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Clawing out an unforgettable Action Hero Legacy

Emmy and Tony-Award winner Hugh Jackman is best known for his menacing portrayal of Logan, a.k.a. “Wolverine” in the X-Men movie series.

OK, being named People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” in 2008 is also noteworthy, as is getting on Men’s Health’s “Best Summer Bodies of 2010” list (Author’s Note: Why is Jackman only ranked twentieth?).

The clawed Marvel Comics superhero was always the most ferocious of the X-Men, indestructible, fearless, brooding – and a reluctant team player.  Therefore it was appropriate for Wolverine – and by extension Jackman – to break out with his own movie.  “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” (2009), although panned by many critics, earned over $350 million at the box office, thanks mostly to Hugh Jackman’s strong acting performance and muscular, physical presence.

At 6’3” and over two-hundred pounds, Jackman has always combined magnificent technique and athleticism (315 lb bench press, 1,000 lbs leg press!) on Broadway as well as in numerous Hollywood films.  However, to better prepare for “Origins”, Hugh ramped it up like never before.

“Big Compound Lifts, with some Twists…”

Working with longtime trainer Mike Ryan, Hugh Jackman went way beyond his previous X-Men workouts.  As exclusively presented to Men’s Fitness magazine back in 2009, the “Hugh Jackman Wolverine Workout” guarantees a strong, masculine frame packed with lean muscle mass and physical growth that does not compromise athletic prowess.  Note that all sessions start with a ten-minute warm-up (cardio, bodyweight movements) to get the brain, heart, and joints ready for progressively heavy loads.

All Hail the Superset!

Ryan and Jackman embraced the current superset trend (i.e. two muscular development exercise sets in immediate succession (no rest)):

Superset 1 (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday): 4 sets of 10-12 repetitions each; final sets to failure.  2 minutes rest between supersets.
Superset 2 (Monday, Tuesday, Friday): 4 sets of 10-12 repetitions each; final sets to failure.  2 minutes rest between supersets.
Thursday Superset 2: Same as Monday, but with 8 repetitions per exercise.

Monday: Chest and Triceps Workout

Superset 1: Inclined Dumbbell Bench Press (Set A, Set B), Dumbbell Flys (Set A, Set B).
Superset 2: Feet-up Bench Dips (Set A, Set B), Cable Press-downs (Set A, Set B).

Cable Crossovers; 2 sets of 10-12 repetitions (to exhaustion); 1 minute rest between sets.
Cardio (Treadmill Hill Climbs): 20 minutes.

Tuesday: Legs

Superset 1: Barbell Squat (A, B), Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat (A, B).
Superset 2: Romanian Dead Lift (A, B), One-Leg Gym Ball Curl (A, B).

Traveling Dumbbell Lunge: 2 sets (to exhaustion); 1 minute rest between sets.
Cardio (Rowing Machine): 4,000 meters (2.5 miles).

Thursday: Back and Biceps

Superset 1: Cable Rows (A, B); Bent-over, dumbbell reverse fly (A, B).
Superset 2: Hammer-grip weighted chin-ups (A, B); EZ Bar Curls (A, B).

Inverted Rows: 2 sets (to exhaustion); 1 minute rest between sets.
Cardio (Exercise Bike Intervals): 20 minutes.

Friday: Shoulders and Abdominals

Superset 1: Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press (A, B); Dumbbell Lateral Raise (A, B).
Superset 2: Weighted Crunches (A, B); Gym ball Jackknife (A, B).

Bicycles: 2 sets (to exhaustion); 1 minute rest between sets.
Cardio (Treadmill Intervals): 10X30 seconds.

Cannon’s Conclusion

The Hugh Jackman workout is worthy of any professional power athlete.  It’s that pulverizing, and it’s NOT for everyone.  However, with appropriate resistance, volume and intensity adjustments, you can use it to achieve results within a reasonable time frame (e.g. 4-6 weeks).

This “bodybuilding-style” workout is not all about brute force, though.  Trainer Ryan was careful to include ample cardio and functional movement to better prepare Jackman for the Wolverine grind.  Based on Jackman’s results and studio approval of a Wolverine sequel, it’s a safe bet that both actor and trainer will stay on the fitness training cutting edge for years to come.

P.S. Mike Ryan and Hugh Jackman have a lot of great information to share on the nutrition and fitness philosophy fronts as well.  Be on the lookout for a “Wolverine 2” follow-up in the near future.

Source: “Exclusive Hugh Jackman Wolverine Workout: Get ripped like Hugh Jackman”, Men’s Fitness www.mensfitness.co.uk.


Chris Cannon
Chris Cannon

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