show, trainer Jason Walsh explained what he had her do:

Heavy bag slams - 6 sets of 5 reps

Deadlifts - 6 sets of 3-5 reps (Brie would lift 165 pounds)

Farmer walks - 45 seconds for 3-4 sets (Brie would use 65 pound dumbbells)

L-set pull-ups - 6-8 reps of 3-4 sets

And, like Damon, Walsh would also have Brie use the VersaClimber, but do it with a 10-pound vest on. Sometimes Brie would even give Walsh a piggyback ride up and down his hallway. (He weighs 220 pounds.)

"Alison would be jumping off ropes and landing on people and flipping. I wanted to get her resilient so she didn't run the risk of injury," Walsh said in 2017.

Read the original article on Insider