How do you build an action hero body like Terry Crews? You know, the one he’s sported in everything from Brooklyn Nine-Nine to The Expendables to Deadpool 2 and Arrested Development? By sticking to tried-and-true exercises for two decades and almost never missing a day. His other secret? Training on an empty stomach.
“I don’t like the way I feel. I’ve got to change something. Let me try this,” he told Men’s Health. “And you know what? There might be another stage where I try something else.”
That’s the game plan that had Crews weighing in at a chiseled 238 pounds, with ostrich-egg biceps and a torso carved from steel, at age 50.
“Remember now: Consistency,” Crews says. “Most of my workout has been the same; literally 90 percent of it has been the same thing for 20 years.” Crews built his current program in 1999, working with a trainer to piece together a plan that would keep him jacked but having him feeling great, too.
Crews learned plenty during that period and now crafts his own workouts. And his results have been satisfying and sustainable, getting him as strong and ripped as he’s ever been. And if you want to train just like Terry, you can, too, because Hollywood’s most diesel police chief is more than happy to share his routines.
Who is Terry Crews?
He’s the larger than life character known for his comedic charm, buoyant charisma and passion for fitness. Terry Crews is, without question, a formidable force on screen, as well as in the gym – but the actor has also been an incredible role model too, opening up about his personal life with the kind of courageous vulnerability few men can attest to.
One of his earliest obstacles came in the form of his own father, a reported alcoholic and serial abuser. According to Crews, his father was the reason he started performing chest workouts in the first place was to protect both himself and his mother.
In 2017, Terry Crews went public with a personal story of sexual harassment within the entertainment industry – honoured as a “Silence Breaker” by Time Magazine. And this year he opened up about the impact his porn addiction has had on his life. Ahead of the release of his new audiobook, Stronger Together, written by Crews alongside his wife, Rebecca King Crews, the actor described a turning point in his life the couple refer to as D-day. For Crews, it was the day he had to ask his wife for forgiveness for both his porn addiction and for being unfaithful to her ten years earlier.
As a young boy Crews attended the Interlochen Center for the Arts on scholarship, which earned another scholarship to play football at Western Michigan University, where he majored in art.
As a defensive end for the WMU Broncos, Crews earned all-conference honours and won the 1988 Mid-American Conference Championship. In 1991, he was drafted in the 11th round by the LA Rams. He played with the Rams for two seasons before bouncing around the league from 1993 to 1996.
His retirement from NFL saw Crews turn to his now incredibly-successful acting career. His first big role was starring in the sci-fi Schwarzenegger vehicle “The 6th Day,” in 2000, however now he is most know for his comedic films (White Chicks) and TV series (as NYPD Lieutenant Terry Jeffords in the TV series “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”).
- Born: 30 July 1968
- Height: 1.88 m
- Weight: 111 kg
- Acting career: 1999 to the present
Terry Crews’ Workout Plan
As you can tell by the sheer size of him, Terry Crews tends to focus on strength-building when it comes to working out – that’s not to say the star doesn’t make time for some cardio, too.
Sticking to tried-and-true exercises for two decades and almost never missing a day, Terry Crews’ workout program is an easy one to follow (but not exactly an easy one to do).
First thing’s first, Crews doesn’t check his phone or email before hitting the gym. He starts every workout with a 5-minute warm-up, after which he puts on an audiobook for the remainder of his routine.
He them performs different exercises depending on the day of the week. “I usually do 4 sets with 10 descending repetitions. So it will go 10, 8, 6, 4, and I usually try to go as heavy as I can. But then every workout, every day, ends with a 4-mile run.”
Here’s his complete routine:
1. Terry Crews’ warm-up: Pushups
Crews opens every chest workout with pushups as a warmup.
“I do tons of pushups,” he says. “And not just on chest day, sometimes two or three times a week. Simply just to warm my body up. It works. And it’s kind of like, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Think of doing 20 or 30 pushups. You’re just warming up, remember, not really getting into the workout just yet.
2. Terry Crews’ Chest workout
Crews’ chest workout is all about volume, and it focuses heavily on adding depth to his upper chest by leading with incline bench presses instead of flat bench presses.
“This is the one thing I put a major change into this year for my chest,” he says. “I want to really load the upper part of my chest, because I like the way it looks more. This is why my chest kind of has a split in it.”
Crews aims to do 4 sets here. He’ll do 10 reps the first set, 8 in the second, 6 in the third, and 4 reps in the fourth.
That’s a standard pyramid setup that allows him to work heavier with each set. “I’ll start out at 185 pounds,” he says. Then he adds weight quickly. “Then go 225, 275, 315.”
From there, Crews heads to the flat bench. Sometimes, he’ll bench with dumbbells, but most of the time, he’ll hit the barbell here, too. He works with the same rep scheme he used on the incline bench, doing 10 reps the first set, then 8-6-4 for the next three sets, aiming to finish at 375 pounds.
Every other week, he’ll also insert some assistance and go a little heavier, using the Slingshot. The Slingshot is an resistance-band-like advanced training tool that goes around your arms and essentially helps you press the weight off your chest, a slingshot effect that lets you use more resistance than you normally would. “I’m assured of overloading my chest,” Crews says, “but safely. “If you can do more weight with good technique, you get stronger.”
3. Terry’s Arm workout
Crews attacks his biceps workouts with aggression, going as heavy as he can — but never at the risk of form. “I’ve learned you’ve got to listen to your body,” he says. “Some days, it’l literally tell me ‘On this exercise, don’t go so heavy.’”
That doesn’t prevent him from working hard though.
