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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.

High Intensity Interval Training – An Effective Workout Scheme!

April 26th, 2014 No comments

Goran Bogunovich's fitness career started some fifteen years ago and it was love at first workout. Since then he has been learning and testing knowledge on himself. His substantial experience in fitness, strength training, nutrition and supplementation is passed on in posts here at fitwithus.com.

A couple of months ago, I decided to get myself into shape after a period of traditional winter gluttony. After a lengthy consultation with my fellow blogger Cam McAlister, I decided to try out so called "high intensity interval training" (HIIT). Let me say this straight away: a) it really did work and b) there's no such thing as a perfect workout routine - high intensity interval training (HIIT) has its ups and downs. Nonetheless, it did work better than I expected it to.

hiit

 

What is High Intensity Interval Training?

HIIT basically describes any kind of workout that alternates between intense workout explosions and fixed periods of less intense activity. Even a complete rest would do during the intervals, but from my experience I wouldn't recommend fully resting between intense intervals, simply because it's easier to maintain the continuity of motion than having to jump-start yourself every few minutes. Here's an example: An ideal starter workout would be running as fast as you can in a minute, then decreasing your running speed or walk it down for the next two minutes. Reiterate that whole 3-minute interval another four times with a collective time of 15 minutes - and I'm telling you it's a fat bombing workout. On the surface, it might sound too simple and yes, it is effective, but science simply does not tell the whole truth. (That's why I'm encouraging you to continue reading for my personal takes, going by experience.)

The Bright Side

If you  believe time equals money, then high intensity interval training workouts have major advantages over the lengthy and seemingly-interminable sessions of workout routines at the gym. HIIT really helps you maximize the time you save on a daily basis simply by keeping every workout rather short.

HIIT workouts also powerfully boost your metabolism. The wonderful thing about building muscle mass with normal weight training routines is that muscles continue to burn down those fats even during your resting phase. HIIT raises your metabolism to a much higher plateau, along with the revving of your heart rate. Calories burn faster in a much longer time frame, once you conclude your workout for the day.

The Not So Bright Side

HIIT is intense. As a matter of fact, most people are not able to cope with the strain and strenuousness. For that reason, a lot of people actually quit while the others barely make it, determined to walk the tight rope. You shouldn't really worry much about that, though.  Just think of the fact that it's really a no-leisure kind of workout, that it can really be taxing, two of the biggest reasons why it really works so well.

More On the Bright Side

Aside from its efficiency in stabilizing and boosting your metabolism, as well as how it keeps the heart healthy, HIIT will surely reward you with quick results, just as it did for me. Due to the nature of this kind of workout, I was able to notice strong positive results quickly, paired with better stamina, calorie burn, and a raised level of energy. HIIT is a win on so many levels. The momentary tiredness has no comparison to the revitalized feeling it gives you in the long term.

Get Fit for $200 or less

July 29th, 2009 No comments

While you can get a lot of essential fitness equipment for under $50 you'll add a lot of fun and challenge if you can spare just a few hundred more.

$200 - You could choose to blow it all on a bargain basement elliptical trainer, which is an ok choice if you find one that’s comfortable, easy-to-use and the right size in that price range. It’s also a good idea if you’ve already got a number of strength training accessories, such as resistance bands, free weights and balls. But if your fitness cabinet is bare, you're better off starting out with a variety of versatile pieces rather than one big item that will most likely end up gathering dust. Dumbbells, resistance bands and stability balls are a must. You can get all three for $50 to $80.

Videos add variety

Most people find the more variety they have in their fitness routine, the more likely they are to stick to it. Buying fitness videos ranging from Pilates and yoga to dance and kickboxing (or Carmen Electra’s risqué Aerobic Striptease series for something really different) can give you that variety for about $10 to $20 bucks a pop. The equipment you buy should complement the variety of videos you choose.

Equipment that offers cardio and strength benefits

A BOSU ball costs between $80 to $100 and is great for doing butt and thigh toning squats. It will also let you really target your core and upper body by adding difficulty to planks and push-ups. You won’t be missing out in the cardio department because a BOSU’s good for that too. It can be used in place of a step for extra intense aerobic workouts. Why buy a machine that has one boring use when you can spend less and have a lot more options.

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10 Minute Beginner Skipping Routine

July 22nd, 2009 No comments

So you want a jump rope routine but you don't know where to start. If you've got ten minutes, you've got plenty of time to get in a good workout and master your skills. Take this basic plan for a routine and make it your own. After the warm-up alternate between skipping and the boxer's shuffle. As you improve you can increase your skipping time until you're going strong for almost 10 minutes straight.

Warm up: 15-30 seconds each for 2 minutes total.

  • shoulder rolls
  • arm circles both directions
  • swing rope from one side to the other
  • two foot hops
  • boxer's shuffle (jumping lightly side to side, one foot landing a split second before the other) with or without rope swing

2 - 2:30 skip

2:30 - 3:00 boxer's shuffle

3:00 - 3:30 skip

3:30 - 4:00 boxer's shuffle

4:00 - 4:45 skip

4:45 - 5:15 boxer's shuffle

5:15 - 6:00 skip

6:00 - 6:30 boxer's shuffle

6:30 - 7:30 skip

7:30 - 8:00 boxer's shuffle

8:00 - 10:00 skip

What you expected cross-overs, jumping jacks and slalom? This is a beginner skiping routine, which means it's a lot more important that you get the technique down pat than try intricate or difficult moves. Trust me, this will get your heart racing plenty. Once you learn how to skip, you can move on to more fancy footwork and things will get a lot more interesting.

Quit Compartmentalizing My Fitness Routine

June 18th, 2009 No comments

I receive emails from fitness websites and organizations on a daily basis. Prevention Magazine, Women's Health ACE, Can-Fit-Pro... I like to get the latest information and check out new and improved workout programs and exercises.

But one thing has been bothing me. And it's not the fact that most of the emails I get are trying to sell me books about some new diet or weight loss program subscription. It's also not the fact that some of these companies (I'm not mentioning any names) don't find it at all ironic that many of the emails they've sent me in the past few years have been for the "last" or "only" workout or diet plan I'll ever need. Then why do they keep creating new ones I wonder? But I digress.

The thing that bothers me is workout routines that target only one or two muscle groups. Who doesn't want tanktop arms, a bodacious booty or awesome abs? The exercises in and of themselves aren't bad. In fact I get a lot of my own moves and ideas from these types of emails. But if I'm spending 30 minutes, two to three times a week working my abdominals, when am I going to have time to work the rest of my muscles.

I know these exercises are a small part of a much bigger fitness routine, so I pick and choose the ones I like and add them to my reperetoire. But some people are so focussed on spot reduction, like getting rid of arm fat for example, that they forget about everything else and think doing eight exercises for their biceps, triceps and shoulders is all it's going to take to lose fat in that area.

I get why these emails are sent out. If someone is stressing about the state of their stomach an email that screams "banish ab flab for good", especially if it also specifies there is no exercise required (don't even get me started on that), is what's going to entice them to go to the website it came from.

For someone who is inactive and possibly overweight the promise of muscle definition and flat abs in a matter of weeks sounds too good to be true, and it is. If you read the fine print these spot training plans require healthy eating, cardiovascualr activity and even more strength training to be effective. Even then it often takes months to see results, unless you're starving yourself and working out excessively, which isn't a great way to make lasting lifestyle chanegs.

So ifyou want to send me emails with exercises suggestions that's great, but be upfront about what is involved and what results are realistic.