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5 Actors That Got Huge For Movie Roles (And How They Did It)

How On Earth Can Celebrities Gain so Much Weight, so Fast?

When we see an actor who is normally not that big become big for a new role, people get curious. I mean, was he on steroids? Was he working out 8 hours a day? Was he eating McDonald’s to get in all those calories?

How in the hell do these guys gain so much weight?

One of the most common questions I get in my beginner weight loss course is how to lose weight or get more toned as quickly as possible.

And tack that on to the fact that there is a disgusting amount of bad science and bad information on the internet. This is a recipe for confusion, and an opportunity for lots of scam artists to try to sell you “the 300 workout” or some similar bullshit.

But, surprise surprise, I’m here to the rescue to tell you that there are no secrets.

In almost every field since the dawn of time, high performers have appeared almost magical to the outside layman.  Whether that’s in sports, or medicine, or kung fu — a skilled person often makes people think they possess something special.

Exclusive Bonus: I put together a step-by-step guide here on how to lose your next 5 pounds. You can Click here to download it.

There Are No Secrets

Who doesn’t love Kungfu Panda?

I want to quickly point out one major flaw in human thinking, and it’s this: That there is some faster, quicker, sometimes magical path or technique that will bring you to the next level.

And I think this plays on 3 flaws about the human mind:

  1. The desire for quick fixes
  2. The curiosity about “taboo” or mystical subjects
  3. Ignorance

In the health and fitness industry we’re plagued with lose weight quickly, or gain muscle quickly advertisements. We’re told that “if you just workout 2 hours a day , 5 days a week, you’ll get huge.”

Well I can tell you from first hand experience — that’s total garbage. I worked out for 6 years , 4-5 days a week and saw no gains in over 4 years (!).

In the “make more money” industry we see tons of get rich quick products being sold.

In the west, we’re totally fascinated by the mysticism and kungfu of the east — pressure points that kill people, and monks controlling their energy.

But my point in stating all of these things is this:

we are easily manipulated when we believe in quick fixes, magical never-before-heard of techniques, and when we’re ignorant and uneducated about a subject.

My point here is to educate you so you are not easily manipulated.

While you read the following, how 5 celebrities got huge for movie roles, remember – there are no secrets.

5 Actors That Got Huge For Movie Roles

#1 – Gerard Butler in 300

Gerard Butler in 300

When 300 came out, just about everyone was like “holy shit.”  I think there were more straight guys staring in awe than their girlfriends — it was a couple dozen guys with the body that most guys dream of. Smart marketing.

After the movie came out, all kinds of crap filled the internet with “the 300 workout” or how Gerard Butler was getting huge for his role. It basically led to a lot more garbage information that supported the general workout stereotype: that you have to workout 3 + hours per day to get huge, 7 days a week.

Why don’t we look at some facts though. What did Gerard butler look like before the movie and after?

Gerard Butler Before/After

Gerard Butler Before/After

First things first:

  1. He didn’t gain much muscle (if any)
  2. He cut down a lot
  3. He got “pumped” before the action scenes

Basically what you’re looking at here is: A normal weight guy that cut some fat weight.  

There’s a saying that getting cut adds 20 pounds of muscle — what it actually means is that when you’re big and strong (but fat) you just look fat.  When you cut some of that weight, even if you drop 20 pounds, you look bigger in the sense that you actually look like you work out.

So how did he look so big in the movie?

A. He cut his weight and added minimal muscle (that’s it)

Compare this to a totally random picture I found on the internet of a guy with similar circumstances: I wanted a guy whose weight didn’t change much noticeably, who gained a little muscle gain, but lost quite a lot of fat.

How "Cutting Fat" Looks Like You Got 20 Pounds Heavier

How “Cutting Fat” Looks Like You Got 20 Pounds Heavier – Source

Dramatic right? but if you look at the guy’s forearms, and biceps, you can tell they’re only a little bigger. The effect of 10-15 pounds of fat loss is very dramatic though.

All Butler really did was cut some fat weight to reveal the muscle underneath. Easily done in a few months (whereas you can’t build massive muscle in a few months).

B. He got “pumped” before each action scene.

Have you ever seen the actors talking about their roles in a movie, and you see them lifting weights or doing pushups before they say action?  The pump adds size to the muscle when it becomes engorged with the increased blood flow.

For example, when I get my arms pumped, it adds almost an inch to my arms temporarily.  That’s even bigger on the large muscles like my chest and legs.

That’s insane.  I’m a guy who weighs 170 and some, and with my arms and chest pumped I look like I weigh 190 pounds of solid muscle.

You can frequently see Butler (as well as any other actor in a scene with his shirt off) getting pumped before each scene to look as big as possible.

Gerard Butler’s secret

  1. Cut down on fat using HIT and circuit training
  2. Getting pumped before each scene & other hollywood cinematic effects (shadows & dirt to enhance abs)

#2 – Chris Hemsworth in Thor 

Grabbing His Trusty Hammer

Grabbing His Trusty Hammer

Chris Hemsworth’s transformation is much more interesting to me, because it’s obvious that he put on a lot of weight for the role.  When an actor is slightly overweight, 100 days of daily workouts with a pristine diet can look like an amazing transformation.

But when an actor is underweight, there’s no way to fake getting big. It’s either fat or muscle (usually both) that is gained.

What did Chris look like before?

Hemsworth Before/After

So let’s take a look at the two main factors in how he got big, which are (as usual), not secrets:

  1. He ate a lot
  2. He lifted weights

Wow. What a shocker. Maybe I can sell a scammy supplement on that too.

Let’s see what Chris said himself:

 “I feel as if I’ve been busy, but all I’ve been doing is eating all day,” he says as we pass a farm stand brimming with organic broccoli. “Eating when you’re not hungry and taking in that amount of food is exhausting.”

The exact same thing was my experience when I put on 20 pounds last year — It was the most exhausting, demoralizing thing I had ever done.  You eat until you want to die, 5 times a day.

In fact, I only worked out 3 times a week last year (grand total time = 3 hours working out a week) when I gained the largest I have ever gained in a year. Previously I worked out for 6 years, and for 5 of them saw no improvement. Not a pound of weight gain.

