June 12, 2020 10 min read
Tough and uncompromising are two words that come to mind when one thinks of Jason Statham. A consistent mainstay in movies for over two decades now, Statham has become the Hollywood epitome of the “tough guy” archetype. A sporty type in his younger years and a distinctive gravelly voice have made him into a defining feature of the movies he stars in.
But more importantly for some, his position as one of the most bankable action stars in the 2000s has necessitated a level of fitness that’s difficult to come by in your day to day life.
And perhaps surprisingly, Statham stays true to his onscreen persona and has a fairly straightforward approach when it comes to working out. His lack of a bells-and-whistles workout routine places a massive emphasis on explosive energy, adaptability, functional fitness, and flexibility.
While his workout routine is intense, Statham’s workout plan might be the most approachable and down to earth out of the myriad of celebrity workouts that have appeared in recent years. And he’s got the body to prove it, with a lot of lean muscle mass and cut abs. So, without further ado, let’s dive into what makes Jason Statham, Jason Statham.
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again, having a goal to work towards is one of the most important things you can put in place in order to get to where you want to be. When it comes to Statham, this usually means having a bunch of short-term goals.
He’s said in the past that he doesn’t really look towards the long-term stuff, at least those aren’t the things that get him motivated. So, when you’re trying to figure out your future next time, make sure you give yourself clear goals for the short term. Not, “lose weight”, but rather, “lose 1 pound a week for the next 4 weeks”. This strategy, like Statham, will help you in terms of motivation and slowly climbing to get to the “big picture”.
Statham is also unique in how he tries to never repeat a routine in a workout. As with most people, doing workouts over and over again gets boring for Statham. But there’s also more far-reaching things to keep in mind, other than the lack of boredom.
For one, this kind of muscle confusion can help in building mass and strength. Never doing the same workout twice forces your body to react in wholly different ways each time. Therefore, this gives you a more well-rounded, functional, fitness. The, “never doing the same workout twice” routine is a staple of Statham’s, and it’s become apparent that his physique has reaped the rewards of this type of style of working out.
Statham’s also mentioned that this relaxed method gives him more opportunity to “listen” to his body. Much like conscious calisthenics, forging that mind-muscle link is important in getting long-term gains and keeping them. Statham’s approach allows him to fine-tune different exercises, ranges of motion, and sets, in order to best fit how his body is feeling on that day, and where he lies in terms of getting to his goals.
He’s even gone as far as to forego a trainer most of the time. Instead, he has enough of a grasp on physiology and his own body’s needs in order to keep up a well-rounded training regime. We’re not necessarily advocating for this, since there are benefits to having a trainer. But making your own way in the gym, especially after you have decades of experience like Statham, is a good way to tune into what your body needs and what to avoid—especially when it comes to a history of injuries that would take time for a personal trainer to go through.
If you want to employ a similar technique in your own fitness journey, it’d be a good idea to study up on human physiology so you know the basics of different muscle groups and how they work together. After that, it just comes down to knowing which exercises hit what muscle groups. At that point, you can make a list of all the exercises that interest you, while keeping them well-rounded, and then pick and choose each time you go to the gym.
While we’ve outlined a workout routine below that Statham had at one point followed, keep in mind that there’s a lot of room to mold things for your own needs while also substituting different exercises and shifting them around. Just remember to hit all of your muscle groups, since ignoring one aspect of your body can lead to strange proportions and even injuries.
Statham also believes in shorter but more intense workouts. He’s said in the past that he doesn’t like spending 90 minutes working out and dallying around a gym. Statham is passionate about going into the gym and working out very intensely for a shorter amount of time—in his case, 30 to 40 minutes.
An intense circuit training like his allows his heart rate to stay in an elevated state, improving his cardiovascular health. It also conditions his body in terms of endurance and allows him to knock out a workout relatively quickly.
Adding to the above, Statham is also a big believer in working out in the morning. This is because working out in the morning gives you zero excuses not to work out. If it’s the first thing on your plate in the morning, it’s automatically placed on a higher level of importance—at least subconsciously. There’s no meetings, plans, work, or hangouts that can get in the way of a workout if you place it at the forefront of your day. It also doesn’t help that you’ll knock out a grueling exercise circuit in well under an hour—helping to keep you on track when it comes to your fitness goals.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s go over some general ideas that Statham keeps close to his workouts.
For one, he places a large importance on agility and a full range of motion. His early experience in gymnastics and high diving definitely helps and guides him through this belief. But he doesn’t just stretch, even though that’s an important part of his routine.
Statham has also mentioned that a lot of guys ignore the full range of the shoulder, only usually training a very limited range of motion. For us, this means we get a lot of really awesome fighting sequences and stunts in movies—since he’s capable of pulling them off. For Statham, this means his largelyable to pull off his own stunts and stage fighting scenes.
When it comes to his workouts, he uses a lot of bodyweight exercises with pull-up bars and rings, along with stretching and kettlebells/dumbbells. Being able to do a handstand dip, like Statham can do, not only takes a lot of strength, but also a full range of mobility when it comes to his upper body joints. Not to mention that all this stretching and mobility allows for a much lower chance of developing any injuries. Above everything else, this is what makes him such a lean, mean, fighting machine—and not just on-screen.
When it comes to the exercises themselves, Statham employs a mix of the big three weightlifting lifts—the bench press, squat, and deadlift—along with a number of other exercises, especially those dealing with bodyweight. This goes along with a martial art practice that Statham has kept up through the years, and regular stints of cardio to keep him in shape.
