Despite a lengthy resume that spans stage and screen, Hugh Jackman is still synonymous with the role of Wolverine, the comic book character he played on-and-off for nearly 20 years in 20th Century Fox’s X-Men movies. In a recent interview with Dr. Peter Attia, the actor spoke about his time playing the volatile superhero—and how he went about getting increasingly more muscular with each new movie.
While Wolverine (née Logan) was in strong shape for X-Men, X2 and The Last Stand, Jackman leveled up his physique for subsequent films, starting with the 2009 prequel X-Men Origins: Wolverine. He told Attia that his trainer on that movie invited a bodybuilder to join them for their sessions, who imparted some valuable advice on growing muscle: start with lighter weights.
“I assumed that to be in his shape, you have to just smash it,” said Jackman. “He starts super light on everything and builds up, like it’s fun.”
This tip, he explained, helped him to prepare both his body and his mind for those heavier weights, and it’s an approach which he has continued to implement in his workouts. “[It’s] a great thing I learned from him that I use to this day,” he said. “By the time you’re doing your third or fourth set, you actually really want to lift because your body has gotten used to it … you just want to go and rip it.”
This training advice is backed up by studies which have found that training light can complement heavier workouts, while putting less stress on joints, tendons and ligaments. Even Martins Licis, former World’s Strongest Man title holder, takes time out from lifting heavy weights to lift lighter, in order to protect against and recover from injury.
While the X-Men movies in their current iteration have come to an end, the character of Wolverine is expected to show up at some point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There has been widespread speculation that he will be portrayed by a different actor in this new continuity, with Tom Hardy, Taron Egerton and Daniel Radcliffe among the potential candidates.
But Jackman has also been teasing that he may still be involved in some way; he recently shared a photo on Instagram of himself with boss of all things Marvel, Kevin Feige, suggesting that he might be following Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds across that Fox/Marvel divide. So maybe he’s not quite ready to walk away from Logan—and that training regime—just yet.
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