Diet is 80% of your success. Both for muscle gain and weight loss.

Now what about his workouts?

Duffer Gaver, a west-coast based personal trainer and former Navy seal said Hemsworth’s training was “pretty simple bodybuilding,” meaning a pretty typical bodybuilding workout.

Most bodybuilding workouts involve split routines, meaning you do one muscle (or two), 5-12 sets for that day, same day every week. It’s a high volume approach. Stick with repetitions in the 6-12 range.

So for example (Split routine):

  • Monday: Chest (6-12 sets for all of the following)
  • Tuesday: Back
  • Wednesday: Arms
  • Thursday: Legs
  • Friday: Shoulders & Abs

Some people will put two muscular groups per day, for example: Tuesday might be “Back & Biceps” instead of just back.  That, in an overly-simplified way, is it.

Chris Hemsworth’s secret to getting huge:

  1. Eat a horrendous amount of calories (the right calories — emphasizing brown rice, a piece of meat, and veggies every meal).
  2. A typical bodybuilding split-routine

#3 Mark Wahlberg in  Pain & Gain (2013)

Wahlberg In His Latest Movie No Pain No Gain

Wahlberg In His Latest Movie : Pain and Gain

Mark Wahlberg, who is usually a pretty big guy to begin with, is playing a bodybuilder in his 2013 movie: Pain and Gain.

For the role, he needed to get much bigger than he already was, and that involved eventually adding 40 pounds to his frame.

That’s almost twice what Thor above gained for his movie role.

So what did mark wahlberg look like before?

Mark Wahlberg Before

Now let’s get the facts. From some direct quotes from Wahlberg:

He told E! Online, “I was eating 10 meals a day and drinking mass gainers. I was drinking my own. I created this line of supplements with (retail chain) GNC. It was a lot of work.”

“A lot of getting up at two in the morning to eat another meal and I was still full from the meal at 10 o’clock.”

Wait, that sounds suspiciously like Chris Hemsworth’s experience, and my experience, and the experience of many others. Eat an uncomfortable amount of food, while lifting weights.

What about his workout? 

It’s basically the same routine as Chris Hemsworth in Thor, but with more volume.

He shared his split routine:

Monday: Biceps, legs and back
Tuesday: Triceps, chest, shoulders
Wednesday: Biceps, legs
Thursday: Off
Friday: Off
Saturday: Biceps, legs and back
Sunday: Triceps, chest, shoulders

Mark Wahlberg’s secret to success?

  1. Eat a disgusting amount of food (up to 10 meals)
  2. Lift weights (typical bodybuilding split routine, see above)

#4 Tom Hardy – Bane – In Batman



Tom Hardy played Bane in the new Batman movie and got freaking huge for it.

He reportedly gained 30+ pounds for his role as the lead villain, so let’s see what he looked like before:

Tom hardy before

Tom Hardy Before

So what information can we get from Hardy himself about this weight gain?

Talking about a previous movie of his, Bronson, where he had to gain weight, his dietary adjustments looked like the following:

“For Bronson, I put on about 7 lbs a week —  with no steroids. In the end I’d put on about 2 and a half stone by  eating chicken and rice, which was my staple diet throughout the day.  Then I’d have a pizza, Häagen-Dazs and Coca-Cola: So not good stuff, but I had to put weight on.”

So just like Chris Hemsworth in Thor, and Mark Wahlberg in Pain & Gain, he was eating an absurd amount of calories (though unfortunately lots of junk to speed it up too).

I can’t find any specific data on his workout (there’s a massive amount of made up info online), but I suspect it’s not that different from every other celebrity’s weight gain.

So what can we take away from Tom Hardy’s Bane weight gain?

A. He didn’t gain that much muscle

Just by looking at his body in the movie you could tell it was mostly fat.  That makes sense since he apparently only had 4 months to gain that weight.  That’s much more believable than 30 pounds of muscle (which is impossible, even in 1 year).

B. There were a lot of cinematic effects contributing to how large he appeared to be.

If you noticed, in many of the scenes with Bane, hardy was filmed from below, in the shadows, or in some other area that allowed him to look bigger than he actually was.

The Secret to Tom Hardy’s (Bane) Weight Gain:

  1. Massive calories (chicken and rice + Junk food) – Although most of it was fat (you could tell)
  2. Lifting weights (can’t find any data on the specifics)
  3. Smart cinematics — in the movie, bane was often filmed from below or in the shadows which made him look bigger. There was also CGI used in the movie (unknown as to whether it was used to make him look bigger too).

#5 Christian Bale – From Emaciated in the Machinist to Big in Batman

In < 1 Year, Bale Gained 109 Pounds

In < 1 Year, Christian Bale “Gained” 109 Pounds With Very Little Fat

Christian Bale’s gains are much more interesting to me here because it’s a trifecta of interesting:

  1. He gained an insane amount of weight in very short time
  2. And he gained the weight with very minimal fat.

From Bale himself, about bulking up after losing so much weight for The Machinist (see top left):

He said: ‘The director, Christopher Nolan, asked me to try and put on as much weight as I could because he would find it very difficult to convince the studio to cast me if I was a beanpole.

‘In doing so I overdid it because I was enjoying gorging. I was ignoring advice about taking it slowly because my stomach had shrunk, and I should just go with soups.

‘I was straight into pizza and ice-cream and eating five meals in a sitting. My stomach expanded really quickly. I got very sick during that time but I enjoyed getting sick. I didn’t mind it at all.

‘In that short amount of time I did actually go from 121 (pounds) right back up to 180 (pounds) which is way too fast so that resulted in some doctor visits to get things sorted out.’

Let me tell you something about the science behind starvation and regaining weight (it’s easy): 

When your body enters a state of “starvation” (prolonged reduction in nutrients & calories over time),  all systems in the body become optimized for lowering the metabolism.

I once spent 5 days without food in the Sahara as part of a meditation experiment and, at the time, I was severely underweight and worried that I was going to lose weight.  Lo and behold, after the 5th day some other people were saying “Yeah!! I just lost like 15-20 pounds!”  Somehow, within a few days the weight was all back. How is that possible?

