It’s the same old story: A hero is presented with a problem (historically this hero has been a male — though thankfully this is changing with fiery women heroes like Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow). The hero must then overcome this problem and save himself and/or others, of course in a (naturally) heroic fashion.
This heroic male lead is almost always good-looking, and on top of this, practically always ripped like an ancient Spartan warrior — bulging arms, chest, traps, a full set of washboard abs.
Perhaps no Hollywood actor fits this heroic male role better than Brad Pitt.
Brad Pitt has a history of playing male leads who are in great shape. A few movies that come to mind are Troy, Snatch, Fury, etc.
However, none of these compare to his iconic role as Tyler Durden in the movie Fight Club:
The above photo, taken of Pitt during the 1999 film Fight Club (based on the novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk) is a very popular photo. You’ve probably seen it somewhere online before.
When people think of the perfect male form, many picture Brad Pitt’s body from this photo.
The next question that usually comes to their minds: How can I get a body like that?
Maybe you’re trying to break into the movie biz and think having a body like Brad Pitt will help (it probably will). Or maybe you just want a physique like that for other reasons. Maybe to win over that girl. Or maybe to impress your friends and/or clients (if you’re a personal trainer).
Whatever your reason, we’ll go over in-depth how you can get a body like Brad Pitt.
Let’s get started.
“The first rule of Fight Club…”
Getting a Body like Brad Pitt
The real key to looking like Brad Pitt is balance. What does that mean? It means he does a little bit of everything and does it all well, which means he doesn’t under- or over-emphasize anything.
Think about it: he’s thin, but not petite; he’s muscular, but doesn’t look like a bodybuilder. It’s about balance.
In fact, if you had to choose something, he looks most like an athlete. He has tons of functional muscle and strong cardiovascular health.
Getting a body like that boils down to two primary things: keeping your diet under control, and working out consistently and hard. The emphasis was purposely added for “hard” — Brad Pitt doesn’t just wander around the gym aimlessly, occasionally using an interesting-looking machine in between casually chatting up other gym-goers. He works out with purpose and intensity. But we’ll get to that.
First, let’s talk about diet.
Brad Pitt’s Fight Club Diet
We talk about diet first because it’s the most important.
Yes, you read that right. Diet is the most important factor in getting a body like a superstar.
A body like Brad Pitt’s starts in the kitchen. To get a physique like Pitt’s, you have to eat clean. It’s just not possible to be ripped like that without keeping your diet under control.
Let’s go over some of the important elements in a healthy diet: food selection, meal timing, and portion sizes.
What kind of food does Brad Pitt eat?
A clean diet like Pitt’s includes foods that are as natural as possible. Eliminate processed foods and foods with added sugars. His diet likely consists primarily of the following:
- Whole grains
- Lean meats
- Fruits & vegetables
- Fat-free dairy & eggs
- Tree nuts
Each meal includes a few of these categories — always balanced and in moderation. For example, a healthy and balanced dinner could include chicken breast with brown rice, black beans, and steamed broccoli.
(Of course, the lean meats and dairy/eggs can be omitted for those who prefer to follow the vegan lifestyle.)
A sample day with meals composed mostly of whole foods can be found here.
Meal Timing & Portions
Two other important aspects of diet are meal timing and portions. Both need to be considered.
Instead of eating a few large meals, Brad Pitt likely eats several smaller meals at regular intervals throughout the day. This keeps his metabolism in constant motion. It’s been shown for both physiological and psychological reasons that large meals can harm health efforts, including weight loss.
The strategy of eating smaller, evenly-spaced meals throughout the day keeps the body fueled all day long and can help prevent feelings of overwhelming hunger (a feeling which often leads to poor food choices and/or binging).
A Note on Supplements
While many people will pound the idea that supplements are absolutely necessary, they really aren’t. You don’t need supplements — they exist simply to supplement your diet. So before you go out and buy fat loss pills or even some creatine capsules, make sure you have your diet under control first.
Following these simple [Fight Club] diet guidelines will have you well on your way to that ripped physique you see on the big screen.
In addition to diet, the next part of the equation, of course, is exercise. What kind of exercise did Brad Pitt do for his Tyler Durden role?
Exercise: The Tyler Durden Workout
A physique like Brad Pitt’s is a long-term commitment that takes a lot of work. Think about it — if it was easy, wouldn’t every guy be walking around shirtless, looking like Brad Pitt?
To really elevate ourselves, we need to “attack” our workouts — just like a fighter in a ring who’s fighting like his life is on the line.