What he really emphasizes, however, is that you don’t have to grind ridiculously hard to get to where you want to be. Now, don’t get him wrong, he’s not saying to stop working hard. But the point is that it’s not about quantity—it’s about figuring out the nuances of a movement, doing them well, and figuring out what works well for you. Essentially, the benefits lie in the refinement of the movements, which is why it’s essential to sometimes go back to the basics and make sure you have everything down pat and to a very high degree.
The following is a general sample of a Statham workout since we know that he doesn’t repeat workouts. It’s important to keep in mind the lessons outlined above while reading through his workouts, and being able to grasp onto anything that really speaks to you. Once you can do that, you’ll be able to really fine-tune not only the movements but also the ways in which your body interacts with them.
Statham’s goal is to build pure, explosive strength with this workout—using one of the most effective movements for his goal, the deadlift. But before that, he has a warmup session.
The first warmup is 10 minutes on the rowing machine, keeping his pace under 20 strokes per minute, getting him to almost 2300 meters. The next warmup is a pyramid circuit. This means that the reps in each set will start at one and increase by one for the subsequent set. This will have you upping the reps until you get to five, at which point you begin lowering the number of reps by one until you get back down to a single rep in the last set.
The workouts will be:
The majority of his workout consists entirely of the deadlift, however. He begins with a weight of about 35% of his 1-rep max (1RM) and slowly begins adding weight and reducing reps. These are the reps, weights, and rest periods which Statham uses:
For his cooldown, Statham uses a gymnastic trampoline for 10 minutes. With his diving background, he’s able to pull off some advanced moves. This improves his mobility along with a host of other benefits.
Day two’s workout is meant to be very metabolically challenging, effectively activating all the major muscle groups. Just as before, Statham does 10 minutes of rowing exercises. The next warm-up has you doing 3 exercises but holding each position for 30 seconds before moving onto the next one. You get 10 seconds to switch exercises, and you’re meant to do 4 rounds.
The main workout is called the “Big Five 55 Workout”, which has you performing a circuit of 5 exercises 10 times. This workout is meant to be done as quickly as possible while maintaining full control of the weights and form. Starting at 10 reps of each movement, the next round has you doing 9, and so on and so forth, until your last circuit is a single rep.
And remember, even though this workout calls for going as fast as possible, it’s a better idea to just make sure that your movements are fluid and controlled. There’s not meant to be any rest in between these, so just make sure you’re doing everything safely with an appropriate amount of weight.
Once again, there’s a 10-minute warmup period on the rowing machine. Unlike the previous workouts, the entirety of this one is also done on the rowing machine.
You’ll be doing 6 intervals of 500 meters on the rowing machine, going as fast as you can while keeping form and controlled movements. Statham’s times look like this:
After each sprint, you’re allowed to have 3 minutes of rest. The catch is that it has to be active rest—this means no lazing around. You can go grab a drink of water or walk around the gym, but you’re not supposed to just sit or stand there.
The cooldown for day three is a 500-meter farmer carry with a couple of 70-pound kettlebells. While the point is to get this done as fast as possible, there is no set time. As long as you don’t start losing form, then keep going as fast as you can.
The warmup for day four consists of, you guessed it, rowing for 10 minutes. This is paired with 20 reps of bodyweight squats before moving onto the majority of his workout.
What’s the workout? It’s 5 sets of 5 reps each of the front squat—one of the best lower body exercises in existence. Along with the front squat, he’ll do 4 sets of 1 rep of stiff leg deadlifts. These deadlifts are done at 130, 140, 160, and 180 percent of his body weight with a 3-minute rest in between sets. Meanwhile, the front squat routine has him squatting at 105% of his body weight.
For a cool-down, Statham does 200 reps of push-ups in a ladder-like routine. So if working out with another person, you’re meant to do a push-up, followed by one push-up from them, two push-ups from you, two from them, and so on. This goes up to the point when both of you do 5 push-ups (having done 15 altogether), and then it resets back to one.
If you’re doing this alone, you can count the seconds between each set of push-ups.
The warm-up consists of 10 minutes of rowing, with an added bear crawl and crab walk. Begin with 15 meters of the bear crawl, switching to crab crawl and then back, until you’ve done 5 increments of each.
The workout itself, unlike the circuit workouts above, has you completing all of the sets of an exercise before moving to the next one. Once again, this static hold circuit is extremely demanding and hits a number of muscle groups.
The clock’s ticking with this workout, so try to minimize the rest period in between each movement. And of course, don’t sacrifice form and safety for speed. As a reference, Statham can complete this above in just under 24 minutes.
This is any activity that takes some time and energy to complete. In Statham’s case, this can mean over an hour of trail running, for example. But the possibilities are endless—as long as you’re working hard.
Day 7 is delegated to a much-needed rest, but unlike what you might think (although it’s not surprising), Statham very rarely has cheat days when it comes to his diet. He’s estimated that 95% of the stuff he puts in his body is clean, nutritious food—sometimes making an exception to chocolate.
While a cheat day should never break your progress, it’s still impressive that Statham sticks to such a clean diet plan. Furthermore, he only eats sugary and starchy foods during the daytime when his body still has time to burn them off, and he doesn’t eat past 7 p.m. It’s no surprise that Statham has the physique and the mindset of his on-screen persona—and it’s never outside the realm of possibility that you might be able to achieve the same.