Matt Barr grew up in North Texas. The son of a football coach and an athlete himself, he was no stranger to physical activity and discipline—two things that are serving him well as the star of the new CW series Valor.

Set on a U.S. Army base, Valor follows an elite group of black-ops helicopter pilots tasked with flying clandestine missions, all while navigating the fine line between military duty and human desire. It’s got something for everyone—action, drama, romance—and is based in reality, all qualities that appealed to Barr.

“I love all the superhero movies out there, but it’s refreshing to deal with real-life heroes,” he says. “Real people do extraordinary things, and that’s intoxicating to me, both as an actor and even as an audience member.”

To prep for his role as Captain Leland Gallo, Barr and his co-star, Christina Ochoa, trained in actual helicopters, learning from veteran pilots how to maneuver in a cockpit. Otherwise, he took it upon himself to ensure he came to the set ready to represent his character mentally and physically.

Rather than hiring a trainer or latching on to the latest fad, Barr performs what he calls his Rocky Balboa workout several times per week. He simply goes to a park and does pullups, dips, and burpees (See his full bodyweight workout here) “The greatest equipment God ever gave us was gravity,” says Barr, who makes the most of it with his body-weight conditioning regimen.

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To mix things up, he swims laps. And when his schedule is extra-busy, he sprints.

“If you have 40 yards of flat land, sprinting is a full-body workout,” he says. “So when I’m traveling and can’t get to a gym or pool, I find some grass or a street and do 40-yard dashes, drop down, do some pushups, and keep running. Half an hour later, you’ve had a great workout.”

Barr found inspiration during his time training with members of the military and applied it to how he approaches his own fitness goals. “I have a competitive side that likes pushing my mind and body to the limit,” says Barr, whose other credits include The Layover and Sleepy Hollow. “I’m fascinated by what drives people who operate at such a high level, where there’s no room for error. In the park, the stakes aren’t like they are on the battlefield, but it’s that same drive that keeps me going.”

To stay ripped, Barr eats a diet with lots of protein, plus plenty of vegetables and starches. But even elite soldiers—or those who play them on TV—can’t turn down the occasional bag of Sour Patch Kids when watching a movie.

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“I like to think I’m mission-ready,” Barr says, “but I would probably get my ass handed to me in real life.”