How Jake Gyllenhaal Got Jacked for Southpaw (Full Workout)

How far will an actor go to get in shape for a movie?

How about 2,000 sit ups a day and some insane muscle supplements.

That’s what Jake Gyllenhaal did for 6 months straight to get ripped for his role in Southpaw. The result was packing on 45 pounds of solid muscle.

Jake G in the ring

Gyllenhaal dropped 30 pounds for his role in the thriller Nightcrawler. To look convincing in the ring he had to pile it all back on and them some. Teaming up with former professional boxer, Terry Claybon, the actor threw himself into a grueling six months of gym training. He was either boxing or hitting the weights six hours every day.

Claybon progressively increased the intensity of his star pupil’s training . . .

Gradually we built up, day by day, to 2000 (sit ups per day). It takes time to do that. We did three hours of boxing in the morning and three hours of strengthening, cardio and conditioning at night.

Hardcore Training

Jake 4

The evening workouts that Jake and his trainer endured were the key to the star’s physical transformation. Claybon used all of the training tricks that he’d picked up during his years as a pro fighter to get Jake into fighting shape. One of his favorite techniques was Up / Down sequencing.

One of the things that you notice about the way that boxers guys train is that they make the most of every moment of their workout time. A key way that they do this is by utilising Up / Down Sequencing, whicu si just what Claybon did. This involves interchanging an exercise for the upper body with one for the lower body. It’s a great way to turbo charge your metabolism into rapid fat burn because the quick change in emphasis is shunting the blood around your body as you switch emphasis.

Another benefit of switching from upper to lower body-parts in quick succession is that it allows you to recuperate a body part while training another muscle group at the opposite extreme of your body. This allows you to keep moving, reducing rest periods and, in effect, doubling the workload for the time investment.

Let’s a take a look at how Up / Down Sequencing works in practice.

You are going to perform Up / Down Sequencing for the back and the thighs. Perform a set of 8-10 repetitions of wide grip chin ups. Immediately on completion, move to the squat rack and perform a set of 12 repetitions. Then, rest for 90-120 seconds. Now move to your next set, attempting to pump out as many reps as in set number one. Continue until you have completed 4 super sets.

Terry used Up / Down sequencing to create a routine for Jake that would allow him to max out on compound exercises while also getting in a great cardio workout.  Here’s the workout he put together for the actor, which was performed on alternate days (Monday, Wednesday, Friday):

  • Squats
  • Pull Ups
  • Stiff legged deadlift
  • Bench Press
  • Farmer’s Walk
  • Power Cleans
  • Lunges

All exercises were performed with maximum weights for  a rep count of between 6 and 10. Most exercises were taken to failure, with Jake performing drop sets on the lasts et of each movement. A drop set involves doing as many as you can and then racking the weight. Your partner quickly strips of a plate from each end and you immediately push out as many reps as you can. This process continues until you made 3-4 drops n weight.

The morning workouts that Jake and Terry had were largely built around perfecting the actor’s boxing technique. However, Jake soon discovered that there was one activity that proved to be extremely beneficial in allowing him to get ripped: shadow boxing.

Shadow boxing is one of the best calorie burning activities you can do. It’s a whole lot more fun than slow boring cardio sessions – and it burns a whole lot more body fat. Incorporate shadow boxing into your cardio program by developing a routine where you combine footwork and punches. Vary the tempo and combinations of punches – jabs where you switch your weight onto your front foot, crosses where you rotate your shoulder and press your hip forward and left hooks where you bend your left arm to a 90-degree and punch across your body.

Adding shadow boxing to his arsenal allowed Jake to mix up his cardio, keeping his body guessing – and responding. The human body is very good at acclimatizing to exercise. When you get used to a routine, your results greatly diminish. Changing things up without out of the box cardio choices like shadow boxing will keep the fat melting long term.

The Diet

Gyllenhaal with pals

As far as diet went, Jake ate a lot and often. When asked if he had to restrict calories, Gyllenhaal laughed . . .

We trained really hard every day, and you can eat a lot when you’re in that mode. But it was always high in protein. I remember eating a lot of Chipotle.

Terry had Jakes eating more frequent smaller meals, spread about two to three hours apart. As Jake mentioned, they were protein heavy, with an emphasis on lean meats, dairy products and protein powder.

There was no room for junk food in the diet. Even though Jake was expending a huge number of calories with his 6-hour training days, he couldn’t afford to put food into his body that was going to detract from the ripped physique he was carving. As a result, he ate clean six days a week, allowing himself just one cheat meal every Sunday morning.

In order to fuel his marathon training sessions, the actor used a number of workout supplements. These included a pre-workout mix designed to give him more training energy. It included caffeine and creatine.

After his training sessions, Jake would have a post workout drink featuring whey protein powder and glutamine, along with branch chain amino acids. He made sure to get these into his system within twenty minutes of finishing his workout in order to supply his muscles cells with the nutrients they needed to recover from the workout and rebuild his muscle tissue.

Jake also dramatically upped his water consumption while training. He was losing a lot of water through sweat and needed to drink about a liter for every hour that he was training in order to prevent himself from dehydrating.

The Result

The condition that Gyllenhaal managed to achieve for his role in Southpaw is quite simply astounding. It allows him to inhabit the role, adding a more convincing element to his performance. This sense of realism elevates Southpaw as one of the best boxing movies to come along in years. If you haven’t seen it yet, put it on your must see list. You’ll love the story and the star’s physical condition may just inspire you to your own physical transformation.


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