Aside from acting credentials and dramatic chops that range from comedic timing and the ability to cry on cue, with our penchant for blockbuster action flicks and high-octane dramas these days, it’s not enough for Hollywood A-listers to just have something of a bankable face. Rather, we demand a lot of our actors, including that they be in incredibly good shape, with the ability to take on stunts at a whim and defy our expectations of what it means to be an action hero on the big screen. From the Rock to Chris Hemsworth and Zac Efron, these actors have made a name for themselves and their perpetually ripped physiques and bulging biceps that most would struggle to attain even with the help of CGI. And while you have to hand it to them when it comes to their hard work and discipline for getting in such sensational shape, when it comes to a number of leading men, the real mastermind is the celebrity trainer. Enter: Patrick Murphy.
A renowned name when it comes to fitness, Murphy runs Industry Gym in Los Angeles where he trains both the A-listers and the average blokes just trying to tone up for summer. If there’s one thing those who frequent a Murphy session know, it’s to always abide by the rules: keep the abs contracted during every rep and maintain proper alignment of your head, among others. Basically, if ever there were a trainer credit with transforming all manner of men to reach their fitness goals – regardless of age – it’s Murphy.
In a recent interview with Men’s Health US, he shared some of his best advice and the secrets behind some pretty incredible Hollywood transformations. For John Wick, he revealed just how hard Keanu worked to transform his body, with training sessions incorporating jujitsu, gun fu, striking and stunt scenes. “I’m a corrective exercise expert: Reset and recovery were the keys in Keanu making it through the shoot,” he said. “I brought an amazing trigger point person, Jodi Mainwaring, who worked on Keanu’s body daily. Cold plunge was performed often as well. I also used a cry gun for rapid icing around his joints whenever he needed it.”
Naturally though, training looks a little different at 50 years old – for Keanu at least. And when it comes to sustaining both high intensity exercise routine with elaborate stunt scenes while shooting, Murphy’s wisdom ensured the actor was in safe hands. “The exercises I prescribed for Keanu covered stabilisation, muscular endurance, and strength. We performed high reps with bands, cables, free weights and calisthenics. I use many balance tools – foam pads, half balls, discs – coupled with resistance training. After the workouts, Keanu felt more put-together versus broken down,” explained Murphy. Warm-ups were also important to ensure proper flexibility and activation, so active stretches were done with static stretching being used in the cool down. But as Murphy notes, each client is different and stretching weakened or lengthened muscles can actually be detrimental. “Maintaining overall body balance, strong neutral positions, posture and alignment is the key. How you sleep, or even how you stand can influence how quickly you recover from your workouts, along with how prone you are to injury.”
Nutrition also proves imperative for Murphy’s older clients and as he explains, optimal performance requires optimal nutrition and supplementation. He always recommends clean, balanced meals and recovery supplements that aid circulation, soft tissue, nerves and more. Some of Murphy’s go-to’s are probiotic foods like sauerkraut, kimchi and cultured vegetables, helping to regulate the bacteria in your stomach. But when it comes to getting shredded like Efron in Baywatch and you have limited time on your hands, Murphy suggests consuming a whole-food diet. “This means they need to stay away from highly refined, processed food-like products like cereals, crackers, tortillas, or basically all flour products. I would also advise them to stay away from any sugar-added products. You’re always better off consuming plain or unsweetened products.”
And when it comes to this fitness fads that fade faster than a TikTok dance trend, Murphy advises ageing clients not to engage in boot camp classes or exercises derived from survival training. “These exercises promote positions that encourage the people who perform them to assume bad postures, and this can easily lead to injuries.”