When it comes to body transformations for a film, one of the most iconic was when Brad Pitt got ripped for the role of Tyler Durden in 1999’s Fight Club.
Pitt achieved the perfect movie star physique by cutting his body fat to almost nothing. It took a very deliberate combination of diet and exercise, and it wasn’t easy. Here’s how he did it.
According to GQ, Pitt used a type of workout that isn’t suitable for everyone. The actor – who was 35 at the time – opted for a semi-bodybuilding workout. The reason it doesn’t work for everyone is that the results depend on your body’s condition prior to starting the regime.
Pitt was already in pretty fantastic condition when he started prepping for the Fight Club role. This made him an excellent candidate for the workout, and it was something he could incorporate into his daily routine.
By the time he started shooting with co-star Edward Norton, the 5’11” Pitt had cut his weight down to just 154 pounds. He also shredded his body fat percentage down to just five percent.
This was the key to Pitt’s look — the extremely low body fat percentage. The average body fat percentage for a man is around 12 percent. When you cut it down to the single digits like Pitt, you’ll start to see the type of muscle definition that Pitt had in Fight Club.
With eight percent body fat, you’ll start to get that ultra-lean Tyler Durden look. And the definition will be more pronounced the lower it goes. The other aesthetic benefit from low body fat is that it makes you appear more muscular and chiseled.
As Bodybuilding.com notes, Pitt had the help of fitness pros who designed an effective training regimen specifically for him. They also supplemented his workouts with a carefully calculated nutritional program.
Getting into Fight Club shape required workouts five days a week. Pitt’s trainer broke it down into four days of weight training plus one day of cardio. Pitt limited his cardio to Fridays because of his ectomorph body type, which is naturally lean and tight. He also carried out his resistance training at a fast pace, with only a one-minute rest between sets.
Each exercise in Pitt’s workouts would include three sets of 15 reps, and he used maximum weight for the rep range. The Oscar winner would always stress his muscles during the workout, which meant the last few reps were a struggle.
The goal was to achieve muscle failure on the final rep while keeping good form. This technique is what stimulates muscle fibers to adapt and become stronger.
For his daily diet, Pitt kept his carbs and fat intake low and his protein intake high. He also included plenty of greens and a supplement stack that included whey protein, creatine monohydrate, a fat burner, and a multivitamin.
When it comes to the actual workout, Pitt had a routine that targeted only one muscle per group per day. The actor did four consecutive days of resistance training on Monday through Thursday. On Friday, he focused on cardio to keep his body in fat-burning mode. On Saturdays, he sometimes threw in some extra cardio. But on Sundays, he always rested.
Monday is chest day. Push-ups: 3 sets with 25 reps each. Bench press: 3 sets with decreasing reps and increasing weight — 25 reps/165 lbs, 15 reps/195 lbs, 8 reps/225 lbs. Nautilus press: 3 sets with increasing weight — 15 reps/80 lbs, 15 reps/100 lbs,15 reps/130 lbs. Incline press: 3 sets with increasing weight — 15 reps/80 lbs, 15 reps/100 lbs, 15 reps/130 lbs. Pec deck: 3 sets with increasing weight — 15 reps/60 lbs, 15 reps/70 lbs, 15 reps/80 lbs.
Tuesday Pitt worked on his back. Pull-ups: 3 sets with 25 reps (to fatigue). Seated rows: 3 sets with increasing weight — 15 reps/75 lbs, 15 reps/80 lbs, 15 reps/85 lbs. Lat pull downs: 3 sets with increasing weight —15/135 lbs, 15/150 lbs, 15/165 lbs. T-bar rows: 3 sets with increasing weight — 15/80lbs, 15/95 lbs, 15/110 lbs.
Wednesday, shoulder day. Arnold Press: 3 sets/55lbs. Laterals: 3 sets/30 lbs. Front raises: 3 sets/25 lbs
Thursday is biceps and triceps. Preacher curls: 3 sets with increasing weight — 15/60 lbs, 15/80 lbs, 15/95 lbs. EZ curls cable: 3 sets with increasing weight — 15/50 lbs, 15/65 lbs, 15/80 lbs. Hammer curls: 3 sets with increasing weight —15/30 lbs, 15/45 lbs, 15/55 lbs. Pushdowns: 3 sets with increasing weight — 15/70 lbs, 15/85 lbs, 15/100 lbs.
Friday — cardio — 1 hour at 80-90 percent maximum heart rate
Note: No one should embark on a new exercise, diet, or training program without consulting their physician first.