Your body weight has a natural set point that it always wants to stay at.   So even after starvation, upon reintroduction of a normal diet, the body very rapidly regains weight.

My point is this: Christian bale starved himself down to 121 pounds, and then once he introduced his normal diet (apparently plus some – he mentions eating pizza and ice cream a lot), he went right back to his normal weight. 

So what about the muscles?

So we’ve established how easy it was for Bale to go back to his normal weight. But what about those damn muscles? I mean he has muscles and almost no fat.

Let’s talk about muscle memory:

A lot of people in the gym think that their muscles magically start going away the day after they start working out, or a week after they start working out.

The truth is that it takes much longer for muscle to go away, I’ve seen studies showing 3  – 5 weeks (or higher) showing very little decline in muscle fiber number.

But we’re curious as to regaining muscle, because Bale already was training for a few years prior to the machinist. Just look at him in Equilibrium:

Bale in Equilibrium (2002) - Two Years Before Starving HImself for The Machinist (2004)

Bale in Equilibrium (2002) – Two Years Before Starving Himself for The Machinist (2004) – Already muscular and cut

Bale was already very muscular and pretty cut just prior to filming of the Machinist in 2004.  So in reality, all he did was gain the weight back (he didn’t really gain impressive weight or muscle more than he already had).

In one study, after taking 8 months off training, women regained their muscles (to almost normal) in just 6 weeks:

In one study, a group of women weight trained for 20 weeks, detrained for about 30 weeks, and then retrained for 6 weeks. The 20 weeks of training increased fiber size 16%-47%, while the 30 week detrained period resulted in only a small loss of fiber size (1%-14%). A mere 6 weeks of retraining increased muscle fiber size to levels similar to what were found after the intial 20 weeks of training!

So what happened in this study?

  1. Women weight trained for 5 months
  2. Then they took almost 8 months off, without training
  3. And then they retrained for 1.5 months
  4. Their muscles pretty much when right back to normal

It’s totally realistic to state:

  • That Bale was already fit (see above photo (2002), right around the time of him losing weight for his role in the machinist (2004)); and
  • Bale merely regained his bodyweight after starvation, and within 2-6 months regained his muscle fiber size back to pretty much normal (which is possible, see above study)

Christian bale: not all that special.

As you can see very few actors actually are gaining muscle for roles, because it’s physically impossible just to put on short-term muscle (without steroids).

The only guys you see large, muscular, and with little fat, are the ones who have years of weightlifting behind them and obviously are into it as a hobby, like Hugh Jackman.

In every movie he’s big. He obviously normally lifts weights.

Muscles take years to make.

So what’s Christian Bale’s secret to weight gain?

  1. Regaining weight after his starvation diet (natural + overfeeding on junk food)
  2. Muscle memory — he was previous trained and fit for Equilibrium in 2002, which he most likely regained in a few months pretty easily

Side Note: Are Some of These Guys Taking Steroids?

"Yeah, it's totally natural... I just eat my meat and veggies and do some pushups."

“Yeah, it’s totally natural… I just eat my meat and veggies and do some pushups.”

Some of you might be asking: what about steroids?

Any message board you go on (I avoid them all for a reason), people easily say “ROIDS!!!” because it’s a blanket statement that takes no thought or analysis.

I’ve searched desperately for information on any actors that have been caught with steroids, and a few come to mind: Sylvester Stallone was caught — while Arnold Schwarzanegger and Mickey Rourke admitted used them.

Since this is obviously a “taboo” topic, there isn’t much data on it, so let me pose an entirely hypothetical situation:

If you were an actor getting paid 100 million dollars for a movie, you’d do whatever it takes to fit  the part for the role.  Actors have gained (and lost) 60 or more pounds to fit a part – regardless of the consequences to their health.

Does that involve steroids? It’s up to you as to what you want to believe.

How The Best Are Made: There Are no Secrets

I opened this post talking about how the average joe often views the top echelon of actors, business people, and the successful as special.  Blessed. Possessing secrets.

But if there’s anything I’ve learned about success it’s this – the most successful are rarely the most gifted. Forget fitness for a moment – look at the people around you.  In Business, relationships, happiness — the most successful people I know have instead forged perfect habits that create perfection every day.

They’re the boyfriends and husbands that surprise their spouse every couple weeks with something fun; they’re the new gym-goers that started with 5 minutes a day, and a year later, are up to 50 minutes a day; they’re the business men and women who reach out to one new contact every day.

Success after all is merely the culmination of thousands of days of good habits.

Today, think about the thousands of tiny little actions you’ll make today. Are they bringing you closer to the future you envision? Further? Nowhere?

Ponder that next time you pick up your phone because you’re bored, or eat mindlessly, or snap at your spouse over something small. Every act is you – are they bringing you closer to perfection, or nowhere?

How I Recommend Losing Your Next 20 Pounds or Getting Lean Instead

If you want to focus on fast weight loss (that’s healthy) without counting calories, I would recommend changing little habits (not dieting).

In my beginner weight loss course, I have literally hundreds of emails from students that lose an average of 5-20 pounds, usually in less than a month. But by far, what people tend to like the most is the emphasis on how to change habits, to figure out a sustainable long-term strategy.

In addition, there are over 500 people in my private group, the Real Food Weight Loss Tribe, sharing their results, experiences, and yes frustrations to help each other.

If you feel like you finally need to do something drastic for your weight and health, come check out my beginner weight loss course here.

Not only do I bust common myths (e.g. it doesn’t matter how many meals you eat, or when you eat), it goes deeper than just your diet.

Come check out this free informational page to see the strategies some other people (normal people just like you), used to get their results.

Images: Clarocine, Gerard Butler 300, Before/after Image, Wahlberg Before

Have You Read My New Book Yet?

  Read more about this in my book Master The Day. You’ll learn the nine daily success habits I learned interviewing people that lost 100+ pounds and kept it off in a healthy way – by changing their habits. Plus, you’ll get a free $100 bonus video course if you show me your receipt. You can get the audiobook here too.

96 comments… add one

  1. I’m not that much of a internet reader to be honest but your sites really
    nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your site to come back down the road. Many thanks

    1. Thanks Lea!

      Shoot me an email if you have any questions.

