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How Bradley Cooper Got in Shape for American Sniper

Getting lean and ripped, or fat and doughy every now and then is nothing unusual for Hollywood stars. Remember how Chris Pratt went from being a chunky comedian to the chiseled hero in the Guardians of the Galaxy, and how Tom Hanks went from being doughy to lean and ripped in Castaway? When Hollywood heartthrob Bradley Cooper signed up to play a go-getter American Navy Seal in the movie American Sniper, based on the autobiography of celebrated war hero Chris Kyle, he knew just what it would take physically to be the character he was playing. Frankly, he did justice to the role in every way possible. The film American Sniper was a huge success, simply because the protagonist, Chris Kyle, stands for the best American values, which though occasionally misguided, are still loved and cherished. Another reason for the film's huge success was the larger-than-life depiction of a Navy Seal by Cooper, who has never previously been cast in such a role.

Preparation for the Movie

For Cooper, preparation for this movie was nothing short of climbing Everest. If you have ever picked up a dumbbell in the hopes of gaining 10 pounds of muscle, you will appreciate the stamina, strength and resolve it takes to gain about 40 pounds of it. That is exactly what Cooper did. He trained, and he trained, working himself to the max, in an attempt to gain this considerable amount of bulk in a short span of time. The amount of dedication that went into his preparations can only be conjectured by the fact that he become a lot bigger in just 10 weeks. This amounted to an epic transformation, backed up by very rigorous discipline guided by celebrity trainer Jason Walsh.

When Cooper first met Walsh, he had back and shoulder injuries, which prevented him from immediately lifting any weights. The exercise regimen that Walsh designed for Cooper was nothing short of a Navy Seals workout. Cooper trained twice every day, but before they could begin, Walsh gave his client some corrective movements to help with the shoulder and back problems. The first workout of the day began at 5 in the morning, where Cooper would start with structural exercises, including squats and deadlifts. The second session would be in the afternoon, where Cooper trained in traditional muscle building exercises. This combination was absolutely vital for Cooper to convincingly play the role of Chris Kyle.

Fitness and Nutrition

No fitness routine can be complete without the proper nutrition to back it up. Since Cooper had an enormous amount of bulk to gain in only 10 weeks, he had to up his caloric intake accordingly. His everyday intake increased to 6,000 calories, which shook his body to the core. In an interview, he confessed that his body went into shock when he began eating that much. Since his workouts were draining him, he needed the extra calories to recover and gain the bulk quickly. From granola bars to smoothies made with full fat milk and cream, to coconut milk, Cooper's diet was just radically different from what he used to eat. He did manage to deal with these changes gracefully, though, and the results were simply astounding.

How close was Bradley Cooper's training to that of an actual Navy Seal?

It can be said, with some confidence, that Cooper's training was more rigorous than what Navy Seals actually go through, simply for one reason – while Navy Seals work out to stay in shape every day, Cooper had a very specific goal that he had to achieve in a matter of 10 weeks. Normally, a Navy Seals workout would not be this prolific. However, they do workout and train hard to stay in constant shape. The workouts that Cooper went through would not have been this rigorous, had he been nearly close to the shape that he was supposed to get into. Still, what he did worked pretty well. He looked stunning in the role of Chris Kyle, and he managed to pull all of this off with great panache. The results of his hard work were telling, and the overwhelming success of the movie, no doubt, made it all worth it.

About the Author
Chris Brown is a bodybuilder and personal trainer who loves blogging about fitness. Check out his article “Navy Seal or Bodybuilder – You Decide” for more information on how Navy Seals train.

Muscle, Why You Want It and How to Get It

April 3rd, 2009 No comments

To complete the circle I started with my last few posts, now is as good a time as any to address muscle – more specifically why you should want it, how to keep what you’ve already got and the best way to get more.

Why you should want muscle– Aside from the fact that a tight, toned body looks great? How about that it feels great to be strong and capable of taking on anything life throws at you. It’s an unbeatable feeling when you can finally lift that weight you never thought you could or when you finally spot the first signs of definition in your shoulders. Then there's the fact that having more muscle means having a higher metabolism.

How to keep the muscle you’ve got – Here’s the bad news, if you haven’t so much as lifted a 2 lb dumbbell in the past few years your body's percentage of muscle is already decreasing. And the older you get the quicker muscle makes its retreat. But just one day a week of resistance training can stop the decline. Bump that up to two or three days a week and you'll start gaining back muscle that's been lost and then some. Just ask yourself, do you have 30 minutes to spare?

The best way to get more muscle – This one’s easy, lift weights. The more often you lift a certain weight, the better your body becomes at doing it. Your muscles grow and adapt to become more efficient. The weight you once struggled to finish 12 repetitions with will feel like a breeze in a few weeks or months time. At that point simply increase the weight or up the repetitions for more challenge. If you don’t have access to weights, no problem. Resistance bands are a cheap alternative and work just as well. You can also get an awesome total body workout using no equipment whatsoever. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, just a few sessions with an understanding personal trainer can give you the confidence you need to continue muscle building and toning on your own.