Zach Efron impressed a lot of fans with his lean, ripped torso in the movie Neighbors. People were amazed at how much the former Disney star had bulked up – and got ripped.
With millions of guys wanting to develop their own Zach-like body, we dug deep to find out what it took for the former High School Musical star to get jacked.
Heavy Duty Training
In the lead up to the first day of shooting for Neighbors, Zach put in some serious gym time. For six months he pounded the weights three times per week in order to transform his frame. Let’s take a sneak peek at the exact workout that Efron used to pack on the size:
Monday – Shoulders, Back & Arms
Seated DB Shoulder Press: 4-6, 6-8, 8-10 (RPT)
Pull ups or Chin ups: 4-6, 6-8, 8-10 (RPT)
Skull Crushers: 4-6, 6-8, 8-10 (RPT)
Hammer Curls: 4-6, 6-8, 8-10 (RPT)
Cable Curls: 12-15 reps + 4 sets of 3-5 reps (Rest Pause)
Wednesday – Legs & Shoulders Isolation
Sumo Deadlift: 3-4, 4-5 reps (RPT)
Bulgarian Split Squat: 6-8, 8-10 (RPT)
Calf Raises: 12, 10, 8, 6 (SP)
Lateral Raises: 12-15 reps + 4 sets of 3-5 reps (Rest Pause)
Bent Over Flyes: 12-15 reps + 4 sets of 3-5 reps (Rest Pause)
Friday – Chest & Arms
Incline Bench Press: 4-6, 6-8, 8-10 (RPT)
Flat Bench Press: 4-6, 6-8, 8-10 (RPT)
Barbell Curls: 4-6, 6-8, 8-10 (RPT)
Cable Rope Push Downs: 12, 10, 8, 6 (SP)
Cable Rope Curls: 12, 10, 8, 6 (SP)
As you can see, Zach trained with weights for three days each week. He allowed himself a complete days rest after every workout. He trained on a split routine that had him pounding his shoulders, lats, biceps and triceps on Day One. On Day Two, Legs and Shoulders (again) were hit on Wednesday and on Friday he trained his Chest and biceps and triceps (again).
From this we can see what Zach’s areas of focus were. Having studied the script he knew that he’d be spending a lot of time with his shirt off. The rest of the time would be sent in a t-shirt. He, therefore, wanted to emphasize his shoulders and arms. That’s why he trained them each twice per week.
Zach’s character in the movie is a college student. He didn’t want to build his chest and back up too much as it would look out of place for the character. That’s why he only trained them once per week.
In most of his shots, Efron was either wearing long pants or the shot was focused on his upper body. As a result, he didn’t train his legs in preparation for this role.
After most of the exercises, you’ll see the letters (RPT) in brackets. This stands for Revere Pyramid Training. In Reverse Pyramid Training, you reduce the weight on the bar by 10% each set as the reps go up. This is an extreme form of workout and requires a 2-3 minute rest between sets.
SP stands for Standard Pyramid set. In this case, Zach chose a weight that he could do for 12 repetitions. He pumped out a dozen reps and then rested for between 30-45 seconds. Then he did his next set without changing the weight. Due to fatigue he would only manage about 10 reps on this set. Set three, with the same weight, he’d get 8 reps. On the fourth and final set, he’d pump out 6 reps.
For his rest-pause sets, Efron chose a resistance that he could get 12 reps on. Then he’d rest for just 15 seconds before pumping out another 3-5 reps. This would be repeated 3 more times. At the end of it, he could hardly move the worked muscle group.
Hitting the Arms and Shoulders
Zach’s arm and shoulder training was done twice per week. On the first session of the week, he’d do his low rep max weight workout. This was designed to build mass. During the second session, the reps would be a lot higher and would be performed at a faster pace. These workouts were designed to bring about the maximum pump and induce the ripped, defined look that Efron was after.
The Core Attack
In addition to the three day training program outlined above, Zach also trained his core. He did this on the off weight training days (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday).
Here’s the core training program that Zach followed to get himself ripped for Neighbors:
- Jumping Split Lunges: Standing, feet together, and with hands on hips, bend your knees and jump up, landing with your right foot in front of you and your left foot behind. You’ll want to get as deep a bend in your knees as possible – 12 reps each leg.
- Halo Deadlift: Grab a light dumbbell and squat down fully with the weight hanging between your legs. Keeping your back arched rise to a standing position as you lift the weight and rotate it around your head in a circular motion. Return to the start position and repeat – 12 reps.
- Dumbbell Rotational Jumps: Start in the same position as the previous exercise, but this time the dumbbell should be held in a top curl position. From a bottom squat perform a rotational jump that allows you to spin 180 degrees before landing. Jump from the bottom position into your next rep – 12 reps
- Elbow, Plank, Row: Start by lying on your stomach in a plank position, resting on your elbows. The only points of contact with the floor should be your toes and forearms. Position a pair of dumbbells on the outsides of your arms. One arm at a time, rise up to grab the dumbbells. Now pull the dumbbell in your right hand towards your chest. Repeat with your left hand. That’s one rep – 6 reps
- Mountain Climbers: Start in a traditional push-up position, keeping your core tight. Bring one knee up as close to your chest as possible while balancing on the opposite foot, and then quickly switch legs. Keep your butt down and your palms on the floor at all times – 12 reps
- Plank: Lie face down on the floor and prop yourself up on your elbows so that your body is supported only by the balls of your feet, elbows and forearms. Keep your back straight in one solid line. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
Zach’s goal was to build lean, athletic, ripped muscle. To do so he knew he had to carefully manipulate his diet to allow for max fat loss while preserving his hard fought for muscle mass. He decided on a low carb, medium protein and high fat eating regimen. He wanted to move his body into a fat burning rather than a carbohydrate burning state.
To get his carbs down, Efron cut out all breads, sugar and processed foods. He upped his intake of lean proteins, such as chicken, fish and beef. He wanted to make sure that his body wasn’t turning to protein as a fuel source. the only way to prevent this was to keep up his protein intake.
Zach made use of some strategic supplements to fast track his progress. He made liberal use of whey protein isolate powder, branch chain amino acids and certain herbs to speed the fat loss. A favorite supplement was an NO2 booster that got his blood engorged, bringing on a great pump.
The Hot Neighbor
Efron’s success can be seen in the character that he plays in Neighbors. He plays a young guy with a physique that turns heads. And now you know how he got it. Why not hit the gym and get one for yourself?