      — Alex

  2. Awese writing. I have dabbled in film and stage and recently got a huge tv gig. Muscles arent a part of the show but I lift and train anyway and need fitness for the role, and always enjoy looking my best within given budgets of time money food etc. I enjoyed the article a lot thanks

    1. No problem ! Best of luck with your tv gig !


    2. And here we observe the Troll in his natural habitat,..watch as he attacks while not making any sense with his crude language.

  3. This is the most bullshit advertisement ever. The pic with the “totally random guy” is two different people and its not even a good look a like. If you have to lie about your product to get sales while trying to use celebrity name drops to make it sound legit, then you need to go kill yourself. None of these celebs used this shit.

    1. Hi Skyler,

      Actually I’m not “advertising” anything, I don’t have any products for sale. Wordpress automatically moderates your first comment when you post on a new website, that’s why It filtered it.

      Also, if you’ll notice in the article, the entire point of the article is that there are no secrets – you don’t need protein powders, supplements and pills – eating massive amounts of foods in addition to a weight lifting routine is it. It’s simple, but people always want to look for a secret or the next supplement to take.


    2. WOW you obviously didn’t even READ the article. I found it to be very facinating. I had seen the Machinist, and am amazed what actors do to their bodies to fit a role. As a nurse, it really scares me.

      Thank you for your honesty in this web site. I really like to puruse it.

    3. you should probably read the article and not talk bull#$*t just because you think you have some kind of telepathy and can guess the content from the title 🙂 also I don’t understand the mentality about going to kill yourself. Are you doing such thing when you talk trash (like this comment)?

    4. Lol. Not the same guy? Are you blind? Of course it’s the same guy. His face looks exactly the same although obviously thinner and the tattoo on his left arm is exactly the same. The OP puts a lot of time into writing an informative and interesting post and this is all you got. LMAO.

  4. Hello,

    Nice article in a way encouraging. Keep it up 🙂

    1. Cheers Mike! Glad you liked it.


  5. Cheers from Malaysia! 😀
    thumbs up.. u made the article so perfect..
    each paragraph i read twice time to search more info..
    1 actor 1 google tab.. haha.. btw im starting to build muscle..
    hv eat 4meal a day.. i think i should eat more cause im skinny.. huhu
    any suggestion n tips bro..?

    1. Hi Azral,

      Haha I’m glad you liked it!

      If you aren’t gaining weight with 4 meals a day, eat more! Just weight yourself once a week, or once every two weeks, and also monitor your strength gains in the gym. If you aren’t getting stronger, or gaining more weight, keep eating!


  6. Hello! this is an amazing article, you have a lot of references not like many out there in the internet, it’s good to finally see something that doesn’t sound like magic or that leaves you with the thought: damn that contradicts this other site. because honestly i was growing very incredulous to everything with all those miracle-crappy articles.

    1. Hi Daniel,

      I’m glad you liked it! I try to fight lots of the crap on the internet 😉

      – Alex

      1. This article was ace, thanks for making the effort to put it on.
        I want to put muscle on only weigh 12 stone but quite muscley. Want to put weight on and look more defined, and don’t want to lose abs! Feel if I keep eating I’ll just lose abs and look less defined, just big. I work out 3-5 times a week. Suggestions ?

        1. Just don’t eat to excess – eating 1000 extra calories a day is a myth, you really only need 300-500 over maintenance level. Just add more protein, and add one more meal a day – you’ll gain. Then, be patient.

  7. I think Tom Hardy in Warrior is much more impressive, especially since he has very low body fat in the role.

  8. Great write up! Lots of useful information. What is your take on creatine powder? I’ve read some mixed reviews about it and I’ll probably stay away from it, but I’d like to know what your thoughts are on it.

    1. Hey Mark,

      From a health or workout perspective?

      Creatine definitely works for gains and strength – it’s one of the only proven supplements shown to aid in workouts. Having said that, I’ve used it and didn’t notice too much of a difference. Also (anecdotally), I’ve noticed friends get that “swollen” look when working out if they use creatine – but after working out they looked deflated. It wasn’t a look I liked personally. It was like water inflation and then deflation.

      My advice would be to try it out and see how it works on you.

      – Alex

  9. Really enjoyed reading this article, I have read a lot about actors gaining muscle for roles and this is by far the most accurate and down to earth overview. Although I agree that all of this is right however I think if any one of these actors or others that have gone through these gains would probably find you haven’t given them enough credit. Anyway it would be cool to read more articles on more oriental martial art mysteries, for example mysteries about Bruce Lee and any other things in this area

    1. Hey Dan,

      Yeah man no problem – when you look around the internet you tend to realize that there is LOADS of garbage, especially how “celebrities” gained weight. It’s usually flat out false.

      Having said that, I respect them immensely – I personally gained 30 pounds over the 1-2 years, and it was the most agonizing thing I have ever done. It sucked. And that’s why I respect these people. But I want people to know it’s not magic, there’s no magic diet, there’s no magic workout, it’s just food and pushing yourself on the weights. There is no rocket science.

      I would love to read more about Bruce Lee too!


  10. Great article. Answered a lot of questions. I’m naturally lean with my weight hovering around 170lbs and I’ve always wanted an additional 10lbs but never eaten enough. I want defined abs and figured overeating would go straight to my stomach. Any nutrition suggestions or recommended resources?

    1. Hey DH –

      For muscular gain you only need two things: Enough protein (I go for 1 g per pound of bodyweight) and a slight excess of calories. As long as you’re lifting and pushing yourself, you will gain.

      BUT That means you will likely gain a tiny bit of fat. So it’s easier to focus on gaining muscle slowly without gaining too much fat. Over eating will only go to your stomach if you aren’t exercising.

      So you’re better off bumping up your eating, exercising while you’re doing it (to offset fat gain), and then once you hit your target weight, slightly reduce the calories and drop the carbs a bit to let yourself lean out.

      Hope that helps!


