Michael B. Jordan, 31, was already in fighting shape when he played a boxing champion in the 2015 Rocky hit film, Creed. But he really had to up his game for Marvel’s superhero blockbuster Black Panther, in which he portrays a bloodthirsty villain called Erik Killmonger who spends most of the movie in a “Golden Jaguar” suit that shows off his rippling muscles and sculpted physique.
To get into shape, Jordan reconnected with celebrity trainer Corey Calliet, who first worked with him when he played superhero Johnny Storm on the set of Fantastic Four. According to Calliet, the star couldn’t even lift 25 pounds when they first started training three years ago; by the end of the action flick, however, producers were asking the celebrity trainer to “tone it down a little bit because Michael can’t fit in the suit.”
To play Killmonger, however, Calliet wanted to give Jordan the kind of massive body that inspired not awe, but fear.
“When you see him, you need to be scared. You need to be intimidated. We don’t want the nice, young-looking Michael,” Calliet told Men’s Health. “I wanted to make his shoulders look better … I needed his upper chest to pop. I needed his back to tell a story. I wanted his back to look like a globe, like a map.”
To achieve this kind of monstrous physique, Jordan had to gain 15 pounds of muscle, particularly on the arms and chest. That mean working out six days a week, doing “old-school bench presses, lat pulldowns, deadlifts — nothing fancy, just really contracting the muscle.”
According to Calliet, they “lift heavy,” and Jordan can get all the way up to 315 pounds. That’s pretty impressive for a guy who couldn’t break 25 just a few years ago.
To get in this kind of shape, you really need to follow the “no pain, no gain” philosophy.
“Go to the gym and be prepared to put yourself through some massive pain,” Calliet advised.
“The way I train, the person never gets used to it,” Calliet told Business Insider. “I would have him do squats and then move right to burpees — that’s not a good feeling. It was nothing that was enjoyable.”
Hitting the gym isn’t enough to get jacked, however, you also have to really watch your diet. Jordan ate six carefully prepared meals a day, which meant he had to make some sacrifices in his social life.
“It’s hard to go out to a club or a party when you’re like, ‘Oh, wait! Meal prep! We gotta go pop this thing in the microwave and eat food,'” Jordan recently joked on Ellen. “It’s tough to socialize when you gotta get in shape like that.”
He also drank a gallon of water a day, which is critical to weight loss (so long as it isn’t raw).
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