Hugh Jackman's Wolverine Workout for the Over 40s

hugh jackman topless the wolverine claws
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Hugh Jackman’s personal trainer, Michael Ryan, reckons age is no excuse to let yourself go. He explains what he does during training to keep Jackman, 45, looking his best for movies such as The Wolverine.

Have you changed your training with Hugh as you’ve both got older?

We love the traditional style of training – lifts, bench presses and those sorts of things. But most of these exercises begin to cause issues as you get older. Hugh and I now include DMT [dynamic movement training] into our sessions to help reduce the risk of injury. As you get older, maintaining a range of motion and mobility is key to getting better results. I do a lot of work to ensure that Hugh can maintain full mobility. There are a few simple exercises you can do to test for full mobility – using a ViPR, for instance. Level one would be holding a ViPR at the front squat position and seeing how low you can go while keeping your heels on the ground. Level two would be holding that ViPR above your head and still getting to that position.

What are some of the biggest mistakes that men in their 30s and 40s make when training?

They all stick to the same routine, ranges and reps and just don’t evolve. They get stagnant in the way that they train, and don’t open up to newer styles to incorporate. Another mistake is keeping the number ten in mind. The body is programmed to slow down by the time you’ve reached number ten. Sometimes it can help you raise the bar but it often lowers it. There are times when you’ve got to trick your mind to allow your body to do things it doesn’t think it can do.

Have you changed your supplements and diet as you’ve got older?

Hugh and I believe in what we call the low-HI diet. By that, I mean ‘human interference’. So we believe that you can get a huge amount of your nutrients, minerals and all the things your body needs from low-HI foods. Anything that has been interfered with by humans is off our menu. That means we get our protein and carbohydrates from nutrient-rich fruit, vegetables and organic foods. We use protein powder and BCAAs too though.

If someone hasn’t got a trainer, what’s a good way for them to gauge how intensely they are training?

Train with a friend or in a group. Even if your friend is below your level, ultimately you both start improving and you get a measurement of your own level. For example, they might be two or three reps behind you, but when they get to one behind, it means they’re getting stronger while you’re not growing or improving. Training with someone is one of the easiest ways to get consistency and results.

How long does it normally take for the average person to start seeing results when they start training?

You can’t see the results in the first week, but how you feel is a useful starting point. So I always approach people after their workouts to see how they’re feeling. People start to see results at about six to eight weeks and then more serious changes at around three months. But it needs to be a long-term commitment of around nine months for the great body you really want to see. I focus on the mental side of how the person is feeling after their workout from day one, to maintain positivity.

Max Anderton

Max was the head of digital content for Men's Fitness which worked alongside Coach between 2015 and 2019.