Workout Routines

How to get jacked like Hugh Jackman in 'X-Men'

The Wolverine physique displayed in the movie franchise is iconic and straight-up badass. Lucky for you, the program to get it is simple.

Hugh Jackman
Ben Watts
Ben Watts
Duration 45
Exercises 5-7
Equipment Yes

Size, strength, definition, and athleticism. When you have a physique that conveys all these, people call you a hero—maybe even an X-Man. Hugh Jackman owns all four of these attributes every time he plays Wolverine, and the training that gets him there is simple and old-school.

How it works

Jackman’s trainer, David Kingsbury, had the actor follow a classic progressive overload plan to build strength on basic lifts like the bench press, squat, and deadlift. The point is to start extra light, using only a small percentage of your max, and gradually up the weights and drop the reps so that you’re smashing through plateaus in only a few weeks. (Note that the fourth week is done with lighter weights to allow recovery.) “It’s a system you can trust to continue to improve your gains,” Kingsbury says.

The remaining work involves some age-old techniques such as supersets and circuits to thoroughly exhaust muscles and burn off the fat that covers them. But if you’re picturing the modern bodybuilding workouts featured in some other mags, you won’t find them here. “There’s no point in just bulking up,” Jackman says, “because you’ve got to be functional.” Unlike most guys in gyms today gunning for bigger arms, Jackman’s training is balanced, and he does the so-called hard exercises most others avoid—no machines. Jackman’s look is more evidence that free weights are behind every unforgettable physique, whether or not it’s built on an adamantium skeleton. “I got in the best shape I’ve ever been in,” he says.

Directions

Perform each workout (Day 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5) once per week for eight weeks. You can do workouts 1, 2, and 3 on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, respectively, and then rest Thursday and do workouts 4 and 5 on Friday and Saturday. The weight you will use on the main lifts will follow a specific weekly progression. See “Linear Progress” below. Alternate “A” and “B" rest, and repeat.

Linear progress

The loads you use on the bench press, squat, weighted pullup, and deadlift will vary with each set and each week. First, estimate how much you can lift on these exercises for one perfect rep (your max). Now find 95% of that number and use this calculation as your adjusted max for the program—we want you to err on the lighter side. Follow the table to see which percentage of that max you will use for a given set. For example, if your adjusted max on the bench press is 225lbs, a set calling for 60% will require 135lbs. Regardless of how light a weight feels, perform only the reps that are required for the set. The weights will get heavier as the program moves forward. After four weeks, add 5–10% to your maxes, and repeat the cycle. Add only 5% if you felt the weights you used in Week 3 were very challenging. If you banged out those reps without much trouble, you can speed progress by adding 10% instead.

Use this guide to determine how much weight to use on your main lifts:

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Set 1: 5 reps with 60%   Set 1: 4 reps with 65% Set 1: 3 reps with 70%  Set 1: 10 reps with 40%
Set 2: 5 reps with 65% Set 2: 4 reps with 75% Set 2: 3 reps with 80% Set 2: 10 reps with 50%
Set 3: 5 reps with 75% Set 3: 4 reps with 85% Set 3: 3 reps with 90% Set 3: 10 reps with 60%
Set 4: 5 reps with 75% Set 4: 4 reps with 85% Set 4: 3 reps with 90% Set 4: 10 reps with 60%

Day 1

Exercise 1.

Bench Press You'll need: Barbell How to
Bench Press thumbnail
4 sets
See Table reps
150 sec. rest

Exercise 2.

Dumbbell Overhead Press You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Overhead Press  thumbnail
4 sets
10 reps
60 sec. rest

Exercise 3.

Behind-the-Neck Press You'll need: Barbell How to
Behind-the-Neck Press thumbnail
4 sets
10 reps
60 sec. rest

Exercise 4.

Cuban Press How to
Cuban Press  thumbnail
4 sets
10 reps
30 sec. rest

Exercise 5A.

Bench Dip You'll need: Bench How to
Bench Dip thumbnail
4 sets
10 reps
60 sec. rest

Exercise 5B.

Side Plank With Lateral Raise You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Side Plank With Lateral Raise thumbnail
4 sets
12 reps
60 sec. rest

Exercise 6.

