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Blair Redford Gets Physical in New Fox Show 'The Gifted'

How this star got in peak physical condition for his new role.

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Blair Redford
David Rams

When Blair Redford showed up to shoot the pilot of The Gifted, the wardrobe department outfitted him with a leather vest and tank tops. And since The Gifted shares the same costume designer as the X-Men films, they just so happened to be the same tank tops worn by Hugh Jackman.

So when you’re wearing Wolverine’s shirts, there’s a responsibility to do them justice. And fill them out. Redford stars as Thunderbird in the new Fox series The Gifted.

The show lives in the greater Marvel universe but takes place in a world in which the X-Men are mysteriously absent. The government is rounding up mutants and putting them into detention centers, so life is, generally speaking, not so great for those with special abilities.

Enter Thunderbird and his team, who discover two teenage mutants on the run and help them fight for survival. Redford’s character is an Apache with a military background. He is super strong, has dense muscle that’s resistant to bullets, and is an expert tracker with heightened senses. All helpful things when it’s a ragtag bunch of mutants versus the world.

“Taking on this role and being part of the X-Men universe is huge for me,” Redford says. “I’ve got some big shoes to fill, and so does the show. We have a lot of eyes on us, so we have to get it right. It’s a challenge that really excited all of us, from the writers and directors to the actors.” For Redford, a big part of paying homage to Thunderbird was nailing the look. “In the comics, he’s bigger than everyone, so I thought, ‘Shit, I’m going to have to step it up.' I need to gain size but stay cut.

To accomplish this, Redford again channeled Hugh Jackman and employed the now-famous Wolverine diet, which combines high-protein meals with intermittent fasting. Redford loaded up on lean chicken, sometimes eating as many as seven chicken breasts in a day, and kept his carb intake low. He crammed all his calories into an eight-hour window, which took a lot of discipline. He says that getting hungry wasn’t the problem; eating when he wasn’t hungry was more difficult.

To pack on even more size, Redford hit the weights, alternating heavy weight and low reps with the occasional low weight and high reps to stay ripped. And since his character is often sleeveless, he hammered away at his arms.

To achieve that coveted V-shape frame, he incorporated shrugs into his workout, performing eight to 10 sets a couple of times a week, as well as front and side kettlebell raises. All of which helped him add lean mass to his exposed shoulders. From there, Redford mixed in yoga and tai chi. He swears by the latter. “I try to start every morning with 20 minutes of tai chi,” he says.

“It mentally centers me and prepares me for my workouts while helping me to stay flexible and prevent injuries.” We could all benefit from a little clarity. And if it helps you get into Thunderbird shape, hey, even better.

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