Mark Wahlberg’s physique has always been impressive. The time, effort and dedication he puts into crafting that physique is even more impressive. Whether he’s in a role that requires him to lose weight, like in Boogie Nights, or bulk up to the size of an amateur bodybuilder, as in Pain & Gain, his dedication is incredible.
Wahlberg’s ability to adapt to his role is downright amazing. He’s a chameleon of body shape with acting abilities to match. When taking into consideration what exactly he has to accomplish to meet the demands of a given role, his adaptability is even more awe inspiring.
Pain & Gain is one of those movies where you see Wahlberg and wonder, “How the hell did he get so big?” Many a young man may try to emulate his physique in the film, but only the dedicated and informed can succeed. However, without a doubt, it is achievable. He did. Here’s what he did to get there.
The most important part of Wahlberg’s Pain & Gain role was the gain. He reportedly packed on 40 pounds to get to the size he needed to be to portray Daniel Lugo, a bodybuilder who gets roped into some less than savory stuff. 40 pounds! That’s almost as much as a kindergartener. Let that number sink in. Now take into consideration that it took him just seven weeks to make that dramatic gain. It makes it seem even more miraculous.
But it wasn’t a miracle. How does someone gain that much weight that quickly? Well, you have to eat. Then eat again. Then you have to eat some more. Wahlberg hammered down 12 meals a day to get the calories he needed to make his workouts count. It might sound like fun, eating a ton and doing it frequently, but it’s an exercise in discipline just like the workouts.
“Sometimes you have to get up in the middle of the night for a meal,” Wahlberg 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 double fisting Doritos, either. Wahlberg planned his meals to be healthy and calorically in line with the gains and goals. Chicken, steak, and fish provided lean protein and pasta helped him pack in some carbs. His diet was simple, efficient and tailored to his needs.
If you’re going to try to bulk up that much that fast, though, there are two very important words to remember: hydration and lotion. Stretch marks are real and can seem impossible to get rid of. Head them off at the pass by slathering on some cocoa butter lotion and drinking enough water to keep your skin hydrated and elastic.
Wahlberg may have weighed 40 pounds more for his role in Pain & Gain, but you better believe that wasn’t 40 pounds of fat. He bulked up to the size of a bodybuilder for the part and had the muscles to match. He worked hard for those muscles, too. His workout routines to prepare for filming were extreme and efficient, just like the man himself.
How’s this for a warmup? According to BodyBuilding.com, start with rolling out your abductors, hamstrings, quads, glutes and lower back with a foam roller. Follow it up with some lateral band walks, dumbbell rear lunges and two full minutes of jumping rope, which is way harder than it sounds. A couple of quick hip stretches and you’re ready for your workout.
To look like a bodybuilder, Wahlberg trained like a bodybuilder. His resistance training workout started with four sets of eight reps of barbell deadlifts followed by a full arsenal of strength building moves. Four sets of eight clean pulls, four sets of eight hand snatches, four sets of eight dumbbell rear lunges. Four sets of eight push presses, one legged barbell squats, barbell bench presses with a medium grip, barbell deadlifts and inverted rows. Grab two barbells and go for two 100 yard farmer’s walks. Do that all at a fast pace, taking 90 seconds of rest between each segment. You could get sore just reading about it.
In the immortal words of Billy Mays, “But wait! There’s more”! Strap yourself in for two to three sets of six to eight reps of standing biceps cable curls, cable chest presses, leg presses, tricep push downs and seated side lateral raises. Treat yourself with 60 seconds of rest in between.
That’s right: Wahlberg had two total body workouts to power through to add those 40 pounds of muscle. His second workout started with the same warm up as the first, rolling the muscles with a foam roller, getting his blood pumping with a few mild moves and stretching out his hips.
What follows is four sets of eight reps of moves designed to build the body of an athlete. Bent over barrel rows, hang cleans, push presses, barbell squats and good mornings to engage the back, quads, shoulders and hamstrings. Do four sets of six kettlebell curtsey lunges, alternating deltoid raises, goblet squats and pull ups. Go back for two more 100 yard farmer’s walks.
Repeat the same standing bicep cable curls, cable chest presses, leg presses, tricep push downs and seated side lateral raises as workout one. Look in the mirror, smile at yourself and feel proud for completing a Mark Wahlberg level workout.
A Word Of Caution
When you’re embarking on a transformation fitting of Mark Wahlberg, you have to know what you’re getting yourself into. He’s a professional and he’s been lifting weights for a long time and, because he’s been at it for so long, he knows what his body is capable of. You need to learn this as well. Start slowly with any new routine. Train with a partner who can support you and provide a spotter. Warm up your muscles before diving in. Basically, be safe. You have the potential for dramatic change, but injuring yourself by being overzealous is only going to put you farther behind.