No matter how you imagine 45 years old to look, you have to admit Mark Wahlberg is killing it. He’s a top Hollywood actor, a dedicated student of bodybuilding, a family man, a man of his community and, no matter what your age, a total inspiration.
It hasn’t always been easy for him, either. He’s transformed from a wild, reckless teenager to a refined, hardworking super star. And his less-than-perfect past has been a major motivator in the creation of that now-famous body of his.
“As young as I was,” Wahlberg told Men’s Health, “I had to be in the best shape possible. That’s as real a world as you’re going to be in, you know? You need to be able to survive.”
And Wahlberg has done way more than survive. He’s honed his body and his craft to be unstoppable and, now at age 45, that fit-to-survive philosophy has paved the way for the creation of one of the most-searched careers and physiques in Hollywood today.
You don’t have to be from the mean streets of Boston to make Mark’s mentality work for you. Here are some of his best health and fitness tips that can give you a glimpse at the man behind the muscles and the information you need to crush your own fitness goals.
A lot of people view the gym as an obligation, a place you have to go to achieve the body you want. But Wahlberg sees his time at the gym as an escape from the negativity of the world outside those four walls.
“Instead of hanging out on the corner [as a teen], I’d go to the gym,” Wahlberg told Men’s Health. “The gym was in the exact opposite direction from the trouble.”
There’s a lesson in that for anyone: the gym can keep you out of all sorts of negative situations. Time spent lifting is time spent out of trouble. A study from the Australian Institute of Criminology examined the benefits of sports and exercise in preventing crime and found that Wahlberg is right: physical activity can prevent people, especially young people, from finding their way into trouble. The paper points to sports and fitness as a way to introduce structure and motivation to at-risk kids, as well as provide the diversion Wahlberg found in the gym himself.
It’s not just the time spent in the gym either. Working out changes your whole life.
“Next thing you know,” Wahlberg says, “after the gym, you want to eat. Then you’re going home to rest, to shower. Instead of going out all night and getting into trouble, you’re waking up early to go to the gym. It helped me focus.”
Mark Wahlberg is a busy man. You’re busy too. As a student of bodybuilding, Wahlberg likes to spend his time doing the hardcore workouts that have proven themselves to be effective for him. Why waste time and energy? Wahlberg scraps boutique workouts, boxes and trendy WODs in favor of straight-up, classic weight training and, yep, those infamous 5:30 a.m. basketball games.
For the film Pain & Gain, Wahlberg played a bodybuilder in way over his head with an extortion scheme. It was opportunity to go all in on his workouts, packing on 40 pounds of muscle for the role. Forty pounds of muscle! To get those gains, he dedicated himself to a workout routine that fit the role: jumping rope, cleans, snatches, deadlifts, squats, rows, presses, you name it.
These exercises aren’t for the faint of heart either, not only was he able to take his physique to a whole other level but he incorporated the ones that will give you the most bang for your buck.
Deadlifts are the mack-daddy of exercises with a close second being the squat. What makes the deadlift the best? Let’s start it off with cold hard facts; deadlifts incorporate more muscles than any other exercise. Even with that in mind it’s a relatively safe exercise to perform. After adding weight to the barbell get into a shoulder width stance, line-up just over the arch of your feet, bend your knees and grab hold of the bar with your arms just about shoulder width apart, lift up your chest until your back is straight, take a deep breath into your stomach, and pull that weight up with arms remaining straight, hold, then slowly return to the starting position. Rinse and repeat a few times and you just performed a set of deadlifts my friend.
While some might want to argue over whether squats are better than deadlifts, why not just put them both into an exercise program? Maybe that’s what Mark thought when training, and you should consider it too. Squats can be intense, and if you’re looking to put on muscle they should be!
Getting in position is easy; get under the bar with it resting just on your shoulders, lift the bar off the rack and take a step forward. Almost ready to go! Put your feet about shoulder width apart with your toes pointing outward just slightly for balance. Now we’re ready, take a breath, and push your butt back as you lower yourself till your upper legs are parallel to the floor. Make sure the weight is on the balls and heels of your feet and keep the knees from going beyond your feet and push up back to starting position. Tip: Imagine pushing the floor away from you.
Clean and jerk are an advanced exercise and as such you need to exercise caution. This is an olympic lift that consists of the individual starting in a deadlift position, the hand position just outside of the knees. It has three movements. First, you pull the bar up to around a front squat position, followed by dropping down underneath the bar to get yourself in a deep overhead squat position and then standing up, forcing the weight above your head. Think you’re ready for that? Hint: If you don’t know the correct position of a front squat or an overhead squat, or even know what those are without Googling it- stay away. Consider this as a means of showing you how dedicated Mark is to his craft.
Find a workout routine that fits the bill and will help you meet your goals and stick to it. It’s great to try new things and experiment with different styles of fitness, but if something isn’t working for you, ditch it. Your time in the gym should serve you well. Don’t settle for something that doesn’t work.
No matter what your goals or routine, you’ve got to feed your workouts. For Pain & Gain, Wahlberg took this to the extreme, famously inhaling 12 meals a day. To build those 40 pounds of muscle, he had to feed himself regularly with the right stuff.
“Sometimes you have to get up in the middle of the night for a meal,” he told Men’s Health. “I’d have a big meal and go to bed at 9 p.m., and then I’d get up at midnight to eat again, and I’d still be full from the last meal.”
He wasn’t making a late-night Taco Bell run, though. Wahlberg knows that to get the results you want to see, you have to dedicate yourself to being healthy inside and outside the gym. He ate lean protein, like steak, chicken and fish, with a little bit of pasta thrown in for some carbs. He kept his diet clean, simple and smart. Just like with his workouts, he doesn’t buy into fads or trends.
A good, clean diet isn’t the only thing fueling Mark Wahlberg. He relies on supplements to boost is progress even further.
“I wasn’t satisfied with the results from other supplements,” Wahlberg told Muscle & Fitness, “so I created my own.”
He took the supplement game into his own hands, teaming up with 25-year GNC veteran Tom Dowd to create Performance Inspired Nutrition, an all-natural line of supplements that scrap the junk other protein powders, bars and supplements contain. Performance Inspired is for everyone, from bodybuilding powerhouses to people just looking for a healthy way to boost their diets.
Performance Whey supports recovery and builds muscle. Ripped Whey Protein does all that plus it contains a thermogenic to melt fat. Explosive Pre-Workout gets you naturally amped enough to have your most intense, productive workouts ever. And Inspired Bars are healthy, all-natural protein you can take with you wherever you go.
The all-natural side of Performance Inspired Nutrition is important to Mark and his mission, and it’s not something you’ll ever see him compromise on.
“I’ve always been adamant about going natural,” he says. “People know I wouldn’t endorse a product if it weren’t part of my lifestyle. That’s why I’d never be involved with a vodka brand. Even if it were a chance to make a lot of money, I wouldn’t do it because that’s not a part of who I am.”
Performance Inspired products push Wahlberg’s athletic performance and physique to a whole new level, all while fitting into his busy Hollywood, family man, all-around-amazing lifestyle and not clashing with his no-nonsense authenticity. He makes it look easy, but he puts in the work to achieve his goals. Take a page from his book and do the same for yourself.