  11. Celebrities have access to so many drugs out there and prohormones, HGH, etc…Roids don’t just play a role. Whoever says they gained 30lbs of PURE MUSCLE in a year or 2 is full of it or highly mistaken. It’s not all muscle. Not even guys that take roids can do this because it is humanly impossible. You can argue if you want but coming from a guy that loves training and being around many others that do it’s obvious that these actors take performance drugs. Just like in the NFL….How in the world do these huge football players day in and day out get hit left and right, train for hours, hardly get sleep, and still maintain or even get bigger…..I’ll leave you to answer that one. I love the commitment but still if you take anything, at least do it for the right reasons such as competing or in movies. Obviously you have to in sports as well but yeah the natural body just can’t handle that much stress without “extra” help.

    Rob riches, pro bodybuilder was stripped of his title for winning a bodybuilding contest. This guy preached to hundreds of thousands of people that he was natural but they found a substance in his supplement stack that was illegal and banned. Hardly anyone is natural anymore it seems like and it’s whatever because the world changes and people change. I don’t have anything against people that take anything but don’t brag or lie to me when I ask them how they achieved their physique. Great article by the way man and sorry for the long post. It’s just that I can never get a clear answer as to how these actors gain pounds of muscle in such little time because like I said it’s not possible.

    I’ve read plenty and researched a lot because I love training!

    1. Walter,

      No disagreement there. It’s impossible to put on 30 pounds of muscle in a year. Even 20. I don’t think many people know this.

      In all the research I’ve seen, and in all the top trainers I’ve talked to (some that even train celebrities), 1 lb per month seems to be the upper limit. Having said that, guys with low body fat can give the ILLUSION that they have gained 30 pounds of muscle because they are genetically averse to fat gain. Even gaining 5% bodyfat on them and they still look ripped.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if these actors were getting some nice HGH shakes from their trainers. Wouldn’t surprise me at all.

      Having said that, there are legit ways to gain weight and gain muscle – but they all take time. No one wants to hear that though because it’s not sensationalist.


  12. I think you’re one of the first who understands how it actually works. I’ve heard from my personal trainer that the human body can grow around 5 Kilograms of pure muscle a year with the right nutrition and of course steady daily training. I’m sure there are people that gain maybe 6 or 7 Kilograms of pure muscle but without any enhancements like steroids or HGH , this is not possible.

    I have been training for many years now, during the time that i over-ate in combination with Whey protein on a daily basis , i went from 140 pounds to 160 pounds in one year. How ? I ate a lot, got stronger, more musle and obviously more fat. This combination ment 20 pounds in weight gain.

    Then people were telling me I was big for my statue and i felt pretty good. Though when I was naked , the body wasn’t really cut at all. It was kinda bulky instead of ‘Hollywood-cut’. I started working out with a personal trainer and thus started cutting. I adapted my food into low carb high proteine meals and ate around 6 meals (some small / some large) per day. I also dropped drinking beer on mondays to tuesdays. I did this for over 5 months, after 5 months i weigh 150 pounds with 11 % bodyfat (was 18%) and definitely a sculpted body.

    So yeah, I’ve lost pounds and didn’t grew in size, pretty much stayed the same actually but i looked way better in the mirror.

    People should understand that they need to gain first, then cut , then gain , then cut and do this hard work for years and years to achieve a sculpted body.
    Also , a sun tan helps with your definition! 😉

    1. Yep 5kg pure muscle is pretty spot on. And even that is VERY hard. You need to have perfect 5 meal a day nutrition for a year.

      You actually don’t need to gain/cut bulk/cut. It’s a myth. You could’ve just (instead of over-eating the first time, to get to 160) eating with a SLIGHT caloric excess, which would’ve allowed you to build muscle without gaining a lot of fat.

      This time, try not to gain some much fat. Don’t overeat quite as much, focus on 5 meals higher protein.

      – Alex

      1. No, you dont NEED 5 meals per day. You need ENOUGH meals per day. And organise them in a way you can absorb most of proteins, carbs etc per meal, as body have limits on absorption.

        1. You just need calories and protein – if you do that in 1 meal or 5, do whatever works. It’s just pretty hard to have 200g of protein and 4,000 calories in 2 meals.

  13. Holy fuuuuuuun kins hit. It is 5:51 am here in sunny Colorado, and I am not much of a reader, but I read that entire post. That information, while not cross referenced yet, was superbly motivational.

    1. Cheers James !

  14. I’m really glad I came across this post. I enjoyed reading it. Do you have advice on how to gain weight fast for a female? I’m in my thirties and look like a brunette Christina Aguilera back when her body was skinny. I want her curvy body that she got for the Dirrty album (you probably have no idea what I’m talking about so I will post links hee hee). I don’t know how she gained weight so fast. I am 5’6″ and 100 lbs with a tiny frame but want to be 120 lbs or so. What should I eat, how often, and what kind of exercises will get me to my goal body as soon as possible?

    Right now my body looks very similar to this:


    I hate it and everyone says I’m lucky because I’m so skinny but it bothers me. I want to get more curves so I can feel more sexy and want it to look more like this:


    or this:


    and would LOVE my butt to look like this:


    Can you or anyone else reading this help me please? I will owe you so much if I find something that really works. It’s really hard for me to gain weight and I’ve tried weight gain 2000 shakes and Ensure, eating big meals, a bunch of little meals but nothing is really working. I’ve been to the doctor and he tested my thyroid and I’m healthy.

    Would I be able to gain this much weight in a month and then join a gym and tone my muscles later?

    Thank you and so glad I came across your website. 🙂

    1. Hi Victoria,

      The short answer – if you want to gain weight, focus on calorie-dense foods. I personally eat 5 meals a day (I’m a 6’2″ tall guy with skinny guy genetics). I focus on rice, lots of added olive oil, sweet potatoes, etc.

      What *really* works is overeating – but when you do it on healthy food it’s not easy. I would use the iphone app “myfitnesspal” to track how many calories you need to gain weight, and then make sure you hit your macros every day. Also, don’t forget without exercise it’ll just be fat most likely. But if you’re already rail thin that probably won’t matter much yeah?

