How To Get A Body Like Michael B. Jordan's In 'Black Panther'
Watch Bruce Banner transform into The Hulk, and you'll get a pretty good depiction of Michael B. Jordan's career so far. The actor has been growing ever-more massive since his scrawny screen debut as Wallace in 2002's The Wire (he was only 15, to be fair), through to his hard-punching breakout role in the 2015 Rocky spin-off Creed, and now Black Panther, for which the 31-year-old pushed his body to the absolute limit.
We asked personal trainer Matt Roberts how the average guy can hope to replicate Jordan's impressive results (without the help of a Rocky training montage...)
1 | The Cardio
Michael B. Jordan works up a sweat tussling as the villainous Killmonger, but the actor will have cut way back on cardio to size up as fast as possible. “If you are naturally slim and lean like Michael, endurance-style cardio eats into your muscle mass too much,” warns Matt.
But if you’re determined to keep active, make sure it’s short and intense. We’re talking speed drills, martial arts, boxing, plyometric training (that’s jumping up and down, FYI) and anything that punishes your poor muscles and encourages power and speed.
2 | The Weights
You need to focus on two main goals here: Big lifts and muscle bulking sets (otherwise known as 'hypertrophy' training). “In the strength sets, focus on the amount of weight lifted, perfect technique and aim to constantly push your 1 to 3 rep max,” says Matt. When it comes to movements, opt for staple exercises like squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, and the bench press as they use a lot of different muscles, which has a great knock-on effect for metabolism and postural strength.
But beware, for it will all be a waste of time if you don’t master form. “Good technique is crucial with these movements to prevent injury and keep you progressing without hitting a plateau,” advises Matt. A big part of that process is dividing your work-out week into targeting different muscle groups.
It’s not just a case of lifting to noodle-armed exhaustion, either. “A great technique for improving strength is to work with a 5 x 5 protocol. After a couple of warm up sets, perform 5 sets of your 5 rep max weight on that movement. Give yourself a decent rest of 2 to 3 minutes between sets to recover.”
Sound hard? Your hypertrophy set will be a lot more punishing. The mission here is to cause “maximum micro muscle damage,” so that your body is signaled to repair and build. That means a higher volume of movements and a lower period of rest. “You should look to perform 3 to 5 sets of 3 to 4 exercises that all focus on the same muscle area. By the end you will have performed over 90 reps around one muscle area.” Oof. The key aim here is muscle fatigue AKA an interminable ache that consumes your entire body. Enjoy!
3 | The Diet
“Michael would have certainly needed to be on a diet of over 3000 calories per day,” says Matt, but that doesn’t mean you get to spend your days gorging at the Pizza Hut buffet.
Healthy fats are vital, and can be found in cold water fish like salmon, tuna, and cod. “Constantly grazing through the day would have also been essential for Michael," and that would have included Omega-3 boosters like nuts and soybean. You can wave goodbye to sugar, bread, and booze, though.
Protein is crucial to aiding recovery and muscle function, and you should be munching/glugging down 2.5 grams of it for every kilogram of your body weight (so an 80kg person should aim to get 200g a day. Get used to grilled chicken and rice is what we're saying.)
4 | The Secret
If you’re really serious about becoming a human tank, the amino acid Leucine is a game-changer. According to Matt: “We should be consuming 8 to 10g of it per day, but the body can only cope with about 2g per serving, so you need 4 or 5 feeds per day” (that’s about 25 egg whites, but you’ll probably want to get a little more creative).
But other than that, it's all about the dedication. Michael B. Jordan worked out 2 to 3 times a day, 6 days-a-week for the role, and pushed himself to the absolute limit.
"A recent study in lab conditions asked participants to push their 10 rep max, and only 8 percent actually did it," says Matt. "More worryingly, 37 percent pushed more than 16 reps on what they said was their 10 rep max. That goes to prove how easily people get into a routine. In the gym, we always need to be pushing ourselves to achieve more than we did yesterday." It's simple, but it won't be easy.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.