Disney heart throb Zac Efron is paving his way as leading man in Hollywood. His newest role as a soldier in the romantic movie The Lucky One required him to transform his body into combat shape, and it wasn’t easy. The Men’s Health cover model opened up to the magazine about exactly what it took to make a believable Marine, and what he learned from these real life heroes along the way.
Efron and his director went to the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton to meet with real soldiers to prepare for his new role. The vibe on base was all business and Efron was inspired, and maybe a little intimidated, by the soldiers who had experienced two or three tours of duty already.
“They were my age. 23, 24, even younger,” said Efron. “And most of the staff sergeants were not huge guys. They were about my height, 5’9″, 5’10”, some shorter, but all very stocky. And I’m there in a backward hat and Vans, walking around like I’m still in college. It’s much different from the lifestyle I’m living over here. Where do you start the conversation? I didn’t know what to say, what questions were inaccurate.”
Efron trained for 4 months, 5 days to week to prepare for his role, eating around 3,500 calories a day spread out over 6 to 8 meals with a heavy emphasis on protein for muscle growth- and when I say heavy, I mean heavy. Breakfast alone consisted of “A shake and, you know, an eight-egg omelet. I got used to it at the time, but I wouldn’t recommend it,” Efron admitted. “It’s not practical to do for a long period of time.”
While the regimen was tough, Efron loved seeing the results of all his hard work.
“You get this strange sense of power as those weights increase. By the end of the movie I didn’t recognize myself. You hear about guys like Christian Bale who dive into it and are really able to transform. I’ve always wondered if I had the willpower to actually do it. And I’ll always have pride around the sense that I can.”
Efron’s trainer, Logan Hood, gave even more insight on how he transformed his body in just 4 months, and how you can, too, no matter what your goals:
1. Control the variables you can, beyond exercise.
“Training is only one piece of the puzzle,” Hood says. “Sleep is huge. Stress is huge. Fuel you’re putting in your body is an enormous component. But nobody brags about having followed a regimented diet for 4 months.” Rest and proper diet are what is going to allow your body to respond to all the workouts you are putting it through. Proper diet will keep you properly fueled to give maximum effort during your workouts, and for your body to recover and rebuild, sleep and nutrients are a must.
2. Choose quality over quantity.
While Efron’s workouts were grueling, they only lasted about an hour at a time. “That’s another misconception,” Hood says about thinking you need to workout hours a day. “If you’re eating appropriately and getting enough rest, you don’t need to train all day. All the work’s happening when you’re outside of the gym.”
3. Stick with the classics.
There was no crazy equipment or secret tricks to get results. Hood had Efron focus on “typical old powerlifting stuff” like squats, dead-lifts, overhead presses, and weighted pullups, the same exercises the military uses during PT. These are simple, yet effective exercises that anyone can do, and can be easily modified as you grow stronger by just adding more weight.
4. Follow through and stick with it.
Results take time, and even Hollywood’s elite won’t see results overnight. “It’s months and months of process and diet,” Hood says. “What people see on the screen is a guy who basically immersed himself into a training process over a period of time. It’s more than just doing exercise and taking more protein.”
Hollywood actors make physical transformations all the time, and while the added incentive of a million dollar paycheck and the pressure of being on the big screen may make it easier for them to stick to plan, the truth of the matter is everyone’s body works the same. If you make the commitment, put in the work, and see it through, you too will see results worthy of appearing on the big screen, hopefully in a steamy love scene with Mr. Efron. A girl can dream, right?