Hollywood heartthrob Hugh Jackman is proof you can have an amazing physique in your 40s. The X-Men star, devoted husband and father of two is the poster boy for good fitness and healthy eating.
Jackman’s lean body, rippling torso and sculpted biceps are a sure sign that middle age doesn’t have to mean middle-aged spread. But it doesn’t come naturally. Jackman has admitted there is only one way to achieve his famous body: hard work and discipline.
He is known for running to the gym at dawn, working out for 50 minutes and running home again. He also mixes it up. Before shooting Real Steel, he spent months in the boxing ring. To prepare for 'The Fountain', he mastered tai chi forms and practised yoga daily for a year.
Even when a film wraps up, Jackman works out regularly. “It’s hard to build up from scratch,” he says. “Staying in the ballpark makes it a lot easier.”
Here are his tips for getting – and staying – in shape.
Weights and cardio
“It’s about heavy weights, every time,” he told Men’s Health. “I see people at the gym with kettlebells, or in the corner with the Swiss ball, acting like it’s gonna change their life. Sure, it helps a bit. But the bottom line is that you’ve got to train until you want to throw up.”
Cardiovascular is a mainstay. Hugh is a regular on the treadmill and does at least one hour of cardio a day. “At my age losing fat becomes much harder,” he says. “I’m fit and lean, and I’m using that as a base to build muscle.”
Eat well, eat lean
As Jackman ages, he appreciates the importance of good food. “Seventy per cent of how you look is about your diet,” he once told 60 Minutes. “I thought it was all about weights and lifting and going to the gym. And, yes, you have to train hard. But that’s not nearly as important as the diet.”
Jackman recommends high protein, low carb. Indeed the Wolverine physique is built on meat. When training for the role, Hugh adopted the 8:16 approach. He consumed 6000 calories (mainly chicken, fish, steak, steamed vegetables and occasionally some brown rice) in an eight-hour window from 10am to 6pm and fasted overnight for 16 hours.
Healthy life, healthy lifestyle
Decent shut-eye is crucial to achieving results from exercise. “If you’re dragging your heels when you hit the gym, walk straight out,” he told Men’s Health. “You need to turn around, go home and have a nap, then come back tomorrow.” And it doesn’t all happen in the gym. Jackman regularly posts pictures of himself golfing, swimming and cycling with his family.
The occasional break-out helps Jackman stay honest. His Instagram account reveals a weakness for pavlova and hot chips. He’s a coffee snob but limits himself to one or two a day. Even when training intensely, coffee is his last remaining indulgence. “I can’t have sugar in it, but I need to have something to look forward to,” he told the UK’s Metro.
Jackman is renowned for doing his own stunts and will tackle most physical challenges, from swinging in on a flying fox for an interview with Oprah Winfrey to learning how to muster cattle for his role in Australia. “We have far more ability than we give ourselves credit for,” he told Men’s Health. “With age, you see people fail more. You see yourself fail more. How do you keep that fearlessness of a kid? You keep going.”