This Tyler Durden workout plan can get you ripped like Brad Pitt if you follow it closely and consistently.
It consists of the following types of workouts:
- Weight training
- Bodyweight exercises
- Core work
- Interval training
Let’s go over each of these workouts in more detail.
1. Weight training
You can tell Pitt throws around some weights, but keep in mind that his primary goal isn’t to pack on tons of muscle mass. Instead he aims for strength and muscle definition.
He has a muscular, well-defined upper torso, especially when it comes to his arms, traps, back, and abdominal muscles.
His chest muscles are developed but not huge. Again, he isn’t trying to gain a ton of muscle mass. For this reason, weight training is only part of his workout routine. He lifts weights once or twice a week, depending on his training split.
2. Bodyweight exercises
Lifting weights isn’t the only way to develop strength and defined muscles — another excellent way is to perform bodyweight exercises.
Bodyweight exercises are often overlooked and underappreciated, but for many people they should be the centerpiece of their exercise regimen.
After all, if you think about it, they’re exercises that are always tailored exactly to the specific person — i.e. for large, muscular people, the “weights” are heavier; for thin, petite people, the “weights” are light.
However, for bodyweight exercises, the primary measure is repetitions, or how many times you perform a particular movement.
As your body adjusts to the exercises, your strength and muscular endurance will increase and you will be able to perform more repetitions.
Here are a few examples of great bodyweight exercises:
- dips (all variations)
Adding bodyweight exercises to your workout routine will help you improve your muscular endurance and overall physique.
3. Core work
The core (as a whole) is probably the most commonly ignored body section. This is really unfortunate, because the core is pretty much the secret weapon to looking toned and ripped — something many celebrities take advantage of — and you should, too.
Core work includes abdominal exercises, yes, but it’s also so much more. Don’t just do endless sit-ups, because it won’t help you get a six pack and it may do more harm than good (to your lower back).
Instead, focus on exercises that target the entire midsection, such as planks. And if you do perform ab exercises, be sure to work your lower back, too.
One of the best ways to work your core is to do yoga. You may scoff or laugh at that, especially if you’re a big macho man, but if you’ve ever done the P90X yoga DVD you know that yoga can be an incredible workout. Behind the breath work and relaxation — which is actually incredibly beneficial in its own right — yoga will firm up your entire core.
4. Interval Training
Perhaps the biggest misconception about fitness is that to “get skinnier” you have to do tons of “cardio” — which, to most people, means countless hours running or jogging on the treadmill.
This is pretty absurd. Sure, running can be incredible for you (if done right), but how many marathoners are ripped? Are you trying to look like a marathon runner or like Brad Pitt?
Simply put, running at a consistent pace for hours at a time is not how you get a balanced, ripped physique.
Running can be an effective workout as one part of a more complex workout plan. So go ahead and do a long, consistently-paced run every once in a while, but don’t do it every single time.
Instead, switch it up. I highly recommend you try doing intervals, a type of workout in which you change up your intensity and/or speed at regular (or irregular) intervals.
So while running, instead of jogging at the same medium-slow pace for the entire run, vary your speed every so often. For example, jog for a minute and then sprint for twenty seconds, jog for another minute and then sprint for another twenty seconds, and repeat.
Intervals are an incredible workout. It improves your muscle strength, muscle endurance, and cardiovascular system all at once. And the beauty of interval training is that you can do intervals with pretty much any type of “conventional cardio”: running, swimming, bicycling, etc.
Think about it: when were you in the best shape you’ve ever been in? For many of you, probably back in high school, when you played football, basketball, soccer, tennis, etc. Am I right?
What’s the pattern of running in sports? Usually in sports you run in bursts: periods of sprinting followed by periods of jogging — the exact definition of intervals.
So unless you’re training for a marathon, switch up your cardio and throw in some intervals.
If you take anything away from this article, let it be the importance of balance in both your diet and workout routine. With balance comes a ton of different kinds of workouts. This will keep your body guessing and always needing to adapt, which is an important factor in improving your physique.
We’ve covered the Fight Club diet and how to work out like Brad Pitt (with purpose and intensity). Following this guide will help you look like Brad Pitt in Fight Club in no time.
You can do this. Get in there and fight it out. After all — “if this is your first time at Fight Club, you have to fight.”
You now have some idea on how to work out like Tyler Durden, but how are your kitchen skills? You’ll definitely need both to look like a movie star (or to make it in Fight Club).
If you want help with your diet, check out our meal planning tool, which handles all the work of healthy eating for you — telling you exactly when and what to eat, depending on your body, food preferences, and goal. Try it out!
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