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The Action Hero Workout

The Action Hero Workout

The Action Hero Workout
30 April 2014

Hollywood’s new-fangled CGI ways might have us debating what’s real and what’s not, but it certainly doesn’t apply to its action stars.

Yes, you’ve seen them: impossibly defined with not a painted six pack between them, they’re a sculpted reminder of what men can do if they push their body to the limits, with no one encapsulating this more than Expendables 2 star Scott Adkins.

Want to match the physique? Well now you can, it’s fully achievable, as to mark the release of Ninja: Shadow Of A Tear (on Blu-ray and DVD from 12 May, and on download from 5 May), we got the British actor to spill the secrets of his fitness regime for the layman.

That’s you. But first, you’re going to need a bigger bulk….


“If you want to put muscle on you’ve got to eat a lot, and at the right times - five or six meals a day will do it. For breakfast you’ve got to have protein. For me, that’s a bowl of oatmeal and some scrambled egg whites. I’ll have a power shake around 11 o’clock or cottage cheese. For lunch it’ll be chicken breast with vegetables, and then another snack before a hearty meal in the evening. Ensure you drink plenty of water between meals.”


“It can be difficult to keep stocked up on good food, so take a chunk of a day, like a Sunday, to cook your meals, so you can store them away in boxes to reheat later and wolf down. You’ve got to eat these meals to put that muscle on. It can get to a point when it isn’t fun to eat anymore, but if you’re serious then that’s what you’ve got to do.”


“Cardio is great but it won’t make you look good. In the run up to any film, weight training is vital for me. I like to do that at least four times a week. Hit it intensely. Don’t take too much rest between sets. Keep the heart-rate up. Don’t hang about don’t talk to anyone. Just put your headphones on and go at it hard.”


“Train safe. Hollywood has a certain pressure of looking a certain way but actors need to know not to jump straight to a weight they’re not comfortable with. Find a weight that you are comfortable with. Chart your sessions, marking times and reps, so you know where you’re improving and what you need to work on.”


“Volume training is big in the industry, with an 8-10 rep range my preferred choice. Then again , it’s nice to switch it up and shock the muscles. As for what area of the body to target - if you train five times a week, spend one day on chest and arms, the next on back and shoulders, the next on legs, and then mix it up."


“I stick to incline bench press and dumbbell press because my upper chest isn’t very big, and my lower chest, genetically, is quite full. Naturally I’ve got big pectoral muscles, lower rather than higher, and these sorts of exercises are great for expanding and defining my chest. Few methods are as effective.”


"Deadlifts help your back muscles and general strength, but pull-ups are the underrated workout for that area of your body - and good for your abs, too. Start a session with these and you’re already doing well. For shoulder work, I like to hold a 25kg weight and rotate it around my head either way, maybe 20 for the left, then 20 for the right, and I can really feel the strength it adds to my shoulders."


“Having to be nimble for martial arts work, my legs have never been my best body part, aesthetically. But it’s important to keep them bulky to a point, and, at the very least, robust. Biometric movement is my way of approaching leg day. I need to keep the power and explosiveness in my legs for jumps in the fight scenes, so if a gym has a box I’ll do small, quick jumps onto a box followed by lunges. If there’s a guy with pads I’ll do some knees to the chest. It works a treat.”


“Lastly, never shirk a day’s training. If I feel too tired to make it to the gym, I’ll stick on the Insanity workout, which has become really big for those who like to exercise in front of the TV. It’s hard on the knees but you burn plenty of calories thanks to jumps, squats and burpees. It really works your core.”

Ninja: Shadow Of A Tear is on Blu-ray and DVD from 12 May and on downloads on 5 May