  15. Hey Alex

    I really enjoyed your article especially since it is the actors I was most curious about. I am also big into working out and fitness so it seems like eating more is a publicity statement for these celebrities. With the picturesque body these men have it is almost unbelievable to think that they achieved this in such a short time by lifting properly and eating lots. I’m sure they have a team of trainers and nutritionists that tell them exactly what to do and eat but my suspicion is that they also have someone who helps with ‘supplements’ as well. I have been researching steroids and such and you are right about it being a blanket statement for bad news. Everyone thinks that you inject steroids, get rediculously huge and have acne, hair growth, hair loss, etc. This is true but there are so many minor steroids that can be taken orally and these actors could pass it off as natural. In your last comment response you mentioned an HGH shake? HGH is a very effective way to achieve the look or strength desired but it doesn’t come in a shake. I would love to know exactly what these stars have taken but I’m sure that it will remain a secret.


    1. Hey Scott –

      There is no doubt in my mind that they often have someone that gives them “that little extra something.” It’s physically impossible to go from how Liam Hemsworth looked before, to Thor, in a year. Muscle growth just doesn’t happen that way. A more realistic look at what might’ve happened is Bane in Batman, he was big – but also really fat. That’s more realistically what would likely happen.

      To be honest I don’t know what they take – I wouldn’t be surprised if they were supplementing with HGH or flat out doing a cycle of steroids – but I don’t know too much about the subject haha.

      Research what Sylvester STallone used 😉

  16. briilliant article. thumbs up!

  17. What if you are a little overweight and would like to cut, what’s your view on that.
    Im 18 5’10” and weigh about 220 i do have a decent amount of muscle and look “big” but still have a good amount of fat i would like to cut and get rid of.?

    1. Hi tice,

      Increase your protein intake, decrease your carbs a bit. No white flour, no soda, no refined anything, no sugar. Add in a few days of weight lifting or cardio and you’ll cut down pretty quick.

      Focus on eating protein and veggies every meal.

      – Alex

  18. Another on line guy who ain’t in shape and trys to find holes in us people who are. Grow a pair of balls and go fuck yourself or even realise that to get a complete body it takes a strict diet a full body routine muscle building regiment and a cardio vascular training program not eating shit and shoving a few weights in the right direction people like you make me stronger each day knowing you try to weaken my efforts because you haven’t the strength to accomplish them yourself !!!!!!’n

    1. Hi Beta,

      Actually I’m fitter than 99% of guys in the gym, and have a six pack. Thanks for your fitness advice though!

      – Alex

    2. Mr. Youra Cock,
      There’s so much misguided anger in your post; like a beta in a tiny fishbowl you can’t go throwing stones round without opposable thumbs, and besides if you did break out then you wouldn’t have a place to call home anymore, just the dry floor for a few moments. We are all better off reading the article, using science and logic to back up our arguments Betaboye. Meditate, do some yoga, shoot some smack, but keep the hate out of your mind state. The argument is best left to those who add and align syllables proper.

      Caio, nice article and responses Alexander

  19. Another on line guy who ain’t in shape and trys to find holes in us people who are. Grow a pair of balls and go fuck yourself or even realise that to get a complete body it takes a strict diet a full body routine muscle building regiment and a cardio vascular training program not eating shit and shoving a few weights in the right direction people like you make me stronger each day knowing you try to weaken my efforts because you haven’t the strength to accomplish them yourself !!!!!!’n ps if you wish to respond to me privately my email is beta.baby@hotmail.co.uk

  20. Awesome! Finally someone telling the truth!
    Yeah, big guys like Arnie used roids, same as EVERY freakingly huge bodybuilder (Ronie Coleman, Dorian Yates….)
    But to get fit in a human frame, is no science: just live healthy and exercise!
    I used to be a power lifter, after injuring myself I switched to calisthenics, cleaned up my diet and voila! Getting fitter than ever!
    Lift weights or not, if you exercise right and eat right, you won’t have anything to envy in those Hollywood stars!

  21. Well done. Finally someone making sense of how these actors do it and not trying to force a product down our throats… Thanks lad!

    1. Cheers Edward!

  22. Wow, this was a very honest and insightful blog post. I can tell that you really did your research and wasn’t trying to resort or relate back into any type of marketing into yourself or your own “quick solution methods” but actually provided a realistic analysis.

    I’ve always been curious about the major changes that actors put their body through for the sake of becoming their role and your blog did the trick. Thanks and keep it up!

    1. Cheers Mike!

  23. Thanks for the info and tips bro.
    This is the first time someone actually makes sense.. Keep THIS UPPPPPP!!!!

  24. As far as Tom Hardy….apparently you didn’t see Warrior where he is a shredded beast. Try looking up the Tom Hardy Warrior workout by his trainer Pnut. Your research is lacking depth and accuracy.

  25. Dont wanna break your bubble, however I actually know 3 guys who worked on 300. Gerard Butler was in fact taking steroids :/

  26. Hey Alex,
    For starters I loved the article looks great love the analysis and wrap up at the end of each topic and actor keeps it interesting. I actually wanted to ask you some advice I understand fully the point of eating and lifting. I’m currently a high school senior and 17 years old. My weights coach always tells me that I need to bulk up (I weight 125 pounds) but I just don’t have much time for regularly eating meals all day like the actors due to having class all day long. Even though my actual lift maxes go up my weight doesn’t go up. Do you have any advice on maybe small things or snacks that would be good to take with me that could fit in my backpack and still be able to consume enough calories to substitute eating multiple meals a day?

    1. Hey Bryce,

      I’d recommend carrying a jar of peanut butter, and just take spoonfuls every day. One spoon is 100 calorie, so you can easily get in an extra meal worth of calories that way. (Try to aim for 5 spoons).

      Also, you might want to increase the volume – and lift in the rep range of 6-12 – that’s been shown to increase muscle fiber size most. But again, the nutrition is the key part to gaining size an strength – hands down.

  27. Hello Alexander,

    Please don’t get me wrong, because you are clearly a more intelligent guy than about 90% of those offering advice on the internet, but you are mostly wrong.

    Let’s take a look at the celebs you mentioned:

    #1 Gerard Butler – The production company admitted they used CGI on their abs, and their abs were defintely the bodyparts which stood out the most. But still, Gerard Butler was either on low-dose testosterone (to cope with their rigorous training regimen) or OTC pro-hormone/pro-steroid.

