Channing Tatum, a man known for being perpetually in incredible shape regardless of his filming schedule, is a man of many talents. While you might not be able to pull off his dance moves (Step Up, Magic Mike, Hail, Ceasar!) or take your top off with quite as much finesse (Foxcatcher, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, another Magic Mike film) you needn’t feel like such a slouch when it comes to getting in camera-ready shape.
Why? Because we’ve got the inside info from the man responsible for a decade of Tatum shirtless scenes, his long-time PT and close personal friend Arin Babaian.
“I’m actually dog-sitting Channing’s new puppy right now,” Babaian explains. “He got attached to one of the puppies in his new movie and adopted him… it’s a lot of work.”
Unusually for a Hollywood PT, Babaian is less concerned with when exactly his client has to flex his muscles on camera, and more concerned with what character his client is portraying. What is the character’s lifestyle like? How often does he work out? Does he even have time to train?
Here, we breakdown his diet and workout routines.
Channing Tatum’s workout routine
For Foxcatcher, the film Babaian says he is most proud of, not only did the character have time to train, he was training all day, every day.
“It was one of the most grueling films I think both of us have been on,” Babaian says. “I think I wanted to quit at one point.”
He describes regularly training with Tatum in a pop-up tent in the rain, at midnight after a full day of filming.
“The training was probably the hardest we’ve ever done because it was wrestling training and also becoming this character who was somewhat of an ogre,” Babaian says. “It was very emotionally draining.”
For one of his more recent films, Dog – which Tatum also directed – Babaian was faced with a unique challenge: transforming his client into a former soldier who needs to be physical, but is also healing from battle injuries. A story, it turns out, not too dissimilar to Tatum’s own.
“Before production we start getting our fitness in check,” Babaian explains. “We start exercising a little bit just to warm up the body. Channing also had a lot of injuries that we’d been trying to resolve. Even on Magic Mike everyone was injured with back issues and things like that. We’ve changed our training completely to being safe and smart.”
Typically, Tatum’s workouts are broken down into a push circuit one day and a pull circuit the next day. Or even a combination of the two, with a workout never being repeated in the same week.
As a taster workout you can do at home, try five rounds of the following:
Start at a light jog on a treadmill, increasing your speed by 0.5 km/ph every 30 seconds until you max out.
- 155 lb bench press for 20 reps
- Dumbbell shoulder press for 15 reps (sitting on an exercise ball for added instability)
- Bicep curl for 15 reps (still on the ball)
- Tricep extension for 15 reps each arm (lying over the ball)
- Finish each round off with an ab-crushing circuit compromised of:
- 50 sit-ups
- 75 side crunches (per side)
- 20 leg raises
- 10 ab roll-outs
- Finished? Then catch your breath and get back on the treadmill
Having relocated to Tatum’s Ojai, California ranch when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Babaian and Tatum bunked up, starting each day with a bike ride or run. As their fitness grew, the warm-ups became more and more outlandish. Three to four mile runs turned into ten mile runs. Meanwhile, their mountain bike rides became gladiatorial competitions.
“We were cycling about 2,000 – 2,500ft up the side of a mountain,” Babaian explains. “It was only about 15 miles but it was uphill and it would not let you out until you were at the top. Everything is a competition between he and I so we would pretty much race to the top of this mountain.”
After a while, Babaian says, Tatum was comfortably winning their uphill races, so he decided to up the ante.
“He was doing well so he decided he was going to put a wagon on his bicycle where he would put his daughter and ride up the mountain with his daughter on the back,” laughs Babaian. “He thought he was going to beat us, but I think he quickly realised climbing a mountain with a seven-year-old child in a carriage behind you really affects your balance. Let’s say he didn’t make it.”
Open ocean swimming
Tatum, a man known for being perpetually in incredible shape regardless of his filming schedule, posted to Instagram to let his countless adoring fans know that his newest fitness obsession is the open ocean swim. Seen exiting the ocean in swim trunks, Tatum took the liberty to explain the workout with a lengthy caption that also expressed his admiration to athletes who do such crazy feats of endurance on the daily.
Tatum joked that his long-time trainer and fitness enthusiast, Arin Babaian, couldn’t finish the two mile swim himself and honestly, we don’t blame him. Two miles is basically 3.2km and if our performance at the school swimming carnival all those years ago is any indication, we sink like a stone. Not surprisingly, Tatum himself was pretty chuffed with the effort.
“I’m not even I [sic] professional athlete,” he wrote. “I can’t imagine the depths in which they push themselves. Unreal. I do it for movies. Very different motivation. Either way, get after it, everyone. It’s good to be alive.”
You’ve got to admire the honesty, here. Open ocean swimming is having something of a moment in the fitness world. You don’t have to be a professional swimmer to reap the benefits of this training, which is said to help you sleep, serve as a natural mood booster, improve circulation, and aid in weight loss. If all that wasn’t enough to convince you to don the budgy smuggler and get in the ocean, sea water also contains skin friendly minerals, so nature basically serves as a skincare routine.
“Channing is a full-on athlete,” says Babaian. “I have a lot of friends who are stunt performers and they have all said that he could definitely be a stuntman if that had been the profession he chose. He’ll always attempt his stunts if he’s allowed to.”
Despite Tatum’s physical prowess, Babaian jokingly says the entire workout program consists of him trying to convince Tatum something is his idea.
“I’ll give him choices that I know he hates to get him to do the one I want him to do,” says Babaian. “We developed a large back in Foxcatcher, but doing pull-ups is something he wants to avoid. So we incorporated a row in our workout routine. Or if we were doing a shoulder press, we’d start with a deadlift into the movement to incorporate the whole body.”
For his latest movie, the emphasis was on being able to lift a moderately heavy weight for several repetitions instead of maxing out.
“We like to do circuit workouts with either three or five exercises where we’ll always have someone doing cardio,” Babaian explains. “We’ll have someone doing a run on the treadmill or skipping rope and they’re not allowed to stop until you’ve done your reps. You’re constantly like, ‘Hurry up!’. If you’re taking it easy you’re hurting your friend.”
A Day of Fitness
- 20 miles
- 10 to 20 laps swimming
- Water burpees and situps
Gym Workout Circuit
Repeat for 4 rounds with no rest
- 400 meters
- 10 reps
- 10 reps
- 10 reps
- 10 reps
Channing Tatum’s diet
Tatum has worked with high-profile trainers and nutritionists in the past, and is said to enjoy a clean diet to build lean muscle mass. Typical breakfasts include a veg smoothie with kale, spinach, celery, romaine, and very little fruit, which Tatum drinks with each meal. Breakfast is eggs, lunch usually consists of grilled chicken or turkey, and dinner was grilled chicken or steak with veg. He would typically eat every two hours to give his body all the essential nutrients it needs to fuel training, burn fat and build muscle.
“Just as exercise is all about intensity, food is all about quality,” says William J Harris, the New York-based personal trainer who helped the up and coming movie star get in shape for Fighting.. “So we swapped the unhealthy ingredients in the food Channing likes for healthy ones – we gave him lean turkey rather than beef, for example, and swapped takeaway pizzas for homemade wholewheat ones topped with organic veggies. Processed and frozen foods, salt, sugar and alcohol were all no-nos.”
What he eats:
- Chicken Breasts
- Lean Meats
- Organic Fruit
- Green Vegetables
What he doesn’t eat:
- Chemical Additives
- Anything Artificial
- Junk Food
- Fried Foods
- Soft Drinks