MONDAY, MARCH 19, 2018
Muscle up for sexy
Shaun Curran
Tuesday, August 11, 2015

At this moment in time, A-list Hollywood hunks don't come much hunkier-or for that matter much more A-list- than Bradley Cooper.
It's not for no reason that the four times Oscar-nominated actor was voted the sexiest man in the world by People magazine in 2011. Apart from his rugged good looks and ripped physique, something the 40-year-old displayed in his box office hits, The Hangover, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle -the Philadelphia-born actor has a charming twinkle to go with his natural and versatile acting ability.

Cooper needed all these traits and more when it came to the most challenging role of his career. For the Clint Eastwood directed American Sniper, Cooper portrayed the lead role of the 104 kg fearless navy SEAL Team Three sniper, Chris Kyle, who is credited with more sniper kills -estimated at 160- than any soldier in American history, during his four deployments in Iraq. Kyle was 38 when he was tragically shot dead by a fellow ex-officer whom he was trying to help through his FITCO Cares Foundation in February 2013.

To make the heartbreaking tale believable, Cooper admits he had to truly invest in the man he was playing. "I had to become Chris; I had to believe that I was him," he admits. Even for a man of 83 kgs and in great condition, this meant bulking up like never before. "Not even 83 kgs would have been enough," he says. "His size was a part of who he was; I had to get there."

The idea of bulking up for a Hollywood role is, of course, nothing new. Take Chris Hemsworth, for instance, who recently told Men's Health India about how he used former Navy Seal Duffy Gaver to bulk up for his 2011 film Thor. Then there's Matthew McConaughey, an actor whose dramatic weight loss and gain across a variety of roles has truly pushed his physique to the limit; and Jake Gyllenhaal's transformation into boxer Billy Hope looks to make Southpaw one of the big box office smashes of this year.

As for Cooper, the actor teamed up with personal trainer Jason Walsh in order to transform himself into what he has termed "beast mode." The problem was that Cooper only had 10 weeks to get in shape without doing any lasting damage to his body. This meant fast-track muscle weight gain.

Walsh would put Cooper through his paces twice a day, at 5 am and in the early evening, with two two-hour workouts.

The first was focussed on structural elements to build extra mass with squats and dead lifts; the second centred on traditional muscle building.
It also meant eating... a lot of eating. At the peak of the routine, Cooper was eating five prepared meals a day as well as snacks, amounting to well over 5,000 calories a day. "That is a shock to the body, let me tell you," he laughs. "Having some food you maybe shouldn't, like a pizza or chocolate, is one thing, but adding that many calories into your body every day is hard. It gets tiring pretty quickly."

By the time filming came around, Cooper could do dead lifts of over 190 kgs -nearly double his own weight-at five sets of eight reps. He was 102 kgs and borderline unrecognisable. "Everything changed-the way I looked, the way I walked, the way people related to me. I even had to take my wedding ring off because it didn't fit anymore."

The toil was worth it-Cooper won universal plaudits for the emotive and convincing portrayal of Kyle, but the weight was deliberately shed as soon as possible after filming finished. By going back and adhering to his own strict rules of workout-"super-set exercises to the max, eat well, drink protein shakes, stay focussed and drink lots of water," Cooper lost 6-8 kilos in three weeks and was soon down to his ideal weight of 83 kg.

Now the actor continues his own fitness routine which, at its heart, is focused on abstaining from alcohol.

It has given him a figure that's the envy of most men, and that's enough for Cooper. "I have no desire to put myself through that sort of gruelling training regime again. Being a man mountain was an amazing thing for me to do, but it's a real commitment to stay that way, and I've realised that just being fit and healthy is enough, as it should be for all of us."

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