    #2 Chris Hemsworth – LOL. Probably the most obvious one. Do you even know about the side effects of steroids? Hemsworth’s face is bloated, probably through not taking an anti-estrogen or through taking dianabol or most likely both. His jaw and forehead is much more pronounced too, another tell-tale sign, whilst he has developed a level of muscle which is way beyond his genetic potential. This couldn’t be done naturally even over a 4 year period and yet you’re trying to claim 3 months? LOL.

    #3 Mark Wahlberg – Several claims that he was taking steroids in his Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch days. As you say, he was releasing his new supplement line, Marked, so obviously he was not going to say it was the steroids if he was taking them. But he was also carrying a high percentage of bodyfat, which means he might have genuinely been taking in lots of meals with no assistance. But this is my point: if you exercised your butt off and ate like a horse everyday you would look more like Mark Wahlberg, not Chris Hemsworth or the next person, who I cannot believe you are trying to claim is natural:

    #4 Tom Hardy – Ok clever guy, you think Tom Hardy is natural? Well Tom Hardy himself doesn’t, but I guess you know better?

    Go watch his Jonathon Ross interview where he admits he took steroids for the Bane role.

    #5 Christian Bale – This is perhaps the funniest, if not the most misguided. You are taking about the body’s balance (homeostasis) and muscle memory, which is true but you appear to have little understanding of its limitations.

    Please explain to me how there has been no medically recorded case of any human being ever having gained 109 pounds of lean muscle tissue in a year except for Christian Bale (according to you)?

    Even Holocaust victims, and famine survivors, who WERE prescribed anabolic steroids to help them regain weight have in very, very rare circumstances been documented as gaining this much weight in the space of a year.

    Yes, nutrition is key, Alexander, but in the case of these celebrities, so are steroids.

    1. Pretty much nailed it on the head….You should write an article…lol

  28. Couldnt have said it bettet myself M. Seems a little naive to think other wise. Hey at least all those housewives bought it! Alex youve been working out for 6 years with no gains. But you think training with alot of food consumption alone yields these kind of gains…..cmon man.

    1. Hi Matt,

      Years ago I worked out for 6 years with no gains – I’m about 30 pounds heavier now.

  29. The OP is seriously a moron. 90 percent of these actors are on the juice….You do not get that kind of gains naturally by “eating a lot of calories and lifting a lot”. LOL. If you seriously think these guys achieve these physiques all natural in 6 months you are high.

  30. Nice article! I used to believe in the same idea. But here’s the thing! Ive been working out regularly for about an year now! Id say ive got a fine phisique but its nowhere near the look i was hoping for and ive been told that it aint possible without protiens or steroids. So i really dont know what to believe and after reading this im pretty much more lost than i was before!

  31. I’ve ust read through this article and it has surprised me quite a lot to be honest. I am quite skinny and want to build muscular mass, but didn’t realise i would need to eat a lot more with working out, so this should help me a lot, thanks!!!!

    1. Cheers Brandon! Good luck

  32. Even after reading the article, I am still a bit skeptical, BUT it also is not very hard to believe either. The internet is filled with garbage, primarily from companies trying to sell you something. Also, people parrot what others tell them on forums and other websites. Eating a lot and exercising seems pretty obvious, but most can’t eat that much because it is possibly harder than the workout is. I know from my experience with a diminished appetite. People eat when they are hungry, because that is what the hypothalamus is telling you to do. After that, it becomes exhausting work.

  33. You had the right idea for the split routines but in the misc notes not in the bullet points. Very rarely will bodybuilders only do 1 body part per day. It happens but it’s much more the minority than the majority. The reason for this is simple. If you do the schedule you had defined above you have to wait 7 days to work the same body part. A typical modern bodybuilder would normally restart their split after 6 days, sometimes 5 depending. Why does this matter? Well, if the person adjusts their split to 6 days a week instead of 7, meaning restarting over every 6 days, they get to work that body part out an additional 8 times in a year. That’s significant.

    Also, you briefly touched on it but didn’t explain why. Most bodybuilders will work “like” muscles together. You mentioned back and biceps. Chest and triceps is another common one. This is also much more common than doing the back on one day and the chest on another. Why? Well, because when you work out the chest you are, depending on the exercises you are doing (there are ways to target the chest with minimal front delt or tricep involvement but most people bench press), also working out the front deltoids and triceps. So, if I work out my chest on day 1 then on day 3 work out my arms my triceps will not have received enough recovery time with only 2 days rest between workouts so you’ll at that point actually be doing more harm than good.

    I did hardcore bodybuilding for 12 years. My typical split was the following:

    – Chest (lower, upper, mid)/triceps
    – Back (no traps here – lats and low/mid back)/Biceps
    – Shoulders (side delts, rear delts and traps)/ calves (rarely do front delts need to be worked out, most people who lift weights have extremely overdeveloped front delts. The reason for this is simple – bench presses or the majority of other common mid chest exercises also work out the front delt. If you add another day of front delt work when doing shoulders the front delt will develop faster than the rear and sides because it is being worked twice instead vs once for the others)
    – glutes / hamstrings
    ab work can be added to any of the above days, making that a 4 day split and depending on how I would feel I would restart the split after 1 or 2 days of rest.

  34. leg day was quads / glutes / hamstrings, missed the quads on there, obviously

  35. I don’t know if bulking up like this would have long term affects on the skeletal structure of the body?

    1. Hi Eugene –

      Yes, muscles do alter the skeletal structure – you can see this in a person who works out their chest too much but doesn’t do any back – they get hunched.

      The bones follow the muscles to a certain extent, which is why a balanced workout regime is important if you do heavy weights.

  36. This article is spot on. When I train really hard in the gym my appetite goes, which is the bodies way of maintaining homeostasis – it doesn’t want me to grow. If i want to grow I have to forcefeed myself, and that sucks, but grow I do. I knew a steroid using bodybuilder who at 15 meals a day!

