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Arrow star Stephen Amell is no stranger to committing himself to the rigorous training and diet required to look as ripped as a superhero but at age 40, he’s found that making sustainable changes is the best way to look and feel great on or off set.
The Canadian actor and producer sat down with Muscle & Fitness to talk about his approach to getting in shape for his latest role as professional wrestler, Jack Spade in the new Starz drama series, Heels.
There’s no questioning Amell’s competitive streak. In 2017, the Green Arrow took on American Ninja Warrior for Red Nose Day, and crushed the obstacle course. He wasn’t done there. Amell moved on to the advanced area, and while he did eventually succumb to the brutal swinging peg board, his desire to give the course his all earned the nation’s respect.
Amell has appeared countless times on Arrow looking completely shredded, but for his latest role, the talented actor is becoming less about being scene-ready, and more about staying ready.
“I’m less worried about the way that I look, versus they way that I feel,” says Amell. “I set a precedent for myself, dietwise, on Arrow that was something I really couldn’t sustain. It’s not that I don’t have the discipline, it just wasn’t something I could sustain. So for Heels, I just really focused on my midsection and my hips, and my butt, and my legs, and thought to myself that if I can take care of this aspect of my body, specifically working my lower body, that everything else will basically fall into place.”
Amell is also a lover of bodyweight exercises including dips and pullups.
In terms of his diet, Amell has learned that throwing down salt and sugar laden foods will only bring short-term gratification, so he focuses on quality in order to avoid inconvenient hunger pangs. “I’m lucky enough that my wife is super into nutrition, and has forgotten more about it than I will ever know, but she cooks these wonderful meals, and what you theoretically sacrifice in flavor [by eating less salt and sugar], if you are eating really good whole foods, then you never run into [the situation] where you’ve eaten a meal and 20 minutes later you are hungry and you can’t figure out why,” says Amell. “There’s nothing worse than eating junk food and you get that moment of satisfaction and fullness, then it goes away and you’re all shaky, and you’re hungry, and then you go back to sh****y food again, and it just turns into a cycle that is not a lot of fun.”
Of course, this is not Amell’s first foray into the world of professional wrestling. The lifelong fan has even made special appearances in the squared circle, including at SummerSlam 2015, where he dived to the outside of the ring in a truly gutsy moment that fans are still talking about. He’s also appeared for AEW and ROH.
In addition to the family dynamic of Heels, where Amell stars alongside Alexander Ludwig (who portrays Jack’s younger brother), the drama also attempts to showcase pro wrestling as a physically and mentally demanding form of sport and entertainment, not be underestimated. “I’d say to anybody, if you have any doubts about pro wrestling, or what these guys put themselves through, or how tough they are, go to a local wrestling spot,” says Amell. “Hop into the ring, and just do the basics, OK? Run the ropes and then take a flat back bump in the middle of the ring, see how you feel, and see if you wanna keep going.
“Just because people make something look easy on TV [doesn’t make it easy], these are professionals, this is what they do, it’s their job to make you think that anyone can do this. I’m here to tell you, not anyone can do this.”
So, having reignited his passion in Heels, might Amell return to the world of pro wrestling one day? “Sure, I mean, I have more skills now than I had when I actually did my stuff with WWE and AEW,” he says. “So, I’d love to. When you get out there in front of 15,000 people, there’s no stunt double, and you’re out there naked in front of everybody, and it can be a little daunting, and it can be a little harrowing when all of a sudden you are 40 years old, and you’ve had a couple of bumps and bruises along the way.”
Never say never.