3-Way Shoulder Finisher How to
3-Way Shoulder Finisher  thumbnail
3 sets
Perform 8 reps of each exercise, instead of 5 reps
60 sec. rest

Day 2

Exercise 1.

Squat You'll need: Elastic Band How to
Squat thumbnail
4 sets
See Table reps
150 sec. rest

Exercise 2.

Front Squat You'll need: Barbell How to
Front Squat thumbnail
4 sets
See Table reps
60 sec. rest

Exercise 3.

Leg Press You'll need: No Equipment How to
Leg Press thumbnail
4 sets
10 reps
60 sec. rest

Exercise 4A.

Standing Calf Raise You'll need: Box How to
Standing Calf Raise thumbnail
4 sets
12 reps
60 sec. rest

Exercise 4B.

Hanging Leg Raise You'll need: Pullup Bar How to
Hanging Leg Raise thumbnail
4 sets
12 reps
60 sec. rest

Exercise 5.

Ab-Wheel Rollout You'll need: Ab Wheel How to
Ab-Wheel Rollout  thumbnail
4 sets
10 reps
60 sec. rest

Day 3

Exercise 1.

Weighted Pullup You'll need: Pullup Bar How to
Weighted Pullup thumbnail
4 sets
See Table reps
150 sec. rest

Exercise 2.

One-Arm Dumbbell Row You'll need: Dumbbells How to
One-Arm Dumbbell Row thumbnail
4 sets
12 reps
60 sec. rest

Exercise 3.

Inverted Row You'll need: Power Rack How to
Inverted row thumbnail
4 sets
10 reps
60 sec. rest

Exercise 4.

Seated Incline Dumbbell Curl You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Seated Incline Dumbbell Curl thumbnail
4 sets
10 reps
60 sec. rest

Exercise 5.

Zottman Curl You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Zottman Curl  thumbnail
4 sets
8 reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 6.

Cross-Body Curl You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Cross-Body Curl thumbnail
4 sets
8 reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 7.

Reverse Curl You'll need: Barbell How to
Reverse Curl  thumbnail
4 sets
8 reps
60 sec. rest

Day 4

Exercise 1.

Incline Dumbbell Press You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Incline Dumbbell Press thumbnail
4 sets
See Table reps
150 sec. rest

Exercise 2.

Incline Dumbbell Press You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Incline Dumbbell Press thumbnail
4 sets
6 reps
60 sec. rest
Perform at three different angles. Begin on a steep incline and do 6 reps. Without rest, adjust the bench to reduce the incline and do another 6 reps. Adjust the bench to make it flat and complete 6 final reps. That's one set.

Exercise 3.

Band-Resisted Flye You'll need: Resistance Band How to
Band Resisted Flye thumbnail
4 sets
10 reps
60 sec. rest

Exercise 4.

Close-Grip Bench Press You'll need: Bench How to
Close-grip Bench Press thumbnail
4 sets
8 reps
60 sec. rest

Exercise 5.

Triceps Pushdown You'll need: Elastic Band How to
Triceps Pushdown thumbnail
4 sets
8 reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 6.

Bench Dip You'll need: Bench How to
Bench Dip thumbnail
4 sets
8 reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 7.

Close-Grip Pushup You'll need: Medicine Ball How to
Close-Grip Pushup  thumbnail
4 sets
8 reps
60 sec. rest

Day 5

Exercise 1.

Deadlift You'll need: Barbell How to
Deadlift  thumbnail
4 sets
See Table reps
150 sec. rest

Exercise 2.

Romanian Deadlift You'll need: Barbell How to
Romanian Deadlift thumbnail
4 sets
10 reps
60 sec. rest

Exercise 3.

Zercher Squat You'll need: Barbell How to
Zercher Squat thumbnail
4 sets
12 reps
60 sec. rest

Exercise 4.

Weighted Situp You'll need: Weight Plates How to
Weighted Situp  thumbnail
4 sets
10 reps
60 sec. rest
Complete this exercise on an adjustable bench set to a slight decline and use a weight plate.

Exercise 5.

Barbell Landmine You'll need: Barbell How to
Barbell Landmine  thumbnail
4 sets
10 (each side) reps
60 sec. rest
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