    I’ve always worked out, and now three weeks into training after four months cancer treatment, I’m muscular again thanks to all those years of training and eating. The trend nowadays to gain by using steroids to get a beach body is nothing but pure laziness

  37. I like your site! I am sooo tired of seeing these bull articles on how people get bigger in the movies. They always try to sell you some scam. You keep this up and get the facts out there man.

  38. Hi…
    This is the most sensible article I have ever read on bodybuilding. .
    its always the small steps u take everyday..there is no secret ingredient.


  39. most sence ive ever heard about muscle gain and loss. Finally

  40. Preciate the info!!!!! Nice work

  41. Woa! You changed my whole view of bodybuilding. Many thanks bro‚ reading your article was a superb experience. And I’m going to practice it from tomorrow. Keep it up!

    1. Glad it helped Mustansir!

  42. Bro, some of these dudes were most certainly on steroids. Hell, Hardy admitted to taking steroids for his role of Bane. Also, Wahlberg has roughly 21 inch guns in that pic. Arms that size are NOT naturally attainable (in others words anatomically impossible to achieve without the use of anabolics) for a man in his 20s, let alone a man in his 40s.

  43. Excellent and well written article. No BS, not selling anything, just the truth. This is the first believable article ive read on the subject of actors and muscle gains. Good Job. Very realistic and scientifically consistent assumptions about nutrition and weight training with actors. One thing to mention. These guys have trainers, doctors, nutritionists, and cooks to prepare their meals and tell them what to do. It’s a lot easier for them than the average joe.

    1. You’re right drew, it is a lot easier, PLUS that’s their only life focus while working on a movie (besides their lines/acting). Nonetheless, this is realistic for virtually any guy with dedication.

  44. I think any guy who has been around for a while knows us ordinary folks have jobs, homes, kids, wives and everything else on our plates. We look at projected characters and if we are young and naïve try to emulate them. Of course over time you get to accept yourself as you are and then its not about trying to look like some professional, but rather find a look that fits in your lifestyle. I think there is a lot to be said for CGI and studio effects. If a studio is going to drop tens, maybe hundreds of millions on a movie you can bet your last dollar they will do whatever is needed to make the character ‘perfect’.
    Thanks for good article, keep it up.

    1. You’re right Adriaan – but at the same time, most of us don’t even realize what we’re capable of. Having said that, what most of these guys do isn’t sustainable- look at where they all are now? Much smaller than movie size.

  45. Thank you for this post, I really appreciate it. Please again what are the names of all your books and how can i access them?

    1. Reply
  46. What a load of rubbish, clearly from your pictures you look nowhere near as big as any of these guys, it’s obvious that many of them used steroids, your body cannot physically build that much muscle in such a short amount of time. The question is, if they are getting paid millions to look and act their best, why wouldn’t they use steroids? I know in their position I would do so, and lie about it, just like most of these actors have done.

    1. For most of these guys, the build is entirely natural – the time frame is another thing altogether.

  47. Nice to see such a refreshing no scam post! very good read!

    It’s all in your food and sleep! Obviously train right and properly for whatever your goal is but its mainly feeding those muscles and letting them grow with plenty of rest!

    Though a lot of us do rely on supplement shakes for when we have busy lives!

    Love it. Nice reassuring post.

  48. Can I take creatine while taking medicine ?

    1. Rajat, you are better speaking with your doc about this –

  49. Great article.

  50. Alexander,

    I really enjoyed your article and I need some advice. I am a 48 year old male, 175lb, with ectomorph body type. High metabolism, can eat like a horse and not gain weight, etc…

    Anyway, I started doing a program similar to the “starting strength program”. Focusing on progressive overload with a few key compound weight lifting routines. The issue is that in 2 months I SEEM to be gaining strength as I can lift More weight than when I first started but yet I am no bigger than before and I don’t really know I am any stronger. I can’t seem to do any more push-ups than when I first started, etc. I am trying to eat better/healthier but I don’t gorge on 5000 calories a day, either. What gives? My goals are to get stronger and add noticeable muscle mass. Any direction you can provide would be greatly appreciated! Great article.

    1. Hey Scott,

      You can definitely gain strength without mass. If you’re doing a low 5×5 rep program, that’s in the strength gains range, but not necessarily the muscle growth range – aim for 6-12 reps for size, also, you need to be eating more hands down.

      This doesn’t mean 5,000 calories a day, just track how much you eat every day for a week, and add 1 extra meal of 500 calories with some extra protein.

  51. Don’t disagree with what you said about Gerard Butler leaning up, nor the pumping up prior to a scene and muscles being engorged with blood looking much bigger. There are also a lot of tricks including but not limited to camera angles. That said its a little disingenuous to not say outright what some of these guys are doing is not possible without steroids (you suggest that but don’t say it but that leaves it in doubt). The science on this is more established that it was even two decades ago and the charts of natural muscle gains over a specified period of time are now established under the most optimum conditions. it also accounts for your potential gains (as someone who has never lifted has much more potential gain than someone who has lifted 10 years) Lyle Mcdonald and Bodybuilding.com have the charts. Almost all these guys exceeded those gains particularly given that at least half their potential gains had been used up (as they were not complete newbies to the exercise game), the amount of time they had to prepare for the role really is the tell tale sign as some of these gains can’t physically be done in the time frame allotted (at least not naturally, and no amount of “superior” genetics fixes that). The reason I know this because my superior brain genetics are smarter than those trying to perpetuate the lies.

    1. Hey Brian,

      Appreciate the feedback, and that last line was great hahah. FYI if you do come across research on steroid use in actors, I’d love to see it, since I haven’t taken time to jump into that and dig deeper.

  52. Hi I was wondering how you would loose the weight like the first actor. I’m build is chubby but I have a lot of muscle under either. I was aiming to look somewhat slimmer by the end of the summer break which is about 6 weeks, is it possible?

    1. You can definitely be slimmer Reagan in six weeks, but a big change I don’t know if it’s possible.

  53. Hey , nice article and with very good picked examples. I am experiencing the same at loss of few pounds look bigger.

  54. Any idea of how Charles Bronson trained? He had an amazing physique even in his fifities in Hard Times. He was also the original choice for Conan the Barbarian.

    1. Hey John,

      I hadn’t thought of it, I’ll do some research and see what I dig up.


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