“For me, one of the most valuable biceps exercises is actually the pullup,” Crews says. “A lot of people spend some time on barbells. For me, when I started to master the pullup, my biceps really, really started to show.”
Crews leads every biceps workout with four sets of pullups to failure. He’ll usually wind up doing around 25 pullups the first set, around 18 the second set, then 15 on the third set. The final set winds up being 10 to 12 reps. How does he get such big numbers? He’ll use lifting straps for his pullups. Yes, that means he’s not training his forearms and grip as much, but that’s not why he’s doing pullups anyway.
“I really want to max out the reps,” he says. “I’m concentrating on arms and back with this one.”
Now that Crews has fired up all his pulling muscles, it’s onto that old standby exercise, the classic dumbbell curl, where you stand holding a pair of dumbbells and alternately curl each one up to your chest. Crews does four sets here, following his 10-8-6-4 template — and working to train wildly heavy.
“I start usually with 50-pound dumbbells,” he says, “and I go up to 55s and 60s and end on 65s.”
He never does one-rep maxes on the move, though, and he always makes sure he can control the weight. “I have to be really careful,” he says, “because I injured my biceps a couple years ago. But I know my bread and butter. I go as heavy as I can to retain my size. I want my muscles to stay big and stay full, and I know going heavy, for me, helps to keep that happening.”
Crews ends his biceps workout by grabbing an EZ-curl bar for biceps curl 21s. First, he does 7 reps from the bottom of the curling motion, going up only until his forearms are parallel to the ground. Then he does 7 curls from that parallel-to-the-ground position to the top of the curl. Then he does 7 full-range-of-motion biceps curls.
He does 4 sets of this. “It’s tough,” he says. “Sometimes, I vary the weights on this one.”
4. Terry Crew’s Superset Finisher: Pushup And Dip
Finishing with some lower chest work, Crews’ nasty bodyweight superset isn’t for the faint of heart. First he’ll do a set of pushups until failure. Then he’ll immediately get up and do a set of dips, either with his hands on a bench or on dip bars, also working to failure.
After what he describes as “little break,” he’ll do another set of that superset, also working til failure. He’ll finish with a third set of the same superset.
“By the last set,” he says, “you’re a little withery.”
This superset is filled with challenge, so be cautious if you dare to try it. Make sure to end each set at “technical” failure, when your technique is no longer clean, especially on the dips. If you can’t squeeze your shoulder blades when you’re doing your dips, your set is very likely done.
Terry Crews’ Diet Plan
Poor eating habits and subsequent weight gain led Terry Crews to a much stricter nutrition plan that he maintains to this day – one based around intermittent fasting.
The diet, which is a method of eating that essentially permits you to eat whatever you want (within reason) during a specific time period, reportedly helped Crews put his body back on track after a short-lived rut.
“I don’t like the way I feel. I’ve got to change something. Let me try this…And you know what? There might be another stage where I try something else,” he told MH.
Speaking to UK-based Coach Magazine in 2016, Crews used-to keep his breakfasts quite small. However now, following an intermittent fasting plan, he doesn’t eat breakfast at all.
“Most days I’ll eat my first meal at 2pm and my last meal at 10pm. I like to work out in the morning—I’m a big ‘wake up, hit it, get it done’ kinda guy—then eat my biggest meal in the evening…I find that restricting the times when I eat means I eat less.”
He went on to explain, “For the first four or five days I was so hungry it was unbelievable, but all of a sudden my body adapted and the hunger pains went away. Now I don’t eat as much, and I get full a lot faster. I also save my carbs for my evening meal.”
Terry’s “go-to lunch” typically consists of an omelette with bacon and a salad, followed by a protein shake.
Crews sits down for dinner with the family after 6PM, and generally focuses his meal around a protein (like chicken), carb (rice, bread) and vegetables.
The 54-year-old supplements with both vitamins and amino acids. Specifically, he takes vitamins three times a day and keeps a shaker cup filled with water and amino acids, drinking an estimated gallon of the stuff daily.
According to an interview with Vanity Fair, Crews nearly always ends the night with something sweet like a piece of cake, pudding, pie, or Pinkberry.
For most of the week, Terry Crews is a disciplined intermittent faster. But that fasting willpower, he says, gets used up pretty, well, fast. So when the glorious day finally arrives that Terry can give in and cheat, he indulges like a crime-repressed citizen from the Purge movies. “I make sure when my cheat day is on,” he says, “IT IS ON!”
Round one of cheat day starts at 2pm—his “breakfast”—with an apple fritter, “the biggest, most sugary apple fritter you’ve seen in your entire life.” The fritter gives Terry a sugar high for pretty much the rest of the day, an energy he channels into some afternoon competitiveness with his son.
After the games, Terry takes the kids out for lunch and the most essential cheat day food of them all: pizza. And not just a plain pizza—Terry wants mushrooms, onions, green peppers, and extra cheese. “That pizza goes FAST,” he says.
Not long after lunch, it’s dinner time. And dinner time on cheat day is lobster mac and cheese (extra cheese), bread, and butter. “You wait until you’re full. You let it melt. And then you EAT IT AGAIN!” Damn, Terry loves cheese.
And then—oh boy—it’s time for dessert. If you picked Terry for a big cake guy, you’d be under-appreciating his love for fruity sugar. Dessert for Terry is all about the peach cobbler. “Sometimes they give you a healthy version where you have peaches and they crumble a little something on top—no!” he exclaims. “We’re talking extra thick, all-butter crust. And then you top it off with some beautiful vanilla ice cream.”