Joseph-Gordon Levitt: Don Jon training tips

Mens fitness
(Image credit: Unknown)

Had JGL done much training before you started working with him?

To be honest, he wasn’t much of a fitness guy at all. He was more interested in playing basketball with his friends than with going to the gym everyday. But as he got fitter, he’d come back to me and say, ‘I did really well at basketball, I had more energy, I was able to play longer’. Well that’s what happens when you get fit.

What were your goals when you started training him?

He’d been doing a lot of cycling for a film called Premium Rush [in which he played a bike courier], so he was pretty slim. The main aim was to put weight and size on him. Going to the gym was a big part of his character’s lifestyle in Don Jon, so he wanted to learn and live that lifestyle. Our approach was basically to turn him into a gym rat to help with the character development.

How often were you training, and what did the sessions look like?

We were in the gym every day for two-hour sessions. To begin with we were following an old-school weightlifting program with a five-day body-part split, focusing on his chest, back, legs, shoulders and arms. This went on for a few months till he’d built up some strength and put on a good amount of size. Then we started adding Olympic lifting and some CrossFit-style workouts to make it more functional and enjoyable.

What did his nutrition plan look like?

We had to make him understand that he needed to increase his calorie intake considerably. The diet was pretty much oatmeal and eggs for breakfast, chicken or fish with broccoli and brown rice for lunch and dinner and fruit and nuts for snacks. It was all a bit rough, but we forced him to do it. He weighed around 70kg when we started, but six months later he was up to around 80kg.

Don Jon is out in cinemas nationwide now. 

Former features writer

Richard worked as a features writer in 2013 and 2014 for Men’s Fitness UK, which predated and later shared a website with Coach. Richard went on to a career as a professional journalist and editor, working for brands like Red Bull, Total Film, Den of Geek and others.